# Zero fret question

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Hmm...I’m getting conflicting information online about this...does the zero fret have to be slightly higher than the rest of the frets or is it ok at a level height with the rest of the frets (ie same gauge/size)?

If so about how much higher? I’m talking about for a regular electric, not bass.

Any help greatly appreciated!

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Hmm, I think I may well just make it the same height https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/String_Nut_or_Zero_Fret

There’s some talk of a zero fret needing to be higher than the others, but that just doesn’t make any sense. If the following fret would need to be higher than the previous one, our fretboard would look like a set of stairs.”

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With that logic the nut slots should be level with the frets... I can understand that statement to a degree but the mechanics haven't been thoroughly thought over.

Alongside of guiding the strings the nut is a device for adjusting the gap between the frets and the strings. A zero fret takes the role of height adjusting, leaving the nut slots only for keeping the spacing between strings equal.

As you may know about setting the string height and action, you'd start by straightening the neck and continue by leveling the frets. After that you'd file the nut slots to a desired height for a smooth action in the lower frets area. Over the first fret you should have approximately 0.6 mm in average, some 0.15 mm more on the bass side and the same amount less on the treble side. When you get that right, adjust the bridge so that the distance between the 12th fret and the strings is appr. 2 mm. Then release the truss rod just a tad so that the 12th fret gap is about 2.5 mm. That should give you a medium action all the way through the neck. Some prefer it lower, some higher

You can have the zero fret the same height as the rest. That would require a lot of relief on the neck and a high bridge to prevent buzzing. Setting the action is much easier when you add that 0.5 mm to the nut or zero fret.

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During my wakeup process I thought about this a little more.

On 10/12/2019 at 11:09 PM, ShatnersBassoon said:

our fretboard would look like a set of stairs.

That's exactly how it is! If you set the guitar laying on her back so the strings are perfectly horizontal, the neck is slanted towards the body. That's very subtle but there's a chicken ladder from the body to the nut.

Another thought I got was about the logic of having the zero fret as low as the rest. Basically that's what happens with a capo, a barre and even with every single fretted note. So what's the difference? First, when you push a string against a fret there's a steeper angle than that of the neck break. That will raise the string somewhat at the fret exit as the string doesn't bend sharply. Also, the higher the fret the more angle there is towards the bridge. Remember, we're talking about fractions of a millimetre here!

Yet another thing to consider is the muting effect on the tuner side of the string caused by the palm/finger/capo. An open string vibrates also between the nut and the tuner, a fingered string gets dampened by the softer flesh or plastic.

Finally, if the zero fret should be of equal height with the rest, why is there an elevated bridge in fretless instruments? Shouldn't a string guide at the end of the fretboard suffice?

Caution! My posts are just logical thinking without any stone carved facts behind them. Have some salt at hand.

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Thanks for all of the advice! Maybe I won’t level the zero fret along with the others, that would create a tiny bit of clearance

Edited by ShatnersBassoon
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Sounds like a sound decision! It's easier to take off than add if it doesn't work.

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