Headless basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JP Basses, Sep 16, 2002.

  1. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    Hi there,

    I would like to know what you guys think about headless basses.

    Pros and cons of headless design in you experience

    If you don't like headless basses, just say why!!

  2. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    All IMHO


    Less stress on fretting hand shoulder because the centre of gravity is nearer the base of the body.

    Shorter in length-will fit in a small car boot or trunk, will fit in a guitar gig bag.

    Can adjust/correct tuning whilst fretting notes


    Some players cannot adjust to 'nothing' at the end of the neck and fret a tone up.

    Currently unfashionable.
  3. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    I play both, and have no problem with using either design.
  4. dkmonroe


    Jul 3, 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    I played a Washburn Bantam for about 13 years - it was an early Steinberger ripoff that came out around 1987. It was wooden, not graphite, and I think it had a neck through design, but it might have been set-neck.


    Really light, lots of frets, very comfortable if you have small hands.

    Bridge tuning mechanism is very cool. Stays in tune almost indefinitely. Easy to adjust tuning on the fly.

    Very easy to transport.


    Brings all sorts of unwanted attention. Drunks will yell at you, "Hey! Why don't you save up some money and buy a REAL guitar?"

    Looks very 80's.

    Requires a very powerful amplifier to get the best sound.

    The last criticism may not be as relevant with an actual Steinberger made out of graphite. I'm sure the graphite basses were denser and could carry off a deep, throaty bass sound with any amplification, but my Bantam, being made of wood, never seemed to perform as well with small amplification. I went from using a head/cabinet combo in the 80's to using a smaller combo amp in the 90's, and I was always frustrated with the Bantam after the change. It just seemed as though the body was too tiny to give a thick, resonant sound.

    Now, some of the new Steinberger "Spirit" series that Music Yo offers are made of wood, but the bodies are much larger - they're more like standard bass bodies with the headless setup. They're probably the best of both worlds, but I would stay away from the basses that mimic the original Steinberger design with wood materials instead of graphite.
  5. I never really like the look of them. That is really the only reason though. I'm sure if I found one that sounded good, I would pick it up. The only headless I really like is a BassLabs 5 string headless.
  6. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Dayton, Ohio, USA
    I'm not crazy about the looks, but I have a Steinberger Spirit 5-string fretless that I like a lot. The string spacing is a little narrow at the bridge for my liking, but it sounds good and is very convenient. I added a little metal extension to the body that sticks out behind the neck toward the "headstock" so that it would balance better. I bought it just for practice, but have used it on many gigs.
  7. One of the most decorative parts of any guitar is the head of the neck. Those headless basses look like a mistake to me. Not to mention what a pain it must be to find strings.
  8. punkfunkfreak


    Dec 16, 2001
    pain to find strings?

    A friend of mine had a steinburger. One of the modern music yo models. Feels a bit too light on the neck. But thats probably because im not used to it.I dont really like the look of the steinys. But some other headless basses carry it off quite well.

    Why doesnt anyone make a guitar with a headstock AND rear tuning? Like a steinburger or whatever but with a head that has anchor points instead of tuning pegs. This would lengthen the scale and keep the really easy to use aspect of the rear tuning.

    one day i shall make one....*mwahahaha*
  9. Never played one, and it would better be great if I was to buy it. They're just so bloody ugly.
  10. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE

    Do you find all the headless basses ugly just because they don't hva headstock or are you always thinking of the steinberger stick bass???

    Many manufacturers are now offering headless basses that relly look good IMHO:

    David king
    Fender ;-)


    pros: well balanced, tuning is very stable, less efforts on the neck, shorter overhall length...

    cons: hard to sell ;-)

    I'm considering building more headless basses beacuse I really like them but as it was said, they're a bit unfashionable at the moment ;-(

  11. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
    Never had any problem finding strings. Every music store I've been to has had at least one package of them. I really like the weight and balance of my Early 80s Cort Steinberger, 5 lbs, no neck dive. The graphite Steinbergers do weigh more. I admit the first few weeks my hand slid off the neck, but the neck is a bit larger at the nut end and it was easy to adapt to. LOL My personal preference is for the wood bodies, I thought the graphite steinbergers were a bit sterile sounding. YMMV I did replace the stock pus with Barts and I prefer SS strings. This bass has rings like a piano. Sustain for days. :) 19 years with this bass, and I've never heard the comment " why don't you save up and get a real bass", but it does attract attention. Some folks have asked me how do you tune it? I usually tell them it comes tuned from the factory. FOTFL
  12. punkfunkfreak


    Dec 16, 2001
    If, like i said, you could make the bass with a headstock, but with rear tuning, you wouldnt sacrifice any street cred. Also this opens alot of pathways for headstock design becase you need not worry about peg alignment as much.

    I think the rear tuning system is alot easier to use.

    Lefay stand out as an example of this.

  14. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I'm a fan of headless basses - at most practises and gigs I'm toting my Sei 6 string and my Hohner B2A. Part of that is subjective - the headless look appeals to me, and that's just a personal opinion.

    However, I think some of it also stems from the fact that headless basses reflect some ingenious rethinking of what is needed to create an electric bass. Having the tuners operated by the plucking hand (and less prone to being knocked out of tune) is a brilliant example of the results of thinking outside the box.

    A particular benefit is that you're less likely to brain someone with the end of your instrument - potentially damaging to both parties! Finding strings isn't a problem if you've got adapters on at the nut so that you can screw them into position (loosing some of the quick change advantage but opening up a much broader range of strings... however - beware of the pointy ends left sticking out!).

    I guess that from JP's point of view (thinking of building the things), fashion and demand do play a certain part in the economics of the whole thing, but if this was a poll, I'd certainly be casting my vote for 'I like them'.

  15. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    I recommend following JP's link to the Fender/Kubicki article. It illustrates how experimentation was done, specifically how gradually going to a headless design gradually moved the dead spot down the neck until it disappeared.
  16. Jugghaid


    Jun 28, 2002
    Denver, CO, USA
    I think Status makes some of the nicest looking and sounding basses out there.
  17. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    I like 'em. There are plenty of byoo-tee-full headless basses out there (Sei, LeFay, non-hot-pink-Kubickis, etc). I'd never buy one that required double-ball strings though. It's not so much that they are hard to find, just that there are 327 types of string on the market, and 4 of them are double-ball. Elixir? nyet. I'd probably own a Klein guitar if it weren't for the double-ball issue.
  18. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    I don't mind a nice decapitated model now and then...
  19. JimM


    Jan 13, 2000
    Northern California
    I used to play a Steinberger.Since I'm used to Fenders the position of the frets didn't feel right in relation to the end of the instrument;i.e,playing at the fifth fret felt like playing at the nut.But I got used to it.The hardest thing about that bass was the lack of body area,for some reason I feel more at home with a bass with a fenderish body.
  20. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I've never picked one up, simply because I've always thought they were so ugly (not a very good reason), but those David King basses are really quite beautiful. Maybe the "headless with a head" is the best compromise.