Zero Fret: What is it's purpose?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by frankieC, Jan 19, 2014.


  1. frankieC

    frankieC A swell guy from Warren Harding High Supporting Member

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    What is the purpose of a Zero Fret?
    Some of my basses have one, some don't. I'm curious, what is it's function?

    Thanks, in advance, for the help and info.
  2. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS * Supporting Member

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    You don't have to have a precisely cut nut (only spacing is important, not depth) so it is arguably cheaper and/or easier to set up the neck and strings, and some claim the sound of the open string is closer to the sound of a fretted note.
  3. SolarMan

    SolarMan Supporting Member

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    Great answer. And while once found almost exclusively on cheap instruments - today it is also on some high end stuff.
  4. bswag

    bswag Not a Real Bass Player Supporting Member

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    Yes. But didn't some pretty high-end Hofners and such also use the zero fret? My impression has always been that European makers used it more often.
  5. pfox14

    pfox14

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    Definitely a Euro thing. Personally, I don't like a zero fret. Mutes the sound of an open strings and harder to get the action right.
  6. ffutterman

    ffutterman Talentless Bass Enthusiast Supporting Member

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    This. Personally, I'm not a fan because I like being able to choose between hitting an open string versus playing the 5th fret on the string below.
  7. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion Gold Supporting Member

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    I never found that to be a problem with my Hofner?
  8. frankieC

    frankieC A swell guy from Warren Harding High Supporting Member

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    Thanks, fellas.
    Yes. My 68 German Hofner has a zero fret.
  9. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

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    They definitely have their advantages. Ultra low action at the nut end and open notes sound exactly like fretted notes. Setup has to be pretty spot on though, higher action at the nut can compensate for an improperly adjusted truss rod, or slightly uneven frets. With a zero fret the fretwork and setup has to be right, which is a good thing in my opinion.
  10. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

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    The zero-fret as a hallmark of low end stuff was an American assumption. Gibson, Martin, Epiphone, D'Angelico, Stromberg, and Fender didn't use zero-frets (though Gretsch DID). Most of the cheap imports did use them, as did a good number of higher-end European instruments that just weren't as popular in the US. So the only place most Americans saw a zero-fret was cheapo instruments and the primary "good" instrument didn't.

    It allows the nut's sole function to be string spacing, and puts a more durable material into the role of setting the initial level of the strings.

    John
  11. Lou Bottini

    Lou Bottini Supporting Member

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    All the MTD basses I have owned have the zero fret set up.
  12. TN WOODMAN

    TN WOODMAN

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    Makes sense it 's a Euro thing because I've heard British players say they were taught not to use open strings .
  13. mongo2

    mongo2

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    Truth be told, Hofner was not a high end instrument when it was designed with the zero fret. It cost about a third of what Fender and Gibson cost at the time Sir Paul started using one.
  14. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

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    :confused:

    When I was starting and advised not to use open strings, it was for tonal consistency, i.e. play all notes fretted. Having a zero fret would actually mean playing open strings would give a more consistent sound.

    The only bass I've had with a zero fret was Chinese-made, US-designed (MTD Kingston).
  15. Klonk

    Klonk Norwegian Wood Supporting Member

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    Sandberg have them as standard on their basses, which are mostly mid-ranged or lower high-end. Great basses in my experience. www.sandberg-guitars.de if you are curious (page is in English).
  16. KramerDon

    KramerDon

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    The original Kramer aluminum necked basses had them,I'd put the quality of my 650B against any Fender or Gibson
  17. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

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    Hmmm...my Schack 5 and MIK MTD Saratoga both have zero frets. The pseudo-nut / string guide must, in some regards, be treated like a conventional nut to minimize drag or grab while tuning. Here's a neat zero fret...and I swiped the pic from Brad Johnson so a hearty thank you!

    http://i87.photobucket.com/albums/k150/brad5161/IMG_20120103_002434.jpg

    Riis
  18. GrumpiusMaximus

    GrumpiusMaximus I've Seen Things You People Wouldn't Believe Supporting Member

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    That's exactly the advice I was given when I started learning the violin. With the bass, the same is true. You also don't get the opportunity to add vibrato, etc.

    If I had the opportunity to create a custom instrument, it would certainly have a zero fret.
  19. xabicho

    xabicho Supporting Member

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  20. groooooove

    groooooove

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    nuts are good because they can be carved out for certain string heights. a zero fret will lay on one level on all strings.

    but, tonal consistency.

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