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Zero frets.

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Blue Bear, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. Blue Bear

    Blue Bear Tele-Meister

    How come nobody uses zero frets anymore. I am building a neck and it popped into my head to try it. Should make cutting the nut a bit simpler. If you have done them post some pics.
     

  2. trev333

    trev333 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    yeh, I was playing a mates old epiphone acoustic last week.. it had a bolt in neck and a zero fret... two things I haven't seen on a "modern" acoustic... played/sounded ok.. new strings would be better.. I think he had the original 80's strings still on it!?.. they were dull..

    and wondered the same thing.. where did the zero frets go?.. they seem like a good idea..was it just one less slot to make for the workers?... a production time saver?...

    or was there top end string rattles with low actions at the bridge end?...
     

  3. LocustPlague

    LocustPlague Tele-Holic

    933
    Sep 17, 2008
    Texas
    I imagine the nut just gives another knob for adjustment. For the neck with a zero fret to play at all, the neck needs to be set up properly; for a neck with a nut, it won't be intonated, but at least it will make sound.
     

  4. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    Funny I thought about that too this week. I think the zero fret was associated with the cheap guitars of the 1970's. Tiescos and Norma guitars as examples of some of those cheapies. Supro used them on some of their final products. Remember the zero fret has to be higher than the other frets to get the necessary clearance so the strings don't buzz. You'd still have to have a device ( nut) to space the strings properly behind the zero fret too.

    Many modern acoustic guitars use a bolt on neck, just not from the back, but from the inside neck block into the heel.
     

  5. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Ad Free + Supporter

    Age:
    69
    Dec 31, 2009
    Queensland Australia
    I have built a couple of necks with them and I find them to be better than a nut. Gives you a little bit more room down at the skinny end and the "nut" becomes a string guide which eliminates a lot of potential problems in pinching etc if you make your own nuts.

    I have a couple of lengths of bass guitar fret wire I use for the zero. I think they work particularly well with kerfed headstocks.
     

  6. Mojotron

    Mojotron Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 21, 2008
    Seattle
    I have one of those old Epiphones - it was made around 1970. Plays better at any spot on the neck than most electrics I've played in my life. Sounds great too. On that acoustic there are some grooves in the 0 fret where the strings ride on it. Those groves could be from wear - I've been playing that guitar for 35 years - a few years there it was about 4 hours a day just on that guitar. Great frets they used back then, I can see lots of wear on the frets, but does not need a fret job as the wear is pretty even and the intonation is good for an acoustic.

    I also have a Steinberger Spirit with a 0 fret - that one is unmatched by even my Parkers for playability without buzzing. There's no warn/filed spots in the 0 fret, and it has amazing action (~.019 @12th fret) with very little relief (~.002 @8th fret). I've not made a guitar with a 0 fret yet, but I likely will.
     

  7. Blue Bear

    Blue Bear Tele-Meister

    Now I am looking extra-forward to getting this one finished!
     

  8. trev333

    trev333 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Yeh Mojo ,the neck felt more like a fender C neck... not too thick...
    and this ones neck was straight as a ruler... nearly flat action... yet I'm sure it would have never been adjusted in it's life.... the bridge was starting to bulge up a bit as old acoustics can do, though the action wasn't unusually high....

    my mates an old bushy.... it's probably got the original strings on it.... but by the time we'd played the thing for a few hours between us the cowboy chord positions were as shiny as brass...
    shame was if I'd known.... I have fresh strings here I could have taken up to change them for him... next visit I'm taking some .... and some lemon oil/polish/tools and give the old girl a makeover....
     

  9. Blue Bear

    Blue Bear Tele-Meister

    The zero fret should be the same height as the rest of the frets. If it needed to be higher then fret number 2 would have to be lower than fret number one and so on and so on. The zero fret would be just like fret number one. Makes perfect sense, just like fretting, and the tone should be equal between an open string and a fretted string...hmmmm....
     

  10. 6x47

    6x47 Tele-Holic

    804
    Mar 28, 2007
    Northern ON
    My 64 Gretsch Jet Firebird has a zero fret, I believe it sounds better at the first fret than a regular nut and it certainly eliminates a lot of the irritants I've run into with nuts on various Teles. You sure can't call this model a cheap guitar,

    I'm going to make a metal piece to fit in the nut slot of a Tele neck so that a piece of fret wire can be installed in the metal piece and a nut built right into the metal piece.
     

  11. SamClemons

    SamClemons Poster Extraordinaire

    Jan 23, 2011
    Jasper, TN
    I have an old Gretsch acoustic with zero fret. Nice guitar. Someone at Gretsch must have liked zero frets. From a manufacturing point of view, more steps and cost, it would seem to me. A regular nut would be faster on a production line.
     

  12. trev333

    trev333 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    I thought it was the opposite... the better made expensive guitars had a zero fret, in the past.......
     

  13. Mojotron

    Mojotron Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 21, 2008
    Seattle
    Right - that's really the only issue with mine is that the wood behind the bridge is raising up a hair too. I think I was 17 (1981) last time I adjusted the truss rod.
     

  14. donh

    donh Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 25, 2010
    Oh Aich Ten
    I have a couple of very good acoustics with zero frets and have built a couple of electrics with the zero fret. They work and sound fantastic.

    The one caveat I have with the zero fret is when placed on a Fender-type headstock with the straight string path. It this case the spacer nut has to be made exactly the string width or you get the string shifting sideways with a bend and it emits and teeny-tiny "gink" sound. I hate that sound :)

    So the last tele I built had a standard nut as will the next one. But if you have a headstock type that sets up any sideways string pull at all, there is zero reason to avoid the zero fret.
     

  15. trev333

    trev333 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    just called old mate.. the model # is ST-130....

    can you figure out the age from that?..

    edit.. found a pic of the Epi and zero fret...mid to late 70's it seems they were made......[​IMG]
     

  16. OpenG Capo4

    OpenG Capo4 Friend of Leo's

    Aug 4, 2010
    Athens, GA
    I saw an old Gretsch ad the other day describing the zero fret. It said the advantage was that you got a lower action at lower frets which would bring the action down across the fretboard.

    I don't remember any of the old Teisco's I've seen having particularly low actions, but then they were not as well cared for and well set up and adjustable as Gretsches either
    .
     

  17. Mojotron

    Mojotron Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 21, 2008
    Seattle
    Yep - that's a lot like my FT-145. There is a serial number on a sticker on the plastic neck bolt cover - if you don't have that, but know it was there, the only thing you know is that it was one of the ones they made from 1970-1980 as they were too cheap or too high to put a number where it was going to stick around for a while.
     

  18. jipp

    jipp Friend of Leo's

    any close up pictures diagram.. never heard of this zero fret.. thanks.
    from the photo event ho not a close up i think i get it. you use a extra fret before the nut.
    chris.
     

  19. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    The zero fret should be the same height as the rest of the frets. If it needed to be higher then fret number 2 would have to be lower than fret number one and so on and so on. The zero fret would be just like fret number one. Makes perfect sense, just like fretting, and the tone should be equal between an open string and a fretted string...hmmmm....

    You sure about that? I never played one that I paid any attention to the clearance. I was under the assumption one needed the clearance to eliminate some buzzing there. If that is true, why aren't nuts cut to the same level as fretwire?
     

  20. Blue Bear

    Blue Bear Tele-Meister

    For the same reason your first fret doesn't need to be higher than your second fret. It's like using a capo on the first fret and tuning down. And your nut slots should be cut to the same depth as the height of your frets.
     

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