Frets 12 vs. 14


Hi all looking for some opinions about a subject I know little about, I have a chance to buy a 12 fret to the body Martin HD 28 VS guitar used in very good condition, a 1999, and am wondering if the slotted head and shorter scale is of value or a detriment to bluegrass playing. I don’t see any bluegrass players using the slot head and wonder if it has any affect on the tone or anything else, is it just an appearance thing? are they harder to string? and are 12 frets enough for the advanced play or would it cause a problem down the line as playing improves? Any info suggestions appreciated…Jerry


Norman Blake uses a slot head. Not sure about the 12 fret though, I think it was.

Edit: Yup, she’s a 12 fret too. Sounds good to me! :slight_smile:



If you play with a capo, things start to feel a little tight if you play up the neck.


Interesting that’s the exact guitar Normans playing his of course is the original. Thanks for posting. Jerry


Nothing wrong with a twelve fret. Some people think they sound better than the square shouldered brethren. I have an N-20 that is a 12 fret, and the lack of access to the upper frets doesn’t bother me. I don’t get up above 11 or 12 real often anyway. Julian raised a good point… if you capo up high, then you would starting running into the heel without getting too far up.

You mentioned a shorter scale… I might be wrong, but unless that particular guitar is custom, I think the VS has a standard (for 28s) 25.4 inch scale. The body is different, but the length from nut to saddle is the same. Being it’s the vintage series it will likely have a V-neck and 1 3/4 inch nut width. If you can play it before purchase, make sure you like the neck shape. I like V necks, but they are not for everyone.

As far as the slot head, it is not as convenient for me to string them. Part of that is because I don’t do it that often. All said, it’s not a major problem and the cool looks may well outweigh the stringing issue. Some people say it does affect the tone, but I don’t have enough experience to say. In theory, lighter is better, but who knows.

In short I wouldn’t disqualify a guitar because of 12 frets or slots. My big concerns would be the tone, neck width and shape. I say if you like it, go for it. It sounds like a cool guitar to me. Norman sure makes it sound good (and he does seem to capo 3 or 4 a bunch, so I guess he doesn’t mind the lack of upper fret access).


One other thing I didn’t elaborate on… the slots do increase the break angle over the nut. I think that is supposedly the main reason slotted headstocks sound better, and it does make sense (as does the less mass argument). But again, I don’t have enough experience with them to know.


Thanks Mike, but I gotta ask, what’s up with the pink guitar??? Jerry


It’s his favorite…he takes it everywhere…hahahahahah


It’s tempting to make up a story about my custom Hello Kitty dread, but I’ll resist.
It started with this topic:
About halfway down there is a post of a magazine cover with a pink Hello Kitty guitar. I posted that I liked the HK guitar. What most probably don’t know is that my wife loved Hello Kitty, so if I found a guitar like that, if it wasn’t totally bad, I’d be tempted. So with the humor, there is an element of truth. Anyway, sometime later in the same topic (page 2) Larry posted a doctored version of my avatar with me holding the HK guitar. I am sitting in a glider and in reality there is probably not room for a soprano ukulele in there, making the picture that much funnier. I enjoyed it greatly, and it seemed like a good avatar, so I made it my “official” one.
Oh, and Dave loves making fun of me an Kitty :slight_smile:


I like it! :smiley: :smiley:


Okay, I thought I detected some work with photoshop. A few months ago, my daughter said she would need a pink instrument if she was going to learn to play. It’s not too long until her birthday.


Whatever makes someone enjoy it. At least it’s cheaper than if she said she would need a 1940 D-28. It looks like Daisy Rock has some in pink: … +rock+pink