View Full Version : Zero fret scale length question

07-14-2018, 03:53 PM
Any advice for a guy trying zero fret for the first time?

Jim Yates
07-14-2018, 04:56 PM
Building or playing or purchasing?

07-14-2018, 05:13 PM
Sorry, building.

07-14-2018, 07:07 PM
Size of ukulele? Scale length?

07-14-2018, 08:15 PM
In a conventional instrument, the nut performs three main functions. It determines how the strings are spaced apart; it defines that end of the scale length; the depth of the slots can be adjusted (in combination with the saddle) to provide the preferred "action", or height of the strings over the frets. A zero fret takes over two of those jobs. It is the "stop" for that end of the scale length, and it fixes the action at that end of the string. That leaves the nut with only one job to do:- it is there simply to space the strings across the fret board. I've made a couple of zero fret ukes with no nut at all. You just have to find another way to space the strings.

You cannot adjust the action so easily with a zero fret, but that is not a problem. The first time I used a zero fret, I set it a little higher than the other twelve frets, but subsequently I made them all the same height, and that works just fine for me.

Hope this helps.

John Colter.

07-14-2018, 10:09 PM
as stated above, you still need a nut to provide string spacing, so leave a little extra when cutting the fretboard to length to allow for the zero fret and a nut.

07-14-2018, 11:18 PM
This is an example of a uke I made with a zero fret and no nut. I have to think what I'm doing before starting to turn the tuning pegs, but apart from that, it works very well indeed. John Colter


07-15-2018, 06:27 AM
That is a cool design.

But if you do use a nut. It needs to be set substantially lower than normal it seems .

07-15-2018, 09:44 AM
Try google images for "zero fret", and you'll see plenty of images to get ideas .

Jim Yates
07-15-2018, 07:10 PM
We should really not call it a "nut" if we have a zero fret. It's just a string spacer since the vibrating string doesn't actually touch it. A "nut" is defined as "the headstock end of the vibrating portion of the strings".
Although some folks don't like the looks of a zero fret, it makes perfect sense. A fretted note vibrates off a metal fret (and whatever material the saddle is made of). An open note vibrates off whatever the nut is made of except for an instrument with a zero fret, where it also vibrates off a metal fret.
This seems to indicate that a zero fret will give you a more balanced sound between fretted and open notes.
Some folks apply a capo in order to achieve this balance.