Zero Fret Opinions

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Adinol, Sep 18, 2015.

  1. Adinol

    Adinol Senior Member

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    I was wondering what are your opinions on zero frets.

    As a teenager I had a guitar with a zero fret. That fret had indentations similar to wear that we see on the first three frets. But the frets on that guitar were made of standard material. In other words, not stainless steel.

    Perhaps with stainless steel frets the zero fret is a better idea.

    But what are general opinions about this?

    I'm sure you all know StewMac sells a zero fret conversion kit. But I'm not really talking about that. I'm thinking of finishing up my current build and future builds with stainless zero frets.

    Thanks...
     
  2. Archer

    Archer Senior Member

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    They work great, but have a stigma of being associated with cheap Japanese guitars of yesteryear so virtually nobody uses them. When I saw the Zero GlideĀ® | Replacement Nut System for Stringed Instruments system when it came out a few years ago I was intrigued. So I cut a bone nut in a similar fashion with a file and made one for myself for a LPjr I had. It works perfectly and it doesn't look "different" like a zero nut normally does. If the look bothers you, try the ZeroGlide or make one for yourself. It's reversible so if you end up not liking it, just try something else.
     
  3. Bill Hicklin

    Bill Hicklin Senior Member

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    Selmers and Selmer-Maccaferris had them
     
  4. ricky1918

    ricky1918 Senior Member

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    Do you have a pic of you LPjr to show please? thanks
     
  5. Baylin

    Baylin Senior Member

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    Whilst I'm not against the concept, the original brass adjustable zero fret nut Gibson recently introduced was crap. It wore grooves into it within 2 weeks. I got it smoothed out and again it wore grooves into it very quickly. When I complained to Gibson they replaced it with a harder alloy similar to the frets so hopefully it'll all be good for many years to come
     
  6. B. Howard

    B. Howard MLP Vendor

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    I have had this guitar for 30+ years and it is still one of my favorites. The zero fret is a wear item just like a nut and needs periodic replacement
    [​IMG].
     
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  7. emoney

    emoney Senior Member

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    My only Zero Fret guitar is a '69 Framus acoustic and I have to admit, I kinda like it.
    There's no nut to worry about, that's for sure. Not sure why, but before I got this, I never
    considered anything other than a standard, bone-nut-setup.

    If the zero fret has wear, odds are the rest of the frets might as well, but that's the reason
    why we periodically have to do re-frets.
     
  8. Baylin

    Baylin Senior Member

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    If the zero fret needs replacing more often due to being in constant contact with strings under tension, would it be prudent to remove the tangs and use just ca glue to hold it place to avoid undue fretboard damage?
     
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  9. Adinol

    Adinol Senior Member

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    That is an EXCELLENT point!

    Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. I guess I will experiment with it and see how it holds up with stainless fretwire. Should have a longer lifespan than nickel/silver.

    Thanks again...
     
  10. Bill Hicklin

    Bill Hicklin Senior Member

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    Stainless is harder than the mild steel used for unwounds and the nickel wrap on wounds- it should last darn near forever, or at least as long as a bone nut.
     
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  11. David Mccarroll

    David Mccarroll Senior Member

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    gotta bear in mind that its position in relation to scale length is absolutely crucial, so a fret slot isn't a terrible idea.
     
  12. Jim Engen

    Jim Engen Senior Member

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    Works great! I did that on my last build. Used Stainless. It's been about a year and I play it every day. Not a scratch on it. The string is just resting on it so it's not like most frets where you bending and doing vibrato. Should last forever. You still have to us a nut or something similar to hold the strings from sliding back and forth. I'm going to do it on my next build too. I don't really notice an open tone difference. I just think it's easier than cutting perfect nut slots
     
  13. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    Yep, constant pressure will do less wear than the smashing of a string into it as you fret, let alone the aggressive rasping with vibrato and bends.

    And building and using any guitar is an acceptance of wear down the road. Whats one more fret in the general scheme of things.
     
  14. Archer

    Archer Senior Member

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    Yes, a terrible pic but a pic nonetheless.

    [​IMG]

    Ideally, you wouldn't want the slight gap between the nut and the end of the fretboard, and one day I'll get around to fixing that. I simply need to file away a little more bone between the zero fret and the string slot side of the nut. But it plays fine as is.
     
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  15. KnightroExpress

    KnightroExpress Senior Member

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    I'm actually about to start working on a buddy's old Teisco KL4. It's got a zero fret and desperately needs a refret, so I'm gonna do the stainless zero and NS for the rest. I'll post pics soon.
     
  16. cmjohnson

    cmjohnson Senior Member

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    To me, the ideal situation would be to have a hardened steel zero fret, ground in with diamond stones, with an overlapping nut that only sets string spacing.

    The zero fret is a logical product but as has been said before, it suffers from the stigma of having been featured frequently on some very cheap Japanese guitars from the 60s.
     
  17. Adinol

    Adinol Senior Member

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    How about just filling the slot from the sides with some kind of soft putty (like the synthetic clay for kids)? At the end, it's just about the appearance and not having an ugly gap. If you use black, it might actually look nicer than trying to color match (which will never be dead on).
     
  18. Adinol

    Adinol Senior Member

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    Would the ideal thing be to have all the frets like that? They would simply never wear out. But it would be quite a job to dress the frets. But with the right tools it would be possible.

    Stigma is one thing and physics is another. I guess there is also a stigma that Gibson guitars don't have that. But in my mind I was always wondering why that was not the preferred standard, as a zero fret does make the open string more like a fretted string.
     
  19. Adinol

    Adinol Senior Member

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    The direction I am leaning in, with my build, is to do a stainless zero fret and a machine bolt for the nut. The machine bolt gives perfect spacing and I would adjust its height to be perfect for whatever gauge of strings. The only thing that I foresee as a potential problem is the radius. But the radius isn't pronounced and in my case the nut width is also narrow. I'll be posting progress notes in my thread (and I did some work today, BTW, I just have to post).
     
  20. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Senior Member

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    When I do a zero fret, I use a regular nut with the slots cut extra deep as my string spacer. It makes it so that it doesn't look so weird but you get the performance of the zero fret.
     

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