Can You Put a 22 Fret Neck on a 21 Fret Guitar?

The good thing about some guitar models is that their parts are easily interchangeable.

For a big part of the guitar DIY community, this is a big deal and a way of expressing their personalities with their custom instruments.

Necks, of course, are a fundamental piece of every guitar, and if you play you will know that when you find the right one it’s love at first… touch?

But can you put a 22-fret neck on a 21-fret guitar body?

In most cases, a 22-fret neck will fit with no problems into a 21-fret neck pocket since the added fret usually is placed with an overhang. You will find almost no compatibility issues among guitars of the same brand and similar models, however, this might not work out with different manufacturers.

In this article, I will tell you all you need to know about swapping necks with different numbers of frets, what you should take into consideration, what things will work, and what won’t.

After leaving this page you will have a clear idea if the mod you have in mind for your guitar will require some extra work on your part.

Are you ready to get started?

Let’s go!

Can any 22-fret neck fit on a 21-fret guitar?

Not every 22-fret neck will fit on a 21-fret guitar body. However, you can expect the same brand and similar year models to have compatible neck pockets.

For instance, it’s not expected that a Yamaha Pacifica’s neck will fit a Fender Strat, however, it’s very likely that 2 different fret number Fender Stratocaster necks will be compatible.

You see, most 22-fret necks have a pretty similar profile to their shorter counterparts, with only a small overhang to make room for the extra fret.

What defines if a 22-fret neck fits on a 21-fret guitar?

The most important thing to take a look at when swapping guitar necks is to check if the neck pockets match.

There’s even a bit of space for some wiggle room that could be filled with shims.

If you find out that the new neck fits properly, then you are almost set. 

The next thing to look at is if the neck lines up once it’s fitted. You wouldn’t want strings to float alongside it because of poor alignment.

This is another thing that can be fixed but will require some extra work.

Are there any 21-fret models known to take 22-fret necks?

It will take a lot of trial and error work to determine every 21-fret guitar model that takes 22-fret necks without problems, however, it’s safe to presume that most guitars from the same manufacturers will take them without many issues.

Again, as I mentioned earlier, it’s very likely that a 21-fret strat would take a 22-fret neck from a similar model.

Even you could find different models such as Telecasters taking Strat necks and vice versa.

You can find out more about that in this article:

One thing to take into consideration, however, is that you should always be working with the same kind of bolt configuration for the neck joint.

Most Fenders use 4-bolt neck joints, but in the 70s and some reissue models, you will find 3-bolt necks that just won’t match more modern neck pockets.

What can you do if your neck pocket doesn’t fit a 22-fret neck?

If you find out that your guitar’s neck pocket doesn’t fit a 22-fret neck, there are some alternatives:

First, if the neck is just a bit smaller, you could try to fill the gaps with some shims or wood pieces. This is not always optimal, but it might get the job done.

Second, if the neck is just bigger than the pocket, there’s not much to do other than sanding it down until it fits properly. Of course, this is destructive work and can not be reversed, so you should really think about it before committing.

Finally, if it’s just that the bolt configuration is completely different, I’d recommend you save that neck for another project and just look for a new one that will fit without the need for any extreme modifications.

Should you do these modifications on your own?

Absolutely, replacing bolt-on necks on guitars is not that hard of a job, and incomparably easier than dealing with set-necks.

If you are a DIYer and you are used to working on your guitar you could probably change the neck with no issues.

Remember that if you end up changing the scale of your instrument, you will require to reset the intonation for it to sound correct in tune.

So, if any of this sounds a bit out of your reach, you can always go to your local guitar tech, who will surely know exactly what and how to do it.

Is this mod worth it?

In my opinion, going from 21 frets to 22 frets doesn’t add too much to a guitar, and is probably not worth it at all.

However, if you usually find yourself playing that high on the fretboard, and think that the extra fret could make a difference in your playstyle, by all means, go for it!

If I were to change the neck on any of my guitars, I would base my decision on feel and tone mostly.

I’m not a big fan of maple fretboards, so I would think of changing any maple fretboard neck for a rosewood one without considering the number of frets in it.