I am making a guitar for a friend form a 1930s tin they have supplied, and I do not want to cut into the top and spoil it, the tin is 12 inches long. My question is how my frets to use, 15 of 18? 18 will make the neck quite long

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If you're only bringing the frets to the can and not extending over it then I think 15 would be plenty. If your extending the fretboard over the tin, then do 18.

Blues Frog

Thanks for the advice, I have gone for18.

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