5-String Headstock Opinions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by KSB - Ken Smith, Jan 15, 2005.

  1. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I have been making both 3/2 regularly and 2/3 by request for the last few years. I would like to offer the 2/3 as standard just to cut down on confusion in the shop and offer the original 3/2 only by special request instead.

    What are your thoughts, opinions and preferences on this subject?

    This would be our new Standard 5-String Tuner layout. Your responses and opinions will be appreciated.

    Here are the two ways as mentioned; 3/2 http://www.kensmithbasses.com/models/neckthru/blacktigerelite/5StringBTE2headstock.jpg

    Or 2/3 http://www.kensmithbasses.com/nammshow/namm04/images/anniv(H).jpg

    I posted the URLs because I don't know how to post the pics.. Mods?? Please post the Pics instead of my URLs if you see fit to do it... Thx...
  2. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    for pics you need a site to host them such as www.photobucket.com

    it's so easy even I can use it.
    I prefer the 2/3 i think, If that's what you're asking
  3. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
  4. Here they are:


    From a user-friendly point of view, I would find the layout on the left (3+2) more intuitive especially since most other 5 strings have that sort of layout.

    However, I remember reading somewhere (Gary Willis I think) that having a longer B string (not just speaking length) has feel advantages and the 2+3 headstock can facilitate this? I don't know the answer to this.

    The only five string I have has a 4+1 layout and my others have an even number of strings so I've never really thought about this at length. My 8 used to have a 4+3 layout when it was still a 7.
  5. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    on second though I think the 3/2 looks better with your headstock but IMO it doesn't make a big difference. I'd say keep it as is now.
  6. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I don't buy into the myth of the extra length after the nut fixing any tightness....

    but if you look at the 3+2 you can see the diameter of the string and the way it comes off the tuner plus the short distance between can make for some issues with the nut slot... and least in my unschooled head.

    [edit] I have also been cautious of headstocks that don't pull straight... even on guitars. It just seems like the headstock was planned for look not function and it seems an unnecessary point of failure.... just IMO, I've never actually witnessed any issue, just a byproduct of being raised by an engineer [/edit]
  7. Well, it's a whole other thread... but I'm sure Ken will know how he feels about it. :)
  8. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I'd put the 2/3 way standard...it just seems to me that having it 3/2 makes it a lot easier to get a bad break angle for the B string if you clip your strings at all.

    IIRC, someone also had something to say about it balancing easier if you had the 2/3 layout.
  9. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Thanks James.. You’re a big help tonight......

    As far as the Myth about the tuners and even Bridge/Tailpiece, let me add this to the discussion even though it's been discussed b4.. I have new info not b4 mentioned by myself.. I think!

    The Electric Bass is smaller and less Acoustic than the Double Bass (aka Upright Bass, String Bass, etc.). To adjust the String Tension on the 'Upright" Bass, We pull the tail piece down lower away from the Bridge to make it tighter and lengthen it to let it closer to the Bridge to make it looser. Just one Inch more or less makes a huge difference on the Upright. Years ago when the Badass II Bass bridge came out, I started fitting them on some Fenders for myself and a few Friends/customers/students.. Whomever... The Longer length from the saddle to the Ball/anchor made the strings fell better and vibrate more freely thus having a clearer bass tone.

    The headstock has an angle between the nut and the tuner post. Closer is steeper an angle and further away is a shallower angel. They make Suspension Bridges with the same engineering but on a much larger scale. That’s why you don’t fall into the Ocean on a windy day.. Because the cable angle/design holds the proper tension of the Bridge needed on a windy day. Some Bridges in the past have twisted and fallen apart with improper design in the Past...... I've seen TV shows about this. I think the Bass, Guitar, Violin, Double Bass all on their own scale are affected to some degree as to the proper tension/angles for the desired results....

    I have noticed only slight differences between the two designs but I feel something.. Only very slight..

    On Double Basses, the 4-string is staggered 2/2.. I will show you two ways.. Longer ‘E’ and Longer 'G'. Many French Makers in the 19th century used the Longer 'E'. I just re-worked my Italian Bass and I can feel the difference.. I did other adjustments and repairs as well that helped but I do feel a difference in the placement of the Gears..

    James.. Your assistance again please; Low/shorter 'E' http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/GilkesBass/537.jpg

    High/longer 'E' http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/MartiniBass/martini1.jpg

    Enjoy..... Your thoughts now?????
  10. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    Personally, I like the look of the 3+2 better than the 2+3.
  11. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
  12. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    From a purely aesthetic standpoint, I'd go for 3/2 over 2/3. It just looks better with the overall headstock design.

    I hope this helps, Ken.
  13. MyDogBo


    Aug 25, 2002
    the headstock might be cool with a shorter peg, i like the 2/3 look best but no doubt the 3/2 is more accomodating, thanks for the UR insight.
  14. Thanks for that info, Ken - very interesting and especially coming from you! Do you think that will affect your choice of design at all?
  15. temp5897

    temp5897 Guest

    I defintely prefer the look of a 3+2 headstock personally. Especially on this design.
  16. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga

    for my opinion, i like the 2+3 more for the nicer handling of the low b - i'd just as soon not have any of the large windings of the low strings over the post if i can help it.

    aesthetically, though, i think the 3+2 is a bit better, probably only because it's more conventional.
  17. KeithPas


    May 16, 2000
    Thanks for the info Ken, very interesting stuff. I don't know anything about engineering but I know I like the 2/3 headstock. If I was fortunate enough to have one of your basses (I will some day soon :) ) I would'nt care about the tuner configuration, they both look good because asthetically it is a well designed headstock.
  18. 7flat5


    Nov 28, 2003
    Upstate NY
    I have to say that I find this an odd question in the first place, and an odd discussion following.

    If one sounds better than the other, then I would trust the designer to discern this and make the bass thus. In this case, why ask, and why debate it?

    I assume that one does not sound better than the other (?) or Mr. Smith would not have asked the question. So, is it a matter of aesthetics or ergonomics? If aesthetics, ehh... 6 a one.

    If ergonomics, I would say that it's easier for me to reach tuners on the top of the headstock. There is a reason Leo made his basses that way. So, put three on top (RH or LH) and two on the bottom.
  19. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I like the 3+2 headstock better but it would not be key in buying a bass for me.
  20. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Thanks for the comments guys... Like I said, the difference is so slight that the looks may out-weigh the results.. Thus.. the question.. Monday.. I like 3/2.. Tuesday.. I like 2/3... Torn between 2 styles so I Poll and discuss it the only way I know how out of the shop and off the phone... that's all.. nothing more, nothing less..

    Just looking for other view points or preferences... I was going to change some or all of the models a few times within the last year but a voice in the back of my head keeps telling me to hold off on 'all' one way or the other... "Tasters Choice" I guess.. No?