How to Customize Action with Zero-Fret Adjustable Nut
Gibson luthiers are always seeking ways to improve guitars. Zero-fret nuts aren’t new, but didn’t offer enough of an advantage to justify switching over from traditional nuts. However, the Zero-Fret Adjustable Nut (patent applied for) in Gibson's 2015 model year of guitars isn’t like any other zero-fret nut because it’s adjustable—which offers some major advantages.
Two 0.050 Allen screws (accessible between the 1st and 2nd strings and the 5th and 6th strings) adjust the nut’s height and angle, so you can customize the action on both the bridge and nut ends of the strings. Before the Zero-Fret Adjustable Nut (Z-FAN for short), Gibson defaulted to cutting the nut fairly high. This was because if you wanted it lower, you could always cut it lower but if it started off lower, you couldn’t cut it any higher. Now Gibson guitars can be optimized for low action at the factory, yet guitar players have the flexibility to change the action easily. With action being so important to a guitar’s feel, being able to dial in the precise action you want is crucial.
Another benefit is that because a new Plek program for fingerboard setup allows using lower fret wire, the low action obtainable with the Z-FAN allows for more accurate intonation. When you press down on the string, it can “travel” only so far below the fret. This results in a minimal pitch change when fretting strings.
Z-FAN also increases sustain, because a traditional nut absorbs more of the vibration than a fret. The tone is also a little brighter, and there’s a more consistent tone between the open string and a fretted string.
Finally, Z-FAN is one of two factors that make the 2015 guitars very “slide guitar-friendly.” You can raise the strings at the nut at least 2 mm above the frets, which gives a better slide feel and less (if any) “fretting out.” The other factor is G FORCE, because most slide guitars use alternate tunings. The combination of G FORCE and the Z-FAN make playing slide guitar a lot easier, and without having to dedicate a guitar to slide.
The Zero-Fret Adjustable Nut is just one more of those 2015 features that may seem a bit unusual at first, but becomes essential as you hone in on customizing the action so that it’s perfect for your playing style.