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Pete Howlett
09-28-2017, 01:36 PM
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 :)

sequoia
09-28-2017, 06:16 PM
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.

Timbuck
09-28-2017, 11:00 PM
I dont do zero fret jobs, but if I did it would be something like this...but done with standard fret wire.:D https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4351/36677367134_4506b431e3_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/XT46qS)zero fret (https://flic.kr/p/XT46qS) by Ken Timms (https://www.flickr.com/photos/150702140@N02/), on Flickr

Pete Howlett
09-28-2017, 11:49 PM
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?

ProfChris
09-29-2017, 01:47 AM
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.

Pete Howlett
09-29-2017, 02:43 AM
So what you are sayingChris it doesn't matter if the ditance from the nut tothe first fret is shorter than the calculated distance?

Stagehand
09-29-2017, 03:44 AM
With my limited understanding...
The nut is only acting as a spacer. The scale length starts at the crown of the zero fret.

finkdaddy
09-29-2017, 03:53 AM
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.

anthonyg
09-29-2017, 03:57 AM
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.

jupiteruke
09-29-2017, 04:51 AM
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.]

Graham Greenbag
09-29-2017, 05:35 AM
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 :)

With respect I really struggled to ‘get’ what you’re trying to say too so I can understand why you have received answers that you feel don’t address the question you asked.

As far as I know there is a common claim that the zero fret improves things.

As far as I know and have seen the slot behind the zero fret has nothing to do with action or intonation. To me its seems to be there to provide sideways support to and containment of the strings. I would except there to be some side clearance between the strings and the slot.

Though I think that I know what you’re trying to say with respect to centre distance I’m not completely certain so I’ll word things differently. I would expect the centre (or rather top point) of a zero fret to be in the same location as the front edge of a traditional nut.

For what it’s worth I used to think that zero frets were a good idea, and then I played a uke with one; I disliked the (high and fixed) action and wasn’t happy with the way the strings sat on the zero fret due to the potential for damage/wear between them. That’s just what I thought and I’m a ‘nobody’.

Pete Howlett
09-29-2017, 05:46 AM
Ok - Zero fret presents a contact point that is directly in the centre of the slot. A nut sytem has its contact point on the front edge of the saw slot... My question is should there be compensation for this shortening of the distance between the net and the first fret ie, adding half the width of the saw slot to that distance? I'm not talking about the zero fret set-up. I use this to illustrate how this sytem gives a contact point for the string in the centre of the slot and the nut only style moves this point forward by half the slot width... This is commmonwherre most of us start our concert scales at the 2nd fret of the tenor scale. Get a tenor blank out, cut off the first two frets and you have the concert scale length. If you increase the string length by half the fret slot wodth you are messing with the logarythmic calculation for fret distances...

I had hoped John Colter would pitch in here. He has a kabossi with a fret board spaced to the rule of 18, no compensation and it plays perfectly in tune. By all the laws of physics it shouldn't but it does....

ukantor
09-29-2017, 06:28 AM
Hi Pete, I have just typed out a long, detailed reply, only to be told I was not logged in. When I logged back on, my message had gone! Using the rule of eighteen to determine the placement of the frets does give the required amount of compensation. It is "built in" to the calculation. My Kabosi Uke doesn't use a nut, in the conventional sense. There is a spacer for the strings, but it is somewhat set back towards the tuners.

As I see it, a nut or a zero fret can give equally good intonation. I don't consider one to be inherently better than the other, but I can see why some folk might have a preference - either way.

Does 0.3 mm variation in fret placement make a difference to intonation? Well yes, it must - if measured on a highly accurate electronic rig. Can the human ear detect that difference. Mine can't. However, if the adjacent fret was 0.3 mm out in the opposite direction, I'm sure the result would make most of us cringe.

John Colter

Graham Greenbag
09-29-2017, 08:08 AM
Ok - Zero fret presents a contact point that is directly in the centre of the slot. A nut sytem has its contact point on the front edge of the saw slot... My question is should there be compensation for this shortening of the distance between the net and the first fret ie, adding half the width of the saw slot to that distance? I'm not talking about the zero fret set-up. I use this to illustrate how this sytem gives a contact point for the string in the centre of the slot and the nut only style moves this point forward by half the slot width... This is commmonwherre most of us start our concert scales at the 2nd fret of the tenor scale. Get a tenor blank out, cut off the first two frets and you have the concert scale length. If you increase the string length by half the fret slot wodth you are messing with the logarythmic calculation for fret distances...

I had hoped John Colter would pitch in here. He has a kabossi with a fret board spaced to the rule of 18, no compensation and it plays perfectly in tune. By all the laws of physics it shouldn't but it does....

To me, in such a case, the logical thing to do is to space (shim) the nut back from the edge of the shortened fretboard by half the width of a fret slot. That would maintain the expected relative positions.

ProfChris
09-29-2017, 08:54 AM
Ok - Zero fret presents a contact point that is directly in the centre of the slot. A nut sytem has its contact point on the front edge of the saw slot... My question is should there be compensation for this shortening of the distance between the net and the first fret ie, adding half the width of the saw slot to that distance?

Ah, got it now!

In theory the zero fret should be a fraction more accurately placed, but ...

The slot is only 0.3 mm so the misalignment is only .15 mm. Less than 1% out, so I can't hear that!

Also, the theory of nut compensation suggests the contact point for string termination should be nearer the bridge,and thus that theory says the nut is more accurate. But again by less than 1% of a semitone.

I think we're discussing angels dancing on a pinhead here :) And I slot my frets by hand, so ...

RPA_Ukuleles
09-29-2017, 11:50 AM
Here's the guy to ask about fret slotting accuracy, the Hofner Beatle bass:

https://youtu.be/HfaQVn3fGHw?t=8m36s

Even uses a zero fret.

Oh just noticed, it's a larger fret wire than the rest of the frets

Graham Greenbag
09-29-2017, 01:38 PM
Also, the theory of nut compensation suggests the contact point for string termination should be nearer the bridge ....



If you know of one Id be very interested to read a simple explanation of that, please.

Pete Howlett
09-29-2017, 02:14 PM
At last - someone who can read my mind. It's 2%. Slot width is 0.6mm. Thanks. For peace of mind and because i can do it now I have my CNC machine and it has earned its cost producing my rosettes and pearl logo, I can go ahead and program my fret boards with the plus 0.3mm knowing that it 'does not matter' whilst at the same time believing that I have done the right thing. I'll let you know if it changes anything.

I'm also pleased to know that it is hard to 'hear' such subtle changes 'cos I thought it was just me. It's like the arguments surrounding string height at the 12th fret and string height at the 1st fret. I believe for playing comfort, the latter is more critical. However because of received wisdom generated by the number of times it is referred to, discussed and mentioned on videos posted on the internet, height over the 12th fret is seen as crucial. It's not uncommon for clients now to request an action of 2.25 mm over the 12th fret on a ukulele. This makes fan strokes and other strumming styles 'noisey' and is very time consuming to achieve with fretboard relief playing a crucial part to getting this right. The related flamenco guitar (it is a principally 'strummed,' nylon strung, lightly built, fretted acoustic instrument) has a playing action of 4mm over the 12th fret... As much as I blench mentioning the 'G' word here to somehow justify my argument for a sensible action- remember my oft stated mantra "Guitar making is not ukulele making", it is the only empirical reference point I can quote apart from my years experience making tenor ukulele. Must first instruments, commissioned by a Hawaiian store, made for Hawaiians, specified by an authority on ukulele who subsequently went on to advise a number of manufacturers of ukulele specified an action of 3mm over the 12th fret on his ukes.

I know we have evolved and hence I am at a point where I am thinking, 'Is there any more I need to know?'; it's why I asked the question to see if minds greater than mine could justify my thinking for me. So thank you for your comments. I'll make the change in the next month or so (I am no longer going to hand cut my fingerboards now I have amachine that can do it) and let you know if that 2% matters :)

anthonyg
09-29-2017, 03:38 PM
Pete, I can't help but feel that this "error" is in your head. People in the know have always measured from the inside surface of he nut or the centreline of the zero fret. Mind you. This probably does explain to some extent why zero frets work. In a World so lacking in theoretical understanding of the issue, using a zero fret leaves MUCH less room for error.

Kekani
09-29-2017, 06:55 PM
Pete, after reading your first post I thought, "Are you kidding?" How could we all miss this?

Damnkhit! Now I gotta compensate my nut if I don't want to redo my fret slotting jig. Now to figure out a way to take .012" of the front edge, accurately. . .

sequoia
09-29-2017, 07:47 PM
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.

Exactly. Well said.

ukantor
09-29-2017, 10:38 PM
As Prof Chris said, we are discussing very small "inaccuracies". Nowadays much closer tolerances can be achieved than a man could in the (say) eighteenth century, working with hand tools only, but that is not to say that the eighteenth century standards were not good enough. We have to strive for the highest level of accuracy and consistency, that's the way we are wired, but good enough will do.

I cut my fret slots by hand, to the rule of 18, using a very rudimentary jig. It works for me.

Graham Greenbag
09-30-2017, 03:31 AM
Hi Pete, I have just typed out a long, detailed reply, only to be told I was not logged in. When I logged back on, my message had gone!

Using the rule of eighteen to determine the placement of the frets does give the required amount of compensation. It is "built in" to the calculation.

John Colter

Hi John,

I have had the same problem with typing text and the system timing me out, its very frustrating. These days I go back a screen when that happens and then select and copy everything that Ive written before re-logging in. I the select response and paste all that I previously wrote. I hope that that info is of some help.

Did you have a stand at the Cheltenham festival? My memory fades but someone looking similar to you and from the midlands too had a stand in one of the corridors - next or near to the Tin Guitars stand.

Whats the rule of eighteen?

ukantor
09-30-2017, 06:41 AM
Hi Graham, thanks for the posting suggestion - I'll try that. It wasn't me at Cheltenham, I went to a couple of the early fests, but haven't been recently.

The rule of eighteen simply means using 18 as the divisor to determine fret positions. The mathematically "perfect" number is 17.817 (choose as many decimal places as you like) but then you have to add some compensation to the saddle, to refine the intonation. If you use 18, you don't need to add any compensation, and it still puts the frets where you want them to be.

Some folk don't believe me, but it works. Try it!

gilles T
09-30-2017, 08:06 AM
Hello,

Funny to see how such a mundane matter can become so controversial...

From my own experience, and after a totally intuitive idea, I saved a cheap Mahilele soprano with terrible intonation issue just by putting a piece of metal cut off from a paperclip as a poor man's zero fret, which keeps in place only by the pressure of the strings. The intonation is still not spot-on, but really tolerable so, yes, I do think that zero fret affects strongly the intonation — for the better in my case.

just my 2 cents,
regards,

Gilles

Jim Yates
09-30-2017, 10:57 AM
The guitar I learned my first three chords on was a Hofner arch top with a zero fret. I think they make perfect sense, although I don't own any guitars with zero frets. If you play open chords on a guitar without a zero fret, the open strings will be vibrating off a bone or plastic or ebony. . . nut while the fretted strings will be vibrating off a metal fret. On a guitar with a zero fret, all strings, open and closed are vibrating off a metal fret, giving a more uniform, balanced sound, similar to what you'd get when using a capo.
My 5 string banjos have all been converted so that the fifth string comes off the 5th fret rather than having a bone pip.

Kekani
09-30-2017, 11:36 AM
Hello,

Funny to see how such a mundane matter can become so controversial...

From my own experience, and after a totally intuitive idea, I saved a cheap Mahilele soprano with terrible intonation issue just by putting a piece of metal cut off from a paperclip as a poor man's zero fret, which keeps in place only by the pressure of the strings. The intonation is still not spot-on, but really tolerable so, yes, I do think that zero fret affects strongly the intonation for the better in my case.

just my 2 cents,
regards,

Gilles

I'm reading this as:
- you shortened the scale length overall
- you shortened the distance between the "nut" and the first fret
- the scale length for every string fretted stays the same

Unless I'm missing something?

Graham Greenbag
09-30-2017, 12:27 PM
I'm reading this as:
- you shortened the scale length overall
- you shortened the distance between the "nut" and the first fret
- the scale length for every string fretted stays the same

Unless I'm missing something?

I’m trying to get my head around this fix too. One thing not stated but implied is that the Uke is retuned to compensate for the now reduced scale length. As all the frets are now proportionally nearer the ‘nut’ the note produced at each of them will be slightly flatter than before; assuming my understanding is correct.

As nut positioning and slots are sometimes imperfect it can be worth tuning off of the second fret, obviously you’ll be up a full tone there and it’s just a tweak of the tuners to get things spot on. When doing that revised tuning you then at least have everything from the second fret on more in tune - that’s worked for me 'till I sorted the nut out, etc - and the bulk of chords will be nearer in tune. Well that's my experience but YMMV.

I’m not sure that this divergence from the OP is OK, but no doubt Pete will let us know if he's unhappy about it.

Sven
10-02-2017, 12:03 AM
I dug up this old post I wrote a few years back. It's a comparison between three different ways to place frets. The measurements are i millimeters, sorry about that, but it does show that there are only minor differences.

The thing to remember is that "the rule of 18" is used on a known or already chosen string length and the other methods are used on a theoretical string length, the one we call scale length to which we then add compensation by moving the saddle to lengthen the strings. I show the scale length I use for my sopranos, 350 mm (13.77953 inches, or 13 25/32").

I understand Pete's question because I pondered it myself when I bought a scale template from Stewmac. Using a fret slot to cut off the fretboard at the nut end will place the front end of the nut half a slot width closer to the first fret, or to the bridge. It won't however be 1 or 2%, it would be 0.3 mm divided with 350 and that is a lot less. And when I asked about this I think it was Chuck who told me not to worry, and there are some builders who intentionally shortens the space between the nut and the first fret even more (Buzz Feiten theory comes to mind). Using a zero fret will most likely, as ProfChris points out, give a lower string height close at the first frets so that compensation because of string stretch isn't necessary. If I were to use a zero fret I would use the exact same slot position as the one I'm using now to cut off the board for a regular nut.

Old post from here:

Well I did run it through excel and I'm not very good at it. I compared a 352 mm string length with the rule of 18 applied, and then 350 mm scale length using both 17.817 and a more exact number wot i found on the internetz; 17.81715375. The numbers given below are fret-to-fret distances for 15 frets.

The minor discrepancies seem to be less minor at the first few frets.


Rule of 18 17,817 17,81715375
352 350 350
19,55555556 19,64416007 19,64399056
18,4691358 18,54160857 18,54145809
17,4430727 17,50093907 17,50080601
16,47401311 16,51867836 16,51856124
15,55879016 15,59154818 15,59144564
14,69441293 14,71645427 14,71636504
13,87805665 13,89047603 13,89039894
13,10705351 13,11085679 13,11079075
12,37888387 12,37499459 12,37493861
11,6911681 11,68043352 11,68038667
11,04165876 11,02485551 11,02481694
10,42823327 10,40607257 10,40604151
9,848886978 9,822019558 9,821995281
9,30172659 9,270747202 9,270729045
8,784964002 8,750415654 8,750403005

ukantor
10-02-2017, 12:42 AM
Thank you for that, Sven. The rule of 18 seems to be widely regarded as the imperfect system that was used before the more accurate divisor of 17.817 was adopted. Your chart illustrates that the difference in fret placement is less than 1/10th of a millimeter.

I wouldn't advocate the use of one over the other - for all practical purposes they both give the same answer - but I always use 18 as a homage to the luthiers of old, who really did know what they were doing.

John Colter.

jupiteruke
10-02-2017, 09:11 AM
Using any constant divisor introduces a small bit of inaccuracy. Just for the record, the fret distance calculation (which puts the 12'th fret exactly 1/2 way) involves a fractional power of 2. ("^" in the formula below is 'to the power')


Calculating Fret Spacing for a Single Fret

d = s – (s / (2 ^ (n / 12)))

where:
d = distance from nut;
s = scale length;
n = fret number;

ProfChris
10-02-2017, 12:33 PM
If you know of one I’d be very interested to read a simple explanation of that, please.

Graham asks about nut compensation theory. Here is my own sketchy grasp on it - the full maths is apparently in the Gore/Gilet books which I don't own.

1. A string is stiffer (technical term is compliance) near its ends than in the middle.

2. Thus fretting note 1 requires more force than fret 2, and so on.

3. As a result, notes on frets 1-11 play a fraction sharp, the amount decreasing as you approach fret 12.

4. Moving the nut towards the bridge a little while keeping the fret positions unchanged improves this.

5. Ideally each string gets different amounts as thicker strings are proportionally stiffer. But taking an average produces an improvement overall.

6. As a knock-on effect, the amount of compensation needed at the saddle decreases.

The reasoning seems plausible if 1 and 2 are true, and they certainly accord with my subjective experience of playing.

I've not tried this because I believe the improvement is likely to be small, though probably audible. On a soprano, which is what I mainly build, fretting techniques can change a note by a far greater amount, and my ukes are close enough that players are happy.

I gather that on a steel string guitar where more nearly perfect intonation is desired (ie not cowboy strumming) the effort might be worth it.

That's the simplest I can manage!

Graham Greenbag
10-02-2017, 02:25 PM
Graham asks about nut compensation theory. Here is my own sketchy grasp on it - the full maths is apparently in the Gore/Gilet books which I don't own............................................... .................... That's the simplest I can manage!

Many thanks for the information, its much appreciated.

sequoia
10-02-2017, 07:37 PM
The thing to remember is that "the rule of 18" is used on a known or already chosen string length and the other methods are used on a theoretical string length, the one we call scale length to which we then add compensation by moving the saddle to lengthen the strings. I show the scale length I use for my sopranos, 350 mm (13.77953 inches, or 13 25/32").


Yes, thank you Sven for that even if it is in millimeters. (who uses millimeters? Just most of the world!).... Always these discussions of scale length and compensation make my head throb. However, I've started building some pretty good looking and good playing ukes (in my opinion) and the intonation issues are starting to really bug me. I have a pretty good ear and I can hear the "beating" dissonances happening and I am not happy. Four out of five people can't hear it because four out of five people can't even hear when their instrument is out of tune.

What in my opinion is not addressed in these discussions is the difference in string diameter. The uke is reentrant tuning in that the strings are not arranged in a ascending order of string diameter like a guitar which is non-reentrant. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reentrant_tuning

Thus, moving the nut in or out or the saddle in or out is not going to do much to compensate for intonation issues. It might for some strings but not all. Thus any truly compensated uke will require a separate scale length for each string and that is just the physics of the situation.

The part about making the distance from the nut (or zero fret) slightly shorter to the second fret just blew my mind. That distance has always been a sacred distance in my mind, but I think I can see how it might solve some intonation issues when playing notes close to the nut, but doesn't do anything for a fretted note past the second fret and beyond. Great for playing a C7, but otherwise not a fix. What am I missing? Anyway, thanks for the post. I now am developing a headache.

ProfChris
10-03-2017, 01:24 AM
The part about making the distance from the nut (or zero fret) slightly shorter to the second fret just blew my mind. That distance has always been a sacred distance in my mind, but I think I can see how it might solve some intonation issues when playing notes close to the nut, but doesn't do anything for a fretted note past the second fret and beyond. Great for playing a C7, but otherwise not a fix. What am I missing? Anyway, thanks for the post. I now am developing a headache.

What you're missing is that it affects *every* note (except the 12th fret), because the saddle is also adjusted to suit the revised scale (and yes, it took me ages to get that into my head as well!). If you use a spreadsheet with Sven's numbers for a 350mm scale, and assume 2mm compensation at the saddle, then applying 1mm nut compensation and reducing the saddle compensation to 0.865 gives you (after scaling to allow for the slightly different scale length) speaking lengths which are 0.89mm longer at fret 1, 0.47mm longer at fret 5, and the same at fret 12.

The changes are very small - the 1st fret speaking distance is only 0.27% longer, the 5th fret 0.18% longer. Mind you, my 1mm nut compensation was just a guess, maybe more is needed.

Unintuitive, but the maths doesn't lie!

But as I wrote, I don't bother. Sounds like you should experiment as your ear is offended by the normal system.

finkdaddy
10-03-2017, 06:10 AM
Really, wouldn't the center of the zero fret be further back than the front edge of a nut by exactly half the thickness of the tang?
Boy, that's a really, really small distance.

Also, is it normal for the zero fret to be taller than the rest? I understand that it would make string buzz less likely, but doesn't that run counter to one of the main reasons you would want a zero fret in the first place?

ProfChris
10-03-2017, 08:19 AM
I use a zero fret the same size as the rest, no problems if you level the frets accurately.

finkdaddy
10-03-2017, 09:32 AM
I use a zero fret the same size as the rest, no problems if you level the frets accurately.

Thank you, ProfChris. That's what I was thinking too.
I hope I don't derail the thread, but are you one of the people that associate a zero fret instrument with a low quality one? It seems to me like a good idea, so I wanted to make my new series of ukes with them. But I am also hoping to sell a few of these , so am I shooting myself in the foot by adding a zero fret?

frigiliana
10-03-2017, 09:44 AM
This thread needs some photos :D

Pete Howlett
10-03-2017, 10:23 AM
I'm motivated by the customer who has gone over an instrument with a Peterson tuner and complains about how many cents the intonation is out by...

RPA_Ukuleles
10-03-2017, 12:22 PM
Here's a photo of how you make sure every string is properly intonated (to the extreme) by working on the nut position..

103423

I just don't think half a fret slot is the answer. Even though it might help for one set of strings, it's unlikely to work the same for another set of different material/composition.

Graham Greenbag
10-03-2017, 12:57 PM
I'm motivated by the customer who has gone over an instrument with a Peterson tuner and complains about how many cents the intonation is out by...

I suppose some customers loose sight of what really has value and what they are actually paying for. Surely the Uke’s a simple instrument, based on a broad traditional and pragmatic design, that has brought joy to many. You expertly interpreted and build to that design; IMHO it’s just silly to expect even the best of Luthier built instruments to be perfectly in tune everywhere - Luthiers work hard to achieve the best of what is practically possible. Such customers, with their extreme demands, remind me of the Hi-FI ‘Buffs’ who used to listen out for the scratches in records rather than enjoy the music.

Pete Howlett
10-03-2017, 01:48 PM
Some customers though... I suspect I am looking for ways to improve and am getting to the end of the list. I'm gonna try this just to satisfy my curiosity. Thanks for all of the input. A valuable contribution to my improving skills most gratefully received. Now I just got to program my CNC... (and that is another story :) )

sequoia
10-03-2017, 07:03 PM
Such customers, with their extreme demands, remind me of the Hi-FI Buffs who used to listen out for the scratches in records rather than enjoy the music.

You are playing my music Graham. Right on... Still, as a player I don't really like funky sounding notes at certain positions. As a builder all I strive for is minimal funk and I'm happy. My two cents worth as in two cents worth of error is 2 cents worth good enough. But gosh darnit, it could be better. I'd take right on or 1 cent but the ukulele is what it is and maybe that is part of the charm.

anthonyg
10-03-2017, 08:01 PM
A 2 cent error in intonation isn't that bad. I can live with a 2 cent error on some strings and some frets however I've played new ukuleles that had a 5 cent error at the 2nd fret and even worse up the neck. That kind of error is terrible and puts new players off.

ProfChris
10-04-2017, 12:05 AM
A 2 cent error in intonation isn't that bad. I can live with a 2 cent error on some strings and some frets however I've played new ukuleles that had a 5 cent error at the 2nd fret and even worse up the neck. That kind of error is terrible and puts new players off.

Yup, dreadful for a new player because they think it's their error not the instrument. Mostly the reason is a dreadful nut, and this could have been avoided by using a zero fret :)

I build with zero frets but I don't sell my ukes (if you own one it is genuinely priceless!) and so can't say how the market perceives them. My guess would be that on a non-factory instrument there would be no negativity, because it's clearly not a cost cutting device.

But don't leave a big gap between the zero fret and the string spacer (nut) as that always looks cheap.

anthonyg
10-06-2017, 01:44 AM
Here's a photo of how you make sure every string is properly intonated (to the extreme) by working on the nut position..

103423

I just don't think half a fret slot is the answer. Even though it might help for one set of strings, it's unlikely to work the same for another set of different material/composition.

I meant to reply to this earlier. The instrument pictured is a 6, steel string guitar. Nylon string ukuleles don't need ANYTHING that extreme yet a LITTLE nut compensation is good. My two bobs worth. 1 mm compensation is plenty and then file back if the intonation has gone flat on the first few frets. Make a test instrument and figure out how much you need yourself. It won't be as radical as this example.

Ziret
10-06-2017, 11:08 AM
Hello,

Funny to see how such a mundane matter can become so controversial...

From my own experience, and after a totally intuitive idea, I saved a cheap Mahilele soprano with terrible intonation issue just by putting a piece of metal cut off from a paperclip as a poor man's zero fret, which keeps in place only by the pressure of the strings. The intonation is still not spot-on, but really tolerable so, yes, I do think that zero fret affects strongly the intonation for the better in my case.

just my 2 cents,
regards,

Gilles

They must have had the same idea, as my Mahilele has a zero fret and good intonation!

aremick
10-26-2017, 08:05 AM
Any idea how much just pushing down on the strings too hard while fretting the instrument can throw off intonation?

Timbuck
10-26-2017, 08:16 AM
Any idea how much just pushing down on the strings too hard while fretting the instrument can throw off intonation? I press down on the strings hard or soft while playing depending on the melody purposely just to affect the intonation.It's part of creating music ..its called vibrato..sometimes I bend em sideways for another musical effect :D