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Zero fret question

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Meshgearfox, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. Meshgearfox

    Meshgearfox Tele-Meister

    349
    Jul 29, 2012
    Montague, mi
    First, thank you all for the information and inspiration. This site is fantastic.



    ForumRunner_20121101_222822.jpg

    I have and old short scale neck I'd like to use for a musicmaster/ mustang project. It needs new frets, and I'm not sure how to deal with the zero fret. Should it be leveled off with all the other frets, or left slightly proud so that the strings are positioned as they would be if they were coming through a traditional nut?
     

  2. THRASHOCASTER

    THRASHOCASTER Tele-Meister

    198
    Oct 2, 2012
    toledo
    Everything I've ever heard is that the zero fret is your assurance of proper string height, so that the nut only spaces the strings properly. But I'm sure a properly cut nut would render the zero fret moot. Still, I'd leave the zero fret the way it is. 'If it ain't broke'...well you know the rest.
     

  3. Meshgearfox

    Meshgearfox Tele-Meister

    349
    Jul 29, 2012
    Montague, mi
    Thanks. Unfortunately it is broke. All of the frets (zero fret included) have been ground very low and flat.
     

  4. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    The theory behind a zero fret is that it should be leveled to the same plane as all the frets. In practice, just about everyone makes the zero fret higher, so it serves as a nut, and not a capo.
     

  5. jimdkc

    jimdkc Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    61
    Mar 12, 2009
    Independence, MO
    Look at it this way: Your first fret doesn't stand proud of your second... which doesn't stand proud of your third... etc... etc... etc...

    Why should the zero fret stand proud of the first?
     

  6. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Age:
    69
    Dec 31, 2009
    Queensland Australia
    My take on "zero frets" is that it is really a nut made from fret wire and the plastic former behind it (or another piece of slotted fret-wire etc.) is just the guide holding the strings in the correct position in relation to each other.

    We make nuts slightly higher than the frets to make the neck playable, why wouldn't you do the same for all nuts. If your nut is higher that 1-22 you get a more uniform and lower clearance, and easier playability. Q.E.D.

    They are called zero frets because they're in the zero position and made of fret wire, but they are the nut just made by using a fret. :D

    Doing one now and it will be higher than 1-22frets.
     

  7. nofrets

    nofrets Tele-Meister

    209
    Nov 14, 2010
    West Virginia
    I'm pretty sure the zero fret should in the same plane as the other frets. The nut slots, however, should be cut lower so that the open strings are laying on the zero fret. Similar principle to using the half-pencil trick to mark the bottom of your nut slots on a non-zero fret neck, but now the zero fret serves as the 'bottom' of your open strings, and the nut just controls spacing.
     

  8. hemingway

    hemingway Friend of Leo's

    Mar 14, 2012
    London, UK
    Just had a look at my Hohner G3T. If the zero fret is any higher, it isn't by much.
     

  9. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Age:
    69
    Dec 31, 2009
    Queensland Australia
    I'm probably wrong but if your "zero fret" is level with the other frett up the board won't that make the string clearance increase at an angle all the way up the neck?

    If fret/nut zero is high enough to give no buzz on fret 1 when open, it stands to reason if your neck is level and the bridge is adjusted correctly it should result in a low buzz free action? It's physics! Does everyone make their bone nuts higher than the frets or level with them???????????????
     

  10. jkingma

    jkingma Super Moderator Staff Member

    Admin Post
    This is exactly correct.

    The nut is ONLY to maintain string alignment.
     

  11. Meshgearfox

    Meshgearfox Tele-Meister

    349
    Jul 29, 2012
    Montague, mi
    Thanks for all the input. If level is "correct" that is what i'll do. I've been told zero frets develop string grooves rather quickly, so i'll have a chance to try the alternative soon enough.
     

  12. Rich Rice

    Rich Rice Poster Extraordinaire

    Jul 15, 2005
    Chicago 'Burbs
    It should be the same as the rest of them, with the nut slots lower. That will provide optimum playability across the whole neck, provided your frets are nicely leveled and crowned, and you maintain proper relief in the neck. As far as developing grooves, I would suggest using stainless steel fretwire for the zero fret.
     

  13. tap4154

    tap4154 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Apr 14, 2009
    Southern California
    You're sorta stuck with it because it set the scale length on your neck, not the nut.

    Great idea to make it stainless.

    One uke I have (Fluke) has a zero fret, and the thing intonates perfectly, so IMHO being stuck with it is a good thing.
     

  14. ByronClock

    ByronClock TDPRI Member

    29
    Dec 9, 2010
    Los Angeles CA, USA
    In my limited experience:
    On my one guitar w/ a zero fret, I leveled it to the same height as the frets, so long as the neck is straight, or has some relief, the zero fret (or a traditional nut slot for that matter) does not need to be higher than the frets. In fact, the relative ease of achieving this minimum height at the "nut" area vs. a traditional nut is one of the chief advantages of the zero fret IMHO.
    The stainless zero fret is a double edged sword. While it does combat the increased wear at the zero fret (versus other frets) it's a real pain during fret leveling YMMV of course.
     

  15. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    I have/had two guitars with zero fret, one has had the zero fret replaced with an Earvana nut when I re-fretted (it was a "problem" neck ;) The other one, a 60s Yamaha works perfectly - if it ain't bust, don't fix it.

    The advantage of a zero nut is you get very even string action, the disadvantage is you cannot play upper-end intonation tweaking tricks by adjusting string heights.
    This is complex, the Earvana does it by cheating the length. To fiddle the heights, the nut has to be ever-so slightly forwards of its proper position, there is a tendency for strings to pull sharp over the first few frets. Not for nut cutting newbies ;)

    Ime level the zero fret with the others but also use a properly cut nut to get the break angle correct and prevent strange sitar sounds, not just a string spacer. Do ensure good string pressure on the zero.

    In the pic above the nut looks a long way from the zero, that can make odd noises because the strings will slide on the zero when you do a bend. The gap on the Yamaha SA20B is only 2-3mm. That neck does look like a candidate for replacing the zero with a pukka nut, the fret slot is the front edge of the nut slot.

    If you use an oilstone for fret levelling, it will have no problem eating stainless steel, unlike sandpaper on a levelling iron.
     

  16. jimdkc

    jimdkc Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    61
    Mar 12, 2009
    Independence, MO
    One more point... When you go to file a new nut, what's one of the first things you do? You use a half-pencil to mark the depth of your string slots... Level with the frets!
     

  17. 6x47

    6x47 Tele-Holic

    804
    Mar 28, 2007
    Northern ON
    I don't dispute this (in fact it's the method I last used to replace a broken nut) but I'm pointing out that the instructions in my Stewart-MacDonald catalog as well as the instructions in Guitar Player Repair Guide by Dan Erlewine describe 2 more and different methods.

    Just to make things really interesting, a 93 year old friend who has been working on musical instruments of all types since he was a kid tried to explain a 4th method which seemed very complex so I'll have to write it down next time he comes over.

    I guess my point is I think we should look at a discussion forum for nuts and related theory, maybe compile measurements to make the chore easier.

    Getting back to the topic, my friend is a machinist and inventor. We were discussing my idea for replacing a tele nut with a combination zero fret - nut. The thing would be made from solid stock with the nut cantilevered away from the portion replacing the nut.
     

  18. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    That's how I do it, but another popular method is to measure the height of the first fret, and add about 30 thou and cut the slots that high.

    When I cut mine, I go ahead and slot them to the top of the pencil line, and then fine tune them when I have the guitar setup. That way I can lower the slot till each string frets easily.
     

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