Have you ever noticed a mysterious, extra fret near the nut of a guitar? Are you wondering what it is for? Why isn’t it on every guitar? What’s going on!? It’s okay, frets can be confusing.

Today, we have a short, yet sweet article about the illustrious ‘Zero Fret’. Let’s talk about what this thing is for!

What Exactly is it For?

You may have seen a Zero Fret on guitars such as Gretsches, some Gibson Les Pauls, and even custom-shop guitars.

The Zero Fret’s job is to do part of the nut’s job by setting the string height over the fretboard when being played open (without fretting). The nut still has a purpose when there is a zero fret, though, and that is to set the string spacing before going to the tuners.

You might be wondering why anyone would want to do this. The truth is, there are advantages and disadvantages to a Zero Fret.


What is probably the biggest advantage is the ability to change string gauge as often and as dramatically as you’d like without having to resize or replace the nut. This really comes in handy for players who find themselves changing tunings a lot. For this advantage, I actually have a custom guitar by Skervesen with a Zero Nut for studio use. This way, I can pretty much record in any tuning I want to without worrying about damaging the nut.

A smaller advantage of a Zero Fret is never having to worry about your string being caught on the side of the nut after restringing and slipping down later. It’s not such a terrible thing, but it can be quite startling and annoying!

One final advantage, which can be considered subjective as some players may not prefer this, is that having a Zero Fret allows open notes to resonate like and resemble the timbre of fretted notes, due to the fact that the string is always touching a fret.


There is one massive disadvantage to a Zero Fret, which is why many manufacturers stick with the classic nut. Over time, the Zero Fret will wear down, just like a nut will, except that when a Zero Nut wears down, it makes string bending a nightmare, in the same fashion that a very worn down fret will. Not only that, it’s much more difficult and expensive to replace a fret than it is to change a nut.

I much prefer using Stainless Steel Frets for a guitar with a Zero Fret to prevent having to replace that fret as often!

There you have it! That’s really all there is to know about this mysterious fret. Some players like the feel and benefits of it, some may not. It’s up to you to decide if it’s a feature for you!

If you enjoyed this be sure to check out our other articles! We post many lessons, guides, and reviews daily!

This article was written by Zac Buras, our editor in Louisiana.

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