Elliot Easton's Tiki Lounge

What do players have against the zero fret?

76

Open strings sound a lot better with a zero fret. Just listen to Django Reinhardt when he plays those runs with some open strings. Sounds bright and clear. I play Gypsy Jazz and sometimes I wish all my guitars have a zero fret.

77

I've never had any preference, I play mainly hollow body Gretsches and I've loved playing them with or without the zero fret.

Somewhere recently I saw or read an interview with Brian talking about the reasons why he had the zero fret removed.

… EDIT ...

BAM — found it! I don't know why he thinks it binds the strings (seems as though he thinks it throws the guitar out of tune) but that's the quote. To hear it straight from him, jump ahead to the "TV Jones mod" question at 32:42 :

And the whole video is seriously great — he takes out all his guitars one by one and plays them and talks about each one in some detail.

– redrocker

I Watched that Video and was surprised at how much He doesn't know about some of his Guitars, perhaps its the actual number of Guitars He has (and has had), I would imagine He has had just streaming into him for a long time now, and would lose track over time

As to zero fret, I like them and have had a couple of Guitars with them as OEM German Silver is the Alloy used I believe on older Gretsch's I read an article once talking from the "physics" point of view about the Zero Fret and it does actually make sense to have a metal fret at one end if 25 or so inches away you have the strings crossing a metal bridge, harmonically it makes perfect sense to me

78

I never really played much except I like the brass ones on the '15 Les Pauls. I have read in my LP forum the "pinging" complaints during bending and a few noticing a tuning issue.

79

Great Thread from the past.. I just picked up a 67 double Annie. The zero fret is pretty grooved, So I need to have a new zero fret and a new Nut installed at the same time if I’m reading this right to obtain the right string heights at the neck?? And the consensus seems to be stainless if I am repalacing it, correct? Really appreciate any input .

80

With a zero fret the nut serves only as a string guide and has nothing to do with the string height, so you need the correct size fret to get the string height correct. A stainless zero fret will last longer but may have a different sound than the other (non-stainless) frets.

81

With a zero fret the nut serves only as a string guide and has nothing to do with the string height, so you need the correct size fret to get the string height correct. A stainless zero fret will last longer but may have a different sound than the other (non-stainless) frets.

– FritzTheCat

Right, I neglected to include the fact that I had also just read his article by Preimiere Guitar which led me to think I might want to do the Nut at t the same time ( it needs it anyway)

Link

82

Gosh, not that it matters years later - but I'm agnostic about zero frets. Zero fret, zero difference, I used to say.

Yep, they wear and snag strings in their little grooves, and go ping when you bend. Then they need attention. But nuts also need attention, and it's arguably more difficult to fabricate and properly groove a nut than to dress (or even replace) a zero fret.

BZ once said "I don't see why it should wear any faster than the rest of the frets," and I wonder if more time with his 6122 (and accompanying wear) has answered that question. I figger the zero fret wears faster because all six strings are ALWAYS in contact with it, and other frets are only used...when they're used. So, less. Whenever I bend a string anywhere on the fretboard, I'm dragging the string at least a little across its seat on the zero fret.

Someone else brought up what seems the obvious solution to me: make the zero fret stainless. Bingo bongo, done for life.

I notice if a guitar has a zero fret - but it doesn't enter into my acquisition calculus. It doesn't earn extra credit for a guitar I'm borderline about, and it's not a demerit on a guitar I otherwise like.

So, for me...zero fret, zero difference.

83

I have a Supro with a zero fret. I cut a piece of automotive brake line lengthwise, laid it over the zero fret and, bingo...great for slide. I can have it back to standard in about 3 minutes.

84

I have three "go-to" electrics... Gretsch, Rickenbacker and Taylor. One has a zero fret. Which one I pick up depends on the song in question, not the fret.

So I guess that makes me another agnostic on the subject. Nice to have, but don't really miss it when it's missing.

85

like the feel, don't like the way they wear out.

86

I’m still in the head-scratching phase with them. Onlyest guitar I have with one is the ‘62 RI Gent.

That said, it’s also the onlyest with a particular tuning phenomenon. On that’n, as I tune it up, each previous string goes sharp as I work on the current one. It does have a Bigsby and a Tru-Arc, and I put nut grease in the slots. I figured out that I can compensate by leaving the previous strings still just a tiny bit flat when I move on and they all more or less align themselves in the process to where I can get them all where they need to be but I can’t say whether or not the zero fret plays a part in the equation.

It’s also probably THE guitar where I can play, say, an open Dmin7 and it feels the most “as it should”(?) and sounds the most in tune. So I guess my own vote is that if zero frets facilitate that but don’t play a part in the aforementioned mentioned tuning thing, then put me in the “plus” column.

87

All guitars should have them, but Gretsch puts them too far from the nut, which is what causes problems. They should be dressed to the same height as the frets, and be right next to the nut.

88

All guitars should have them, but Gretsch puts them too far from the nut, which is what causes problems. They should be dressed to the same height as the frets, and be right next to the nut.

– Billy Zoom

Thanks Billy, just dropped it off at my Luthier’s shop with those instructions. I’m going with a stainless ZF btw. I’ll take a pic of it after it’s been done and post it. It’s had the same ZF since 1967 so it’s really worn grooves in it , looks like a metal nut.

89

I don't disagree with you there Billy but my old Hofners pretty much placed the zero fret in the same position as the Gretsch models.

Like the Gretsch guitars, the zero fret was also too big....purportedly to alleviate wear but totally destroying the guitar's action. My 2006 Terada 6120 had the same problem but by then I had a fret crowning file!

90

I don't think I would buy a guitar with a zero fret.

I don't believe any amount of logic or reasoning would change my view either. I just think they are unnecessary, seem like a lazy way for a manufacturer or luthier to avoid cutting a precise nut and it seems a zero fret would get worn down too fast.

If form follows function zero frets are a step backwards.

91

I have a 50’s era arch top built in Czech with a zero fret and honestly I don’t notice anything different compared to a standard nut.


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