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on headless basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by azureblue, Jan 15, 2020.

  1. I am thinking about getting a headless bass, mostly because I whacked the singer in the head last week end, when we were on a small stage - he stepped back as I was turning around. Forget about the singer - my bass got knocked out of tune. :) It's been years since I owned one and it was a Steinberger. And it was short I could carry it on a place and store it overhead. I am looking for a five string headless Precision type bass, if even such a thing exists. Requirement one - it has to sound like a Precision. But I recall some discussion that headless basses sounded different than their otherwise identical counterparts - neck resonance or something. IDK. anybody got any light to shed on the subject? Thanks
    mikewalker likes this.
  2. eastcoasteddie

    eastcoasteddie Supporting Member

    Just don’t whack him (or anyone else) in the head again and you won’t have to get one of those ... things...
  3. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    It's much more satisfying if you do it to the guitarist. Best if done repeatedly. This is the only good use for a headstock.

    Most headless basses are passive, and pickups can be changed easily. If you get a Steinberger Spirit, whilst the PUs are guitar HB sized, with a tiny amount of effort an EMG35 sized unit can be made to fit and there are plenty of P PUs available in that form factor.

    For live work though, I simply don't get the obsession with tone much of the time. I played my stock XL2 in a cover band for many years, doing a wide range of stuff and minor EQ changes between genres covered it well enough. No one in the audience is going to care about tone so long as you can be heard, play well and are in the pocket.

    As for the headstock affecting tone, all they do is add a sympathetic resonance (sometimes) that can add deadspot or two. Lack of headstocks really make no difference to the tone per se.
    bebi, mikewalker, BazzaBass and 2 others like this.
  4. Headless basses tend to have a modern shape, but you can get them with a p-pickup, like Jeff makes the Osiris over at kieselguitars.com.
  5. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Most headless basses are passive? Really? Most of the headless basses I've been aware of are active and very much go for a modern look and sound (as opposed to a "classic" Fender-type sound). Also, I don't know that headstocks make a bass more prone to dead spots - I have a feeling the absence of a headstock just means any dead spots are likely to occur in a different area of the neck.
    pellomoco14 and TonyRo like this.
  6. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    I own 6 and 2 have some active elements; the XL2 the EMP PUs (no onboard pre) and the Status (passive PUs and an onboard pre). As for looks, no, they don't look like a fender, but that's a good thing in my eyes as I find fenders uncomfortable and ugly. Unless you're in a band that's going for a specific "look" like a tribute band or in a really narrow genre, no one generally cares if your bass doesn't look like a fender either. It's only usually other musician gear snobs.
    My 2 headless guitars are also passive.

    Yep, they're an unsupported mechanical element that responds to spring tension, and can be resonant, and depending upon where they're resonant (in terms of frequency) it can amke a dead spot on the neck. All my headless instruments are NTs so the string tension in supported along a solid contiguous piece or carbon or wood.
    Those huge flippers off the end of a fender (or other brands) are one of the reasons I won't buy those instruments.
  7. Thanks all - I was thinking along the lines of a P bass style body and a headless neck - sorry I should have be clearer.
  8. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    I can't think of any OTTOMH, but if you got a P body a luthier could make you a neck and mod the body to accommodate the bridge.

    There are other brands that make conventional style bodies with headless necks. My Status is one, there are the older Steinberger Spirits with full bodies, Hohner The Jack etc. Ibanez are bringing out some new 2020 headless units that might be suitable. I'd search the classifieds here, ebay and Reverb and you might find something you like that would be suitable.
    foal30 likes this.
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yeah the Kiesel Osiris is the closest thing I'm aware of to a traditional body shape available headless (in current production). I'm sure Jeff would make you one all passive, and perhaps just a P bass pickup and volume/tone controls.

  10. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006

    Kiesel offers what you're after. They are superbly made and sound great. From a design standpoint, a headstock is an ornament; it adds weight, size and complexity, but adds nothing apart from the traditional/ familiar vibe.
  11. Much thanks.. I had forgotten about the Spirit bass and the Kiesel looks great. I was wondering if the lack of a headstock changes anything that has to do with strings mechanics, like sustain, string resonance, attack. I recall some discussion of that back when headless basses were the thing, but I can't remember what was said. Outside of how some headless necks use graphite or metal T beam type reinforcement. Yeah, I like the Kiesel - I see he makes a very simple P bass bolt on, so I think just putting the headless hardware on it will work - I need to find his 5 string string spacing..
  12. Sid the Kid

    Sid the Kid Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2013
    They are releasing a headless J style bass featuring their old SB body shape called the Thanos. Seems like it is also available as a Multiscale. According to Jeff they should be on the website today.
  13. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    I have 2 of his Amos Williams signature 5 ers.....not what you're after....not exactly a P sound, but gets pretty darn close with the humbucker in that zip code...spacing is 19mm. The build quality is absolutely flawless, and I am unabashedly comparing it to Alleva Coppollo, USA Lakland, USA Elrick and NYC Sadowsky 5ers I have owned.....at about 1/3 the cost with a shorter wait, but no status :)
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
  14. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    I have a Keisel Osiris with a split P style pickup, I love it more than I expected to. They are incredible basses. It's more balanced and ergonomic than an actual P bass, which of course is a good thing.

    But if you have to have passive, and you have have the whole P bass pickguard thing, they are not going to be for you.

  15. twinjet

    twinjet The smell of burnt fish excites me Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    While not a fiver, you could consider the Traveler TB-4P if a custom is your only option.
    Ethereal Thorn and mikewalker like this.
  16. EmuBass


    Jan 24, 2018
    Vienna, Austria
  17. DrDAV14

    DrDAV14 Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2008
    Denver, Colorado
    I have a 30" Vader with just a P bass pickup. Very much a P sound.
    mikewalker likes this.
  18. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Nice bass. I am sure it can be ordered passive. Of my 2 Amos Williams, I had one made passive with only 1 single volume knob and a coil tap toggle switch.
  19. You can take a look at a new Steinberger Spirit 5 string. LaBella makes a set of flats for it as well. I recently purchased a 4 string Spirit and find it to be very comfortable and fun to play. Sounds great with the flats. Worth a look. :D
    Garret Graves likes this.
  20. I would also suggest Kiesel. They have released yet a 4th headless design, just debuted at NAMM this week called Thanos, as posted on their Facebook page.


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