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Bpower
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I have a generic question for everyone honestly because I'm curious. 

I was given a free acoustic guitar today that has been in someones basement for a long time. On a quick look from me it would take a lot of work to make it playable again and it is definitely more than this guitar is worth. No name on it. No stickers on it. It has lived a hard life. I took it pretty much because I think it would be fun to attempt fix it up. If I get it fixed up then I would find a home for it... either just a cabin guitar... a kid learning to play... a school band... whatever. If things go sideways and I screw it up then I'm not out anything since it was free. Here is a picture of the guitar.

20220527 171448

Now for my question.... 

This guitar has a zero fret.... I have never had a guitar with a zero fret. I only know of one friend of mine that has a guitar with a zero fret and his is even more unique and has a bolt on neck like a telecaster electric through the back of the guitar. What is the differences/logic for having the zero fret? Does the scale length start from the zero fret or the nut take off like my other guitars? Would the nut be different (ie. nut slots cut lower so the string sits lower)?

20220527 171438

 

Again. This is all just because I'm curious. I've wondered these question since the first time seeing my friends guitar. When I see him again I'm going to take a closer look at his and maybe take a couple of pictures. 

 


   
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Boo
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Posted by: @bpower

What is the differences/logic for having the zero fret? Does the scale length start from the zero fret or the nut take off like my other guitars? Would the nut be different (ie. nut slots cut lower so the string sits lower)?

@bpower Not sure of the official reason for having a zero fret but I would say that the scale length is measured from the very centre of the zero fret, down to the bridge. The nut is there to keep the strings in place and aligned properly, it’s just a guide in this case, not part of the string action. So long as the string slots in the nut are slightly lower than the zero fret so the strings can rest in them with the break angle, everything will work fine. 
I suppose it is possible to do a conversion from zero fret to a normal nut, with some surgery. 
The zero fret takes the place of the take-off point on a nut and it must be the centre of zero fret slot, not the edge of it. You basically have to get the maths correct, if you were slightly off, all the other fret slots would be out of place, the maths would not add up. All the international adjustment in the world would never get it to play in tune. 
It would literally all hinge on that zero fret being absolutely in the right place. It obviously works but from a maintenance point of view or to make a guitar with one, the precision would have to be bang on. To do a fret level, crown and polish too, the crown on the zero fret would have to be very accurate and in line with the very centre of its fret slot. The very centre of that fret is the direct replacement/alternative for the face of a nut. So a traditional nut, the strings take off from the top of the face, and with the zero fret, it’s the centre of the fret in line with the fret slot.  

That’s my two pence worth on the matter, hope it helps. 👍

Boo 

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I was making a start on clearing my attic out the other day, as I am moving house soon. I found an old acoustic guitar up there, very similar to this one of yours, no zero nut though. It’s literally coming apart at the seems and I don’t know how to fix it. It was given to me by a friend for free so I may have a go at fixing it with some guidance from the forum and our resident guru @markbailey 

I’ll have to move house first so it will have to wait. 

Make guitars, not war 🌍✌️🎸


   
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Bpower
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@boo That was exactly what I was wondering about the nut. This one appears to be really wallowed out so the strings are right on the zero fret. I wasn't sure if that was the way it was suppose to be. If that was the case, How would you set the string height? When you do a fret level would you leave that fret out and do it separately?  Am I over thinking it? Is it too early and I haven't had enough tea to make it all clear in my head? 🙂

I do not have any thoughts to removing the zero fret from the guitar. It is unique and I kinda like it. I am only wondering because, if I get into a situation where I think it needs new frets and a nut that is not plastic, how do I set it up properly. And this is still all hypothetical. I just think it is weird and cool and I want to understand it. 🙂 


   
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@bpower I’m not sure, I think it’s all a pain in the arse to be honest. I don’t have a guitar with one installed and have never worked on one. I wouldn’t really want to but I will do at some point so I can do it when someone wants one. 
I think this could be a question for the guru to answer. @markbailey 

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Rocknroller912
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@bpower 

Zero frets tend to be used on cheaper model factory production instruments as it takes away the need to set string height at the nut, so skilled workers are not needed for set up. I’ve repaired a few over several years including re frets and setting string height can be difficult as there is no adjustment. One trick is to use a higher or larger fret at the zero point so that the height can be set by fret dressing. 
The big downside is that the action tends to be very high and can even be unplayable with heavy gauge strings. The most often request I get is to lower the action. 

An exception is Gypsy Jazz guitars which usually have a zero fret, even high end expensive models costing thousands (they also have a fret marker at fret 10 instead of fret 9 which is normal). 

For non professional makers who work as a hobby I think a broken instrument is always worth repairing as someone will be able to use it. Professional makers who have to cost their time have a different perspective of course, but they wouldn’t want to waste time on a repair that’s more than the instruments worth.

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Bpower
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cool. thanks @rocknroller912. That makes sense. So you just get the one height going across depending on how tall the zero fret is. should be fun to see what comes of it and at least practice a few things on it. 🙂


   
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darrenking
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Posted by: @rocknroller912

Zero frets tend to be used on cheaper model factory production instruments

How very dare you Rocknroller!

But I will forgive the generalisation given that you mention gypsy jazz guitars. All Maccaferri guitars, even the nylon stringed versions, were produced with a zero fret, the thinking being that this sets the exact contact point with the strings more accurately than relying on the filing of the slots in a nut, which if angled incorrectly, can result in the contact point being further from the bridge than it should be or just generally imprecise.

You are correct that it is often the case that a slightly higher profile fret wire be used for the zero fret but I didn't do this on my builds and it hasn't caused me a problem. The zero fret does mean that the last little bit of fretboard can be pretty fragile and I would recommend filing some of the 'set' off the zero fret tang to relieve the stress on the fretboard when tapping/glueing it in. 

The scale length runs from the centre of the zero fret and my fret slotting templates (which have the two Maccaferri scales) make allowance for this by adjusting the zero fret slot position by half the thickness of a fret slot. It's not a lot, only about 0.25mm, but it's worth doing just to remove an unnecessary error. In actual fact it is all of the other 'nut' scale lengths which are adjusted for the first fret position (by + 0.25mm) but as we are talking about zero fret set ups I hope you get the gist.

Darren


   
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Rocknroller912
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@darrenking 

I’m not familiar with Maccaferri is it a type of jazz guitar. I did notice the scale on your fret slotting template. I do have a high end Gypsy guitar with a zero fret made by Polark in Israel which I bought before I found Bailey Guitars and wish I had waited a bit longer as I would have preferred to buy in U.K. 

One advantage I do find is that having the nut further away it doesn’t catch the hand while playing a barre F shape as I have big hands. A build for the future I think once I have finished a few violin bows that I’m working on.

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Bpower
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Finally got the chance to get down to our family cabin last night. As always, it finishes the night with a bon fire and music. It is always so fun. 5 acoustic guitars, a jambe with symbols, and we even had a melodica. Such a fun night. I mentioned above that one of the guys has a guitar with the zero nut. I took a couple pictures last night. It is just kinda cool. Here are the pics. It is interesting that the neck looks like an electric bolt on.

20220618 213353
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20220618 213341
20220618 214049

 


   
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Rocknroller912
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@bpower 

Looks like a bad crack on the ribs under the neck joint. Factory made guitars can be a nightmare to take apart due to the type of glue used. The wood often splinters. I would try and inject some wood  glue in the crack and clamp from inside the sound hole using a block of wood as a spacer.

Does the top block looks sound or does it have any cracks.

This post was modified 2 years ago by Rocknroller912

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Bpower
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@rocknroller912 This guitar is not the one I'll be attempting to fix. I only posted the pics because I mentioned it above and thought it was cool/different with the neck attachment like an electric and it had the zero fret. It is just a neat unique guitar. 


   
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@bpower 

ok I was a bit confused there. The Epihones were built to last 

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@bpower 

ok I was a bit confused there. The Epihones were built to last 

Some people call me a tool, others are less complimentary. Tools being useful things.


   
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Bpower
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@rocknroller912 yeah. It seems like a decent guitar. Some interesting decisions in the making of it. 


   
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Nice Guitar thanks I loved their ribbons 


   
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