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Nut vs Zero Fret

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by DP Custom, Oct 21, 2002.

  1. DP Custom

    DP Custom DP Custom Basses

    Feb 7, 2001
    NC, USA
    I've heard the thoughts of those who prefer Zero frets, but I haven't heard from anyone as to why they would prefer a nut. Any thoughts out there?
  2. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    i prefer a zero fret, i can't see why not many builder use them.
  3. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    I've never really understood what the big deal is, in most band or ensemble situations I don't think anyone's going to notice a big difference in a stopped note or open string note on a properly set up bass. Perhaps I'm missing the point though as I'm no expert :p
  4. Limo


    Sep 22, 2002
    Reykjavik Iceland
    I totally agree, it doesn't make any difference at all to me.
  5. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    I've never had a bass with a zero fret, but it sounds like a reasonable concept to me. If a fret slot is cot too wide, would a zero fret reduce or eliminate any rattling or other problems associated with a too wide nut slot?
  6. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State
    I want an open string to sound like an open string - it gives me more choices. Plus, I've found the better the bass (and the better the player), the less the difference.

  7. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    It's a German luthier tradition, so most small builders use zero frets.

    I like it. I probably won't buy a bass without one.

    [EDIT] Forgot to tell you that my main bass has a zero fret.
  8. I like the idea of a zero fret, but I haven't played enough basses with them to have a well educated opinion. I'll let everybody know what I think once I get my Heir this week.:D
  9. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    I have built basses with and without a zero fret. IMO the difference is very subtle!

    I personally prefer to use a nut beacause it gives more setup options (easier than changing the zero fret...)

    As far as nut material, I "blindtested" players with just changing the nut (bone/brass/graphtech) and none was able to hear the difference :rolleyes:

  10. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I play both and I can go either way. Each has its good points.

    There are somethings that I wouldn't change though. I can't see a zero fret on a vintage Fender. Just MHO.
  11. a zero fret is also easier to make :)

    you don't have to worry as much that the slots in the nut are too low or too high..

    if you fret @ the 3rd fret, the string is not allowed to touch the 1st and 2nd fret.. if they do, the slots are too low.. with a 0-fret it's easier to level that :)
  12. sorry but i am unlearned
    do your actually have to play the note that would usually be the open string
    or is it just a raised fret that stops the note itsead of a nut
  13. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    That's it!

  14. PICK


    Jan 27, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    The theory behind using a 0 fret makes alot of sense to me. I have never had the chance to play one but i cant really see it making that much difference. But the theory does make sense.
  15. Benbass


    Jan 28, 2002
    I'm with you. Its much easier to file a nut to the desired height than a zero fret. Different builders have different ideas about how high to set a zero fret. So if you're gonna get a bass with a zero fret make sure you're in agreement with the builer about how high it should be set!
  16. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Well, i suppose it's possible to have a zero fret that's higher than the rest, like a nut *could* be. But I thought the whole point is that the zero fret should be the same as all the other frets - it's just another fret! You wouldn't want you first or second frets to be high, and neither would you want the zero fret to be high.

    Imagine you have a conventional nut-at-the-zero-position bass, but you were able to add extra material to the head end of your bass. You could put a fret where your current nut is, at standard fret height, and move the nut back to the -1 fret position. You would then have to fret to get the "zero" position, or what is normally the open string. Now imagine you filed the nut down until the string rests on the zero fret, instead of being suspended in the air by the nut. The string is now "fretted" at the zero position, at the perfect height- the height of all the other frets. The nut is only serving to hold the string in the proper postion sise-to-side.

    (In actual practice, the nut need not be all the way back at the -1 position; it can be pretty close the the zero fret.)
  17. yes i also think it makes more sense to have the zero fret at the same heighht as the other frets, especially since this should improve intonation for the first 5 frets


    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY
    Greetings & Felicitations,

    I agree 100% with Jeff Rader. I've played both & I like the fuller openess that a nut gives compared to a 0 fret. An open string should sound like an open string & it's easier to adjust each individual nut slot for a custom gauge string (which I always use) than deal with a solid, non-adjustable 0 fret.

  19. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    One of the nice things about a zero fret is that you do NOT need to adjust the nut slot width when you change the string gauge. I mean...on an average bass, with fixed, pre-slotted nut, how do you accomodate different gauges? You basically need to stay within certain limits imposed on you by the nut slot width. With zero fret, you really don't care about the string gauge at all.


    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY
    Hey Brooks,

    Technically yes, but feel, no. A heavy gauge B string is going to "sit" higher on that fret than a nut. If you use "reasonable" gauges AND you like the feel of a 0 fret, than you're "In Like Flynn", but being that I use a .168 B on my Zon & a .145 on my Dingwall, a zero fret wouldn't cut it for me. Call me old fashioned, but I'll take a nut over a 0 fret anyday...


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