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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

Zero fret question

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

  1. BobbyB

    BobbyB Tele-Holic

    Because its fretted and not open.
    Im starting to understand...Im thinking a Capo works...so your right.
    As long as the bridge is higher....the frets and Zero fret can be the same height...hmmmm.:)
     

  2. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Fret crowning shouldn't reduce fret height - the crowning file should only be used until there is a fine line of scratches left from the leveling tool on the crest of the fret. These scratches will be removed in the finishing of the fret, but no actual material will be removed.
     

  3. Fred_Garvin

    Fred_Garvin Tele-Holic

    636
    Feb 21, 2011
    Atlanta, GA
    I think it was the capo analogy that turned on the light bulb for me. Yes, a nut is usually slightly higher than the first fret. This is not ideal. A nut should function like a zero fret.

    Assuming the neck is dead straight, and all frets are exactly the same height, as long as the bridge is higher than that plane, there is no difference between a nut, a zero fret, a capo, or your finger.
     

  4. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 22, 2010
    New Zealand
    +1

    Most of the job of a crowning file is in reshaping the sides to match the levelled top - the resulting crest of the fret should barely be touched if at all.
     

  5. axedaddy

    axedaddy Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 7, 2011
    Winter Haven, FL
    I used a zero fret on this years challenge guitar. I leveled and dressed all the frets, including the zero fret, the same. I cut the nut, or string guide, behind it. It is one of the best playing guitars I have ever played. The action is smooth, even and easy all the way up the neck. There is no buzzing issues, in fact in rings quite well. The key to the whole thing in my experience anyway is you have to have good break angle/down pressure to make everything gel properly. IMHO it is superior in playability, intonation and tone. As has been stated earlier, it works like a capo. Because it is exactly like the next fret in height, radius and shape, it does not have to be higher. A slotted nut on the other hand has to be left higher because it is not exactly like the next fret. It is 6 grooves cut as best as we can to the radius of the first fret. The French guitar builder Vigier uses zero frets with great success. I believe like so many things with guitars, it is how Leo did it that we perceive is "correct". In reality zero fret or no zero fret, neither one is wrong. IMHO if a player plays both side by side, he/she will be able to determine their preference for themselves. For me, after playing and building both ways, I prefer the zero fret.
     

  6. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Age:
    69
    Dec 31, 2009
    Queensland Australia

  7. Holyoli

    Holyoli Tele-Meister

    145
    May 25, 2009
    Belgium
    I've read this whole thread twice and, sorry guys, but I can’t see why the zero fret should be at the same level as the others (and specially the first one).

    Even if we call it a fret, its function is to act like a nut. When you are doing a new nut, you always leave some clearance above the first fret height when you cut the nut slots. You can check this by pressing the string between the second and third fret, there should be a very tiny space between the bottom of the string and the top of the first fret. There are a lot of posts here and there about that ( Ron Kirn, Dan Erlewine, Frank Ford, …)
    So, why should it be different with a zero fret ?

    If you cut a nut slot too low (= if you level your zero fret on the first one), you will have your open strings buzzing. Then you’ll try to compensate that with more relief and more action at the bridge. It may works, but it’s bad practice.

    Why does it work with a capo then ?
    Because as you move back to the bridge, even of one fret, the relative angle of the string to the top and the frets is bigger.

    Sorry but all this seems very logical to me.

    And I just checked on my L serie Steinberger (all graphite, headless, neck dead flat and no truss rod). The zero fret is definitively higher than the first one.
     

  8. Fred_Garvin

    Fred_Garvin Tele-Holic

    636
    Feb 21, 2011
    Atlanta, GA
    Holyoli, I don't think it's a problem or "wrong" for the zero fret to be like the nut, slightly higher than the next fret. In practice, like your Stenberger, it probably usually is. It's a problem when say, the 2nd fret is higher than the first.

    Assuming all frets (including a zero fret) are the same height it still works because of the bridge height you mention, just like a capo, except the downward angle behind the zero fret replaces the downward pressure of a capo.

    It should work either way, and if the zero fret is slightly higher, it just provides a small margin of error.
     

  9. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 22, 2010
    New Zealand
    The explanations are provided over and over again above. There is simply no need for the fret to be higher than the others. If you follow your own logic regarding the capo and the bridge angle, longer scale guitars such as baritones or basses simply wouldn't work when fretting nearer to the nut. But of course they do.

    All this argument is moot anyway, because countless guitars have been built either by companies or small builders that utilise a same-level zero fret. As stated above one member put on one his challenge build, at the same level as the other frets. It simply does work, so making declarations of what's viewed as logical and what's viewed as not logical is pointless. The fact is it's been done often, and it works very well.
     

  10. axedaddy

    axedaddy Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 7, 2011
    Winter Haven, FL
    I disagree with what you say about it works but is bad practice. I build my guitars with very little relief in the neck. I prefer a dead flat neck. Having the zero fret the same height has no effect on needing more relief in the neck or having to compensate somewhere else in the set up. In fact in practice it makes for a much better set up with lower action the entire length of the fret board. As I said in my original reply, it does not have to be higher because it is exactly the same as fret 1st fret, not 6 grooves each filed to try to match. The most important part of the zero fret set up s proper break angle behind the zero fret to supply the proper down pressure. If Steinberger decides to make his zero frets higher for whatever reason, that is fine and certainly not wrong. But I can tell you from 20+ years of experience, making them all the same height is the correct way to do it.
     

  11. Holyoli

    Holyoli Tele-Meister

    145
    May 25, 2009
    Belgium
    Phil, ok you're right...
    But there a lot of things that "work" and are far from ideal.
     

  12. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    I can only speak for myself, but I cut the nut higher than the frets because it is too easy to go lower than the first fret which would result in having to do it all over again. By stopping a bit higher, say 1/64" or so, you only have to do it once.

    Also tradition dictates that they be higher, If any of the major mfg made nut slots the same as frets...we'd all be doing it. With today's technology, it probably is doable for them but probably more costly.
     

  13. axedaddy

    axedaddy Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 7, 2011
    Winter Haven, FL
    There is a myriad of things we consider "correct" because it was the way Leo did it that are far from ideal.

    It this case , from real world experience, not theory or logic, I can tell you it "works" better.
     

  14. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 22, 2010
    New Zealand
    Yup, a level zero fret is categorically "ideal". A higher cut nut is not ideal, because the result in the lower frets will always be a slightly sharp fretted note. The zero fret eliminates this.
     

  15. Holyoli

    Holyoli Tele-Meister

    145
    May 25, 2009
    Belgium
    Axedaddy, I got your point very well.

    My only concern is the op question, not to be “right” or “wrong”. If you cut the nut slots too much, ok, get a new one a do it again, that’s the way you learn and it’s only a few dollars. If you go too far on a zero fret, moreover on a old fingerboard, it’s a little bit more problematic...

    Based on your experience you say it works, there's no reason not to believe you .
    But on the other hand I also consider the advice of luthiers like the ones I named, who are also experienced. Not to be disrespectful in any way.

    For the rest, I don’t want to open a polemic here, I'm all with you guys, there are more important things in the world… ;-)
     

  16. axedaddy

    axedaddy Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 7, 2011
    Winter Haven, FL
    It's all good.

    Don't get me wrong, I never cut my nut slots for non zero fret guitars to the height of the first fret, it has to be higher. A zero fret is just a different animal than a traditional nut. It took me some time to wrap my head around it until I actually did it. Then the switch went on and I saw the light :)
     

  17. nosmo

    nosmo Friend of Leo's

    Jan 31, 2012
    Lake Jackson, TX
    I must say I've learned a lot more about zero frets in the last couple days than I ever thought I''d need. Guess I'll just have to try it sometime. And I know how I'll try it first ;)

    Carry on.
     

  18. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    My point was if you keep dressing the zero it will end up too low.

    My levelling tool leaves no scratches on the frets, it polishes them mirror finish. Thus my dressing tool is actually used to finish the fret as it re-crowns.
     

  19. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    The diagram is incorrect, both nut and zero are the same height, they do the same thing, or should do
     

  20. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    If you use the same technique on your 21st as your zero fret they'll be the same height - which is how a zero fret guitar should be set up.
     

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