12 fret

A 14-fret Martin 000-15M and its 12-fret counterpart, the 000-15.

The 14-fret acoustic guitar may be more popular, but 12-fret acoustics have their own unique tonal characteristics that many guitarists love.

One of the more frequent questions we get at Martin is about the difference between 12-fret and 14-fret acoustic guitars. Besides upper register access, what are the benefits and potential limitations? How does it impact design and tone? How should someone decide which option is right for them? To help answer these questions, I turned to Fred Greene, our vice president of product management at C. F. Martin & Co. Fred oversees the design and development of new products at Martin and has years of knowledge and experience in this area.

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When it comes to acoustic guitars, there are quite different virtues to both small and large bodies.

After picking up and playing literally several thousand acoustic guitars of different sizes, shapes and tonewoods, we can start to make some generalizations about small versus large guitars. Of course, smaller guitars can be more comfortable to hold while larger instruments can be somewhat unwieldy. Tonally, smaller guitars tend to possess greater brightness or treble response, while bigger guitars (with larger air cavities in the body), at least have a greater potential for bass response.

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