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Pics of More than Usually Angled Headstocks ?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jim T., Oct 1, 2004.

  1. I'm having a short scale six built and we're considering angling the headstock as much as 17 degrees in an attempt to get more "bite" in the nut for the low B. The usual average is 13.
    (I'll be using a .145-.165 B string.)

    Anybody have pics of instruments that have more than average angles to their headstocks? I'd love to see them for comparison/ideas.

    Also, awhile back someone posted a pic of a low B string that was run through the headstock like a classical guitar but ONLY on the low B. Everyone seemed to hate it but I thought it could be a good solution and kind of liked the craftsmanship that was involved.

    Anyone happen to have that pic saved after the TB redo or can give me a still existing link?

    Anyone ever see string trees used with angled headstocks?

    Thanks everyone.
  2. Cliff Bordwell

    Cliff Bordwell Commercial User

    Jan 6, 2004
    USA , Orlando , Florida
    Owner of CB BASSES
    This picture somewhat shows my headstock angle (18 degrees).

  3. Hi Cliff,
    Your work is beautiful! I'm glad to see that my (so far) 17 degree angled headstock isn't COMPLETELY unusual.

    Have you experienced tremendous advantageous using your angled 'stocks? For my 30" low B the attempt to improve it's speaking/clarity is an obvious goal. On standard scales do you hear vast improvements? Do you feel it'll make a vastly noticable difference on a short scale low B?

    If you have a pic handy of your headstock from other (the player's viewpoint-looking down the neck, that would be helpful. Maybe one from the headstock end looking back toward the body too?

    What's the feedback like from owners and their audiences?
    Obviously this is an unusual feature on the marketplace...

    Do you know of any other builder's examples or manufacturers doing this?

    Much thanks.
  4. Jim, as I read both of your posts, it sounds like you are trying to achieve the impossible goal of raising the string tension of your B by increasing the break angle across the nut.

    You just aren't saying it.

    As far as I've been taught and from what I've learned, once a string has stopped vibrating and is essentially well seated in it's slot (nut or bridge) nothing done after these speaking points will have anything to do with string tension. You can increase the downforce on the nut by some amount and that's a great reason to use canted headstocks but it can't change the way the string vibrates or feels when plucked.

    Or is there something else that I've missed? :confused:
  5. Hi Hambone,
    Thanks for your response. Yes, I understand that the literal tension of the string won't be changed and that you can't beat physics BUT I've also read a number of responses from people using extended (past the nut) low B's (Fodera, Warrior, others) where they honestly felt that it made a difference in FEEL or aural perception for the player. The same statements have been made concerning through body stringing and using hex cored strings. I figured it couldn't hurt if nothing else, to try it.

    Even Mike Pope (who plays with the caliber of artists like Chick Corea insists that the extended string thing works to some degree in the above regard. He was using a straight neck (ala Fender) with a string tree and extended B but he feels that an angled headstock will work even better. (He has a thread here about that somewhere...)

    I can tell by simply pushing my finger down on the headstock side of the nut on the 30" low B (less than a 1/4 tone)I have that the FEEL of the string "tightens" so I'm going to utilize every avenue that MIGHT give me a better transfer of vibration if nothing else. I realize that my finger has shifted the pitch slightly so it's not a scientific "absolute" but my gut tells me it MAY allow the string to feel a tiny bit tighter.

    I am a bit concerned about whether the 17 degree angle will look too weird. I'm looking forward to seeing more pics if they're out there.

    I've explored the physics side of things within the luthier's forum and with a lot of valuable imput from people like yourself but I'm at the stage now where we'll try all of the "myths" out and see if there isn't just a smidge of voodoo in there! :ninja:
  6. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Thats the same as tunning a string sharp which does increase the tension.
  7. OK guys, I'm hip to all of the physics/tension discussions. I really would like to see pics of basses that have these headstocks and feedback from people who have actually played them.

    I'd like to keep this thread limited to that. There are TONS of the physics issues threads on TB some of which I've participated in. TB probably doesn't really need one more!

    Show me the pics! :eyebrow:
  8. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Many Foderas also have headstocks that are angled back more that typical. My Emperor bolt-on certainly did, though I never checked the exact angle.

    I can't see where it would look particularly odd from a visual standpoint, though. Most of the time, I doubt it would be noticable at all unless you were specifically looking for it. The only reason I ever gave it a second thought is that it required the gigbag and case to be deeper to accommodate the headstock.

  9. hippiesandwich


    Aug 29, 2003
    San Jose
    Affiliated with Looperlative Audio Products
    Syme (not really angled, but ummm... :ninja: )
  10. Sorry Jim, I can't let you off that easy :D

    You were doing all right with this:

    And then you took a left turn into absolute fantasy with this:

    But raising the pitch of a string a quarter tone by pressing on it is NOT the same as simply increasing the string break angle across the nut. For instance, what effect did your flesh have on any of the tone, tension, feel, or "perceived tension". If you can't answer that question, the example is useless to the argument. I understand there are optimal break angles and these ARE optimal because they're acute enough to keep adequate pressure at the nut when tuned. And, you are most correct that Fender's ain't got'em. But beyond these angles, the string breaks at such a sharp angle that nearly ALL of it's tension begins at the nut with little shared by the tuners and headstock. Personally, I consider both of those components important parts of the sonic chain and if I've put them on the bass, would like to use them. :) Hey you said all this yourself in your first sentence didn't you? ;)

    Now, I won't begrudge someone doing some empirical research on fine tuning an optimal headstock angle for 30" 6'er but don't link "17º" and increased "percieved tension" in the same post around here and not expect to draw some comment. :eyebrow:

    And finally:

    If that's ALL you want you can get that from a locking nut.

    Good luck !
  11. Hey Hambone, I agree with you on all points. Really I do.
    I know and respect your construction knowledge and experience and appreciate your imput.

    It's that aural "psychological acoustics" realm I'm interested in hearing about from players and knowledgable builders (like yourself) but who have played "extra" angled headstock basses (especially short scale if there are any...) who've perceived a benefit in sound, clarity,feel,focused pitch, etc. Even if they aren't quantifiable in science, so to speak.

    I'm not arguing with any of the points you make. I agree. It's that "voodoo" factor that I'd like to hear about if anyone feels (like Mike Pope for example) that it made a definite difference for them. When players of his caliber (as opposed to me!) are fairly adamant that they perceive a difference I like to see if there's "something" to it, above/beyond, whatever, imperical science.

    I hadn't thought about locking nuts. Thanks, that'll give me another avenue or choice to explore. Hambone, do you know of any advantages of increasing the headstock angle vs. just using the locking nut with a "normal" angle? (13 degrees.)

    Physics wise would the "bite" of the string in the nut slot be equal ?

    Thanks, Jim

    Any more pics out there? I personally haven't ever run across anything more than 13 degrees. If my Matt Garrison 6 (34") has a steeper angle it wasn't visually evident enough that I noticed.

    I'll have to go check it now! :meh:
  12. Oh, by the way, thanks Mike for the Fodera thing. I'll check mine when I pick it back up at the studio...

    Hippiesandwich! Thanks! NOW I don't think 17 degrees looks as weird as I was afraid of!!! :eek:

  13. With a standard nut and a canted headstock, downforce is present in some amount. As the angle increases so does downforce. This downforce isn't the same potential energy that the string requires for it's tuning. This is the pressure the string exerts directly on the nut. So, as this angle increases, the tuning tension between the nut and bridge begins to want to straighten the string out by pulling it over the nut. This diverts some of that downforce to the lateral tension of the tuned string and applies it to the back side of the nut trying to pull it towards the bridge. This would be most pronounced in the most extreme headstock angles.

    A locking nut might isolate the lateral string tension from all of the other directions the potential energies can be exerted. It will squeeze the string between two pieces of steel rather than simply pulling it down over the nut on the headstock side. The "bite" you want will be as high as you want to crank the bolts to tighten the halves of the nut together. Think of it as an "active" tensioning device while the nut/break angle approach is "passive'. What does this mean? Well, you won't have near the tension on the headstock itself that you had before. Now the nut is the beginning of the string tension and not the tuners. The strings will be "locked" into the nut assembly so you'll be getting as much sonic coupling as you could have. The tension in the neck will be more along it's length and not pulling disproportionately or at different angles at the headstock end. This might be helpful with cleaning up a B strings clarity. I bet it also affects dead spots by isolating large portions of the mass of the neck from the strings but I'm just thinking out loud here.

    I think that it might be a good area for you to investigate. I know if I wanted to experience this phenom you've heard of, and I was presented with the choice of doing a scarf joint for a canted headstock OR installing a locking nut to do the same thing...Well buddy, I'm not proud. I'll take the easy way out every time and install the nut! :D

    BTW, a locking nut of a good design will clamp the string without distorting it. Distortion, can cause false witness points and make intonement a bear to achieve. This might also assist in tightening the sound of the B string.
  14. Thank you Hambone. I figured the locking nut would take the headstock mostly out of the sonic equation and I was looking to explore the extended B string thing,largely in the attempt to purchase and use standard 34" low B strings but also to maybe hear it speak better.

    I do like the idea of keeping the stresses "in line" with the neck with a locking nut...

    I'd appreciate one additional comparison if you wouldn't mind.

    Classical guitar style slotted headstock (maybe just for the 30" scale low B) as opposed to canting the headstock more and/or using a locking nut...

    This might give me the multiple options of trying a standardly angled headstock, (appearance) using an easily purchased 34" low B string and still having the option of adding a locking nut down the road should I want to try for "a better sound". I'd kind of like to see what the extended B "unencumbered" sounds/feels like before clamping it down at the nut.

    I realize that I can cut standard strings shorter but how much winding is left to deal with seems to vary from manufactuer to manufacturer.

    I'd love to know how much more downward force would be added to a 30" scale string (say a .100 or 105 E string...) per each additional degree of headstock angling.

    What do you think about the classical guitar/slotted headstock?

    Seeing as you've been so helpful, I don't mind your not letting me off easily! :cool:

    Thanks again. Jim
  15. BassFelt


    Mar 26, 2002
    Something else to consider is that with the gauges you mention (up to 165), you have to consider the stiffness of the string. The string might not want to make a clean break angle like that.
  16. Anyone got anything to say bout Foderas Low B thing that they use?? I don't think it would change anything. You know how they extend the low b string after the nut to the last tuner??? I think its a waist of string lol!
  17. boofis, if you do a search using Mike Pope's name you should see a discussion about this...

    I realized after looking around (googling) that Les Paul Guitars have a 17 degree headstock tilt and they look fine so guess it isn't as unusual as I thought it was and is in fact traditional!

    I feel so much better now! :p

    BassFelt, The Squier Bronco frankenbass I've been experimenting with has the .165 (and .170) passing under a disc type string "tree" I've added and it works fine. (witness point severe angling)
    In fact it helped both the speaking and feel factors of those strings so I think the 17 degree angled headstock and or locking nut ideas will have at least minimal benefits.

    I recorded before and after (A&B) examples to be sure it wasn't all psychological acoutics and could truly hear a difference. It was minor but definitely an improvement. Other listeners agreed before I explained what the difference was between the two recorded examples.

    I'd LIKE to use a smaller gauge string .145-.150 if better construction on the new instrument will allow it. I'd get less tubbiness/purer pitches up the neck. Also, I'm thinking high thin frets for best note intonation on a short/thick low B.

    Anyway, most of this appears in my previous threads and discussions. It isn't my desire to repeat so much of that here.
    Just the new angled headstock stuff...

    More Pics are welcome if anyone has 'em. Thanks.

  18. Some of what you're asking is going to be different from brand to brand and string composition. Bassfelt had that right. And of course flatwounds will react totally different to rounds. That'll have to be MY easy way out because the math to actually calculate things like the incremental increase of downforce with each degree of additional break angle is way beyond me. Suffice it to say it's going to increase but I couldn't say even if it's geometrically or exponentially. But we're sittin' in a sea of 30,000 guys like us and there's got to be someone here that can help with that direct question. Volunteers? :help:

    I've always been enamored with the idea of the slotted headstock and the tuners buried in it's thickness - classical style. However, I haven't yet seen or been able to design a headstock like this that absolutely grabbed me and forced me to want to make it. It's just such a cool idea that if it really doesn't have the potential it seems to have, it will be a shame. Here's where drawing out full scale patterns on the computer will come in helpful. I do it all the time, testing designs and the relationships of the components within the design. That's where you really discover if things can happen the way you want them too. Something like the classical style headstock has a lot of geometric detail. That means that there can be a lot of tweaking to get a good final result. Keep in mind string gauges, headstock plate thicknesses, and the varying diameters of tuner posts (Gotohs are small but Sperzels are smaller! ).

    Hey, you need to hook up with luknfur and start a research institute! Him with his multiple pickup rigs and you with a variable headstock jig and both of you with pocket protectors! Sorry, I couldn't resist. :D
  19. Tim__x


    Aug 13, 2002
    Alberta, Canada
    Using Pilotjones' spreadsheet, a 30" E string is under around 28.5 lbs of tension.
    After some math, that work's out to 8.42 lbs of downforce on the nut at a 81.47 degree angle to the string for a 17 degree headstock. That's just for the E string, other strings will probably be similar.

    It's all just force vectors and trigonometry. Interesting to note is the case of a 90 degree headstock which would give you T*sqrt of 2 (40.299) lbs of downforce at 45 degrees, T being tension of the string.

    P.S. This was done with a calculator and my head, no paper, so please correct me if I have made a mistake.

    Edit: silly me, I just thought of a ten times easier method to work out the angle of the force which avoids all the problems of significant digits, error and all that riff-raff, and it says 81.5 degrees not 81.47.
  20. Thanks Tim! so...my follow up question is, what is the downward force for the E string on a "standard" 13 degree headstock using the same gauge string?

    Hambone, have you seen the Stambaugh classical/slotted headstock on www.bassalone.com on the 6 string page? It's one of the most attractive (to my eyes) that I've seen.
    Hope it's helpful to view it if you haven't seen that particular example.