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Replace First Fret with a Secondary Nut?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by selowitch, Apr 13, 2010.


  1. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    I have a slightly strange idea: To make an ordinary long-scale (34") bass neck into a medium-scale, would it be practical to install a secondary nut at the first fret with or without turning the original nut into a metallic zero-fret?
     
  2. sloasdaylight

    sloasdaylight Banned

    Feb 4, 2009
    Tampa, Florida, US
    You're talking about replacing the first fret with a nut, effectively making the second fret the first fret?

    I think you seem to miss the point of a zero fret. Zero Frets occur before the nuts, and act to keep the height of the strings even, leaving the nuts to deal only with the string spacing. If you were to turn the first fret of a normal scale bass into a nut then whatever happened after that wouldn't matter since the strings would rest on the new nut, not the old one.

    Frankly though I don't really see much merit in it since you're not really losing enough length to make it worth the while imo, and you'll run into serious intonation troubles if you play past probably the 7th fret or so. If you spend most of your time down below that then maybe, but I still don't see the point, or the benefit. Maybe I'm not understanding you well enough though.

    Zero fret: 4001c64s2.
     
  3. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Yeah, the problem is that the math on your fret distances will be all goobered up. this is all a matter of math, really...
     
  4. RedemptionBass

    RedemptionBass

    Dec 12, 2007
    Crystal Lake, IL
    Head (and only) Honcho at Redemption Bass
    That's nuts!


    Sorry... couldn't resist.... carry on....
     
  5. sloasdaylight

    sloasdaylight Banned

    Feb 4, 2009
    Tampa, Florida, US
    ba-dum-tssh. :p

    Regarding the OP, if you yanked out all the frets and made it fretless with a veneer that was similar in color to the fingerboard it might work better, but I still think your intonation will be majorly flubbered up.
     
  6. Meyatch

    Meyatch Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    Don't particularly see the point of doing such a mod, but its not going to screw up the spacing on your remaining frets. It would be basically no different than tuning down half a step and then capo-ing. If I were you I'd buy a capo and just do that, at least for a while to see if its really all its cracked up to be.
     
  7. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    Well, I was think the effect would be akin to having a permanent capo on the first fret. But I guess it won't work because of the math, and that makes sense. So, no, then.
     
  8. It would work fine. It's just a bit strange. Try a capo to see if you'd like the result. O course, your dot markers get screwed up, but it will work just fine.
     
  9. Not at all. It works fine.
     
  10. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    Probably better off buying a medium-scale bass, which is what I really want anyhow.
     
  11. bassy7

    bassy7

    Jan 29, 2010
    It would definitely work just fine, with regard to the fret spacing issues- their relative ratios would still be correct. I wouldn't do it though.
     
  12. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    Well, I'm not talking about doing it on a Custom Shop Fender, more like a Rondo. ;)
     
  13. Cy_Miles

    Cy_Miles

    Feb 3, 2005
    what he said

    For any one who thinks it won't work, play any fret, then move up 12 frets and you are half way closer to the bridge, making a note one octave higher.

    That is how capos work. No?
     
  14. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Yes, it's like putting a capo at the first fret. No, if you put the nut properly in the first fret position, it would not mess up your fret positions or intonation any more than fretting at the first fret with your finger.

    Get a clue, then post, in that order, people.

    (My turn to be the old crank today.)
     
  15. Greenman

    Greenman

    Dec 17, 2005
    Ontario Canada
    You might have some competition when Mikey shows up. :ninja:
     
  16. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Detuning a half step and then capoing at the the first fret is a great way to try out whether a medium scale is what you really want.
     
  17. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    Cool! Then I'll do that. Back when I was a new player in 1984 or so, I believe the Squier P I owned was a medium-scale, and I loved it. Selling that light, great-sounding bass in order to "upgrade" to a new bass was probably a mistake, but what did I know? I was fourteen and lacking wisdom.
     
  18. Murph#2

    Murph#2

    Mar 24, 2010
    murph#2
    Hmmm, Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.:smug::D
     
  19. Beej

    Beej

    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    :D Funny, I was just thinking that as I perused the thread.

    Yes, to reiterate, the OP can do this, the only thing it will screw up is the location of your fret markers...
     
  20. mongo2

    mongo2

    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Due to a shoulder injury years ago I tuned down and capoed at the second fret effectively making my 34" scale basses 30" scale. They worked fine and I played them that way for about a year. Now I play shortscales more than longscales.
     

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