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Zero fret question

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

  1. Fred_Garvin

    Fred_Garvin Tele-Holic

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    I never understood why zero frets aren't used more often. It's the same as using a capo. Maybe it's to cover up sloppy fretwork & setup. I've seen a thousand sales pitches about how superior bone, micarta, ivory, fossilized dinosaur turds, yadda yadda are the perfect nut material when in fact there are only six notes where the nut actually matters, and only one that can't be played elsewhere.

    I would think it's arguably superior, since all notes would bear against the same substance and be more uniform.

    Plus, if it's good enough for Dr Brian May, I'm down with it.
     
  2. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I saw a guitar recently (acoustic) that had a zero fret, and -1 fret and then a one string nut but only on the E string. It was like a little ebony E string pier above the headstock. And a little one string capo.

    Undo the little capo for dropped D. Pretty cool - no idea where I saw it though.
     
  3. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    If you lower the zero fret to the same level as all the other frets, what's the point of having it? The strings will be slightly above it, or they'll rattle and buzz. You're not going to squeeze in there and press down to make a note between the nut and the zero fret, so again, if it's not a "capo" or the point on which all the strings rest (with the nut just there to maintain spacing), why bother with the extra slotting, pressing in, bevel, level, etc.?
     
  4. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

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    With a zero fret the nut is lower than the fret. The fret itself acts as the nut in this case. The lower nut is a string guide only.
     
  5. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not only that, it's possibly a good option for those of us who haven't yet got a good set of nut slotting files. The need for a perfectly shaped, rounded nutslot would not be as crucial.

    Would certainly be a good test of your fret finishing skills though. ;)
     
  6. Bentley

    Bentley Friend of Leo's

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    You'd really not have a lot of room for errors, but I guess with the right equiptment, that's not very hard.
     
  7. FenderGyrl

    FenderGyrl Poster Extraordinaire

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    Zero Fret Height

    :D Interesting question and responses. I have two dozen 1970's catalogue Tele style guitars. Some are Sears , some are Jedsons, and some are Hohners, Decca, and Teisco's. I checked a few of them, and the Zero frets are set up as follows: If you have a string fretted at the first fret, the distance of the space from the fretboard to the bottom of the string (directly over the second fret) is the exact height of the zero fret. All of my Fenders and Gibsons pretty much follow the same rule, except the distance of the fretboard to the bottom of the nut groove equals the distance of the fretboard to the bottom of the string directly over the second fret. Most important, the nut behind the zero fret determines the string spacing. It has to allow the string to break over the zero fret towards the tuning keys to prevent buzzing(same as how the strings break over the bridge saddles), so the slots in the nut have to be lower than the zero fret, yet deep enough to keep the strings from popping out. I have the original nuts removed from my guitars and replaced with precut graphite nuts (requires a little shaping) = this way I have modern string spacing, not the cramed together string spacing the original nuts were cut to! The zero fret should be smooth when it is installed, to prevent "pinging" when you bend strings below the fifth fret. Whew...thats a whole lotta words! Attached is a pic of my three restored Hohners. I drive my guitar tech crazy with these old guitars,:rolleyes: but I think deep down he gets a kick out of bringing them back to life!:cool:
     

    Attached Files:

  8. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Right, Phil, that's exactly my point--not stated very clearly, apparently!

    If you made the zero fret the same height as the rest of the frets, and made a standard nut high enough to clear the zero fret without buzz or rattle--what would be the point of the zero fret?
     
  9. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

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    None. The point is, you don't make a nut high enough to clear it.

    Or am I still missing your point?
     
  10. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Guys I really cannot grasp the reasoning behind the "zero" fret being at the same level as the first fret, i.e. F on the e-string. Continued reference to a "nut" on a zero fret guitar I think is confusing the issue. The so-called nut becomes the string guide and the zero fret is the nut.

    If the nut isn't slightly higher than fret no1, how do you achieve clearance above fret1? You can do that by having the bridge set high enough to eliminate fret buzz, but that may result in a super high string action at the end of the neck. I thought the intention was to achieve a low clearance over the frets as parallel as possible to give even string action up the length of the neck. ?????????????????? :confused::confused:
     
  11. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    The zero fret's height is the same plane as the 1st and 21st frets.

    The nut is cut low enough to create a break angle over the zero fret.

    It is a "cheap" option because it means merely pressing the zero fret in has eliminated any skill needed to cut an accurate nut.

    The nut can be very badly cut and it doesn't matter.

    Zero frets are a great idea destroyed by shortcut-in-manufacturing-phobias, like top loader bridges.
     
  12. jkingma

    jkingma Super Moderator Staff Member

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    One of the reasons you don't see zero frets used more often is that most people associate them with cheaper instruments. I know a couple builders who prefer using zero frets on all of their instruments - for all of the reasons we have noted here - but they have trouble selling them. Unless a couple of the big names (Fender... Gibson...) start using them exclusively, this will likely never change.
     
  13. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

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    A capo works, and that is using the next fret as a "zero fret". Even playing an ordinary note means the next fret above your finger is a "zero fret". Given you can capo a neck anywhere, there's no reason why a zero fret shouldn't be at the same level as all the others.
     
  14. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think a pic is in order so we're all on the same page. This one seems good:

    [​IMG]
     
  15. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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    IME - the nuts on a zero are often cut badly - but they should not be

    For best results a zero does need a properly cut nut to suit it. Its slot depth will of course need to go lower than normal but it does work to ensure correct break angle, restrict side play and ensure smooth movement through the slot.

    The best tool for ensuring correct height of the zero, or a nut if you are cutting one, is the guitar string. It will always provide a straight line.
    You just check for a little clearance over the next fret without buzzing.
    No pencil needed (except as a rough guide), indeed the pencil line is too thick for accuracy.

    After levelling, frets need to be dressed and re-crowned. The dressing tool will reduce fret height a little further. So it is a question of how much you dress that zero fret.
     
  16. RAILhead

    RAILhead Tele-Meister

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    My Gretsch G6196T Country Club has a zero fret, and I love it.
     
  17. 10orgtr

    10orgtr Tele-Meister

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    I always thought that the zero fret had to be higher than the rest of the frets. So I pulled out my Gretsch and I mic'ed it. The zero fret is .052 and the 1st and 2nd frets are averaging .048. Plays great with .043 relief between the string and the 12th fret.
    Cheers,
    Woody
     
  18. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Hear, hear :D

    This was so good, I thought seeing it twice would be in order ;)
     
  19. Feleozi

    Feleozi NEW MEMBER!

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    Been lurking here a bit & appreciating the vast knowledge & experience so many are sharing....

    So I clicked on this thread & remembered something unusual I saw only a few days ago on the www: [​IMG]

    www.zeroglide.com A certain chimerical quality, no?

    Hello, by the way. :)
     
  20. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    No, you're not missing it, we're agreeing:D, I'm just asking it as a rhetorical question.
     
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