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A Fret Question


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It is not a boutique or custom deal.... when I was first learning to play, many of the cheaper guitars had them and I at first attached that idea to a lesser quality instrument. Then as time went by, I noticed that it was just a choice, not a quality judgement.


One thing that I like about the zero fret... fretted notes and open notes sound the same.

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It's another way to dictate the string-height at the 1st fret, as the "zero"-fret makes that the same as compared to another fret with the strings barred at the preceding fret. And with a zero-fret, the nut acts more as a string spacing guide and less, if at all, as setting the string height at that end. And, as Bill states, it gives open strings about the same sound as fretted ones.


On a standard design guitar, the nut is the beginning point for the scale-length of the strings; with a zero-fret, the zero-fret is that beginning point, and the nut is located behind that point.


Both zero-fret and standard nut/1st-fret designs need to be crafted and set-up with precision, although the nut behind a zero-fret is a little less critical in some respects.


Note that a lot of vintage Gretsches came with zero frets, just one example of many.

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A lot of gypsy jazz guitars come with a zero fret. Personally, I think the characteristic sound of open strings at the nut sound beautiful and are a good contrast to fretted notes if used correctly. IE: we dont hit open strings when playing straight ahead jazz because of the oddball tonal contrast.

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Only played on an acoustic with a zero fret made in italy a few years ago and it did feel like it was easier to play for some reason...but that's about it...not too many major brand guitar makers use them so they are not in demand on standard models...almost all custom guitar makers leave them off as well....
Take care, Larryz
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O'Shite and Guitar Slinger are correct.During the late-sixties onslaught of cheap offshore guitars sparked by the British Invasion (which had, in turn, been sparked by the success of the Beatles)the zero-fret reached its apex. Because nut shaping was less critical with a zero-fret design, the Z-fret became associated with these lesser-quality imported instruments, causing Gretsch and other US manufacturers to abandon it.
"The Blues ain't got no dental plan."-"Bleeding Gums" Murphy
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