Zero Fret - Fret-wire choice for Jescar 37080

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by chinjazz, Nov 26, 2017.

  1. Jescar 43080

    0 vote(s)
  2. Jescar 47095

    0 vote(s)
  3. Keep Same fret size

    4 vote(s)
  1. Hi All,

    Hope you've enjoyed your weekends thus far, and had time to work on your builds in progress!

    I'm seeking votes on which Fretwire (specifically a taller zero fret) to choose for my zero fret neck build.

    I have decided to go with a zero fret that is higher than the rest. Debates can be found on other threads here on LC. The rest of my frets are going to be the comfy vintage sized:

    Jescar 37080 (stainless). I really dig the more vintage size frets.

    I've already got this fret wire in hand, and prepping it. My fret slots are a good height to receive them, and of course I can adjust to a longer tang via the many ways I've read about for the zero fret.

    Here are my choices and links:

    Jescar 43080 - With a little bit higher height.

    Jescar Fret Wire 43080 | Jescar | Jescar


    Jescar 47095 - Even a bit higher, but wider also.

    Jescar Fret Wire 47095 | Jescar | Jescar

    The supplier I'm using (Philadelphia Luthier Tools) has these two and will get them to me quicker than Jescar. There are other choices available but Jescar itself would take much longer given I'm not order a ton of it. :(

    I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask :)
  2. F-Clef-Jef


    Nov 13, 2006
    Neenah, WI
    Just curious, but why would your zero fret need to be taller than the rest of your frets? Your first fret isn't taller than your second fret, is it?
  3. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    A zero nut has to be higher than the first fret, or it would just fret-out. It effectively replaces the nut as beginning of scale, any nut after that is just retaining the strings. I can’t imagine the fret material makes much difference, though in theory a thinner fret is more accurate for intonation. Get the one that’s in stock or easier.
    Guitar Shop 101: How to Replace a Zero Fret | Premier Guitar
    chinjazz likes this.
  4. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    Actually, no. If that were true, it would also fret out when one fretted the first fret. Or 2nd, or 3rd, etc. It is common to have a zero fret a little higher then the rest though. It just seems to work better.
    chinjazz likes this.
  5. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier

    I use the Jescar 37080 stainless for all the frets, including the zero fret. But, when I'm leveling the frets, I grind on all of them except the zero fret. I take all the frets down enough that the zero fret ends up about 0.010" higher than them, at its full normal height. A few years back, I was using a taller wire for the zero fret (I forget which one), but I found that normal leveling was taking off close to 0.010" anyway. So then I was having to grind down the zero fret.


    There have been several long argumentative threads about this in the past. It comes down to this: In theory, the zero fret should be the same height as the other frets. But in practice, almost all of us who do lots of fretwork with zero frets, have found that leaving the zero fret about 0.010" higher simply works better. Less problems with buzzing on the open strings, at low action heights.

    That height is about the same as how you normally cut the slots on a non-zero fret nut. If you cut the nut slots down to equal in height to the frets, you'll almost always get open fret buzz. Unless the relief and action are set really high.

    Yeah, I know, you would think that the zero fret or the nut slots should be the same height as the frets. But it just doesn't work. My explanation for why this is, is because most necks increase in thickness outboard of the first fret, as the neck transitions to the headstock. That little zone of the neck is stiffer than the rest of the neck. As the rest of the neck curves upwards slightly into the relief curve, that zone doesn't bend. The relief curve ends up with a small backwards kink at the end, which effectively makes the first fret slightly high in relation to the zero and the 2nd. That's why the zero fret and/or nut slots need to be slightly higher; to correct for that small kink in the relief curve.

    That's what makes sense to me, after a lot of experience working with necks and frets. If someone has an alternate explanation, speak up.
  6. I think from what I read here and some information that flowed in out from the Pro world of bass luthiers it’s far less complicated and down right easier to get a good set up having a higher zero fret. This is why I’m decided on it and narrowing my decision.

    I’m all for easier because I don’t have a happy path on all my techniques yet... A Padawan I am :)
    mapleglo likes this.
  7. Bruce, thanks for the advice. It really makes sense now, and saves me a couple of bucks. I adjusted my polling on this thread to include keeping the same fret size (even though it's kind of moot).

    Also, thanks for the extended explanation as well :)
  8. Exactly what I've found. I did it accidentally by installing/leveling/recrowning/polishing all the other frets first. Then I install the zero fret last and just gave it a quick polish. Works well.
    mikewalker and chinjazz like this.
  9. Very cool! Thanks for the confirmation!
    One less mistake or extra step is a big win in my book.
    reverendrally likes this.

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