Headstock
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Headstock


Classical guitar headstock

A headstock or peghead is part of a guitar or similar stringed instrument such as a lute, mandolin, banjo, ukulele and others of the lute lineage. The main function of a headstock is to house the pegs or mechanism that holds the strings at the "head" of the instrument. At the "tail" of the instrument the strings are usually held by a tailpiece or bridge. Machine heads on the headstock are commonly used to tune the instrument by adjusting the tension of strings and, consequentially, the pitch of sound they produce.

Construction details

Bass guitar headstock

Two traditional layouts of tuners are called "3+3" (3 top tuners and 3 bottom ones) and "6 in line" tuners, though many other combinations are known, especially for bass guitars and non-6-string guitars. When there are no machine heads (i.e. tuners are not needed or located in some other place, for example, on guitar body), the guitar headstock may be missing completely, as in Steinberger guitar or some Chapman stick models.

Schematic section shows both straight and angled headstocks. Note the ? angle between the fingerboard surface and headstock surface

The headstock may be carved separately and glued to neck using some sort of joint (such as a scarf joint). There are two major trends in headstock construction, based on how the string will go after passing the nut. The advantages and disadvantages of both trends are very debatable and subjective, so these two variants are used:

  • Straight headstocks form a single plane with a flat surface of neck (and fingerboard). This makes the neck and headstock easier to manufacture; they can be constructed from a single piece of wood. Fender usually uses non-angled, straight headstocks. Because of the low angle of the string over the nut, string trees may be used to avoid the string coming out of the nut while playing.[1]
  • Angled headstocks form some kind of acute angle with a surface of neck. The value of "magic angle" (called headstock pitch) that gives the best tone and stability is also very debatable, but it is usually in a range from 3° to 25°. For example, various manufacturers and particular guitar models use:

Luthiers of both styles frequently cite better sound, longer sustain and strings staying in tune longer as advantages of each style. Fragile construction is cited as a disadvantage of each style too: single-piece necks are more likely to break on occasional hit and are harder to repair, while glued-in necks can break with time.

Apart from its main function, the headstock is an important decorative detail of a guitar. It is the place where overwhelming majority of guitar manufacturers draw their logo. Some guitars without machine heads (for example, ones equipped with Floyd Rose SpeedLoader) have a headstock for purely decorative reasons.

Signature headstock outlines

Headstock from an ARTCORE series guitar by Ibanez
Ibanez JEM 555 BK headstock
Details of a Seagull Guitar headstock.

Most major guitar brands have signature headstock designs that make their guitars or guitar series easily recognizable. As seen in a section below, even "copied" at the first glance designs retain clear visible changes in dimensions, proportions of elements, etc., so it is almost always possible to tell a major brand of a guitar by looking at headstock.

Fender-like curved 6-in-line headstocks

Gibson-like 3+3 headstocks

Slotted headstock on an acoustic guitar. Normally these are found on classical (nylon string) guitars.

Pointed headstocks, 6-in-line

Matching headstock

Matching headstock on an electric guitar

On some electric guitars and basses the finish used on the body is also applied to the face of the headstock. Generally, matched-headstock models carry a price premium over their plain counterparts due to the extra processes involved in the finishing process.

Although Fender no longer offers matched headstocks on production models made in the United States or Mexico, certain models from Fender Japan are available with matched headstocks.

The definition of a "matched headstock" varies between manufacturers and players - for example, the headstocks of Gibson guitars are nearly always black, and it is debatable whether a black-bodied Gibson has a matching headstock. Generally, a guitar is only considered to have a matching headstock if the guitar is usually produced without matching body and headstock finishes.

References

  1. ^ "What String Trees Are For | zZounds Music Blog". zZounds Music Blog. 2017-10-10. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "UG Community @". Ultimate-guitar.com. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved .
  3. ^ "Bigsby Guitars & Vibratos - Official Website". Bigsbyguitars.com. Retrieved .
  4. ^ "Yamaha SGV Series Takes Guitar To The Extreme". Giles.com. 2000-04-14. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved .
  5. ^ "Peavey.com". Peavey.com. Retrieved .
  6. ^ "Warmoth replacement guitar necks: Warmoth "Pro" 13°".
  7. ^ "Warmoth replacement bass necks: 13° Angled Pegheads".
  8. ^ "Gibson Guitar: Electric, Acoustic and Bass Guitars, Baldwin Pianos". Gibson.com. 2008-06-24. Archived from the original on 2008-10-15. Retrieved .
  9. ^ "Gibson Guitar: Electric, Acoustic and Bass Guitars, Baldwin Pianos". Gibson.com. 2008-06-24. Archived from the original on 2008-11-20. Retrieved .
  10. ^ "Gibson Guitar: Electric, Acoustic and Bass Guitars, Baldwin Pianos". Gibson.com. 2008-06-24. Archived from the original on 2009-01-25. Retrieved .
  11. ^ "Vintage Guitars Info - Gibson solidbody vintage guitar collecting". Provide.net. Retrieved .
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  13. ^ "Epiphone Musical Instruments - News". Epiphone.com. 2006-05-31. Archived from the original on 2010-02-02. Retrieved .
  14. ^ "Gibson Guitar: Electric, Acoustic and Bass Guitars, Baldwin Pianos". Gibson.com. 2008-06-24. Archived from the original on 2008-05-16. Retrieved .
  15. ^ "Gibson Guitar: Electric, Acoustic and Bass Guitars, Baldwin Pianos". Gibson.com. 2008-06-24. Archived from the original on 2009-01-23. Retrieved .
  16. ^ "Gibson Guitar: Electric, Acoustic and Bass Guitars, Baldwin Pianos". Gibson.com. 2008-06-24. Archived from the original on 2008-08-29. Retrieved .
  17. ^ "Epiphone Musical Instruments". Gibson.com. Archived from the original on 2008-05-18. Retrieved .
  18. ^ "Gibson Guitar: Electric, Acoustic and Bass Guitars, Baldwin Pianos". Gibson.com. 2008-06-24. Archived from the original on 2006-10-23. Retrieved .
  19. ^ "Yamaha SBV500 bass is a true alternative". Musiciansnews.com. Archived from the original on 2003-03-09. Retrieved .
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