Trying to decide between a 12 or 14 fret acoustic guitar? We are happy to help you.
What is the difference between a 12 and a 14 fret guitar?
Short answer: the neck protrudes a little further.
Is a 12 fret guitar better than a 14 fret guitar?
This may seem like a small difference, but it has a huge impact on the sound and feel of a guitar. A 12-fret guitar is not necessarily better than a 14-fret or vice versa. They're just very different.
Pick up a 12-fret guitar and you'll feel it right away: this is different. Smaller, more compact, lighter and in a strange way very inviting. Some players are immediately drawn the friendly lay out and like that they don't have to 'stretch' as much while playing. Are you slightly smaller? Then definitely try a 12-fretter. Are you taking the first steps from a classic Spanish nylon guitar to a western guitar with steel strings? On a 12-fret acoustich, that switch could just be a little easier.
Other guitarists find 12-fret guitars too compact and for them such a neck can feel a bit fiddly. Especially players who have already made some progress on an electric guitar and often venture a bit higher on the neck, do not immediately feel at home on a 12 fret because their elbow suddenly seems to get in the way or the neck suddenly stops in the middle of a solo.
Even though it might take some time to get used to a 12-fret, there is a reward waiting for you: a great tone. Due to the fact that the neck protrudes less, the position of the bridge moves backwards; towards the centre of the lower bout of the body. On a lot of 12 fret guitars, the bridge ends up in the centre, but that is not always the case, because there are subtle differences from one luthier to the other..
Luthiers like Jean L'arrivee call that the middle of the lower bout the sweetspot for the bridge, because it ensures that the vibration of the strings drives the top a little harder. As a guitarist you get more bass and a more rounded sound. It can mean you have to sacrifice some directness and attack, but especially in combination with a somewhat smaller body guitars, a unique guitar sound can come from opting for 12 in stead of 14 frets. Fellow Niek and Maarten also discovered this when they picked up a 12 and a 14 fret Martin dreadnought
A lot of luthiers like Santa Cruz, Martin, Collings and Lowden put their own spin on the 12-fret. Sometimes the neck not only sticks out less from the body, but is shortened giving you a short scale. Other luthiers opt for a somewhat extended or deeper body. Experimenting with the ratios between the neck and the body offers luthiers endless possibilities to get the most out of the wood and gives guitarists more to choose from.
We have always been very fond of 12 fret guitars and in our store in Dedemsvaart we manage to keep a wide variety in stock. So feel free to drop by if you want to try one. We are open!