Zero fret

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Description:
A zero fret is a fret placed at the headstock end of the neck of a banjo, guitar, mandolin, or bass guitar. It serves one of the functions of a nut: holding the strings the correct distance above the other frets on the instrument's fretboard. A separate nut is still required to establish the correct string spacing when a zero fret is used.

Function

The zero fret is positioned at the location normally occupied by the nut. On a guitar having a zero fret, the nut is located behind the zero fret and serves solely to keep the strings spaced properly. The strings rest atop the zero fret, which is sometimes higher than the other frets.

Purpose

The zero fret is primarily used to reduce production costs. The zero fret was commonly (but not exclusively) associated with cheaper instruments, since the cost of the labor involved in making a nut with slots carefully filed to the correct height is greater than the labor required to install a zero fret. Some manufacturers that frequently use(d) a zero fret are MTD (Michael Tobias Design), Gretsch, Kay, Selmer, Höfner, Mosrite, Anderson, Framus and Vigier. Now very few manufacturers use this design and those who do list it as a feature.

It is claimed that with a zero fret, the sound of an open string more closely approximates the sound of a fretted string as compared to the open string sound on a guitar with no zero fret. Countering this claim are musicians who feel that a bone or even synthetic nut will enhance the overall tone...
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