What Are the Dots on a Guitar? (Explained)

What Are The Dots On A Guitar?

If you own a guitar, we bet you must be curious about its details. Whether it is the tuning knobs, the strings, or the fretboard, as guitarists, we must be familiar with every detail of the instrument.

However, have you ever wondered what those tiny dots are on the fretboard of every guitar? Well, as a newbie guitarist, at least I was curious about those dots and eventually learned the science behind them.

Precisely, these tiny dots are called fret markers or fretboard inlays. Though they have no linkage with sound, notes, or chords, they are as crucial as other things on a guitar. These inlays assist a guitarist in knowing the proper fret positioning. So, when you are playing in a gig or jamming alone, these fret markers will allow you to switch frets and reach the right spot on time.

If you need to know more about these inlays, here is the article to follow. Here, we will guide you in detail about every aspect of these markers and how hard it would be to play without them.

Importance of Fretboard Inlays

Importance Of Fretboard Inlays

As a beginner, you might think that fret inlays are only there to beautify your fretboard. However, things are not as easy as they look. The sole purpose of fret markers is to guide you to the correct fret. As a newbie, we all struggled to place our hands on the right fret at the right time. You would also agree that there were moments when you had to stop strumming to find the right fret.

However, we could reach the correct fret using these fret inlays with little guidance and little practice. So, the proper purpose of these tiny dots on your fretboard is to guide you to the right frets in no time.

Would It Be Hard To Learn Guitar Without Fret Markers?

Indeed, it would be hard to learn guitar with no fret markers. Though you would not have any issues learning to fingerpick, strum, or chord shifting, playing riffs and finger-style guitar would be hard.

So, it is highly suggested to never invest in a guitar with no fret inlays. Fretboard inlays are what help you perform anywhere with negligible chances of errors. So, always keep your fret markers safe and replace them when required.

Are Fret Markers Essential?

Imagine finding the eleventh fret on a guitar with no fret markers. Seems nearly impossible? No?

Now imagine a guitar with fretboard inlays and head to the eleventh fret. Don’t be surprised if you are already there. You just had to imagine finding the twelfth fret and moving a fret back.

Now I’m sure you understand why fret markers are that important for a guitarist.

Standard Positioning of Fret Markers

With different guitars, you will have different fret marker positioning. However, here we’ll introduce you to the standard type of fret marker positioning that most top guitar makers prefer.

On a standard fretboard, you will find your first inlay on the third fret, then the fifth, seventh, ninth, and a two dotted inlay on the twelfth fret.

After it, with a gap of two frets, you will have your next single dotted inlay on the fifteenth fret, then seventeenth, nineteenth, twenty-one, and if you have an electric guitar with 24+ frets, you will have a second two dotted inlay on the twenty-fourth fret. This is what most of the fretboards look like.


If you had a question about what the dots are on a guitar, I hope this article served you well. We ensured to enrich you about every detail of fret inlays and why they are essential for a guitar and guitarist. However, if you find anything missing and need assistance, we are always here for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we have two dots on the 12th fret?

You might know or not, but the twelfth fret is the point where notes start to repeat. From the twelfth fret onwards, all notes will repeat while being one octave higher. So, the twelfth fret is the same as an open string, but one octave higher, and some go with thirteenth, fourteenth, and other frets. This is why the twelfth fret has two dots on it.

Also, if you have a 24+ fret guitar, you will notice two dots on the 24th fret. The science is the same there too. The notes will start to repeat, but they will be two octaves higher this time.

Are LED fret markers good to have?

LED fret markers can be awesome if you have regular gigs and perform a lot on stage. They are cool, guide you perfectly to the right fret, and the best thing is they get a lot of attention.

Why do classical guitars offer no fret inlays?

The only reason classical guitars have no fret markers is that they have only 12 frets. Ideally, almost all classical guitar comes up with 12 frets, and it does not need fret markers to help you identify frets.

So, this is the only reason why classical guitar manufacturers do not offer fret inlays. However, if you are an absolute beginner and cannot survive without inlays, you can customize your guitar accordingly.