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Zero fret ukulele (Read 5125 times)
unkabob
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Zero fret ukulele
Jun 8th, 2007 at 9:47am
 
I have heard of a zero fret on ukuleles but don,t understand how it is used.

If there is a zero fret, do you still require a nut to align the strings?
Does a zero fret set the action in an unadjusable way.

I read someplace that one of Dominator's ukes had a zero fret but I can't see any difference.

I feel like I'm not playing with a full deck.

Bob ?
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zac_in_ak
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Re: Zero fret ukulele
Reply #1 - Jun 8th, 2007 at 7:45pm
 
The purpose of a zero fret is to make the open string strum sound like the fretted string sound i.e. same material(fret) same sound
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unkabob
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Re: Zero fret ukulele
Reply #2 - Jun 15th, 2007 at 5:42am
 
Zak_in_Ak:
The zero fret will,obviously, be at the zero position. The height will be set to provide the same action as the nut normally would. this means that the action is not adjustable.

Is the nut moved back?
How much space is there between the nut and the "zero fret"?
How much clearance do I need at the first fret?

A picture would probably solve most of this mystery.

Bob
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Ukeman
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Re: Zero fret ukulele
Reply #3 - Jun 21st, 2007 at 7:04am
 
aloha guys:

using a zero fret means that a fret larger than ther rest of your other frets on your fingerboard is inserted at the beginining of your fingerboard an acts and replaces the nut! The larger diameter will create a non adjustable string height! There will be no need for a nut if you are using a zero fret...this fret is now the nut and is located and treated the same way as a nut would be!

Just picture the zero fret as a alternate nut and ... behind the zreo fret toward your headstock a hold down is used to position the string spaces and secure the break angle of the strings  the hold down can be of nut like material and ergo confusing  one to think that it is acting as a nut and not a mechanical hold down for string spacing.



laters   ukeman.

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konacat
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Re: Zero fret ukulele
Reply #4 - Jun 25th, 2007 at 8:02am
 
Bob,

David Hurd uses a zero fret on his ukuleles. In this case the nut is used to position the strings only and not to control string height. As you may have guessed the action is adjusted with the height of saddle.  Like Zac said the sound on open strings/chords sound the same as fretted strings/chords. This is really true for Am7 in C tuning since all strings are open. There are two pages on David's site that will give you a better idea.
http://www.ukuleles.com/Sales/4ST4Sale.html
http://www.ukuleles.com/SetupnCare/TenorTune.html

Philip
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unkabob
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Re: Zero fret ukulele
Reply #5 - Jun 26th, 2007 at 6:28am
 
Ukeman&Konacat:
Thanks for the explanations.
I found two examples of a zero-fret in the pictures. Dominator has one and Bird of Paradise has another.

Ukeman:
You say that a larger fret is used for the zero-fret. Would this use guitar fret-wire?

Thanks

Bob
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Erfunden
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Re: Zero fret ukulele
Reply #6 - Dec 4th, 2007 at 7:11am
 
I want to know too, Unkabob.  What kind of larger fret is used for the zero fret?

Also, are there disadvantages to a zero fret?  Why don't all ukes use a zero fret?
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konacat
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Re: Zero fret ukulele
Reply #7 - Dec 5th, 2007 at 1:18pm
 
I would like to address that last question first “Why don't all ukes use a zero fret?” I believe that many people think that zero fret ukuleles and guitars are cheaper less quality instruments. While there are bottom line instruments with the zero fret I disagree primarily because a quality instrument is a quality instrument regardless of the zero fret or not. In fact there are probably many people out there who are happy with their instruments without even realizing that they have a zero fret.

The zero fret is just where the scale length starts. Its either a zero fret or we cut the fret board at that location and use a nut to control the start of the scale length and the height of the strings. With the zero fret the nut becomes a string spacer and does not control the scale length or height of the strings. One advantage with the zero fret is that you have perfect string height on all strings. Another may be help in fretting up against the nut but I really don’t think the tiny extra space makes a significant difference. I have found playing am7 which is all open strings very annoying compared to fretted chords. The zero fret would aid in keeping the sound more consistent.

I used to think that you needed a larger fret in the zero slot but it seems that is not necessarily correct. The builders that I have communicated with who use them say they only use one fret size for the fret board. The only real concern would be clearing the first fret. Since all the strings are of equal height you wouldn’t need much clearance and it wouldn’t matter after the first fret. Setting the action would take place at the saddle/bridge. It would be like raising or lowering a 17 inch lever that is pinned on one end.

David Hurd and Ken Potts both build with zero level frets and I would never question the quality of their instruments. My current guitar build will not have a zero nut because I purchased a slotted fret board and it was not an option. This next year when I can get around to building ukuleles again I will be using a zero fret.

Here are a couple of photos I found.

Philip


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unkabob
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Re: Zero fret ukulele
Reply #8 - Dec 6th, 2007 at 6:43pm
 
Philip:
Thanks for the pictures.

I am trying to build my first ukulele by the book mostly. I am using a 1 1/2 inch nut but the rest is from the book. I want to box it up before Christmas so I can finish it (Tru oil) in Hawaii. Thing look possible but any major setback will can it for this year.

I am looking at zero fret and radiused fretboard in the future. When you play as poorly as I do you need all the help that you can get.

Bob
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konacat
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Re: Zero fret ukulele
Reply #9 - Dec 7th, 2007 at 2:01pm
 
The Tru-oil is pretty easy to use and does make a nice finish. Be sure to prep the wood well. Scrape and sand down to pretty high grit. The better you prepare the wood the better the finish. Apply Tru-oil using clean lintless cloth (old white t-shirt material) using as little of the product as possible to coat the entire surface. These thin coats really dry pretty fast and you can apply several coats a day until you have it as thick as you like (15-25 coats). Let it harden 1-2 weeks (depending on number of coats). Then level using micro mesh for a flat polished surface. I then polish by hand with lemon oil.

I too am a rotten musician. I like to play or should I say just plink and strum but I’m just bad. There are a few of the basic chords I have down but thats about it. I tried to learn circle of fifths but got too drunk to play.  Grin      

The zero fret makes sense to me and I will use it on future builds. I boxed up a soprano last night but it will have a normal nut. The fret board was slotted and fretted a long time ago and I don’t feel like doing it over. I do plan on using a 20 inch radius on future frethoards to see how I like it. A 20 inch radius not too much and I’d like to see if I like it. In fact, it seems that a zero nut would make it easier with a radius because the strings start at the correct height and radius. It’s best not to forget to radius the saddle too. My thoughts are to radius the top and back to a 20ft radius also. I know that’s not too much of a curve but I already have a radius dish waiting to go.

You might be interested in a photo I saw a while back to make radius sanding blocks to match your fretboard radius. I tried to find the photo but couldn’t find it so here goes. Take a carrier board and put down two runners on either side of your sanding block blank so you’re blank has no side to side movement. This board is attached perpendicular to a base board. Attach the router at the end of another board thus creating an arm (maybe 2X4) that is a little long than your inches of radius. Make center line that goes across the base board and ends at the center line of the vertical blank. Measure the distance from the end of the bit back down the center line to match the inches of radius. Be sure to allow for the depth of cut on the blank. Then drill and either pin or bolt the arm in place. The end result should allow you to move the arm back and forth horizontally at the correct inches of radius while cutting the same into the vertical blank.
Fine adustments can be made with the depth of your router. You then only need to adjust the blank up or down inside the runners till the length you want is cut. It should end up fairly clean so you can radius your fretboard and clean up frets with it. I hope this makes sense. A photo would or drawing would be a lot better.

Philip
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unkabob
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Re: Zero fret ukulele
Reply #10 - Dec 7th, 2007 at 4:45pm
 
Philip:

I will have to draw that one before I understand it.
I was figuring on getting a piece of PVC sewer or water pipe and gluing sandpaper on the inside. Sanding the radius into the fretboard. I have a piece of eight inch but I would prefer twelve inch.

I have heard of tilting the fretboard works on mandolins, it might compensate for stubby fingers.

Bob
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konacat
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Re: Zero fret ukulele
Reply #11 - Dec 8th, 2007 at 12:25pm
 
Bob,

I did a search and found the site with photos of what I tried to describe. The photo will give you a much better idea. It's difficult to put down into technical words words something you saw only once a long time ago. None the less it looks like it will work just fine.

Philip
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