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  #1  
Old 01-11-2021, 01:36 AM
Taylor Ham Taylor Ham is offline
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Default Zero fret setup height?

I've been wondering about zero frets.

Some set them up slightly higher than the rest of the frets, and some level and dress the zero the same as all frets. Those who don't treat it specially, don't report any problems either. (Haze guitars blog)

What is the definitive answer?
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  #2  
Old 01-11-2021, 02:17 AM
Russ C Russ C is offline
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For best intonation, assuming the zero fret is not “repositioned” to compensate for a higher first fret action it needs to be just another fret - same height as all the others. I say that is the correct answer.

Maybe some people like their open strings to ring more because they’ve grown up listening to styles that evolved from higher nut slots - if so, there’s no correct answer .. but I’d still argue that a zero fret should be level with the others.

It’s easy to dress every fret except a zero unless the nut comes off helpfully so zeros may often end up higher for that reason. Again, I wouldn’t call that “correct”.
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Old 01-11-2021, 08:37 AM
redir redir is offline
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It depends. If a player has a strong style then just like I would set up a nut for such a player it would be slight bit higher at least on the bass strings. IF you like to pound on open chords with a flat pic then having a bit more height there could be beneficial. Otherwise just like a nut it should be set up to the fret height.
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Old 01-11-2021, 09:26 AM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is online now
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I've used zero frets for quite a while on a few types of instruments. If you evaluate the elliptical pattern that a plucked string produces then you can see that a slightly higher zero fret will help with setting as low of an action as possible with a reduced chance of string buzzing when combined with an appropriate amount of relief.

Many will say the zero fret is simply an extension of the fretboard, and that is true, but the "nut" to first fret distance is obviously the greatest distance, so the small amount of extra height is a benefit to players who have a stronger playing style.

If a player has a more refined technique then a zero fret at the same height is fine.

The answer therefore, is "it depends...".
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Old 01-11-2021, 09:51 AM
sam.spoons sam.spoons is offline
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This came up on another thread recently, my understanding (as an interested player rather than a builder) is that if the nut/zero fret is dressed to the same hight as the other frets the non speaking part of the string between the nut and fretting hand will be resting on the intervening frets and prone to buzz or rattle* so the nut/zero fret is usually dressed slightly higher than the other frets.

* the non-speaking part of the strings pretty much always resonates.
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Old 01-11-2021, 10:40 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sam.spoons View Post
...my understanding (as an interested player rather than a builder) is that if the nut/zero fret is dressed to the same hight as the other frets the non speaking part of the string between the nut and fretting hand will be resting on the intervening frets and prone to buzz or rattle* so the nut/zero fret is usually dressed slightly higher than the other frets.
That isn't an accurate understanding. What should happen is that the string contacts only the fret against which the string is depressed. What can happen is that the string contacts more than the one fret at which the string has been depressed. Doing so will cause a "buzzing" sound. This can happen on the "speaking" length of the string - the length of string from the fret at which the string is depressed to the saddle - or the "non-speaking" length of the string - the length of the string from the fret at which the string is depressed to the nut or zero fret.

When it occurs in the "non-speaking" length of string - from nut/zero fret to fret at which the string is depressed - it is often referred to as "back-buzz". Its occurrence is a combination of string height at the nut and neck (fretboard/fret plane) geometry. In many cases, the smallest adjustment of the truss rod is all that is necessary to eliminate a back-buzz. A very small change in fretboard curvature can be enough to eliminate the unintended contact between a string and a fret in the "non-speaking" length of the string. Increasing the bow in a neck causes a small increase in string height at the nut/zero fret. Alternatively, the string height at the nut/zero fret can be increased slightly. The assumption is that the frets are "level" and a back buzz is not due to one or more un-level frets.
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Old 01-11-2021, 10:53 AM
sam.spoons sam.spoons is offline
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Thanks for the explanation, I understand the principle of 'relief' but if relief is sufficient to prevent back-buzz why is the standard advice and practice to set the nut slots or zero fret so there is a small amount of additional clearance? All of my guitars are set up that way (admittedly four of them were set up by the same luthier) so it is obviously common practice.
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  #8  
Old 01-11-2021, 10:57 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is online now
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The purpose for setting string heights at the nut/zero fret higher than the plane of the frets is to prevent buzzing of the open strings for those with a heavier attack. Those with a lighter attack can have strings set to the plane of the frets.

The difference between an open string that buzzes and one that doesnít can be one stroke of a file. Not every setup person is willing to live on that edge and file nut slots that low. Many will leave themselves a cushion. Many players canít distinguish that difference.
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Old 01-11-2021, 02:28 PM
Taylor Ham Taylor Ham is offline
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Nice. I've also heard that a zero fret will wear much faster than the others, because it is always being fretted. This seems obviously true for nickel silver frets, but then again I think it's not a good idea to use a material that much softer than the strings for any fret. what about using Evo gold or SS?
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Old 01-11-2021, 07:12 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylor Ham View Post
Nice. I've also heard that a zero fret will wear much faster than the others, because it is always being fretted. This seems obviously true for nickel silver frets, but then again I think it's not a good idea to use a material that much softer than the strings for any fret. what about using Evo gold or SS?

The "always being fretted" is a popular myth. If that was the case we would see the much softer bone nut "wear" from the same thing. It just doesn't happen.

I've never noticed ANY wear on a 18% NS zero frets on the few that I've had and played for a few years before they eventually get moved on.

I've used EVO exclusively for the past few years on all fretted instruments, installing a piece of EVO that's .004" taller for the zero fret. I doubt I'll ever see any wear on an EVO zero fret even if I keep the instrument for the rest of my life.
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Old 01-11-2021, 11:32 PM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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I like to make the first zero fret same height as the rest of the frets.

I have come across some players who on a perfectly levelled zero fret have buzzed, why, I genuinely cannot answer but it does happen

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  #12  
Old 01-12-2021, 02:28 AM
Taylor Ham Taylor Ham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudy4 View Post
The "always being fretted" is a popular myth. If that was the case we would see the much softer bone nut "wear" from the same thing. It just doesn't happen.



I've never noticed ANY wear on a 18% NS zero frets on the few that I've had and played for a few years before they eventually get moved on.



I've used EVO exclusively for the past few years on all fretted instruments, installing a piece of EVO that's .004" taller for the zero fret. I doubt I'll ever see any wear on an EVO zero fret even if I keep the instrument for the rest of my life.


Your experience with harder materials and better QC from jescar is reassuring but it seems to me that there may be some truth to the wear myths. For one, we know not all NS is the same. The nut slots also have more area to support the string rather than the theoretical sharp peak of the fret. I actually have had or have seen synthetic nut wear down to cause a buzz on the open G string, the fine windings acting like a file.
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