Elliot Easton's Tiki Lounge

What do players have against the zero fret?

1

I have a 6120 1959LTV and a 6122-1962 George Harrison style and they achieve the lowest, slickest action of any guitars I own, without buzzing, so why don't players favor them?

2

Got me, I love them.

3

I always wondered this myself. No problem with mine.

4

My first pro line, a 6129 was a zero fret and I thought it was genius.

5

I have guitars both with and without, no preference or animosity toward either here.

7

I love a zero fret too. It's interesting that it was initially installed as a result of Chet's request, back in the '50's. Fast forward to the '80's when he was with Gibson and designed the Country Gent to his exacting specs, yet a zero fret wasn't a choice of his then. I've never heard or read anything about this. Perhaps he felt the P/U's he was calling for gave him what he needed whereas in the '50's they didn't. My '98 Gibson CG plays like a dream and on this guitar I don't miss it. It sure does help set the string height be exactly correct though.

8

Once they start wearing out a bit and getting little grooves in them, you get that horrible "squeak!" every time you bend a string in the lower positions.

9

Once they start wearing out a bit and getting little grooves in them, you get that horrible "squeak!" every time you bend a string in the lower positions.

– WB

OK, but that must take a while and what would be so hard about having a luthier install a new one, maybe even a stainless steel one that would last? I guess I have a lot of guitars but I never wear out frets. I can't remember the last guitar I had to have refretted because of wear!

10

I have a zero fret on my 6120 LTV. Love it. I think it makes open string chords sound better. More chime, more even.

I've owned it for four years and I play it every day. No fret wear to speak of.

11

On guitars with shallow break angles like the 67 double cut 6120's they tend to skate a bit. The other issue is when players want a staggered nut where they want E, A and D to have more clearance. Other than that they're great, low maintence.

12

OK, but that must take a while and what would be so hard about having a luthier install a new one, maybe even a stainless steel one that would last? I guess I have a lot of guitars but I never wear out frets. I can't remember the last guitar I had to have refretted because of wear!

– Elliot Easton

You probably have a pretty light touch on the fretboard, or switch guitars a lot, either way, good for you! my main guitar just had its fourth refret. I'm just generally answering the question, that's the most heard argument heard against zero frets.

I've never owned a guitar with one, but I have to say more than half of the second hand guitars I've tried that had a zero fret had that lower position "squeak!" thing happening if you bent the G or B string.

13

My first pro line, a 6129 was a zero fret and I thought it was genius.

– NJBob

I think that's the one I have now. My first zero fret and I love it. I don't notice any difference at all in feel or sound. Keep in mind that I'm a hack.

Edit: I bend strings to their breaking point.

14

I appreciate all the different points of view!

15

The person I'm aware of that has a real aversion to the zero fret is Brian Setzer. I suppose TV Jones could fill us in on exactly why that is. I don't think I've heard an interview with Brian that specifically asked the question, but he has gone to great lengths to have them removed from is arsenal of vintage 6120s.

16

Every gypsy guitar I own has a zero fret, so I don't even think about them. I like them! I think they make for more even tone and better fretting in first position. Just my take.

17

if you use a capo, and dont think it compromises your tone..than a zero fret is ok…same exact principle…if you want that big low E (or A) rock thing..than you need the distance that nut height gives the string vs zero fret height…

huge difference but totally dependent on your playing style…

is one better than the other??..thats up to you…but they are very distinct…pure physics

cheers

18

I have no issues with a fresh zero fret, and Setzer seemed fine with it in the early years. If they are worn, I can see the potential issue.

19

I have a Zero Fret on my Power Tenny. The only drawback I can find are the divots that can form over time...however, I've not had the problem of pinging or other difficulties when bending strings, even when fretting close to the zero fret. The problem I encountered is that when those divots do appear it changes your action, lowering the strings and possibly causing some buzzing (much the same as nut slots cut or worn too low). A little more relief in the neck usually compensates for the wear and of course when it was time for a level and crown all was good once again. My Power Tenny does have very nice low fast action, but I'm not sure if that would be more the result of very good fretwork rather than the zero fret. Someday, when the guitar needs a re-fret, I would have the luthier do the zero fret in stainless.

20

I favor a zero fret over a nut. I believe much of the preference for nuts comes down to guitarists' tendency to favor tradition and also since their favorite historical guitar had a nut not a zero fret, nuts are better.

It's an odd kind of logic but as Ned Steinberger learned early on, guitarists are extremely conservative in regards to their instruments (which is partially why he made his first inroads with a bass guitar, as bassists aren't as dogmatic).

50 yrs later, a trillion guitarists ape the rig that a very innovative man used to achieve his (for the time) groundbreaking approach ... I'm talking Hendrix (not to beat a point to death but I believe if Hendrix was still Rocking, he'd be on the cutting edge as he was back in the day and more likely to be playing something like a Parker Fly than a strat)

Few guitarists have even heard of Buzz Feiten Tuning System, let alone (those squiggly awesome) true temperament frets!

Usually, it takes adoption by their guitar hero of some innovation or technology for a guitarist to consider anything different when it comes to guitars and amps

I have a zero fret on my Steinberger and it's awesome

It makes no sense philosophically or musically why the 'zero fret' should be made of a different material than the others

Almost all tuning problems trace back to the nut, and the guitars I have with zero frets hold a tuning forever

So I think the reason guitarists resist zero frets, and many other obviously superior technologies just comes down to inherent conservativeness/fear of change/ 'well, a 59 les Paul had a bone nut so it must be better' syndrome

Guitarists are not rational, and in some ways, romanticism, inner fire, etc are a good result, but it also leads to stubborn resistance to superior technology as in the zero fret

21

Gotta disagree there, it makes sense to have a zero fret that is harder than the rest of the fret wire, especially with the modern era nickel silver alloy being as soft as it is.

22

59 Les Pauls had a delrin nut.

23

Not sure Delrin was invented or utilized in the 50's, but yeah Delrin wears very well, probably better than bone. But in a zero fret situation the alloy needs to be hard because there is a lot of string pressure breaking over it, and when someone is bending strings it can wear in that area causing issues.

24

Delrin, nylon or plastic, something like that. But 50's Les Pauls didn't have bone nuts.

25

Nylon would make sense as Gibson used it a lot for bridge saddles as well.


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