How to Make Bass Guitars – The Math Behind Finding Fret Placements

In order to understand just how to make bass guitars with frets, which play in tune, you have to make a bass with a certain bit of knowledge in mind. There’s a little bit of a mathematical trick to it, but the formula for it is very easy to know and understand. Once you learn to keep it in mind, you can pretty much make a bass or any guitar with the frets in the proper place for precise tuning, and this is the most important thing. After all, you can make the most beautiful instrument in the world, but if it sounds like crap, then it’s junk, plain and simple. Would you like to know what this mathematical formula is?

The trick to knowing how to make bass guitar frets to be in the proper place calls for a little rule known as the “18 rule”. This is used to make guitar frets to be put into the proper positions for the best tuning on basic acoustic, electric or bass guitars. Basically, you just keep one number in mind – write this down… 17.8167942. Now, this is kind of a mouthful of a number to use to verbally explain this aspect of how to make a bass guitar’s frets to be in their proper places, but it’s close enough to 18, thus the name of the rule. This is the number you will be using as the main calculator of fret placements.

Using this number to find out how to make bass guitar fret placements known, you first measure the distance between the nut (otherwise also known as the “zero fret”) at the base of the head stock, and the bridge on the body of the guitar. This is the “effective length” of the strings, the free vibrating area of their lengths. Now take this measurement and divide by 17.8167942, and you’ll have the distance from the nut to the first fret. Now that that’s found, you then measure from that first fret to the bridge, and divide by 17.8167942 again, and you’ll have the distance from the first fret to the second, and so on, and so on, and there you have it – the 18 rule!


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