Headstock angle

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by ILLINOX, Oct 27, 2012.



    Jun 20, 2011
    Hmmm I'm sure I'm opening a big can of worms with this question.

    Headstock angle. Should I, or should I not? I'm used to playing Ibanez basses which have the angle, my fender does not have the angle, but string trees instead, and the foderas APPEAR to have no angle, but also no string trees. (edit: fodera emperor II)

    This is the barebones build I started a month or so back and I don't have any jigs. So the question is, headstock angle, or no. And how to build a jig for one.

    Thanks guys.
    I value your knowledges and opinions.


    Jun 20, 2011
    What about a straight headstock, cut deeper from the fb than usual, to provide string tension and not hop out of nut holes
  3. If you have a router, it is not that tough to build a scarf joint jig. You can do eet!!!
  4. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    I believe in having a headstock angle, because I detest string trees. You can cut it from your neck blank if it's thick enough, although most believe that it's stronger to do a scarf joint.
  5. Phendyr_Loon

    Phendyr_Loon Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2010
    Many production basses including Fender used a construction method void of an actual headstock angle, but implemented the use of string trees to create a break over the nut. This simple design and process was choosen to make neck constrution cheap and fast.
    For someone in your case, who is building a "one off" instrument, I'd recommend the use of a scarf joint in the neck. It is really a simple procedure, though preparation is most of the work to do it right. I second the scarf joint jig idea, it makes quick work of the job.


    Jun 20, 2011
    Thank you gentlemen. You certainly have my attention. Does any have a link to a good jig for this application? I don't naturally envision this idea.

    Edit: allow me to clarify, a jig for the cut is not necessary, but how to glue this joint is a mystery to me.

  7. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Here you go:

  8. Just Thumpin'

    Just Thumpin' Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 7, 2008
    NE United States
    Manager and Partner, Fodera Guitars (as of 10/14/09)
    All of our custom instruments have back-angled pegheads.





    Jun 20, 2011
    nice pics! but are you able to clamp her just like that, or is there a more reliable way? i imagine that since you're planing it, that's it; just clamp it?

    im really sorry. im an electrician, and a bassist; not a woodworker :p
  10. Brado


    Oct 19, 2005
    Buda, TX.
    Back angled is my preference for my basses. String trees get the job done, but I'm not 100% sure about the even'ness in tension of the typical Fender method...to me, the E feels ok, the A almost always needs more pivot (down-angle) which would beef up the tension.. the D & G feel ok on a fender....probably because they have the same amount of down angle from the string tree. I use at least a 13degree back angle on my headstocks. I don't do scarf joints unless I can't find thick enough stock. I'm not concerned with strength issues because I carve in a volute (which adds strength to the thinnest/ weakest part of the neck. For shorter scale basses, I increase the back angle a bit for better string tension.
    Hope this helps.
  11. Dave Higham

    Dave Higham

    Dec 19, 2005
    I assume that when you say 'string tension' you mean downward force on the nut. Break angle has no effect on string tension.
  12. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    You're just gluing two flat surfaces together. If they fit well when dry-clamped, then they'll glue up fine. Some expert craftsmen use toothpicks as tiny locator dowels before gluing up. Some (like me) clamp the neck blank and the headstock to a work table to keep the pieces static while gluing. I'm sure there are other approaches as well.
  13. This is the jig I copied, and it works well. I put the scarf joint on top like the diagram above. This guy puts it on the bottom, but the procedure is the same for either.



    Jun 20, 2011
    i ended up putting the joint on the bottom. it just seems stronger. i tested it out by putting it on some blocks and standing on the neck. she's not breaking...
  15. Either way works. Its just personal preference.