Gibson Zero Fret retro fit - advice needed.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by mr4fox, Sep 23, 2017.

  1. mr4fox

    mr4fox Junior Member

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    Hi all,
    Thought I'd try here for some more experienced advice. Apologies for the long post.

    I got my hands on a Gibson Zero Fret nut (titanium version) and am trying to figure out the best way to retro fit it to my 2016 Les Paul Gothic (non HP model so normal nut as stock).

    The problem is that the base of the zero fret is about is 6.39mm wide and the stock nut/channel is only 4.75mm wide. so the zero fret is 1.64mm too wide to fit in the channel the for the nut between the end of the fretboard and the end of the headstock veneer. so as far as i can see i have 3 options...

    1) Somehow grind 1.67mm off the end of the headstock veneer without chipping the painted finish and permanently alter the guitar. I'm not sure how easy/difficult this would be to do. Would a Dremel be the best bet?

    2) have 1.67mm x 2.2mm machined off the bottom corner edge of the Zero Fret base, the edge that would sit adjacent to the veneer, so that the veneer will sit under the zero fret in the machined out groove/relief. This cut would however extend into, and hence open, the cavity inside the base which holds the actual nut. I could leave the rest (majority) of that "wall" intact however since i suspect the walls help to stabilise the tongue of the nut that extends downward into the cavity somewhat. Comparing the zero fret to my existing nut i think i'll have the zero fret extended almost as high as it can go. So if the veneer extends into the lower portion of the cavity 0.12mm i don't think it will hit the tongue of the nut or the threaded grub screw posts.
    its possible the tension created between the adjustable Grub screw posts pushing the nut up and the locking nut clamping it down is enough to hold the nut stable without the walls of the base. Thoughts?



    3) have a new base 3d printed to fit. i don't know how realistic this is since I've never drawn a 3d model before and i believe its not as easy as it sounds.

    I'll try to attach a few pictures to demonstrate the situation.

    Any help before i go sabotaging my nice guitar or a perfectly good Zero fret would be greatly appreciated. And id love to hear from anyone who has successfully performed this operation.
    Cheers,
    J
    Photo 23-09-2017, 21 46 41.jpg Photo 23-09-2017, 21 53 38.jpg Photo 23-09-2017, 22 32 44.jpg Photo 23-09-2017, 22 33 35.jpg Photo 23-09-2017, 21 57 14.jpg
     
  2. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Yeah you could trim back the veneer on the headstock. But it does beg the question.....why do you even want it?
     
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  3. mr4fox

    mr4fox Junior Member

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    What do you think the best way of doing that would be?
    It seems that although simple in concept it may actually be the most difficult way of doing it. Trimming it back without chipping paint and getting a nice clean line sounds tricky. Would a chisel be the best bet? not sure if i trust myself to get a clean line.


    I play in different tunings and change string gauges pretty often. At the moment its in Dropped B with a .60 low E string and i find i need the bass strings a bit higher than if i had say a normal set of 10-46 strings on if i don't want it buzzing like crazy. Plus i like the idea of being able to lower the action until it buzzes and then raising it exactly to the point that the buzz becomes acceptably minimal to offer the lowest possible action.
    Plus i just can't see any disadvantage to an adjustable nut like this....well apart from the fact that at the moment it doesn't fit ;)
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
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  4. stp

    stp Member

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    where did you get the nut
     
  5. mr4fox

    mr4fox Junior Member

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    Its a long story and I'm not sure how much i should say, but i got it from Gibson...it wasn't easy. I've seen a couple on eBay in the last month or so though if you're after one.
     
  6. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Here's how I would do it.
    I would place the new nut in the slot and clamp a piece of wood to the headstock right up against it trapping it (make sure the nut is square to the slot). Then remove the nut and run a fine saw like a fret slotting saw tight against the block of wood clamped to the headstock. Finish and clean up with a sharp chisel and maybe a file.
     
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  7. mr4fox

    mr4fox Junior Member

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    I hadn't thought of that but it makes perfect sense. I'll have to get my hands on a fine saw. Not sure what's available locally here in Norway. Otherwise I'll check stewmac. Thanks for the tip
     
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  8. Barnaby

    Barnaby Premium Member

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    Freddie is The Man and his option is almost certainly the best all-around solution for playability, as well as the most straightforward to implement, but I would, personally, look hard at your option #2. It should work, but, even if not, you've simply damaged a nut, not altered a reasonably valuable guitar permanently. It could be machined or done yourself if you've a steady hand with a metal file.
     
  9. Pennstate913

    Pennstate913 Senior Member

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  10. strömsborg

    strömsborg Member

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  11. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Actually I agree with Barnaby that it would be better to modify the nut. The reason I suggested what I did was because it looks to me you'd cut almost halfway into the screw holes on the nut if you filed it to fit. I could be wrong though....if you measure it and can get away with doing it that way then yeah....better than modifying the guitar itself.
     
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  12. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Now that I look at it....I think the solution could be to file both sides of the nut down, thereby keeping the screw holes centered. Then re-rounding or softening each edge.
     
  13. jkes01

    jkes01 Senior Member

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  14. mr4fox

    mr4fox Junior Member

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    Jkes01 Yeah I had considered the zero glide nuts. But it's the adjustability of gibsons zero fret that I want. I had a LP standard HP briefly with one and the think played like a dream. And every 2016/17 HP I've played has been set up much better than the Non HP equivalents. I reckon it's simply because it's easier to get the string heights perfect at the nut without accidentally making them a tad too deep and having to make a new nut all over again...plus I'm finding I need a slightly higher action when using a 0.60 sting on the bass side compared to a 0.46.

    Strömsborg, thanks for the link, that saw might be perfect if I go that route. But I think I'm leaning towards modifying the nut first before the guitar now.

    FreddyG I "think" that if I grind/file the recess to make room for the headstock veneer I will still manage to get the screws in. I think there's just enough room. It's a bit tricky to measure because I have to eyeball the edge of the screw hole but I think it could work. I'm thinking a dremel might be easiest...I found a mini dremel router table on eBay for like $20 and I think I'll be able to borrow a dremel from someone. Hopefully I can set the height of the dremel to the required 1.65ish mm and grind away 2.2mm in a controlled manner.

    Not really sure how I'd do it with a hand file. filing off a strip only 2.2mm wide might be tricky I think. If I could somehow block off the rest of the nut so only that 2.2 mm was exposed then I could file down 1.65 ish mm. But I can't really picture how I'd achieve that.
     
  15. mountainwhimsy

    mountainwhimsy Senior Member

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    I can't really see how the nut is constructed, but it looks like the "zero fret" on that does not overhang the end of the fretboard at all. Making the distance between the zero and first frets slightly longer. I could be wrong, but just make sure that the zero fret center is actually at the end of the fretboard, that's why the StewMac option works. So you might need to remove a little from the end of the fretboard in order to get it in the correct location. Or filing a lip on the fingerboard side of the nut to get it to overhang the fretboard a tiny bit.

    -Tony
     
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  16. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Great observation!
     
  17. mr4fox

    mr4fox Junior Member

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    wow i totally hadn't thought about that!!
    But looking at it now it looks like the "zero fret" ramps up to release the string axactly at the fretboard end the same as the stock and Tusq nuts. That same surface also sits flush with the fretboard edge of the zero fret nut base. So I think if I understand things correctly then it should be fine.

    IMG_1227.JPG IMG_1229.JPG
     
  18. moreles

    moreles Senior Member

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    Or, you could avoid using the POS adjustable nut/zero fret arrangement and swap in plastic nuts until you arrive at the action you intend to live with, and then make a bone version. Just my view, but what you are seeking to do strikes me as a step backwards for your guitar. I certainly would not cut into the guitar in order to make space for what is pretty much a lousy piece of hardware introduced by one manufacturer to save money on setups, particularly given the inability of most dealers to make a decent nut.
     
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  19. mr4fox

    mr4fox Junior Member

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    What's wrong with the Zero Fret? I had one briefly on a 2016 Standard HP and that guitar was possibly the best playing guitar I've played. But a cracked neck/body joint meant it had to go back.

    I just don't get the hate for the zero fret. They've been used on basses for years and people don't complain. I think too many guitarists are just traditionalists and don't like it because it's different.

    Plus even with a Tusq nut the Gstring on my guitar doesn't like staying in tune for long. Never had this problem with any other guitar. So I'm hoping the zero fret will offer even less friction on the strings and further improve tuning stability so I can actually record with it.
     
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  20. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    This is pretty much it in a nutshell.
     
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