Q: What’s the point of a “zero fret”?
A: I haven’t noticed much of a difference having a zero fret vs. not having one. My Skjold basses all have zero frets in them, while my Zon’s do not.
However, I believe that that the zero fret serves two functions:
- It gives an open string the same tone as a fretted string
- It’s easier on the luthier, as the nut is more of a string spacing device and doesn’t have to be filed just right to facilitate string height.
I’ve read that it zero frets can cause problems for guitarists who bend strings a lot, causing wear and tear and slight grooves in the fret.
I’ve never had this problem, but I have had a problem a zero fret would have likely prevented.
On my Zon 4 string (with a graphite nut and no zero fret), a drummer once knocked it over on stage. It landed fretboard down and the string got mashed into the graphite a little bit. This cuased the groove in the nut to get deeper. That of course caused my open string to buzz unless I wedge a little bit of paper under the string at the nut to raise the string a fraction of an inch. I have to do this every time I change strings now.
Even though I don’t really utilize them, I’ve never experienced any downside with a zero fret. The upside? It may have saved me a slight bit of hassle every time I change my strings with my banged up graphite nut.
Anyone else have any insight? Please share in the comments.