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Thread: Zero fret repair

  1. #1

    Default Zero fret repair

    Have a buzz that appears to be the zero fret being too low (.004 to the string). So, short of sourcing some specific fret wire, would it be approximately ok to just pair the fret with an appropriate diameter wire? Ive slid in such a thing, and it appears to work even though the first space is now either .039 more, or less, depending which side I use.
    This issue makes nut adjustments seem a much easier deal!

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2010
    East Tennessee

    Default Re: Zero fret repair

    I have used zero frets on my last dozen or so builds, all octaves. Before working on the fret, I would suggest being sure that the problem is not that the nut slots are too high. I have had that problem sometimes, & it is easier to fix. Good luck!

    Earl Tyler

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  4. #3
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    Default Re: Zero fret repair

    Do as Earl said, but if it turns out that the zero fret is too low, understand that zero frets wear and must be replaced occasionally.

    (Each time an open string is played, there is wear to a zero fret because the strings are not held tight to the fret but are instead held in place by some sort of nut behind the zero fret. The strings will slide or roll side to side on the surface of the zero fret as they vibrate. It is similar to the situation that causes fret wear at frets where capos are commonly placed on guitars. Anyone who does fret work on Bluegrass guitar player's instruments know that the second and fourth frets are normally worn the most. That is because the capo is so often placed at those frets, making them the effective zero fret while playing in the keys of A and B.)

    Placing a wire in front of or behind the zero fret will affect intonation but it will clear up the sound if in fact the zero fret is too low (from wear or because of poor installation). I would think of adding a wire as only a temporary emergency fix and not a true repair.

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  6. #4

    Default Re: Zero fret repair

    Thanks, and apologize for writing a bit badly. Of course it was the first fret that had low clearance, if the suggested .012-.010” range is a target. Since the (temp) fix removes the buzz, I can go ahead and do something more defensible which does involve pulling the zero fret and making or finding a higher one. Interestingly, the electronic tuner shows very minimal effect of that fret displacement, which I also described incorrectly, as, with a round wire, the displacement is half the diameter plus a difficult to measure half width of the fret at the level the added wire touches.
    I imagine that leveling the other frets at the factory or elsewhere invites accidentally ruining the zero fret if you’re not paying attention. And setting the top surface so that there is an appropriate taper between the bass and treble strings - that’s got to be delicate, or at least time consuming.

  7. #5
    Registered User Buck's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Default Re: Zero fret repair

    A zero fret is just that, the fret before the first fret position. It should be leveled along with the other frets, not higher than the other frets. When replacing you simply need the appropriate tang thickness and fret stock that higher than the first fret so that the zero fret can be brought down to that height.
    Todd Yates

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