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9th or 10th-fret dot?

I'm trying to adjust to having a tenth-fret dot on my Eastman DM-1. All my previous guitars have had the dot on the ninth fret. Looking at the book, The Story Of Selmer-Maccaferri Guutars, I see various early models with both ninth and tenth fret dots (not on the same guitar, or course!).

Does anyone have some historical background to this?

And what's your preference, and why?


  • Andrew UlleAndrew Ulle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
    this forum has a good search feature, and there's a wealth of info already here - for example:
  • Not sure on background...actually, you figure gut string "classical" guitars had no fret markers, the precedent would only be from banjo and mandolin, which always have 10th fret markers, right? So now I want to know why guitar makers started moving it to the 9th!

    As for preference, I grew up playing guitars with a 9th fret marker, so I'm darn glad my Cigano has a 9th fret marker and not a 10th (I think that's common for "short scales?")

    INterestingly enough, I've played classicals with no dots (or side markers) and really not had any problems...but I previously owned a Gitane with a 10th fret marker, and it drove me nuts, to the point of where I covered it with a piece of black electrical tape and painted over the side dot. I suppose if it's there, I'm inclined to use it...

  • Rob MacKillopRob MacKillop Edinburgh, Scotland✭✭✭✭
    Andrew - thank you. That should have been my first port of call.

    Jeff - I suppose ninth would be my preference, but I had tenth on my banjo a few years ago, and got used to it. I once had a banjo that had a dot for EVERY fret! Now, that drove me nuts!
  • Some said it was the Italian instrument makers that came from the mandolin building tradition that adopted the 10th fret marker.

    The two arguments I heard that made sense to me for both position is that on the 10 fret all the notes are naturals, no sharp/flat notes. But then on the 9 fret you have naturally occurring harmonics.

    It's just a matter of habit. Similar to what Jeff mentioned, I once borrowed a friend's D hole guitar that had 9th fret marker and kept screwing up this head melody. Covered it with the black electrical tape and problem gone.
    Rob MacKillop
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Brad HermanBrad Herman San Francisco, CANew JWC Modele Jazz, Stankevicius Alena, Alexander Polyakov Selmer #6
    I have 2 GJ guitars, one with 9th fret and one with 10th fret. It's super annoying switching back and forth, but as I get more comfortable with songs, it becomes less of a problem. That being said, I prefer 9th because every other guitar I've own(ed) in my life has had 9th fret.
  • Just messaged you back, @"Rob MacKillop"! The Eastman looks nice! My first GJ guitar--Gitane DG 250m--had a 10th fret dot and I adjusted ok; you're a much more skillful player than I so it won't even be an issue. Toughest thing is like @"Brad Herman" said above. I used to play it and my Gretsch on same gig and I'd get really messed up! When I switched to total GJ, no sweat.
    Actually weirder was when I got my Dupont, the previous owner had it custom built with a 9th fret dot. Took me longer to readjust playing GJ with 9th fret dot.
  • Rob MacKillopRob MacKillop Edinburgh, Scotland✭✭✭✭
    Hi Robbie. I ended up colouring it in with felt pen - a temporary solution as an experiment - and I got on much better without it. I'll find a more permanent solution without damaging the dot - just in case I later sell it.
  • MikeKMikeK Asheville, NCNew Altamira M-10, Altamira M-01D
    I, too, struggled with this a few years back when I first got hooked on GJ. When I bought my first GJ guitar (an Altamira from Michael), it had the 10th fret dot and I found myself tangled up sometimes when I was up in that realm. I was coming from a bluesy rock and then be-bop background, where this was unheard of. Gradually, I got used to it, and now I love it. In fact, I had my luthier alter my archtop and my new Altamira, from 9th fret to 10th fret markers. It's all a matter of what you're used to. A guy that I gig with regularly has one guitar with the 9th marked and another with the 10th marked, and he doesnt seem bothered by it. But he's a master player, maybe that helps. I heard that many of the GJ guitars have it on the 10th fret because so many of our songs are in the keys of D and G. Whether it's true or not, that makes sense to me.
  • Andrew UlleAndrew Ulle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
    jeffmatz wrote: »

    ...I'm darn glad my Cigano has a 9th fret marker and not a 10th (I think that's common for "short scales?")

    My short-scale, 12 fret-to-body DiMauro has the 10th fret dot.
  • Chris MartinChris Martin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Petrarca, Di Mauro, Favino, Bucolo, Altamira
    jeffmatz wrote: »

    ...I'm darn glad my Cigano has a 9th fret marker and not a 10th (I think that's common for "short scales?")

    My short-scale, 12 fret-to-body DiMauro has the 10th fret dot.
    Mine too, as did many others; early Selmers, and even my 12 fret Bucolo. But note these days many luthiers will offer the choice for guitars made to order.
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