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Disadvantages to headless basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by foothilla, Dec 10, 2019.

  1. foothilla


    Aug 21, 2016
    Los Angeles
    I know that the look of a headless bass is a turnoff to many people. Regardless, I am considering buying one (a very expensive one). I have owned 800 billion basses in my life, but never a headless.

    The claimed advantages are many (less weight, better weight distribution, no dead spots, better tuning, etc.). But to those of you that have played them extensively, are there any disadvantages with a headless bass? Anything that drove you crazy that I might be missing?

    And just to be clear, the headless I'd be buying would be able to accommodate any strings. It wouldn't require double ball ends. So that wouldn't be a disadvantage.

    Thanks in advance for any input.
    BassmanM, dralionux, mmon77 and 3 others like this.
  2. fretno

    fretno Supporting Member

    May 10, 2009
    Los Angeles
    I can't think of any other than the very dated look . I still use mine a lot . I did a fretless conversion on it a few months ago and use it even more now . Best of luck in your hunt .

    90's Bunker PBC
  3. Axstar

    Axstar SUSPENDED

    Jul 8, 2016
    You can't hang them on the wall.
  4. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    You look like a...guitarist playing one of those things.

    They also tend to have different dead spots - the open A string (or thereabouts) is a place where some headless basses have poor sustain. I've played a few headless instruments with that issue. That's a bad place to have a dead spot.
  5. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    ...or any of the stands I use at home or any of the places I play - they're all Hercules hanging stands.
  6. foothilla


    Aug 21, 2016
    Los Angeles
    See,..that is the kind of thing I need to know. I never heard that headless can have common dead spots (let alone an entire dead string!). Most manufacturers claim no dead spots is one of the big advantages of headless,....but you know how manufacturer claims can be. :eyebrow:
  7. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    They typically don't have the dead spot on the G string, but the absolute worst dead spot I ever encountered on a bass was the open A on a headless. The thing just shook violently for a fraction of a second, all that came out of the bass when you played open A was a short, atonal thud. Most aren't that bad, but it's something to look for when buying one - make sure the bass is in tune - dead spots can disappear or hide on you if you retune a bass.
    jonlimo likes this.
  8. 707GK


    Jun 13, 2013
    Northern California
    I believe the open A note is what was being referred to, not the entire string, but I may be wrong.

    Many basses have dead spots and most players can work around them. I agree the open A is a bad place to have a dead spot. I had not heard of this specific issue with headless basses, very interesting.
    Bassdirty, imabuddha and HolmeBass like this.
  9. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    I imagine a headless bass becomes a conversation piece at gigs. Maybe you want that, maybe you don’t.

    Might depend on the kind of conversation it draws. If you’re considering a Status, people may associate it, and therefore you, with Mark King or possibly the Muse guy. If it’s a Steinberger, people will associate it, and therefore you, with the 80s. And so forth.
    Bassdirty and mmon77 like this.
  10. foothilla


    Aug 21, 2016
    Los Angeles
    The bass I want would be custom ordered. So, unfortunately I wouldn't be able to play it first.

    You put a good scare in me. I hate dead spots, and would be livid if I spend 4 grand on a bass with a dead A string.
  11. foothilla


    Aug 21, 2016
    Los Angeles
    I actually read that wrong, thanks for pointing that out. I thought he was talking the whole A string. If it was just the open A, that sounds like the A string nut slot was possibly cut too low.
  12. fretno

    fretno Supporting Member

    May 10, 2009
    Los Angeles
    mine stands up on it's own , just lean it against something :D
    SiliconElle, EmuBass, DrMole and 12 others like this.
  13. foothilla


    Aug 21, 2016
    Los Angeles
    It would be a Marusczcyk. So, I don't even think most people will know what the hell it is.:unsure:

    Specs and look would be similar to this, but 32" scale with a high C, instead of the low B:

    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
  14. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    You won't have that if it's carbon fiber (Steinberger, Status) You might if the neck is wood.

    I've been playing a Steinberger since 1985 and it's still my #1. Because they're Kevlar and resin, my experiences are not generalizable to wood headless instruments. Those really are a completely different animal. So I'm not going to remark on those, and just stick in the realm of wood headless instruments.

    Pros: No shoulder pain. No neck dive. LOTS more room on stage.
    Cons specific to the Steinberger: guitar stands - not a one works. Can't play it sitting down. Show up to a blues/jazz/grunge/americana jam and you're gonna be getting stink-eye the entire night. The metalheads don't seem to care. Show up to an eighties tribute band and you've probably got the gig.
    Cons for headless in general: you gotta get the adapter to use single-ball strings on it. And you want to do that. Double-ball strings are such a hassle.

    OP: you're in LA, might be worth taking a drive down to San Diego and hit the Kiesel showroom. Call them first, but they always have at least a couple of headless basses in there. I have been impressed by the four or so I've tried so far. And no dead spots.

    I've got a Nova Systems headless kit on the way and I'm going to chop up one of my mid-00s Corts and convert it. I'll let you all know how that works out.

    ETA: So, you're getting a Maruszczyk? Yeah, I don't think they're going to let one out of the factory with dead spots. They''ve got a reputation to uphold.
    pjbassist, Andre678, Snaxster and 6 others like this.
  15. BishopHastur


    Jan 20, 2014
    So. Cal.
    I've got one, and my only real problem with it is how much if a pain it is to tune.
    mikewalker, bobyoung53 and foothilla like this.
  16. foothilla


    Aug 21, 2016
    Los Angeles
    I've been wondering if the headless tuners will get on my nerves. Mark King makes them look easy,....but he probably makes most things bass related look easy.
  17. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    san antonio, texas
    mythbusting: headless basses do not have dead spots. not true. graphite-necked basses can not have dead spots. not true.

    that Marusczcyk custom sounds like one helluva bass. i'd go for it. :cool:
    DrMole, The Ryantist, jonlimo and 3 others like this.
  18. CatchaCuda

    CatchaCuda Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2018
    Transfer, PA
    I don't own a headless, though I get gas from some headless creations in LC.

    The way the non-ball end is fixed could make stringing a pain. My understanding is that it depends on the system used. It would be unfortunate to string something slightly off and have to toss the string.
  19. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    san antonio, texas
    i really like being able to tune with my right hand (i am right-handed.) however, those little clip-on tuners that i like so much are tough to use on a headless. i've attached them to a volume knob before and tuned that way...
  20. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    san antonio, texas
    good point. the clamp systems i have had were definitely not tapewound or flatwound friendly.
    mikewalker and DJ Bebop like this.

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