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Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mfortin, Jul 24, 2019.
What are the pros and cons for a headless bass?
Mostly improved balance, reduced size (very helpful for traveling, small stages) takes up less room.
Everything else is the same
Most headless basses can use standard strings too.
The only disadvantage is that some people don’t like the look
Not to mention they stay in tune better
I guess I just mentioned it...
Don't forget reduced size that @Lesfunk mentioned generally means lighter in weight (although other factors need to be taken into account).
Most notable factor that made me still keeping my headless guitar from the 80s is the lightweight.
Relatively light weight
Shorter overall length, despite full scale
Easy to travel with
Easy to move with
Stays in tune
Doesn't sound like a P or J Bass
Stupid remarks (you'll get many!)
Overzealous TSA folks
Doesn't sound like a P or J Bass
Hand sliding off the end during overzealous downward glissandos
I have a Steinberger L2
It has its own thing.
Increase in playing ability
There is nowhere to hide with sloppy or rough technique. It made me practice more diligently because it voices everything.
IMO the Bass is in tune from one end to the other
Therefore it has a 'better' range
This should also increase the Players ability.
---Lack of neck dive
---Looks really odd.
---Throws me off not to have a headstock.
Otherwise they're no better or worse than any other type of bass or guitar.
Well the fact that it won't sound like a j or p bass is a pro. If you want that sound get that style bass. I love unique tones that's why I am looking forward to getting my headless bass.
You're right. It can be either a pro or a con. Edited the post to reflect that.
I think the only way it's a con is to certain folks who just want that generic vroomy bass tone. Personally I have always strived to make my tone as big and interesting as possible. I like to have a low that fills space but doesn't drown everything else while having mids and highs that are on point. I call it sounding heavy but still having dynamics. But back to headless specific. I will be exited to see how well my new bass plays when it gets here. It's a höhner b2 which is basically a steinberger but with different construction materials. I've played a headless steinberger before and loved it. The feel was great and it sounded really big for being a compact design. Every note seemed to be precise and lots of precise punch we'll say.
Some players say they struggle with the lack of a headstock (or headstock volute) as they use it as a point of reference for finding 1st position. Without it, they feel lost at the lower end of the neck. I've never had this issue, even with a true headless like my old Status Series II.
I also really like headless basses that have a vestigial headstock for locking the strings but still tune from the bridge - things like the Kubicki Ex Factor and the Bogart Blackstone.
I find the that the tuning is very stable indeed. Sometimes I can go a few long gigs before tuning.
The biggest thing lately has been the small stages - that has been the deciding factor when choosing which bass to take.
Only real con is finding reasonably priced strings for the basses that only take double ball. Newtone and Status in the UK are the best suppliers that I have found.
Unfortunately I still keep a Jazz type bass cos there are STILL folks who can't handle the look of the headless. Stoopid really considering that even Cliff Williams went headless in the 80s....
I like the two I've got, a hohner b2a and a hohner the jack custom v. They definitely stay in tune and the ratio is I believe 40:1 sometimes getting it in tune is funny because thee slightest adjustment goes such a long way!
Another pro is reduced incidence of dead spots.
I love my headless basses, and agree with everything except a few of the tone comments. IMO/IME headlessness itself doesn’t affect the tone in any particularly noticeable way. Meaning, yes, one can get traditional tones—p or j for example—from a headless bass. Just put a p or j pickup(s) in the usual spot(s) and you’re there.
Agree the only downside is the comments they draw. Wearing a headless bass appears to be akin to wearing a fanny pack in public. Sure its practical for the wearer, but people think they are dorky and uncool and will tell you so. Besides that, they are 100% win imo.
One con I can think of is that headless instruments that only take double ball end strings reduces the available string options. I can't just go to any old music shop and slap on a set of Boomers in a pinch.
However, modern headless basses (e.g. the Kiesel Vader) use traditional strings, so that's a non-issue now.
I'm not overly fond of how headless basses look (I always thought Steinbergers were ugly; my bass needs a body and curves dagnabbit!), but I can dig those Kiesel Vaders. Those look really cool to me.
Ive never had any trouble finding double ball strings in any guage i like online, and they generally work better than single ball. All the single ball clamping systems ive seen tend to break strings. I have literally never had a double ball string break in 35 years. The original Ned Steinberger bridge is still the best design IMO, the straight line pull, like drawing a bow string, imparts no string twist. My XP-2 will stay in tune for MONTHS in the case. The graphite/CF necks dont react to changes in temperature or humidity in any measurable way, it always feels the same, which makes them superior to wood headless necks IMO. My XP-2 has no dead spots I can hear. There is no "headless tone", the Steinberger hi-fi tone is largely an artifact of the EMG pups and electronics. Different pups = different tone. I dont get the whole "dated" thing. Fender P and J basses were invented in the 50's, are they "dated"? If you need your bass to be a hip fashion statement, headless is not for you. Everything else about them falls in the Pro column.