Page 1 of 5 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 50

Thread: Zero Fret Nut position

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Wales, UK
    Posts
    4,732

    Default Zero Fret Nut position

    So here is a technical question or more correct, conundrum.

    It is a common claim that the zero fret configuration, apart from making for a great action also provides more accurate intonation. Is this because the point of string contact is in the centre of the slot and not the front edge as on a nut only configuration? If this is the case, then shouldn't the position of a nut only set-up be the first fret distance + half the fret slot width?

    This makes sense doesn't it?

    Answers below please

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Little River, California
    Posts
    1,600

    Default

    The way I see it Pete is that it makes no difference if the string is coming off a nut or a "zero" fret in terms of intonation. The scale length should be identical. Therefore a zero fret can't make "better intonation". That presumes that the height of the two would be the same in terms of string action.... As for providing better action, I don't know about that. I just know that on cheaper commercial guitars, the zero fret was usually indicative of a cheaper build. I guess they thought they could get better predictability with a zero fret than variation in nut slots and thus more accurate intonation in a mass production setting. .... This is a HUGE area of discussion in the guitar world. Me, I never really cottoned to the idea of the zero fret, but what do I know? And I never tried doing one. Also note that zero frets are absent in most higher to high end guitars. There is a reason. The last guitar I played with a zero fret was a 60's acoustic (!) Fender and it was a dog all the way around. Played and sounded horrible. Probably worth a fortune now.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Stockton on Tees..North East UK.
    Posts
    4,319

    Default

    I dont do zero fret jobs, but if I did it would be something like this...but done with standard fret wire. zero fret by Ken Timms, on Flickr
    http://ukulele-innovation.tripod.com ebay i/d squarepeg_3000

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Wales, UK
    Posts
    4,732

    Default

    Thanks for your answer sequoia. It is, however, a response to a question I did not ask. I get near perfect intonation with no compensartion either at the nut or at the saddle. I have refined the saddle position over the last 23 years and found where it sits best. I was postulating on the difference 0.3mm might make to further accuracy.

    Second - the zero fret was favoured by many respected luthiers - Mario Maccaferri comes to mind and he was no slouch when it came to innovation. In the electric guitar field a guitar under the name 'micro-frets' allowed adjustment of string length at the nut and many classical guitar makers have also looked at this.

    I spent a year and a half curating an acoustic musical instrument collection in Ohio in the late 90s and have seen more instruments , guitars and ukes in all their iterations than you can shake a stick at. This is simply one thing I never considered at the time but I am sure those builders who I saw using a zero fret were anything but producers of cheap instruments.

    Authoritative statements need to be backed up by empircal evidence usually... here it seems on this forum that 'If I say it, it must be right' eh?
    Last edited by Pete Howlett; 09-28-2017 at 11:51 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    592

    Default

    I don't think placement affects intonation. You mark out your fretboard and the O position becomes either the face of the nut or the crown of the zero fret. So both are in the same place a terminators of the string.

    Where a zero fret can help with intonation is in ensuring that the action at the 0 position is at the correct height. Careful builders set this right when they cut nut slots, but lots of manufacturers send out instruments whose nut slots are not deep enough. This causes intonation issues at the lower frets.

    It's not possible to set a zero fret too high (unless you choose huge fretwire for it), so this potential problem is avoided.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Wales, UK
    Posts
    4,732

    Default

    So what you are sayingChris it doesn't matter if the ditance from the nut tothe first fret is shorter than the calculated distance?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Close to Boston, Massachusetts
    Posts
    208

    Default

    With my limited understanding...
    The nut is only acting as a spacer. The scale length starts at the crown of the zero fret.
    "Life is short. Opera is long."

    Anonymous


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Waterford, WI
    Posts
    411

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Stagehand View Post
    With my limited understanding...
    The nut is only acting as a spacer. The scale length starts at the crown of the zero fret.
    That is my understanding too. Why would the nut distance even matter since the string should only vibrate between the zero fret and the saddle?

    I am watching this thread with great interest, since I want to finish my current build with a zero fret.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Queanbeyan, NSW Australia.
    Posts
    1,528

    Default

    Why is a zero fret associated with better intonation? Because many builders (especially mass builders) are TERRIBLE at placing the nut accurately.

    By using a zero fret (especially if its cut on a CNC machine) the placement isn't subject to the vagrancies of how well someone measures/finishes the fretboard.

    The centre of the zero fret or the inside surface of the nut should be in the same place.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Eastern Pennsylvania / Jupiter Florida
    Posts
    38

    Default

    I agree that a zero fret should make no difference with intonation, provided that the nut end of the fretboard is exactly square and cut off to exactly the right length, since the face of the nut which sits against this end of the fretboard will determine where the string starts vibrating. That being said, building with a zero fret (I have always done so) makes setup so much easier (no filing of nut slots, ooops, too deep, ...) and makes placement of the nut end of the string so much easier since one is not cutting off the fretboard to just the right length. It is somewhat unfortunate that a zero fret got a reputation for being 'cheap' because of cheap imported instruments. It really makes life much easier and more accurate. [Note: the way that LMI now cuts their fretboards does not directly permit a zero fret.]

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •