Given that classical guitar fretboards sometimes have no marker dots, why do virtually all other guitars have them? I guess the basic 5, 7 and 12 fret markers correspond to the first few harmonic nodes, and these continue on to 17, 19 and 24, but why the others? Apart from idiosyncrasy, a 1st fret marker seems superfluous!

Which was the first guitar maker who produced guitars/basses with markings?

  • Inlays and elaborately carved sound hole roses go right back to the renaissance - though back then they were decorative rather than functional "fret markers". They were also fond of striped veneers on the back of the instrument body, which would be over-the-top enough for most prog rock bands - some pictures here: lutesandguitars.co.uk/htm/cat11.htm
    – user19146
    Aug 12 '18 at 10:05

Not sure how to trace back before this, but the first ever electric guitar, Rickenbacker's 'frying pan' [1931] had fret markers - though starting at 5.
Rickenbacker to this day don't mark fret 1, though they later added markers at 3 & 15.

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Looking at The Guitar Magazine - Born in the USA, an article about Rickenbacker, they didn't add the 3rd & 15th fret markers until after The Beatles started using them.

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My own 4001 from 1976 has them though - so sometime between those dates.

Or could just be a design choice for those models - http://rickenbacker.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5709

  • At fret 3 and possibly 15 as well?
    – Tim
    Aug 12 '18 at 10:33
  • yup, to match the octaves. I guess it would look odd otherwise. Edited.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 12 '18 at 10:34

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