Zero Fret Nut - which one? DIY?

effzee

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Hey there

I've been looking into zero fret nuts and there don't seem to be many on the market. Zero Glide and Tusq come up most when I search, but neither of them looks like the zero fret nut of my imagination.

If I were to design this thing, I'd have the stainless fret part of it right there where the nut slot is, like a low, uncut nut, basically; and the string guide section, the nut, behind that (or above that? I mean on the headstock side, of course)

Does that make sense and is there something like that available?

Looking at the Zero Glide, looks like a really simple install. I think I'd feel ok doing it myself.

The guitar I'd want to do it on has a 12" radius, but as far as I can tell, the Zero Glide is for all radii? I don't actually understand how that can be, but I guess it's true.

What's got me interested in this is simply the way my guitar plays when I use a capo. It feels tighter and actually sounds better acoustically, with no string rattle. So I started thinking I might prefer the guest with a zero fret.
 

Martinp

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The nut on a zero fret guitar is just there to establish the spacing between the strings, the zero fret sets the string height. I've never done one but it looks less critical than a normal nut setup
 

generic202

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I have a Strandberg guitar with zero fret nut and they sell spare parts here.

I'm not sure if these can be used in your project but I thought I would share. I would also check out how Strandbergs install their zero fret/nut to get some ideas but I agree with above post. It's not that critical. The nut is only there to guide string spacing and does not need to reflect the fretboard radius as much.
 

schmee

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Hey there

I've been looking into zero fret nuts and there don't seem to be many on the market. Zero Glide and Tusq come up most when I search, but neither of them looks like the zero fret nut of my imagination.

If I were to design this thing, I'd have the stainless fret part of it right there where the nut slot is, like a low, uncut nut, basically; and the string guide section, the nut, behind that (or above that? I mean on the headstock side, of course)

Does that make sense and is there something like that available?

Looking at the Zero Glide, looks like a really simple install. I think I'd feel ok doing it myself.

The guitar I'd want to do it on has a 12" radius, but as far as I can tell, the Zero Glide is for all radii? I don't actually understand how that can be, but I guess it's true.

What's got me interested in this is simply the way my guitar plays when I use a capo. It feels tighter and actually sounds better acoustically, with no string rattle. So I started thinking I might prefer the guest with a zero fret.
You usually set your string clearance after a nut is installed so radius probably doesn't matter on most nuts. If it's metal than maybe...
 

StevesBoogie

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Definitely watching this thread. I am super interested in doing this as well.

I've been wanting to swap out my nut for a while now. The high E is just a hair ever too close to the fretboard edge and it's not a neck alignment issue ... so I've been open to changing to a zero fret nut. Heck, it's a cheap and fun experiment. One can always go back to their old nut or replacement nut.
 

effzee

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You usually set your string clearance after a nut is installed so radius probably doesn't matter on most nuts. If it's metal than maybe...

But on a zero fret nut, there's an extra fret, metal, at the "zero" position. The nut itself, as far as I can tell, is there exclusively for the string spacing. @Peegoo said something cryptic to the contrary in another thread, but I don't know what he was referring to.

So I think the metal zero fret obviously has to align with the radius. Maybe you just bend it and hammer it in place, make it fit the radius like a regular fret, except the nut is attached to it, or the nut and fret are once piece.
 

schmee

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But on a zero fret nut, there's an extra fret, metal, at the "zero" position. The nut itself, as far as I can tell, is there exclusively for the string spacing. @Peegoo said something cryptic to the contrary in another thread, but I don't know what he was referring to.

So I think the metal zero fret obviously has to align with the radius. Maybe you just bend it and hammer it in place, make it fit the radius like a regular fret, except the nut is attached to it, or the nut and fret are once piece.
Yes, it should be just like the other fret radii.
 

Ricky D.

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All of you guys already have a zero fret?

Maybe I’m missing something here, but that zero fret conversion project would appear to include:

-remove the original nut
-fill the vacant old nut slot
-install a zero fret. The tang of the new zero fret would be exactly where your filler material joins the fingerboard.
-cut the slot for the zero fret
-Install and level the new zero fret.
-fabricate and install the new zero fret nut


One false move at any point makes a mess out of the job that would be hard to fix.

Seems like maybe you don’t have experience with this job, just guessing. If you decide to go ahead, get a cheap guitar and try it on that first.

IMO, there’s little if anything to be gained by this major surgery versus just paying a good luthier to cut a new bone nut.

Edit: I just looked up the Zero Glide mentioned in the OP. Looks like the new fret and nut fit into the original nut slot, much simpler than I thought.
 
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Peegoo

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@Peegoo said something cryptic to the contrary in another thread, but I don't know what he was referring to.

The nut slots should not be cut overly deep because the nut is there to not only hold the strings in position, it also relieves downforce over the zero fret. Think about it this way: how much finger pressure to you need on a string for it to note cleanly on a fret? Not too much.

At the zero fret, excessive string downforce will cause premature wear of the zero fret where the strings pass over it. This wear is caused by tuning the strings, as well as bending notes--especially between the zero fret and the 5th fret.

Many guitar makers that use a zero fret usually do not cut the nut properly; they are fiddly things to set up. But once it's properly done, it works fine. Some pro players with vintage Gretsches have the end of the fretboard cut at the zero fret and get a standard nut installed.
 

effzee

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The nut slots should not be cut overly deep because the nut is there to not only hold the strings in position, it also relieves downforce over the zero fret. Think about it this way: how much finger pressure to you need on a string for it to note cleanly on a fret? Not too much.

At the zero fret, excessive string downforce will cause premature wear of the zero fret where the strings pass over it. This wear is caused by tuning the strings, as well as bending notes--especially between the zero fret and the 5th fret.

Many guitar makers that use a zero fret usually do not cut the nut properly; they are fiddly things to set up. But once it's properly done, it works fine. Some pro players with vintage Gretsches have the end of the fretboard cut at the zero fret and get a standard nut installed.
Many thanks for the info! 👍🏼👍🏼
 

effzee

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All of you guys already have a zero fret?

Maybe I’m missing something here, but that zero fret conversion project would appear to include:

-remove the original nut
-fill the vacant old nut slot
-install a zero fret. The tang of the new zero fret would be exactly where your filler material joins the fingerboard.
-cut the slot for the zero fret
-Install and level the new zero fret.
-fabricate and install the new zero fret nut


One false move at any point makes a mess out of the job that would be hard to fix.

Seems like maybe you don’t have experience with this job, just guessing. If you decide to go ahead, get a cheap guitar and try it on that first.

IMO, there’s little if anything to be gained by this major surgery versus just paying a good luthier to cut a new bone nut.

Edit: I just looked up the Zero Glide mentioned in the OP. Looks like the new fret and nut fit into the original nut slot, much simpler than I thought.
Yeah it's non destructive surgery. If it wasn't, I wouldn't even consider it 👍🏼
 

kLyon

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The nut slots should not be cut overly deep because the nut is there to not only hold the strings in position, it also relieves downforce over the zero fret. Think about it this way: how much finger pressure to you need on a string for it to note cleanly on a fret? Not too much.

At the zero fret, excessive string downforce will cause premature wear of the zero fret where the strings pass over it. This wear is caused by tuning the strings, as well as bending notes--especially between the zero fret and the 5th fret.

Many guitar makers that use a zero fret usually do not cut the nut properly; they are fiddly things to set up. But once it's properly done, it works fine. Some pro players with vintage Gretsches have the end of the fretboard cut at the zero fret and get a standard nut installed.
They want their vintage Gretsches to not be like what Chet Atkins demanded?
That's a move I would never make.
But then, that's just me, and I really like zero frets. Anyway, I'm a firm believer in everyone having the right to have their mileage vary)
To get back to the original topic, I have a bunch of the Zero Glides on guitars and, even though they're cheap, they work really well. They can be a little trickier to install then it seems, but you get the hang of it.
 

generic202

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One more thing you may want to consider is wire size for the zero fret. On my Strandberg, they installed slightly wider and taller fretwire for the zero fret. All frets are Jescar 51100 SS wire but the zero fret is 57110. I think this slightly taller zero fret helps with any buzzing issues. Anyway, if it's too tall then it's easy to sand it down but if it's too low, then you probably have to redo the fret installation with a taller fret.
 

effzee

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They want their vintage Gretsches to not be like what Chet Atkins demanded?
That's a move I would never make.
But then, that's just me, and I really like zero frets. Anyway, I'm a firm believer in everyone having the right to have their mileage vary)
To get back to the original topic, I have a bunch of the Zero Glides on guitars and, even though they're cheap, they work really well. They can be a little trickier to install then it seems, but you get the hang of it.
That's encouraging, thanks 😊
 

effzee

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One more thing you may want to consider is wire size for the zero fret. On my Strandberg, they installed slightly wider and taller fretwire for the zero fret. All frets are Jescar 51100 SS wire but the zero fret is 57110. I think this slightly taller zero fret helps with any buzzing issues. Anyway, if it's too tall then it's easy to sand it down but if it's too low, then you probably have to redo the fret installation with a taller fret.
That's exactly what I was thinking might be the knock-on effect, like I said in my OP I actually prefer my guitar with a capo, which is what got me to thinking about this.

NB: The nut is 100% good and was prepped by a professional with a lot of experience. There are no real problems with the guitar in itself.
 




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