Modern Gretsch Guitars

Zero Fret

3

I like them but don't have to have them. It's good to have the zero fret be either a slightly larger fret or have it installed after the other frets are dressed so you can make minute notches under each string which will negate most of the problems people associate with them.

4

I've never owned a guitar with a zero fret. I'd be interested in trying one out just to see. Certainly the guitar that I covet most has a zero fret: the Gretsch 1959 Country Gent.

5

I have guitars with and without and don’t have a preference.

6

I have both types. I (slightly) prefer zero frets but it is NOT a deal breaker if a guitar I like/want does not have one.

7

I have both and am a zero fret fan.

8

Like others here, I can go either way. The zero fret makes the precise grooves in your nut slightly less critical.

9

I prefer zero frets. Open and fretted strings sound the same.

10

Zero frets are cool...I like them..makes sure the strings have the proper height over first fret but again, not a deal breaker for me either way.

11

I have mostly non-zero fret guitars because not many guitars have them anymore, but I actually prefer them hugely for the reason Strummerson said. It makes the tonality consistent whether strings are open or fretted. It makes the guitar a better instrument. I used to avoid zero fret guitars when I was younger because they seemed cheap and old-fashioned.

Until I played one.

All guitars should have zero frets.

12

Thanks to everyone who responded. I see no negatives. I have a ‘62 Jet with a zero fret it seems to have a better pull-off (if that’s a term) when you pull off of a fretted note to an open. My Electromatic Jet sounds like it’s being tuned up instead of jumping right back to the open note.
Time to try a zero fret. I’ll have my luthier set and dress the frets then add the zero. Thanks again.

13

I don't believe you can add a normal zero fret to a guitar that doesn't already have one, because the scale length will be incorrect.

The zero fret would have to be positioned where the nut is currently located, on your Jet.

edit: it appears that this product might work: Zero Glide Nut

Apparently it places a zero fret where fretboard-side of the stock nut would have been.

14

I think you can add a zero glide nut that has a zero fret made on.

16

Sorry, Geoguy, I must have been posting as you were editing.

17

Hi Geo,

The zero glide nut is absolutely not a user-install project unless you are quite good at this sort of thing.

The nut needs to be shaped, and the best-fit fretwire needs to be trimmed.

Further, some of the fretwire they supply is offset nicely, some is less so.

Nice product, but every bit as much work as making a new nut.

In my opinion.

Chris

18

So long as you never intend to go back to a normal nut, a good luthier can change your guitar to a zero-fret if you want. Some trimming of the nut end of the FB is required.

The idea of the Zero-Glide product is that you can change back to a normal nut because the FB is not trimmed. This is why you need the custom offset fretwire.

I do not at all find there to be a “tone” from a open string that is closer to that of a fretted note when using a zero fret. Others feel very differently.

The differences between a zero-fret note and a fretted note remain significant even though the fret material over which the string passes is similar.

19

I'm a big fan of the zero-fret. So much so that I had my 1962 SG Les Paul modified in 1968 to a zero-fret.

21

Audept. That is nice. A bit closer to the nut it seems than my Gretsch. Love that 3 pickup SG.
I’ll have my luthier of 30 years do a matchup to my ‘62 to the 90’s reissue. Thanks folks.

22

Also the tip about the zero glide nut might be worth considering. I’ll ask my luthier. I’ll just buy one and let him decide. Bela Fleck’s comment concerning a zero fret on a banjo is what I hear between the 2 guitars.
Quicker, more crisp response is my goal.

23

I've fitted Zero Glide ZS-1 nuts to my G5422 and Annie, and really like them. I'd say anyone with basic DIY skills could successfully fit one, whereas filing slots in a bone nut requires more skill and experience. Here's the full process, about an hour of work all-in:

  • Loosen strings (no need to remove them) and remove old nut with a light tap (towards the headstock) with hammer & wood block .
  • Clean old glue from the nut slot. (I used a small scalpel)
  • Sand bottom & back of Zero Glide bone nut using the old nut as a guide.
  • Fit new nut to guitar and string up low & high E strings. Adjust horizontal position to taste. Mark protruding ends with a pencil.
  • Remove nut, sand ends to pencil marks, shape ends as required. Sand to 1000 grit for a nice shine.
  • Fit nut to guitar with one tiny drop of superglue or wood glue.
  • Now you need to choose which of the zero frets to use. You get 4 in the packet. Basically, use the smallest fret that rings clear with no buzzing. In my case, the smallest fret worked perfectly.
  • Mark & trim the zero fret to width (I used a cutting disc on a Dremel) and file the ends to match the guitar.
  • The instructions recommend gluing the zero fret into place - I didn't bother.
24

I think the downside to a zero fret is that if you are a huge bender, sometimes the grooves that are worn into older zero frets can make a 'plink' sound. So it means you have to replace them every few years. Alternatively, put a stainless fret in there and that shouldn't be necessary.

25

Actually...the BIGGEST downside to the zero fret is that they became associated with low-end, cheapo guitars and they are often parked a couple inches downstream of the metal bar used to keep down-pressure on the nut. Guilt by association.


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