What’s a Captive Nut?

One of the questions we receive at Voyage Air Guitar is: “How can this work? Folding the guitar? Won’t the strings fly off the nut (at the headstock), and make it hard to fold the guitar back into playing position?
– K. Yamaguchi, Tokyo”

That’s a great question, and it involves several factors that affect the sound of the guitar. During the course of engineering the revolutionary Voyage Air folding travel guitar, this issue about the nut was high on the list of issues that we solved with our unique technology.

The solution is Voyage Air Guitar’s patented Captive Nut, used in conjunction with the proven zero-fret design for the guitar. With this Captive Nut, made of durable Corian, the strings are guided through precision-centered holes in the nut. This precisely locates the spacing for each string, and it holds the strings “captive” – so they can’t come away from their position with respect to the precision tuning machines on the headstock.

Okay, so what is the “zero-fret” and how does this work? Another great question. Antique guitar designs, dating back to before the 1700s, used a “nut”, cut with a slot, to position the end of the resonant string at the headstock. Surprisingly, this design is still used on most guitars today. Through the centuries, many different materials have been used for the nut: ivory, ebony, brass, natural animal bone, and more recently: synthetic materials.

With this antiquated nut design, when you strum an “open chord”, the nut transmits the string vibrations through the neck of the guitar. The exact material used for the nut can therefore profoundly color the sound of the instrument. Simple physics at work.

But this results in epic discussions among guitar enthusiasts as to: “what is the best material for the nut?” As well it should.

With the Voyage Air Guitar zero-fret solution, an actual fret is placed in the position where the nut would usually reside. This fret is the same material as all the other frets on the guitar. The result? The sound with open strings is exactly the same as when you position your fingers to play individual notes or chords on the guitar!

This zero-fret design is clearly superior for the overall tone of the guitar. And it’s used for all Voyage Air Guitar models: from the rugged and affordable Transit Series, up through the studio and stage-ready Premier Series guitars.