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zero fret

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by I.'.I.'.Nakoa, Apr 16, 2001.


  1. I.'.I.'.Nakoa

    I.'.I.'.Nakoa Guest

    Aug 10, 2000
    Fort Worth.
    i know this has been asked before, ive read the articles, but what does a zero fret do besides look weird? i never found a good answer on what it does... please someone tell me
     
  2. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    It makes an "open" string sound the same as a fretted note (or closer to the same - the string still isn't fretted by your finger but it's on a fret with the same material as the rest of the frets). It also takes away the problem of getting nut depth "exactly" right as the 0 fret is the height of a fret and the nut just holds the strings in place.

    The Steinberger spirits I had were 0-fret instruments and I thought that it (the 0-fret) is a good thing.
     
  3. I.'.I.'.Nakoa

    I.'.I.'.Nakoa Guest

    Aug 10, 2000
    Fort Worth.
    ohhhhhhhhhhh ok thanks
     
  4. rllefebv

    rllefebv

    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    It kind of replaces the nut in setting the sacle length of the bass. Don't get me wrong... The nut still functions to maintain the string spacing at the peghead end of the neck, the zero-fret is the 'zero' point for starting the string length.

    Some people prefer this since an 'open' string is stopped upon the same material as a fretted note. Provides consistent sound between fretted and open notes, since the 'open' string is actually 'fretted' on the zero fret. Thoroughly confused now???

    -robert
     
  5. I.'.I.'.Nakoa

    I.'.I.'.Nakoa Guest

    Aug 10, 2000
    Fort Worth.
    yes, but all for the better!
     
  6. dytakeda

    dytakeda

    Jul 18, 2000
    One more thing nobody mentioned...
    the zero fret allows the string height to be controlled at that end of the string with a fret instead of the nut (DUH! Wasn't that already said?)

    What I mean to say is that instead of adjusting each individual string height by filing the slot in the nut, the builder can level the zero fret along with all the other frets, and voila! Instant perfect action at that end! No more worrys about one string or all of them being too high.
     
  7. MJB

    MJB

    Mar 17, 2000
    I'm assuming from what I read here that the open strings always rest, with some degree of tension, on the zero fret. Individual preferences being what they are, do adjustments like neck relief and string saddle height then cause potential problems with fret buzz on the zero fret when open strings are played?
     
  8. And no problems with the nut slot not being big enough (easy BEAD tunings, or what have you)
     
  9. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    I have a zero fret on my Tung. I like it alot. I always hated the open string, and now they sound better, more uniform. The action is perfect also.
     
  10. dytakeda

    dytakeda

    Jul 18, 2000
    MJB asked-
    Individual preferences being what they are, do adjustments like neck relief and string saddle height then cause potential problems with fret buzz on the zero fret when open strings are played?

    And the answer is "no more than any other fret". You're correct in your assessment that the strings are always resting with tension against the zero fret. The only thing that's going to cause fret buzz with an open string is if there's not enough tension holding the string against the fret (but the same thing would occur if this were the nut); or if the FIRST FRET was too high. This could be caused by improper fret leveling or a back bow in the neck.

    Look at it this way - if you were to put a capo at the first fret, that first fret would become, in effect, the zero fret or the nut. Could you get some buzz? Sure, if the instrument wasn't setup correctly. Well, the same thing applies to the zero fret once you take the capo off.

    My opinion is that it's easier for a tech to set up an instrument with a zero fret because the action at that end of the neck becomes automatic if he levels that fret with the rest of them.
     
  11. nanook

    nanook

    Feb 9, 2000
    Alaska
    A problem with the Zero fret is that you can't adjust it, whereas nuts can be filed or replaced easily.

    I've never been able to tell any difference in the sound of a bass with a zero fret and a bass with a good fitting nut.

    I think it is more of a novelty item than anything useful, still I kind of like it.
     
  12. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Actually it has a pretty long history, especially among German luthiers.
     
  13. MJB

    MJB

    Mar 17, 2000
    dytakeda, thanks for the explanation. I was wondering because the slot of a nut would inhibit sideways string motion whereas the zero fret wouldn't. So apparently there is as much string tension on the zero fret as there would be with a fretting finger or capo, makes sense. So, do basses with zero frets have the neck start to angle away immediately after the zero fret, or do they have the nut cut lower? In other words, how is sufficient tension on the zero fret obtained?
     
  14. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Most basses with a zero fret have a tilted headstock and a low cut saddle. You can do it with a Fender headstock design, but a tilted headstock is always the better choice constructionwise (for any bass).

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  15. MJB

    MJB

    Mar 17, 2000
    Thanks JMX, the whole concept makes sense now.
     
  16. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Ehm, well, I would not advice the other way around......putting in much lighter gauged strings, like going from bead to eadg. Increasing gauges is an irreversable process, for the nut.

    Unnecessarily wide nuts will cause rattle.
     
  17. dytakeda

    dytakeda

    Jul 18, 2000
    Actually, in the case of a zero fret, the strings aren't vibrating at the nut, so there should be no rattle. The only thing I can think of that might cause a problem with a too wide nut slot with a zero fret is the tendency of the string to move out of position (side to side). Although, with the amount of downwards pressure on the string at that endpoint, I'd tend to doubt that it would actually happen.

    With a zero fret, the nut acts more like a guide and doesn't actually "hold" the string like a standard nut.
     
  18. BassistJ

    BassistJ

    Mar 20, 2001
    Hemet, CA USA
    See, this is why I play fretless. No worring over a zero fret when you have none.
     
  19. dytakeda

    dytakeda

    Jul 18, 2000
    Ah! A true zero fret instrument!
     
  20. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    And to fretless and zero fret... There are a few examples of that too! In these cases, the nut is cut way low, and the strings rest on the end of the fingerboard. Sometimes (wooden boards) there is a little piece with the grain across the board at the nut end. With plasitc boards, rain direction is not an issue.
    Steinberger is one of those examples, BTW. Don't remember the other makes right now....