1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

What is the purpose of fret markers?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by TexasEdition, Nov 7, 2019.

  1. I've been enjoying my Aerodyne Jazz for about a month now. One of the things that struck me as attractive is the clean rosewood fretboard wtihout fret markers. I was also noodling around on a fretless bass at the music store the other day that had dot markers.... And then it hit me... Why are they there? When I play bass, guitar, etc...
    I can't see the fret markers. So what purpose do they serve me? Sidemarkers not withstanding... Their purpose is obvious.

    I have a banjo that has beutiful decortive abalone markers. Some of them are attractive in that sense. Some of them are signature to the brand (Rickenbacker).

    I know I think too hard about things some times, and this is probably one of them... But I've now come to hate dot markers... I like the bars, rick triangles, and any kind of fancy decorative markers, or of course, nothing at all.
  2. If someone in your band is trying to follow along visually, those markers would be handy.
    My guitar instructor asked me NOT to bring my B.C. Rich WarBeast, because it had no fret-markers.
  3. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    You mean the normal dots on the fingerboard or other type of inlays (like the kitty paw prints on my cheap starter bass, for example?)


    They're there so it's easier to quickly estimate which frets are the 3, 5, 7, 9, and 12 (+ repeat all the way up) so your fingers can get there faster.

    My main player Spector has a blank board, and although it looks clean and sleek, it took a little extra time finding the notes as I was learning.

    So I'd say they're for ease of note location, or a different aesthetic, and/or so your rhythm guitar player who didn't do his homework can see your fretting hand better :smug:
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  4. Jaco Taco

    Jaco Taco

    Jul 30, 2012
    I have three custom basses and all of them have no markers on the fretboard. I think it looks better, and as you've said, fret markers serve no purpose, you can't even see them when you are playing.
    GlassToMouth and TexasEdition like this.
  5. Gothic


    Apr 13, 2008
    I assume they were first presented as an extra help, aside from the side dots, for the players to find their way around a fretboard more easily, considering the first electric instruments had more accessible frets higher up than their previously acoustic only counterparts.

    I discarded the need for them pretty early in my learning days, relying solely on the side dots but I'm guessing some people haven't. That's ok. If you removed the side dots on an instrument and just left the fretboard markers, It'd be much harder for me to find my way around the fretboard so I'm guessing it's a similar kind of deal for some people.
    Myself, I prefer most fretboards unmarked or with something "funkier" than the classic dots. Lines on a fretless is a big pet peeve of mine, I can't stand them. But that's just a matter of personal taste at this point.
    cchorney, Neo1 and TexasEdition like this.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    "You expressed that you don't need something I clearly need. That really pisses me off." Dunno what you meant to convey, but that's the tone I got.
    2pods, rufus.K, FugaziBomb and 5 others like this.
  7. Not at all. What he was trying to convey is, I can't see them while playing.
    And I agree. It depends on the position of your instrument, e.g lap steel players can see their fretboard markers. But many of us, including me, can't see their fretboard markers while playing. So indeed, why are they there?
  8. Exactly. If you wear your bass like a normal person, you'll never see the inlays/fretboard markers. You can see the sidedots, which is much more important.
  9. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Supporting Member


    *looks in mirror and points finger at self*

    You, too!

    *shuffles off abashedly*
  10. Where'd you get those from? I can think of at least one instrument I'd happily put those on.
  11. Ghook

    Ghook Supporting Member

    Sep 25, 2018
    Eastern US
    People think way too much about such things. That's my way of thinking 'bout it .
    BassinCT, sedan_dad, ak56 and 5 others like this.
  12. That's knind of what sparked this whole thinking exercise. I've never really been into fretless, but I was trying one at the store. This one was a Mexican P-Bass and it had dots on it but no lines. I just though it was wierd because you are not going to drop a finger on the fret marker, but somewhere inbetween. And there are no frets, soooooooooo...

    When I was in grde school, I remeber the kids that were learning Viola and Chello all had thin pieces of tape on their fretboards. That was great, they are kind and learning, but eventually they lost them. Classical string instruments have no fret markers at all... It's soley muscle memory and ear.

    I may be short sided in the case of looking at other people play. I will have to pay more attention to that becuase I'm not sure I do that. I think I rely more on my ears and if I'm sighting a guitar player, it's more of the shape he/she is making for the chords.
  13. When you say fret marker, you mean side dots, yes? That depends. If the neck is original fretless, the side dots will be at the fret position.
  14. RNG1


    Mar 1, 2015
    FWIW I did not get the tone from the original post that “I don’t need them no one else should” at all.
    After playing 40 years my basses all have fretboard markers “just because” until fairly recently when I acquired an ebony fretboard neck with only side markers. I wondered as well if it was something that I was going to need to get used to and also found that it had no affect also realizing that you don’t really see the face of the fretboard while you’re playing, however side dots I feel is what we use even if only subconsciously. The point about others being able to see more clearly where we are is valid. All said and done I’ve always wanted a bound and blocked neck realizing now that it’s just because they look cool more than anything else for me really. Enjoy what you have, or don’t have.
  15. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Leo needed them, since he wasn't really a player. So, there ya go.
    B-Mac likes this.
  16. George Dennis

    George Dennis

    Sep 26, 2019
    Good question for Hans-Peter Wilfer.
    Warwick got rid of fretboard markers on most models long ago ... now their side dot markers
    ... glow in the dark ... !@@!
    OptimalOptimus likes this.
  17. Well, I suppose if you must hate something, fret markers are as good as anything. Being the idiot that I am I never gave it any thought at all. Oddly along with my idiocy, I for some reason am able to see them on the basses I use that have them. Suggest looking down as it seem to work for me. Note the Modulus in my avatar is without the cursed things.
    But seriously, could anyone actually hate these markers?

    Dolphin Neck Inlay.
  18. George Dennis

    George Dennis

    Sep 26, 2019
    Looks like a Flipper
    instrumentalist likes this.
  19. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    Technically speaking even old classical guitars have 19 or 20 frets, and you spend a lot more time than you imagine above the 12th fret. The piece that really comes to mind is Paganini's Caprice No 24 written in 1807 for violin, but often played on guitar.

    To the OPs point. I prefer no markers on the face of the guitar. I prefer dots over shark fins and blocks. I also like some of the simpler designs like dolphins. Of unique and standard front inlays, I like the ones that are different up the fretboard, like the PRS birds or the Gem vines.

    The ones I really hate the most are the name tags like on ESP/LTDs.

    Also, how can you not see your fingers on the strings?
  20. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    That’s actually the only thing I DONT like about an Aerodyne. I find them a useful visual guide. It’s decorative too, if I ever get an Aerodyne, I’ll put a bound and blocked Jazz neck on it = perfection.
    bombpop14, gtlover and Vinny_G like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.