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Author Topic: "Zero" frets - neck relief  (Read 792 times)
skyline
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« on: March 15, 2017, 01:19:59 AM »

Two related questions:

1) Is there a definitive explanation of why a "nut" is better than a "zero fret"?


2) If your saddle is at the correct height and you've dressed your frets properly, why do you need the neck to "relieve" itself? Is this a physics/math/harmonics thing?
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George
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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2017, 01:58:05 AM »

If I understand your questions accurately, these would be my answers...  Very simplistic responses as I am not sure I am addressing your curiosity correctly...

1)  I am not certain that a nut is really better than a zero fret, they are just more common.  A zero fret requires a much more accurate neck angle, flatter neck relief and absolutely proper string height at the bridge in order to minimize string buzz.  A nut is much simpler and generally allows for a lot more variation of the physics without negative results.

2)  The neck does not relieve itself actually.  The process of the wood curing and changing with temperature/humidity variations allows the neck to bend toward the tension of the strings.  Relief is adjusted when the neck has an adjustable truss rod that can counteract the bend of the neck from the string tension, or in reverse, allow it to bend more.  It can be used to assist with raising or lowering the string action for ease of playing or to minimize string buzz.  It is rare for a neck to naturally bend backwards away from the string tension, but it can happen.  There is no such thing as a perfect relief setting.  The neck angle, nut height, saddle height and other physics varies from guitar to guitar, because no two are ever exactly identical.  Relief has to be set to the satisfaction of the player.

I would never dress the frets without flattening the relief to as near to zero as I could get it first.  Uneven fret heights can be a real problem and do not correct for setup issues.

All of these thoughts are just observations from personal experience and are certainly not intended to be an explanation of the entire physics of the guitar.

I hope this helps a little.
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George
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2017, 03:06:58 AM »

 +1
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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2017, 03:35:52 AM »

Well said (on George's part). 

There is a physics relationship between the nut (or zero fret), saddle, and neck relief.  It, like "setup" in general, is *not* universal. 

Ed
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2017, 03:51:22 PM »

Here's a couple of articles
String Nut or Zero Fret

Truss Rod
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Mikeymac
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2017, 05:50:47 PM »


Here's a couple of articles

String Nut or Zero Fret


Excellent explanation of the value of a zero fret nut - with a CORRECT explanation of why the zero fret should be the same height as the rest of the frets:

The zero fret takes care of the intonation and, more importantly, establishes the correct and minimal string height. There’s no better height than being identical to those other frets.

There’s some talk of a zero fret needing to be higher than the others, but that just doesn’t make any sense. If the following fret would need to be higher than the previous one, our fretboard would look like a set of stairs.


I don't know how many arguments I had with people over this (including on this forum)!!! It's nice to see someone else (from a country where many builders used zero fret nuts, and therefore have experience with them and understand them) give the correct information about this.


2) If your saddle is at the correct height and you've dressed your frets properly, why do you need the neck to "relieve" itself? Is this a physics/math/harmonics thing?


Something else that hasn't been mentioned is the ark of a vibrating string. When a string is struck and vibrates, it will have a much larger "ark" - or vibration circle - in the middle rather than close to the two anchor points (the saddle and the nut), therefore, there needs to be room for that string movement. In order for the string not to rattle against the frets, there is a slight relief in the neck to avoid the vibrating string having contact with the frets/fingerboard.
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2017, 10:18:58 PM »

"correct explanation"?  I'd refer to it as a good rationale -- but it's not the only way to fly. 

If the zero fret is the same height as all the other frets, then the string clearance to the first fret is quite small for open chords, especially if the action is low.  The purpose of neck relief is to give a bit of space for the strings to move when fretted on the first few frets, where the angle between the fretted string and the fingerboard is quite low and buzzing can be an issue.  A zero fret that's the same height as the other frets is equivalent to cutting nut slots down to fret height.  Is that what you want?

I just built a zero fret guitar and, initially, used a zero fret that was the same size as the other frets.  All the frets were leveled carefully, but with low action, I had occasional buzzing on open chords -- especially when digging in.   ohmy  So I pulled the zero fret (0.043" high) and installed a stainless steel fret that was 0.057" high.  It, doubtless, impacted compensation, but it cured the buzzing.   

 
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2017, 12:29:20 AM »

"correct explanation"?  I'd refer to it as a good rationale -- but it's not the only way to fly. 

If the zero fret is the same height as all the other frets, then the string clearance to the first fret is quite small for open chords, especially if the action is low.  The purpose of neck relief is to give a bit of space for the strings to move when fretted on the first few frets, where the angle between the fretted string and the fingerboard is quite low and buzzing can be an issue.  A zero fret that's the same height as the other frets is equivalent to cutting nut slots down to fret height.  Is that what you want?

I just built a zero fret guitar and, initially, used a zero fret that was the same size as the other frets.  All the frets were leveled carefully, but with low action, I had occasional buzzing on open chords -- especially when digging in.   ohmy  So I pulled the zero fret (0.043" high) and installed a stainless steel fret that was 0.057" high.  It, doubtless, impacted compensation, but it cured the buzzing.   

 

I agree.  If the zero fret is exactly the same height as the others, and the neck has no relief (perfectly flat), then the open strings would buzz on the first fret for sure.  The strings would have to buzz because they would literally be touching all the other frets.  The only way you can get away with the zero fret exactly the same height as the others, would be to have at least some relief in the neck; and possibly more relief than one would like had that zero fret been a bit higher.  Or to make the saddle taller than might be optimal for the best action on the higher frets.  Same goes for nut slots that are too low on a conventionally "nutted" guitar.
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