Question on Fret Height with a Zero Fret

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by StJimmy, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. StJimmy

    StJimmy Member

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    If I want to use .047" height frets with a zero fret, how high of a zero fret will I need, assuming fairly low action and using 10-46 strings. Fretboard will be 12" radius on a metal neck so no neck relief involved.

    Where are the luthiers/mathmeticians?
     
  2. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    Your probably gonna need about .015" or so, this is one of the reasons I'm not a fan of zero frets. The fret height after filing and crowning will determine the exact height. I like to have the zero fret higher than needed to allow for adjustment of the clearance over the first fret after all frets have been filed and crowned.
     
  3. Hargrett

    Hargrett Member

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    Hi, Rosewood... you're saying start at .015 over, correct? ... making that zero fret a .062 and working it down from there ?
     
  4. StJimmy

    StJimmy Member

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    Yikes! I don't think anyone even makes a .062 height, do they? If I used a .055 height (like a Dunlop 6100) then I'd be looking at something around .040 height for the rest of the frets? That's still doable I guess. Isn't that around the height of Gibson frets? I want nicely round crowned tops, though....no flat top railroad ties.
     
  5. Hargrett

    Hargrett Member

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    Seems like most zero-fret guitars I've seen had relatively small frets. Just eyeballing the clearances on my Les Paul, starting around .015 over and easing it down, as Rosewood said, looks right to me. I couldn't tell you who makes the tallest frets, but I'm sure someone can?
     
  6. Hargrett

    Hargrett Member

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    Are you building this guitar?
     
  7. StJimmy

    StJimmy Member

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    No, someone else, but I'm coming up with the specs.
     
  8. Hargrett

    Hargrett Member

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    What do you think...is it crazy to suggest installing and dressing down a length of stainless steel rod stock for an oversize zero fret?
     
  9. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    Every zero fret I can recall seemed to be the same as the other frets.....isn't that the whole idea? When you fret a note on any other fret, it's exactly the same situation as if you theoretically fretted the note behind the zero fret.
     
  10. Hargrett

    Hargrett Member

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    I think we have a winner!! What was I thinking?
     
  11. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    That's true for a lot of them but most people will turn it into "buzz city" because they tend to play open strings harder. I can't think of a zero fret guitar I like.
    If you try it with all the same height frets and it doesn't work out it's not much trouble to remove it and reinstall another. I would still suggest not filing it until you check the setup, then you can adjust the height if needed.
     
  12. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    It shouldn't buzz any more than any other frets if set up properly. Not sure I've seen the open strings being played harder phenomenon myself.

    I don't like zero frets either, but it's more because they tend to develop grooves that "ping" when you bend strings close to the "nut". I think that a zero fret is a perfect place to put a stainless steel fret for that reason.

    The biggest advantage to zero frets IMHO is better intonation on fretted notes in the first three positions.....simply because you don't have the very common problem of nut slots not being cut deep enough. You lose that advantage however if you make the zero fret much higher than all the other frets.
     
  13. StJimmy

    StJimmy Member

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    All of the frets on this git are going to be stainless steel, not just the zero.
     
  14. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    IMHO the zero fret should be slightly taller than the other frets, and .015 sounds like a good place to start.

    The only guitar I've got with a zero fret is a '93 Guild Brian May Sig, and it's a phenomenal guitar. Nobody that's ever played it or heard it has commented negatively on the zero fret.

    --chiba
     
  15. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    FWIW, anyone that uses a capo is using a zero fret that's the same height as every other fret......;)
     
  16. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    One thing that's never crossed my mine is a stainless steel zero fret, it should at least let the string slip a little better
     
  17. StJimmy

    StJimmy Member

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    I just measured a zero fret height on an old Country Gent I have. The difference between the zero fret and the others down near the zero is anywhere from .012 to .007 depending on whether you're on the center of the fingerboard or measuring near the edge. Dead center on the fretboard is .012.

    EDIT: But I don't know how accurate this type of measurement would be since I measured from the fretboard up to the crown. Imperfections in the fretboard wood may make a fret seem taller than the one right next to it when in fact, if you laid a steel rule on top of them, they seem to be the exact same height. When you're measuring in thousandths of an inch, slight imperfections can yield inconsistent results.
     
  18. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    15 thou? Wow! Isn't that a lot for this application?
    Don't you only need a couple of thou above the first fret for a conventional nut slot?
     

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