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Zero Fret Question

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Ron Now, Nov 30, 2006.


  1. Ron Now

    Ron Now

    Sep 3, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Endorsing Artist: Fuzzrocious Pedals
    My uncle and I have been making instruments for about 5 years now, We usually buy the neck since we do not have fretting supplies but make the bodies and join them to the necks ourselves. I am wondering it it would be possible to install a Zero Fret on a bass that does not have one currently.

    I was thinking we could remove the existing nut fill in the slot where the nut is now and after it is filled again we could slot a fret where the nut used to be and move the nut up a couple cm (if that makes sense)

    It this possible? or is this just another theory of mine that wouldn't pan out anywhere outside of my mind

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    If you make the correct measurements, I do not see why you can't fill the slot, cut for a zero fret, and re-install the nut behind the zero fret. If you have the excess area behind the original nut placement, it should be fine.
     
  3. you would have trouble seating a fret in whatever filler you use
     
  4. Ron Now

    Ron Now

    Sep 3, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Endorsing Artist: Fuzzrocious Pedals

    Even if I were to cut a small piece of ebony to put back into the fretboard?
     
  5. scottyd

    scottyd Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2006
    Waco Tx
    Builder/owner Redeemer Basses
    That would work. You could even use some wood that is the same as the fretboard. Glue it in, slot it. Keep in mind however the filler has to be the same radius as the fretboard for the zero fret to fit best. I would pull the frets, glue in rough shaped filler, cut fret slot, sand filler piece and fingerboard with radius block, refret neck. :)
     
  6. yeah, with a piece of ebony it would work. I was imagining someone trying to use wood puty or epoxy or something like that
     
  7. Juneau

    Juneau

    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    You also dont particularly need a nut if you have a zero fret. Fred Bee for example just cuts slots in the end of the fretboard to hold the strings in place (no side to side movement).

    [​IMG]

    Another aside, your zero fret will need to be a little bit taller than your other frets as well.
     
  8. eleonn

    eleonn

    Aug 24, 2006
    Lima - Perú
    Really??? In another thread I read that this is not needed?
     
  9. Juneau

    Juneau

    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    All the basses Ive seen with one had a slightly taller zero fret (just less leveled/crowned) than the others. If its the same height, you sometimes get some buzz in the first fret position cause the string is too close to the board. It needs to be as high as your current nut is deep, if that makes sense.

    This is all from my understanding and visual checks, along with what Pete Skjold told me about the subject. I have no personal experience, so take it as you will.
     
  10. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Does Pete S. actually recommend that? I see no reason a zero fret would be taller than the first, just as there's no reason the first shold be taller than the second, etc.

    Unless you're trying to build in an allowance for people pounding on the open strings (which would be gone once you fret).
     
  11. Juneau

    Juneau

    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    I couldnt tell you what he recomends, but I can tell you he does it on every bass he makes hehe.

    Think about it this way...

    You need to make sure the strings are actually resting on the zero fret, ie, so open strings sound fretted. If the frets were the same height, resting on zero fret would put the string awefully close to the 1st fret and youd might have some buzz. If that zero fret is just a little bit taller than the others, it still sounds like it should, but doesnt put the string so close to the 1st fret that it has any chance to buzz against that 1st fret. So it might not be necessary if you use a lighter touch, but it doesnt hurt anything, and if you do play hard, you shouldnt have issues.

    Pete does play rather agressively himself, so perhaps thats why he has done that on his basses, I couldnt say for certain though.

    I'll have to check my Dingwall to see if he does the same thing or not.
     
  12. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Juneau, I hear you, but I don't think that argument holds much water. Because, by extension, if the 0 must be higher than the 1st fret, then the 1st fret should be higher than the 2nd, the 2nd higher than the 3rd, etc.

    In reality, all these frets are the same height, but the bridge is raised (off of the fret plane), and there is (normally) neck relief. Both of which of which makes each (n)th fret seem just a little higher than the (n+1)th fret from the string's point of view, just enough to not buzz.

    Which is not to say that people don't use high zero frets. But they should not theoretically be needed. To me it seems like "chickening out," but then again I have no experience to back that statement up.


    Dingwall uses a nut, not a zero fret. At least in all the ones I've seen.

    :)
     
  13. scottyd

    scottyd Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2006
    Waco Tx
    Builder/owner Redeemer Basses
    :confused: On a properly leveled neck all the frets are the same height even the zero. On a level neck this would never be a problem and if it is, you will have the same problem from the 1st fret down, not just the zero fret. I can see not crowning and leveling the zerofret with the rest. For the most part on a decent fret job leveling and crowning takes off mere thousanths anyways, not hardly enough to matter. A zero fret is just like your first second third fourth ect fret except it produces the open tone. If a luthier is making the zero taller its out of preferance not necessity
     
  14. eleonn

    eleonn

    Aug 24, 2006
    Lima - Perú
    Ok ...so from what I know for personal experience, see (in pics ...never saw a zero fret by myself) and read here and some other places I thinks this ...no neck is dead flat. Its suposed that a neck should be little bit bowed (is this well written?), so the distances from the bottom of any string to the top of any fret won't be the same to the distances at the next fret or the fret before. As close you get to the 12th fret (the middle of the distance's scale) that distance is going to get bigger. If this is true (and I think it is) this distance is smaller at the zero (which is zero), first or second or what ever than the distance at the 12th fret and maybe this distances at the first frets is so small that a string pressed at the zero fret will produce some buzzzzz.

    Maybe I'm justs wrong. Maybe I'm not. I'm just doing some kind of brainstorm here so you can point to me where I'm wrong or right.
     
  15. scottyd

    scottyd Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2006
    Waco Tx
    Builder/owner Redeemer Basses
    The way I build my necks are dead flat. When you string and tune them they bow naturally from the strings pull. That bow and the string height on the bridge is what allows the frets to work while they are at the same height. Now I know of others who build their necks with a small amount of relief built in, but I havent seen the advantage of this yet.
     
  16. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    In the most normal and most common setup, there is a small amount of forward bow, called "relief".

    If it weren't there, the angle of the string coming off the fret would indeed get lower and lower towards the nut, as eleonn suggests, increasing the chance of buzzing.

    The relief helps to reduce this, and in fact allows a lower bridge height than if the neck were dead flat, reducing the action height at the upper (towards the body) frets.
     
  17. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Yes. Simply put...
    You do need to use a fairly hard filler and good glue.
    You will level the zero fret with the others, and let the strings form the relief, as most builders do. If not best, it's the cheapest way...;)
    With any of the market necks I have seen, you will need a nut anyway. Only if you can make the strings go absolutely straight, it is possible to go without nut. Only if the string extends very little form the nut, it is plausible, though - the string might tend to move out of position when bending or digging in deep...with intonation problems coming up.:rollno:
     
  18. eleonn

    eleonn

    Aug 24, 2006
    Lima - Perú
    Could it be possible to left the part of fretboard behind the zero fret level with the same height as the zero fret so it can be use as a wooden nut? ...It would look nice!!!
     
  19. this is simply not true. the proof is in the pudding. I've built several basses with zero frets and levelled them all in one go, dead flat and great low action with no buzzing. Some builders may do this just out of logical conclusion because of how a nut is cut on a non-zero fret bass.

    Just think about how you fret a note anywhere else on the neck it sounds just fine (if the fret job was adequate). If your statement about the zero fret needing to be taller were true, basses would end up looking like stairs.
     
  20. Juneau

    Juneau

    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Well like I said, I dont know what Im talking about, just what Ive seen and heard hehe. I appologize if I passed on any misinformation - at least I did so with a disclaimer :)
     

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