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I got a guitar a few months ago (Vox Country Western) with a zero fret. I wrote a post about how much I like this guitar; it’s the most playable acoustic neck I’ve ever had and holds its tune almost permanently. The zero fret substitutes acoustically for the nut, which only serves as a spacer for the strings, and is located about 1/4” below the nut. I’m wondering if some of the action and sound I like so much from this guitar are a result of the zero fret.This feature seems strange at first, but makes a lot of sense in some ways. The guitar also has an adjustable metal (looks like duralumin) saddle. I know most guitar makers frown on the acoustic propertites of adjustable bridges for regular flattop guitars, but I wonder if having metal contacts vs bone or plastic at both ends of the strings in this case actually helps transmit the sound. Has any soft metal such as bronze, nickel silver or aluminum been used for stationary bridges? Anyone else have a guitar with a zero fret?

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Hi Bruce,
I am no expert on guitars in this area even though I have my own sight in Australia called archtopguitarsandbooks.com
I would like to say though that I personally do love Zero frets. I still thinlkit is one of the best setups for a good action.
What I do know is that many of the early Japanese guitars had Zero frets and that was because the Japanese were also influneced by the Italian makers Ideas on guitars as well as the US. The Macafferi guitars had a Zero fret and of cause he was Italian. I dont know about the metal Idea virsus the Ivory or whatever is used for the nut as zero fret guitars still do have a nut and the only difference I could can think of, would be with open strings or open chords, from there on I cant see much difference. I challenge readers now to add or correct me on this.
Bounce back to me Bruce if you wish to continue this conversation or contact me at richard@archtopguitarsandbooks.com

I am thinkin that a zero fret is for intonation purposes ....  after that it iust math lol...so it would not make a difference with the rest ... at least that is my take ... and I agree totally with the material analysis ... curious though I am not very familiar with them

Since most of my friends and buyers are inveterated alternate-tuning players, I have made 0-fret on my guitars for the last 2-3 years now! Today I must say, I have no good argument why I should choose normal nut!

As an example: My Baritone guitars! Sometimes they play C-C  tuning with 015-065 strings, Then A-A with 017-070 ! It is not possible to adjust a normal nut to both sets!

And the 12 string guitar!  0-fret is just Perfect!!

Olav

www.loefguitars.fi

i have kiso-susuki with zero fret and 2 screws on the bridge(i do not know what for) it plays wonderfully mellow and never loses tune.

it is a gibson dove copy from the 70,s.  i am only a very satisfied home hobby only player.

I think the zero fret vs the slotted nut probably makes llittle or no difference in the sound and intonation. I now have three guitars with zero frets, and though I understand the aesthetics involved, that the zero fret is often a cheap way around having to cut a precise nut, I think it might be a smart way to manufacture lower-end or middle-cost guitars that sound and perform well. Another labor saving device on some Japanese electric guitars ( I know this is an acoustic forum) is to manufacture the headstock on the same plane as the neck, in other words, with no break angle, and then to bend back the strings aft of the nut with a metal u-shaped retainer. This actually provides for a strong, one-piece neck, and the retainer, located behind the zero fret, has no influence on tone.

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