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(dis)advantages headless bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by emielow, May 24, 2005.

  1. emielow


    Jan 18, 2004
    what are the advantages, or disadvantages of a headless bass like this one:

  2. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    I can't tell what brand of bridge/tuner assembly, so I'll assume it's one of good quality, such as an ABM, and comment accordingly;

    A: generally stay in tune a lot longer due to the higher ratio gearsets in the tuners. Most are 40:1 rather than the 20:1 or so of conventional tuners.
    A: no big, ugly flipper hanging off the end of the neck, so less deadspots and better looks than a lot of the ugly headstocks out there. Also less to bash into things on stage, and the more compact size is easier to transport on public transport, planes, motorcycles etc.
    A: better balance with a lot of instruments as there is less mass hanging out the end of the instrument.
    D: some setups only take doubleball strings. Many take single-ends as well to give a wider choice and easier availablity. Well designed and implemented, string clamps (for single ballends) don't slip or unwind IME
    D: unconventional, so may not be liked by some other muso's especially if there is a need for a particular look in a band/gig situation. Fortunately, many won't care so long as it sounds good. Also sometimes odd looks, and comments from morons "couldn't you afford the whole bass?"

    Aesthetics, well that's just personal choice, but I like most headless basses, and own 4 of them. Ned Steinberger did the bass world a favour by inventing the system.
  3. I saw Victor Wooten playing a Steinberger headless bass in concert last week, so even the pros use them. I fully believe that you should just play whatever you like, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
  4. emielow


    Jan 18, 2004
    but there is no difference in tone ore something like that?
  5. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Everything else being equal, tone should be the same.
  6. The Hammer

    The Hammer

    Jul 13, 2004
    Since the vibration of the the string ends at the nut the headstock isn't really a factor in the tone equation. The only con to having a headless is for some you will have to buy double ball strings which can limit the types of strings that you can use. The benefits are less weight, no neck dive and no headstock to smack into things. the headless usually stay in tune better that basses with a headstock. I like 'em.
  7. I had mine defreted and it works great. As already said, the looks could be a problem in certain situations, but I also find it very difficult to get double ball strings.
    This bass has more "standard" body than my Steinberg, which is definately an advantage.

  8. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Uh one, they are ugly as hell.
  9. The Hammer

    The Hammer

    Jul 13, 2004
    And you have to deal with "enlightened" comments like this
    csc2048b and musiccomesfirst like this.
  10. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    One thing I like about my headless basses (Sei 6 and Hohner B2A) is having strap buttons on either side of the cutout around the tuning bridge - this means they can stand securely leaned against an amp without having to lug a stand round all the time!


    That's a really good example of elegant design! Personally, I also like the compact size (handy on tight stages and when carrying the bass strapped to my back through door ways and low corridors!) and the ease of changing strings (no more getting the windings neat and having to snip off the end), although that does limit my choices.

    musiccomesfirst likes this.
  11. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Disadvantage: They're harder than hell to hang on a wall. Seriously, I have Status and David King 5 bangers with a Bunker / PBC on its way. Saves my shoulder on those long evenings.

  12. Audere

    Audere Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 7, 2005
    South Beach, OR
    Owner: Audere Audio
    The pic is not clear but I do not know of anyone other than David King which makes basses with a flare at the head end. His system also does not require a double ball string. The truss rod adjustment is however in a different place, the body shape is not standard, etc. but you might email him. Might be a very early proto or some such. He is a great to work with and I love my bass he built.
  13. Stomniar


    Dec 5, 2003
    Spring Hill FL
    LOL I was going to say that. I currently hang my bass on the wall and I was contemplating getting a headless then I thought "hmm, wait, that's not going to work". I think they sell a modified wall unit though that can hold the bottom of the bass and a part to hold the neck together... and if they don't they should... hehe :rolleyes:
  14. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    hang it upside down.
    Same with Status (old and newer systems) as well as anything that uses the ABM hardware.
  15. Razman


    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    I've read that headstock mass has some effect on tone, but there are so many variables it is impossible to make a science out of it. As for strings, I never had problems with D'Addarios; there are others, and adapters are available, but the selection is more limited than single-ball strings. Personally, I like the look more than anything, along with the ability to change strings in less than 60 seconds. However, I disagree that they stay in tune better. I was always tuning my Steinberger XQ every time I pulled it out to play it. My bro-in-law's old Washburn Lyon jazz copy stayed in tune better. My current bass, a Dingwall Voodoo Z1, would almost never require me to check the tuning if I had it in a hard case; even still, more often than not it is still in tune when I pull it out of it's bag. It is the most stable instrument I've ever owned.
  16. The Hammer

    The Hammer

    Jul 13, 2004
    I guess it depends on the instrument. My Status never goes out of tune, even going from a hot car to an air conditioned practice space. But it's all graphite which I'm sure helps its stability.
  17. zazz


    Feb 27, 2004
    nowhere to do my north of nut solo!!
  18. The Hammer

    The Hammer

    Jul 13, 2004
    I've been tempted on a few occasions to attach a fake headstock to my headless bass and while onstage "accidentally" break it off :)
  19. Razman


    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    That's a cool idea. I still have my first elec. guitar, a Hohner G3T. I may have to try that one day.

    BTW, nice Status. How is the tone? Personally, I prefer their older, original shape, but that one looks reeeeealy niiiiice.

    I miss having a headless bass; A Status fiver will always be on the GAS list, along with another steiny. As for tuning, I'm sure that was the case. I did like my XQ while I had it.


  20. KSDbass


    Mar 25, 2005
    I personally just do not like headstock-less basses. I don't like most tuning pegs on basses, but then if you move them off the headstock it looks even worse. I really don't know what I like, but I'm just not a headstock-less bass person.

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