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Old 10-26-2018, 11:14 AM
Quercus is offline
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: temperate forest
Posts: 7,073
Arguments based on the scale would make sense if the guitar had one string, and all songs were played in the same (major) key based on that open string. But they're not.

Having the major scale marked out on on the fretboard isn't super helpful when the vast majority of the time, it's not actually marking the scale for the key you're playing in, on the string you're fretting.

Clearly, then, the main point of the markings is just as a visual aid for being able to quickly find the fifth versus the sixth fret (and look reasonably attractive while doing so); only at the margin do music-theory considerations matter.

I totally agree with pulykamell's thinking. Though, as he's not a guitarist, he may have not appreciated why guitarists find the fifth fret (a musical fourth-step up from the open string) more natural as the next major marking after the octave: first, because the guitar is tuned in fourths (well, 5/6ths of it anyway), so that's kind of a natural spot to mark, and second because for most forms of guitar music (except maybe blues/rock electric guitar leads and some rock rhythm guitar), the open strings are used a lot and so lower frets are more important than higher ones, making the fifth fret more important than the 7th.
But maybe more importantly, on the physical guitar neck, the fifth fret is exactly halfway between the nut and the 12th fret, so, on a purely visual level that's the next spot to mark.

The other spots kind of fall out from there: putting a marking two frets away from the major marking is enough so that you can find what you're looking for quickly, without too much clutter. So go up and down two from the fifth fret. The choice of the 9th (two up from the already -marked 7th) or 10th (two down from the 12th/octave) is pretty arbitrary. Maybe just the one closer to the nut was considered more important, given traditional guitar music, or maybe it just looked nicer, since the the 9th is just slightly closer to physically halfway between the 7th and the 12th frets than the 10th fret is.