I have a bit of a newbie question. My question is what determines the distance between frets? I currently have an LTD mh 1000, and it has 24 extra jumbo frets and a scale length of 25.5. I noticed that the LTD Ec 1000 has 24 extra jumbo frets as well but a scale length of 24.75. Does that mean that the frets are closer together or is it the medium/ jumbo/ extra jumbo description that determines the distance between frets? I tried googling it but didn't find any clear answers.
Last edited by tsuzu01 at Jul 30, 2016,
The fret size (medium, jumbo, 6100, etc) has nothing to do with the scale length, or how far the frets are from each other. besides the obvious difference that a narrow fret will appear a little farther edge-to-edge than a wide fret because of the size, but this is unimportant - we're measuring from the center of one fret to the center of the next, since that's where the string will contact.

The scale length sets the distance between the frets, so a 24.75 guitar with jumbo frets will have the same spacing as a 24.75 with extra small frets. If you remember your Pythagorean ratios, you'll recall that the octave is half the length of the original note. So the octave (12th fret) of a 24.75" scale guitar will be at 12.375", no matter what the fret size. Anything else is out of tune. With a bit of math, then, you can figure out where the rest of the frets must fall to give you in-tune notes all the way up the board. You can probably see why the fret size doesn't matter, then - regardless of how fat or skinny they are, they still need to be the same distance from each other to result in in-tune notes, and that distance is measured against the scale length. So, to answer the direct question, yes. The EC1000 frets are farther apart than the MH1000.

As a side note, some people have come up with some slightly different math to account for the way strings and notes behave, because they're not perfect on a guitar, so there are some systems (Buzz Feiten, for instance) that will very slightly tweak the fret positions to nudge the tuning, but that's not something you'll generally be able to see unless it's something really severe like the True Temperament frets. 99% of guitars have the same mathematically generated spacing that is dictated by the scale length.
Thanks for the answer, that's what I thought but just wanted to make sure I didn't have it backwards.
As the above posters have said, fret size (medium, jumbo, etc) is just how big the actual metal frets are. And honestly after 17 years of playing I've actually never researched anything about fret size, so I can't even tell you why there are different ones.

For scale length, 25.5 inches is obviously longer than 24.75, and that number is the actual length from the nut to the bridge. Longer scale = frets spaced farther apart. And it's noticeable too.

The lower the tuning and heavier the strings, the longer you want your scale because that extra length holds tension better on those low tunings.

For example, I bought a 7 string a few days ago real cheap just for the hell of it. It wasn't the scale I wanted (25.5") and for that low G# I wanted, a 0.064 gauge string I put on it wouldn't hold tune very well and was undefined. I just slapped on a 0.068 earlier today and it's 100% better, but the fatter string creates a deeper tone than I prefer, so I'm still unhappy with the scale length and plan to get a 26.5" very soon.

It's really preference, but I like to think 24.75" is good still about D standard. Drop C, C standard, 7 string B standard are all good at 25.5". Even Drop A is doable. But anything lower you're looking at 26.5" to 27" scale.

That all may be way off track from what you're wanting to know, so sorry haha.
Quote by tsuzu01
I have a bit of a newbie question. My question is what determines the distance between frets?I tried googling it but didn't find any clear answers.

I googled "fret distance and scale" and got a lot of information, including this: http://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Learn_About_Guitar_and_Instrument_Fretting_and_Fretw/Scale_Length_Explained.html

The scale of the guitar and a specific formula determines the distance between frets. There are actually a few competing formulas, but for the purposes of most guitar players, they're all roughly the same.

Frets themselves can be nearly any size, but the string needs to touch the fret at a specific point on the fret to be accurate. It *is* possible to wear down a large fret over time so that the string isn't touching it in the correct spot, and then your guitar will become difficult to tune/play in tune.