Zero frets; who uses em and why?
Had a look at a hofner committee bass today and there it was resplendent with zero fret....
Which got me thinking. What is the advantage of them beyond easier nuts? Who has used them and what was the difference in sound? Setup? Etc?
IMHO zero frets are the best thing ever. I wish it became an industry standart and fender and other mayor brands featured them!!
you get freted tone from open strings and you dont have to worry about the nut cut job (only about the fretting job!) quality
I agree I think zero frets make a lot of sense.
I'm a fan and I also wish that they were more of a standard. It's a very simple method to get a very even tone. Some players are able to get that evenness through their playing without a zerofret and I can see why they might think of them as a superfluous crutch, but I'm not one of them.
Most often they appear on headless instruments (Steinbergers, Hohners, etc.) as you already having something keeping the ends of the strings in place, another fret is easy to do.
The Dingwall Voodoo I owned had one, but it also had string guides like that Hofner. It would seem that if you were going to mount a string guide to keep the strings in place, why not just use a nut? If the guides are wide enough then you have the option of using different gauge strings, other than that I think that price is the determining factor (nut is easier and thus cheaper, etc.)
My luthier didn't like the brass nut on my bass when I brought it to him to file it down a bit because it eats his files, but I like it now that he's done with it.
It started as a cost cutting measure on inexpensive imports back in the 60's and 70's and was one of the hallmarks of cheaper instruments.
Today you don't see it as often, and usually on higher end instruments.
It is a perfectly viable alternative to a regular nut.
(I'm not a fan because I want my open string sound to sound, well - open!)
I've built and played both. Only downsides is the zero fret wears pretty fast and has to be replaced. I suppose you could use stainless though.
I use zero nuts on my fretted instruments. I have always looked at it from the perspective of what is the advantage of a nut? There are certainly some benefits, which gbarcus described, namely that the zero fret is likely to wear more than the other frets and is more difficult to replace than a nut in most cases. I find the simplicity of the zero nut and it's perfect setting of the string height to outweigh this in most cases.
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