Whatever happened to the zero fret?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by oramac7891, Sep 22, 2014.

  1. oramac7891

    oramac7891 Friend of Leo's

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    I have a couple old Japanese guitars and they have the zero fret. I was playing one of them yesterday and it seemed like a much simpler design with less room for error.

    With all the talk about proper nut slots and such, it made me wonder-

    Why not use the zero fret method and not worry about the nut?
    (I'm sure I'm missing something, but it seems like a better design)
     
  2. lineboat

    lineboat Friend of Leo's

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    I think this could be endlessly argued, and in the end it would all come down to preference, but I see both pros and cons. It should be cheaper to manufacture and ideally would be easier to set up, but on the flip side could cause intonation and action issues, along with fret wear on the zero nut over time, resulting in more stability and maintenance issues. Others will argue tone as well. Again, I say it takes all types to make the world go round, but personally I'll stick with my nuts.....
     
  3. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Mosrite used 'em.
     
  4. euro

    euro Tele-Holic

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    Vigier Guitars from France use them. The frets are all stainless steel, so there is minimal wear. I like the idea of a zero fret, but this is only the second guitar I have owned and play that has one.
     
  5. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    The zero fret became associated with the electric car, then one day both disappeared :eek:
     
  6. Paul45

    Paul45 Tele-Meister

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    Loads of Gretsch guitars have zero frets, and next year Gibson is introducing a zero fret nut....allegedly!
     
  7. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Holic

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    I think you answered your question with your first sentence. Some American makers have used them, but I feel the ability to adjust each string height at the nut is superior. I have dressed a few frets and it's not a fun adventure for me to take off just the right amount. If you take down the zero fret too far I think the only remedy is to replace it. With a nut, you can fill up the slot with super glue and start over. I also think there was a time the early imports were frowned upon and most had a zero fret.
     
  8. Veebus52

    Veebus52 Tele-Meister

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    If you've ever used a capo, then you were effectively playing with a "zero fret".
     
  9. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

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    Zero frets shouldn't wear, and it's much easier to get the heights right with one. What American manufacturers do instead is give you a nut that's way too high and not optimized for any string sets, and then no one knows what a guitar should feel like until they're set on using a particular string gauge and get an expertly cut nut.
     
  10. tweedman2001

    tweedman2001 Tele-Afflicted

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    Gibson is doing their version of it for 2015. :rolleyes:

    "Gibson USA continues to raise the bar of Quality, Prestige and Innovation with the new line up of 2015 guitars. All Gibson USA guitars except for the Les Paul Supreme, Firebird and Derek Trucks SG will ship with the G-Force tuning system. Among many of the added features is the new Zero Fret Nut which is a patented applied for nut that has adjustable action capabilities."

    http://reverb.com/blog/gibson-to-increase-prices-update-models-for-2015
     
  11. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Afflicted

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    Fylde use a zero fret on their acoustics - I have two of them. His take on it is that a properly done zero fret is more work than a traditional nut, requiring the nut to be cut every bit as accurately as on a traditional set up, but he prefers the results from them. From the horse's mouth: http://www.fyldeguitars.com/blog/zero_frets.html.

    The zero frets on my Fyldes are a very different thing to the zero frets I've had on Hofner guitars and similar, where it has felt like a labour saving device - cutting a nut being a lot harder than tapping in an extra fret.
     
  12. kp8

    kp8 Friend of Leo's

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    please come to my house and explain that to my 2 guitars that have zero frets and hella deep divots in them.

    zero Frets? H A T E
     
  13. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Tele-Holic

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    There's your answer. I think this issue was settled several hundred years ago. If you look at old European guitars you very rarely see zero frets. Luthiers have always done repair work as well and were conscious of durability. In making their own high quality instruments they tended to opt for well cut nuts in preference.
     
  14. Anode100

    Anode100 Friend of Leo's

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    ...nothing...
     
  15. chezdeluxe

    chezdeluxe Poster Extraordinaire

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    They were a feature of Mario Maccaferri's Selmer designs...

    [​IMG]
     
  16. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Tele-Holic

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    Yeah but Selmer was a saxophone company. Gretsch was a drum company and who knows what those funny little Japanese brands did before.

    If you look at makes that were started by luthiers like Martin, Gibson, Ramirez you'll probably find the zero fret thing wasn't used much if at all.
     
  17. Bartholomew3

    Bartholomew3 Friend of Leo's

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    I have one on a vintage Country Gent - my best sounding axe.
     
  18. oramac7891

    oramac7891 Friend of Leo's

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    I had no idea this was such a debated subject. For what it's worth, neither one of my old Japanese guitars' zero frets are worn out at all. The action seems to be better and everything....now I realize that a bunch of these were dogs, so I must have the exceptions.
     
  19. kp8

    kp8 Friend of Leo's

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    It isn't.

    The vast majority of makers and players dislike zero frets. Do have data to back that up? no but it would sure seem that way by post-1970s guitar stocks and the lack of people clamoring for zero frets on these here inter webs. Are there folks who like them? Sure. Are there good points to a well made and meticulously maintained zero fret? sure. But you can find folks who are into all manner of kinky stuff. heh.

    It would seem very few have shed tears of the demise of the lowly zero fret.

    Take pride and solace in your exclusive club membership.

    :D
     
  20. Anode100

    Anode100 Friend of Leo's

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    ...so a zero fret walked into a nihilist convention...
     
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