I am fixing to build 7 gits. 1 cb,3 license plates and 3 Wheel cover resonators. I have always used a bone nut on the 12 I built before this. I am considering using the zero fret,but I am not crystal clear as to how it works. I am going to use a bass guitar fret for the zero. I can't get my mind around how just sticking a same height all the way across fret, will allow any adjustment for the intonation.

      In the past, I have adjusted the intonation of frets 1-8 with the nut. 7-12 with a combination of nut and bridge and 12 on out with the bridge. If the string is sharp (I use a Snark as it never gets tired or has too many toddies and I am about 1/2 deaf) I deepen the string slot in the nut to flatten the note. I always use a 25 5/8" scale length. gdg for 3 strings and gdgb for 4 strings. I can't get my mind to wrap around having the same height for the zero fret will somehow magically make the slot depth irrelevant in setting the intonation of each string. Can somebody on here shed some light on my misunderstanding of the use of the zero fret. I have gone to the archives and looked at the pix and even zoomed in on some zero frets. Some look to be the same height and one looks to be tapered from the bass to the treble side. Can somebody help my misunderstanding of the zero fret? Also I need to know what height bass guitar fret will be the right height.


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  • I usually use finish nails for my zero frets when building with medium height frets and the action has been very close every time.


  • Hello Bama Hound.

    When I first heard about zero frets I didn't think much of it. I couldn't see any big advantages and having ultra low action at the first fret didn't sound like a good combination for slide work. Slowly, I began to understand some of the big advantages of this design. But, in a slightly different configuration.

    Instead of installing a fret at the zero position, I used a piece or round "music wire".

    306525335?profile=originalThis offered several advantages.

    First: Music wire is available in a number of different diameters, so I can set the action exactly where I want or I can change the action height without a lot of hassle.

    306526280?profile=originalSecond: If I need to make small intonation adjustments, I can turn the wire at an angle until I get it right.

    306527241?profile=originalOnce I have things adjusted like I want, I file a very shallow groove in the finger board to position the zero pin.

    I've used this system on a number of guitars over the past year and like the flexibility and adjust-ability it offers.

    So, now you have one more option to confuse things.

    Good luck.

    • Interesting Tom,in your pic it appears the nut is set rearward on the bottom string,much like a bridge might be set,is that a working example,or am i reading it wrong?

    • The bridge (string guide at this point) is loose in this photo. I tapped it against the fret board with a touch of glue after I saw the photo. It is intended to be mounted the same as any normal nut (i.e. square against the end of the fret board).

      Sorry for the confusion. That's what I get when I shoot photos before my third cup of coffee.

  • I'm probably reaching beyond my knowledge here,but a few thoughts.Zero fret will most likely reduce the need for compensation at nut end to the minimum reasonable level,leaving you with only the saddle to mess with to get pretty good results,beyond that you probably need to start angling frets,but then with a string change your stumped again.I'm really just thinking out loud here,so any comments,yay or nay appreciated

  • Think of it this way. The conventional nut does three things. First, it sets one end of the scale, the saddle setting the other end. Second it sets the string height at the neck end. Third, it spaces the strings at the neck end. Zero fret splits these functions in two. The fret itself sets the string height and scale length and the slotted string guide sets the string spacing. It makes things simpler.
  • You don't adjust the intonation at the nut, unless you are going to use something like a compensated Earvana or Feiten System nut. The whole idea of a zero fret is that it's an easy way to achieve a low action at the bottom of the fretboard, and it's easier to make a guitar that way rather than having to accurately cut string slots in a regular nut. With a zero fret, the nut acts only as a string spacing guide, so you need make the slots somewhat deeper then the height of the zero fret, in order to make sure the strings sit nice and firm onto the zero fret.

    With a conventional nut, if the action at the nut is overly high, then fretting the guitar will cause the string to pull sharp, but on a properly set-up guitar, this isn't usually a major problem. Using a zero fret can help avoid this problem, automatically setting a nice low action and having the bonus of being less fiddly to install.

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