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What the hell is a Zero Fret?????

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by HWK2, Sep 10, 2000.

  1. Maybe I am just confused.. but umm.. What good is a 0 fret? Isn't that just an open string?? What good do they do? Hey, I admit I am rookie at this whole crazy "bass playing" :p (as you like to call it) world :D but, lol, why? Someone explain it to me? plz... come on! :D
  2. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    The 0 fret is a design that acts as the standard Nut.
    The strings will rest over it just like you do with any fret.
    This allows , according to some pleaple, the bass to have the same sound open and fretted-
  3. You mean that the bass has no nut, instead it just has some fret where the nut should be, and the strings never touch it?? I am still a little confused.. Do you know of anyone who has a pic of a 0 fret bass??
  4. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    The strings go through the nut, then, right next to the nut is a fret that the strings rest on. So when you play an open string, it's sitting on a fret, just like all your fretted notes. Some say this gives a consistent tone between notes played on open strings and fretted notes. The nut is made of plastic or bone or something not metal, so it may impart a different tone to the string than a fret. I know you already said this Ifabara, I'm just trying a slightly different angle.
  5. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    Yep. :D
    And thanks for complementing. I was chewing a Hamburger when writing this post..
  6. Ahh, cool thanks guys :) I think I have seen something like this on a friend of mines OLD epiphone accoustic guitar.. a fret not more than 1/4 cm away from the nut.. If it does something, I guess I will trust you guys :D


  7. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    It's typical characteristic of German guitar luthierie, as far as I know, and most German luthiers use it for their designs, e.g. Human Base http://www.humanbase.de .Warwicks usually don't have a zero fret but an adjustable metal nut (made by Wilkinson?).

    [Edited by JMX on 09-12-2000 at 04:27 AM]
  8. 5156246


    Sep 6, 2000
    Here you can see a picture of a zero fret bass guitar.
  9. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
  10. Acacia


    Apr 26, 2000
    Austin, TX
    alot of the older kramers with aluminum necks had a zero nut as will.
  11. mr t

    mr t

    Aug 24, 2000
    manhattan, ks
    now that we've explained what the zero fret is, we should proceed to answer hwk2's question about what it does. marketing says this makes open strings sound just like a string played in a closed position. i think that left hand technique is so often overlooked. it may be overshadowed by the right hand, but can definitely affect the sound. so, i do not think the zero fret is really all it's cracked up to be. i have found that depending on how i fret the note, i can create many different sounds with the same right hand attack. for example, if you don't press down very hard, the sustain is going to be affected, but the high overtones will also be damped out. anyways, this gets into the technique forum. suffice it to say that my opinion is that zero frets are a nifty idea, but don't quite deliver on the goods.
  12. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I agree - it's more a traditional thing than a really useful feature...although I usually find that basses with zero frets have a much better action in the lower register than those with 'regular' fretwork and a better intonation,too, because the scale length is much better defined by a fret...
    But it's really a philosophy thing...I remember an article in Bass Player about this, and they didn't get any further than that in discussing the pro & cons...The author (Steve Turner(?)) didn't seem to like it, apparently because he wasn't used to it, at least he didn't give a technical/sound reason for his opinion. But almost all high-end bass makers in Germany use zero frets on their basses - so even if it may not have significant advantages - at least it doesn't seem to hurt the tone, or anybody else for that matter... ;)

    Personally I like my lil' zero fret, woogie,woogie... :D

    [Edited by JMX on 09-12-2000 at 02:18 PM]
  13. Rumblin' Man

    Rumblin' Man Banned

    Apr 27, 2000
    Route 66
    The biggest advantage to a zero fret design is that it's easier (also less expensive) to regulate the string height than with a nut only. Correctly adjusting a nut is a precise operation which requires a very skilled hand. It's also labor intensive and therefore time consuming.

    The purpose of the nut on a zero fret design is to retain and align the strings. No real precision work involved.

  14. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    No wonder I never found a Fender with a decent setup... :D :D :D :D :D :D

    Please, don't stone me...ah...ouch...no...ouch...a little deeper...ouch...ahh...that's better...;)
  15. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Just to set things straight...
    Using a zero fret on a bass does NOT necessarily mean that the luthier tried to cut down on labour costs, on the contrary in most cases I've seen....
    Same thing with bolt-on vs. neck-through, btw....
  16. There's another characteristic of basses with zero nuts. They all have canted headstocks OR they use a tensioner after the nut. A zero fret can't work if the strings are not pulled at an angle over the fret.
  17. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    A regular nut wouldn't work either (huh?!?;)). A canted headstock is the best choice IMO as it avoids all the trouble you're likely to get with a Fender-style headstock...just my personal "zwei Pfennige"
  18. Rumblin' Man

    Rumblin' Man Banned

    Apr 27, 2000
    Route 66
    True, it doesn't necessarily mean that. It also doesn't mean it's a cheap bass or a poorly made instrument. However, the zero fret implementation doesn't require as much skill from a laborer and also lends itself to an automated or semi-automated manufacturing process.

    Personally, I think it's a reasonable idea, simplicity itself, and a solution to a lot of manufacturing issues. I don't know why it's not used more often.
  19. geo?


    Mar 29, 2000

    Hartke XL-4 Bass Guitar

    I seem to recall that Bass Player did a review of this fairly recently (in the last few months) that seemed favorable.

    Personally, I think it sounds interesting and if (I haven't played one myself) it really makes the sound more even between open and fretted notes, then great. I'm sure that for most this would be a great asset.

  20. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in humanity...one call at a time.

    Jul 10, 2008
    Higley, AZ
    Interesting...I guess my question would be: is there a sonic difference between using stainless/nickel for the nut and using a bone or plastic nut with a zero fret made from stainless or nickel?

    I'm playing with the idea of building a bass just for $%#@s and giggles this summer with my boys, and that's one of the specs I'm not too wise about.

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