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Zero-fret replacement


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Guest Litchfield Custom Gutars

Yes I have. I used the biggest dunlop (6100) and smaller frets. The zero fret height determines action. Keep that in mind.

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I always thought you just used the same size fretwire for a zero fret. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, as this was my plan for my guitar.... Not knowing, but just using what I know of guitars-- having a higher fret would result in the same intonation problems you'd get with a poorly cut nut, and would kind of eliminate the point of it, no?

Ideally, I'd want a perfectly cut nut, but as I don't have the tools, I'm going to go with the zero fret.

Greg

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The zero fret on my old archtop is about twice as high as the rest of the frets. It provides the same function as a nut which is also higher, and there are no intonation problems. Its funny how the zero fret has been so underrated and has been associated only with cheap guitars. Mainly because they are less expensive to assemble, no need to cut nut slots to any precision. The nut only acts as a guide for the strings. But the zero fret does provide more sustain and a sharper tone than the usual plastic nuts installed on similar guitars.

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If you're going for a pro set-up, then the zero fret needs to be lower on the high E side, just like a regular nut. You have to file the top down correctly, then re-crown. A good "substitute" is to use 6 little fret-wire pieces, one for each string. It's a good way to use some little fret-wire scraps. The strings don't bend much at the zero fret position , so the little gap between the 6 pieces wouldn't hurt anything. Might even look cool if you have all the pieces the same size across, and fitting flush with each other.

Rob

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I still don't get it. :D Why exactly does the zero-fret have to be higher than the others? Placing a capo at the nth fret of a guitar (or even just fretting a string with your finger there) effectively turns that fret into a zero fret, yet we don't have problems with that fret being too low? I'm just a newbie (still waiting on the wood for my first guitar) but the only reason I can think of for having a higher zero fret is not having to replace it as soon...

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I still don't get it. :D Why exactly does the zero-fret have to be higher than the others? Placing a capo at the nth fret of a guitar (or even just fretting a string with your finger there) effectively turns that fret into a zero fret, yet we don't have problems with that fret being too low? I'm just a newbie (still waiting on the wood for my first guitar) but the only reason I can think of for having a higher zero fret is not having to replace it as soon...

Probably has to do with the finger dampening string vibration, plus the string becoming more stiff when it's length is shortened. I tend to like the High E about .005"- .010" ,and the low E about .010"-.020" higher than the first fret at the nut, whether a regular nut or "zero fret" nut.

My favorite thing about a " zero fret", is that the strings are able to move from side to side on it a little, which might make bending on the lower frets a little easier. You can also mod the fret to do a "poor man's buzz feiten tuning system mod" easier (off-set the fret top crown more towards the first fret--Haven't actually done this yet, so some might call what I'm saying "bad advice").

I think my idea of using 6 pieces of fret-wire would make it easier, because if one of them ends up too low, you can pull it out and make a new piece a hair higher.

I have done it with 3 pieces of fret-wire. I have a lot of fret-wire scraps from over the years.

The factory method would be even easier, where you just wack a fret in there and have the action a little stiff. Certainly you can try to use the same size wire as the rest of the neck. If you install it after the other frets have been leveled, then of course, it will be slightly higher. Experiment. Post the results. Keep this site from getting boring.

Rob

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I still don't get it. :D Why exactly does the zero-fret have to be higher than the others? Placing a capo at the nth fret of a guitar (or even just fretting a string with your finger there) effectively turns that fret into a zero fret, yet we don't have problems with that fret being too low?

my thoughts exactly

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Ahh, i nominate this thread for the BAD ADVICE award for this week.

Zero fret should be the same sized fretwire, installed after all fret levelling has been done. I rarely give any consideration to recrowning to give a lower action over the 1st string, its just not neccessary.

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Ahh, i nominate this thread for the BAD ADVICE award for this week.

Zero fret should be the same sized fretwire, installed after all fret levelling has been done. I rarely give any consideration to recrowning to give a lower action over the 1st string, its just not neccessary.

Seconded.

My avatar guitar uses a zero fret the same size as the others. I left it in position during levelling, and it works fine, in tune, correctly intonated etc. Had I installed it post levelling, it would have been substantially taller than the rest, since I had a lot of levelling to do (my own fault, due to insufficient prep on the rest of the frets). Assuming the rest of your fretwork is good, Perry's advice about leaving it out for levelling is correct, and how I would do it next time.

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Ahh, i nominate this thread for the BAD ADVICE award for this week

You mean bad advice to have it the same height? or bad to have it a bit higher?

Zero fret should be the same sized fretwire, installed after all fret levelling has been done. I rarely give any consideration to recrowning to give a lower action over the 1st string, its just not necessary.

So you mean by installing it after levelling then the zero fret will wind up being slightly higher, right? The main reason for a slightly higher zero fret is the wear issue. It is in constant contact with the area of the strings that are subjected to the most force. Just by tuning the guitar you are sawing grooves into the zero fret and eventually you will have to replace it because of buzzing at the first few frets. It will wear even quicker if the guitar is equipped with a trem system. You might compromise your action a little bit but at least it will last longer.

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Wow, I really instigated something here, didn't I? B)

Thanks for all the replies. I wasn't sure because the guitar I have uses a zero fret that's quite a bit higher than the rest, but I figured it was more of a preference thing, if you want the action lower, put in a lower fret...

By the way, are those thin plastic nuts that you find on, for instance, a lot of Fender Strats, considered a zero fret or just a thin plastic nut?

You know, I often wonder if there existed a guitar that sounded so perfect it was better than any earthly pleasure, but it was made of particle board with an oil finish collected from a Domino's pizza, and had a "Made in China" sticker on it somewhere, would guitarists still be so superstitious that they would rather play a Gibson or Fender even if it had a hamster wheel instead of pickups? HMMM... :D

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Ahh, i nominate this thread for the BAD ADVICE award for this week.

Zero fret should be the same sized fretwire, installed after all fret levelling has been done. I rarely give any consideration to recrowning to give a lower action over the 1st string, its just not neccessary.

Then nut height action specs in books like 'Guitar Player Repair Guide' are "bad advise". I think it's GOOD advise to go for specs of nut action string height of around .005"-.010" High E, .010"-.020" low E, which when you do the set-up check of pressing the string at the 3rd fret, leaves a hair gap over the first fret. Then again, I like minimal neck relief. Sure, you can dial in excessive neck relief to make up for nut height that's too low.

If you're getting a buzz-free setup with the strings lower than the specs I posted above, I'd like to know the other neck specs, like action at both ends of the neck, and relief.

-------"Zero fret should be the same sized fretwire, installed after all fret levelling has been done. I rarely give any consideration to recrowning to give a lower action over the 1st string, its just not neccessary."------

One option, but would be poor, hit-or-miss specs to keep in mind for zero-nuts, or other nuts in general. Some frets need only the slightest leveling, some need quite a leveling. That would make your advise vary wildly.

I don't think someone seemingly using the "eye-ball it" method should be whining about so called "bad advise".

Rob

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My fretwork is consistant enough to not warrant a lot of levelling, hence my statement. If it does need a lot of levelling, i recrown the zero fret, once again, hence my statement

Yeah, that's why the metric system never caught on in the US, there's just something about it that makes you want to just guess instead.

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My fretwork is consistant enough to not warrant a lot of levelling, hence my statement. If it does need a lot of levelling, i recrown the zero fret, once again, hence my statement

Yeah, that's why the metric system never caught on in the US, there's just something about it that makes you want to just guess instead.

Sorry, but i have no idea about what your talking about. Where did i say i dont check or measure the string action height?? I do my technique to suit my fretwork. Maybe you seem to think i have ZERO effective nut height, i suggest you read the posts again.

While ive got your attention, please specify what your guitars with a zero fret play like, the second you fret the first, second, third, etc frets. If you cant get the action low enough at the nut, AND avoid buzz, then what happens when you fret???

As for your comments on zero fret wear, i dont have customers that would prefer less playablitly over a $10 bi-annual zero fret replacement. In fact, if you set up the nut (behind the zero fret) in such a way that the majority of the string downwards pressure is exerted on the nut, not the zero fret. BUT, i would suggest you discuss this with your clients first, and demonstrate the tone differences, if they can even hear any.... 95% cant. In fact, i reckon that 1/3 of the time, it actually sounds better, and definately more "fretted note" like.

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Sorry, but i have no idea about what your talking about. Where did i say i dont check or measure the string action height?? I do my technique to suit my fretwork. Maybe you seem to think i have ZERO effective nut height, i suggest you read the posts again.

But you never gave any numbers. You came along and called tried and true specs for nut height "bad advice". Seems that if it's not done your way, it's "bad advice".

If someone says to put a larger size fret at the zero fret, I certainly don't call that "bad advice". Many do it that way. It's OTHER ADVICE, OK ?

How do my guitars play ? The best I've come across. On my own, I like the nut action as I already stated, about .004" relief at the 7th fret. String height at the 12th fret is 1/32" High E, 3/64" low E. No buzzing.

The "nut" behind a zero fret is usually just for spacing the strings side to side.

I've experimented with having the nut height action under .005", but then you have the problem of "back buzz" and no soft finger tissue dampening the string at on the open notes. And open notes on a guitar have the widest string vibration.

And I don't think your advice about zero-fret height is bad, I just don't see where you come off calling other advice in this thread "bad", and that it would even get an award for being such extreme bad advice.

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this argument is really resulting in a lot of good information exchange i think...just please keep it civil...so far i have learned alot

i will say though that i use the metric system on everything except actual overall scale length...it is just easier to measure that with inches

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The zero fret on my old archtop is about twice as high as the rest of the frets.

This is the bad advice i was referring to Rob. I wouldnt normally point fingers at people, but point out to ALL that there is misleading advice somewhere here. Do you agree with me that 0.035-0.055 of nut action is bad?? Its certainly TEN TIMES what you and i strive for!

Nothing personal southpa.

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