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Is there a reason for this? What exactly is the reasoning behind it?

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  • Longer necks mean more leverage, so more strength needed - trussrod or not. Classical music rarely needs to go past 12th fret. Acoustics can, due to 14th fret - also, a lot have cutaways, allowing even better access to higher frets.
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 13:11
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    Note that some steel strings meet at the 12th fret also. Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 14:06
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    Some practical examples about classical music going past 12th fret: douglasniedt.com/Tech_Tip_Playing_In_High_Positions.html. Looks like classical guitarists don't need the cutaway any more than violinists.
    – ojs
    Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 14:30
  • @Tim more strength on the part of the guitarist or of the guitar?
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 15:17
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    @ojs indeed, if the higher frets weren't needed, or weren't seen as being accessible, they wouldn't be there.
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 15:18

1 Answer 1

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I'm not a luthier, but my understanding is that the 12th-fret join is used to maximize volume and tone. The 14th-fret join is a compromise for playability, and is more acceptable on a steel-string instrument, where there is already plenty of force on the bridge to drive the soundboard, due to the higher tension strings.

With the geometry associated with a 12th-fret join, "the bridge is safely away from your sound hole and well enough into the lower bout of the soundboard to get it well activated and moving effectively. ... The general understanding goes that the further the bridge moves down in to the more central ‘sweet spot’ of the lower bout, the more power and sustain an instrument will have." - quoted from a blog entry ("The question of the ‘sweet spot’ 12th fret join") on the Turnstone Guitar website.

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  • Thanks for the edit, @Brian Towers. I wasn't sure about the protocol for linking to a page on an external website which may or may not go stale in the future. Looking at the Markdown Help now, I don't see any rule against it, so I'll opt for this style link in the future. Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 18:09

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