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Question about headstock modification.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by FunkinA, Nov 17, 2004.

  1. FunkinA


    Sep 13, 2003
    I'm planning a g****r modification project that currently has a Telecaster style headstock. I have to use this neck but the headstock shape won't look good with the body shape i have. i was wondering what would be the best way to change the shape of the headstock and make into a 3+3 style headstock?
  2. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Oh boy.... 3+3 with a Tele headstock?? That doesn't exactly leave you with much room. You may be able to pull off a 4+2, but I don't know about a 3+3. Let me see if I can sketch out something.......

    I don't think it would be possible. You would have to slice off the left side, just after the 3rd tuning key. That would give sort of a hook shape. Or, you could remove the tuners, fill in the holes (with what, I don't know) and start from scratch. Is there a reason you have to use that neck? I believe Hondo music has necks, minus tuners, for around $30.
  3. FunkinA


    Sep 13, 2003
    i would like to cut off all or some of the headstock and then attach a paddle shaped headstock that would work better for a 3+3. Is this possible? anybody have any good ideas? I want to use this neck because this is a very cheap project and i dont even play guitar i am just looking to gain some instrument making skills.
  4. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Reattaching a head, huh? Hmmmm...... I'm pretty sure there is a way. HOW, I do not know. I've never heard of doing that, but like I said, I'm sure there is a way.
  5. FunkinA


    Sep 13, 2003
    Thanks teejofca, Im hoping that i wont have to cut the whole headstock off hopefully just some of it I figure that if a broken headstock can be mended this is possible. Anyone?
  6. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    I've been thinking long and hard about this. I don't know if it's easily possible, but if you can remove the fingerboard, cut a long diagonal cut off the top of the neck, cut a log diagonal cut on the bottom of the headstock (yould need some excess on the headstock) to match the angle you want, put the two cut sides together, glue them, glue on the fingerboard, and BAM! New headstock. I'll do a sketch or something to better show what I mean. I'd do it right now, but I've got school in the morning.
  7. FunkinA


    Sep 13, 2003
    Thanks teejofca for being the only one responding. the headstock isn't angled though...this is what i was thinking cut the headstock so its like a rectangle fill in any holes..add wood to each side to make it like a square then add wood (almost like veneers) to the front and back for added strength shape it and then hide my hack job. i think ill paint headstock anyways so it should look decent. Will this be strong enough? it will be a little heavier would this trow off the balance? im using a modified telestyle body its much different now but the strap buttons will be in the same place as a stock one. undrstand? anybody?
  8. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Cutting the head is a good idea! There are people who have made laminated necks, which don't use any support on the front or back. In fact, I think I've seen pictures of a laminated headstock, so it's 99.9% possible. I've never done any laminate jobs, myself, but I'm pretty sure it can be done at home (without some company).

    As for balance, are you using the original Fender-style body? If so, you may have a slight increase in neck dive, but that's only if you add the front and back support, which as I said, was not necessary. Laminate necks/headstocks look and function just like other necks.
  9. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
  10. I'm not a luthier but believe that not only the type of wood, but how it is put together makes a big difference to the sound of the instrument. While the pickups can, and in most cases do, add color to the sound, it is fundamentally a process of how the string AND the material that's holding it in place resonate together.

    Instruments that use a neck that runs the length of the instrument theoretically should provide the best overall sound, but this is mitigated by the different requirements of the neck and body. For example, for best playability the neck should be thin enough to allow the fret hand to move quickly and freely to all fret positions. This means that a very durable material, usually maple, is the best option to avoid neck warping, etc. But maple - being a very dense wood - tends not to resonate as freely as a softer wood such as alder, which is why the "beefier" instruments tend to be made of different kinds of woods.

    What I'm trying to say is that you should be very careful about removing the headstock as this would add a] yet another stress point that can fatigue and break, b] yet another type of wood that may or may not compliment the how the rest of the pieces resonate together. This doesn't mean it can't be done, just that running a steel string the length of an instrument that is a hack of 3 different pieces of wood is a crap shoot at best.

    A great example of how it can be done is seen in the Ric Sierra 650


    This is a composite of a full length maple neck with walnut wings on both the body and the headstock. Notice that the bridge, pups and the machines are all placed so they all resonate against the same piece of wood - namely the maple neck. I'm not sure the walnut adds or subtracts much from the sound, since all the action is down the centre. This is a beautiful playing and sounding instrument [the best I've ever played] that is bright and springy [due to the maple] but can be quite mellow owing to the placement and type of pups used.

    Sorry for a long rant - just trying to be helpful.
  11. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Sorry, but the number of misconceptions and unfounded assumptions in this post is astounding.
  12. Fair enough - as I said, I'm not a luthier - just thoughts from playing a bunch of different instruments over many years and listening to others views on the subject.

    Do you think you could pass along some of your wisdom? That might help rectify these "misconceptions" so I don't make the same mistakes again and the author of this thread might find some helpful solutions to his problem?
  13. Any way you do this is going to take alot of work.

    The idea of squaring the existing headstock while filling in tuner holes and adding "ears" is the most feasable idea.

    If I may offer another idea, in keeping with the notion that you HAVE to use THIS neck, I would suggest a modification on the theme:

    Trapezoid the profile of the headstock, and then add ears. The way a tele headstock is shaped, it'll look the most crap if you fill the holes. Will you be painting the top of the heastock or adding a veneer? If so, this point is moot.

    Moving forward, shape the headstock trapezoidally by making a line under the tuner holes, and create a mirrored line about center along the other side of the headstock, in a way that both allows a constant edge of wood, and doesn't muck up the neck-to-headstock contour on the back of the neck too much.

    then true up the edges, and clamp on some ears...this may be a little tricky, as your clamps are acting upon diagonal mating surfaces, and the parts could creep out of alignment, but it's entirely do-able. The rest is level-sanding and finishwork...

    I understand this is an aestetics issue, as you will not get any tonal benefits from this modification...and you'll likely need a big long string retainer to create downpressure on the strings over the nut, but if you don't know what you're doing, you are going to ruin a perfectly good neck that you could otherwise sell on EBay and get money towards an appropriate paddle head neck that will better suit yor purpose....

    But whatever floats yer boat.


    This neck can be had from Warmoth, right now, for 132 bucks.

    Chump change for a great neck.
  14. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    First of all, sorry if my comment came off as rude. It wasn't intended to be so.

    Let's see:
    While this is a matter of opinion, I agree completely.
    This statement is a problem. First of all, what theory? Second, "best overall sound" is entirely subjective, and varies from person to person. All that can really be stated is that neckthrus, set necks, and bolt ons will tend towards certain kinds of sounds, for which different people will have different levels of preference.
    This is not universally true. While a good number of people get around well on thin necks, a large number of people are uncomfortable on them, and much prefer a thick profile.
    Maple is only a medium, or perhaps medium-heavy wood. The dense woods, such as bubinga, rosewoods, lignum vitea, and many others, are much heavier. Some of them even sink in water.
    high density does not equal low resonance level. Internal damping does, which is primarily why dry woods resonate better than wet. Steel resonates quite well, despite being quite dense.
    First, soft is not the opposite of dense. High density/low density and hardness/softness are different properties entirely. Second, if anything, a softer wood may resonate less than a harder one.
    Don't know exactly what you mean by "beefier instruments." Or why multiple woods make something beefy.
    Fatigue is a behaviour exhibited by metals, whereby a small repetitive stress that does not exceed the yield point forms micro fractures that eventually lead to failure. To the best of my knowledge this behaviour is not shown by non-metallic materials, particularly not wood or glue.
    Entirely opinion. It is standard practice to have the body and neck be four pieces of wood, (neck = main shaft + plus scarf-jointed headstock + fretboard). It is done often enough that rather than a crap shoot, it is common and without risk.

    You may find it interesting that Bee basses intentionally uses different woods for head stocks than for the neck shafts, in an attempt to modify the sound. My opinion is that this is largely worthless, since the string is generally fretted up past the scarf joint.
    Beautiful guitar, by the way! I've thought that the shape, stretched at the horn, would be great for a bass.
    It causes the sound to be a certain way, which you like. My guess is that this is the wrong instrument if you want a strat sound, due largely to this construction.
  15. It's not that I found your original post "rude" as much as not very helpful. These are my opinions and as such are subject to change [with or without notice]. Simply saying a post is wrong doesn't provide for a very educational dialog.

    See - it wasn't all bad.

    I would argue this is more a point of style than substance. The “theory,” while mine alone, is based on the logic that [based on our agreement above that the sound of an instrument is the sum of its parts] the vibration patterns of a string will respond move evenly [when viewed on a waveform monitor or scope] when both ends are secured against the same solid structure [neck/body]. As you seem to be agreeing that the different woods respond differently, it should follow that having a different material at either end of the string will cause different vibration patterns to be introduced that will have an effect on the way the string vibrates. This is the context in which I used the term “best overall sound.” But your point is taken that “best” is subjective and the various dissonances introduced by mixing materials is generally perceived as tonal “colour” in which case it is all a matter of personal choice.

    I would like to note that of the basses mentioned on this forum, the Ric and the Peavey Cirrus are constantly touted as the faves and both these instruments use maple neck-through construction. It’s also interesting to note that both these basses are generally referred to as being “bright”, something I attribute to the maple neck – something I’ll comment on in a bit.

    Good point - yet many manufacturers, such as Ric, etc., tend toward a thinner profile because that's where the larger market is. It would be interesting to have a poll on this site to see what the preferences actually are. I'm an average size guy [6'] and prefer the thinner necks - but that's my own preference and this is entirely my opinion.

    I got my info on the different types of woods and their tones from the Peavey Cirrus custom shop website. They do a pretty good job of explaining what to expect from the different types of woods and I would direct anyone interested to that site for the best explanation.

    Perhaps my choice of the word "fatigue" was wrong, but my point that wherever 2 different materials are joined tends to be a weak spot still holds. I invite you to check into some of the new nano-technologies that try to address this problem by having little machines join materials at an atomic level instead of the current method of brute force through the use of nails or glues.

    I can honestly say I've never seen commercial guitar neck built by attaching a separate headstock to the neck proper. The closest I've seen to a composite neck/headstock is the Ric Sierra. By all means share pictures of any you know about - I'd love to see them.

    I actually own a Ric Sierra just like that one as well as a Yammie BB-405 - which is what I based my post on. This Ric has the widest tone pallete of any guitar I've played - it goes from so bright your ears almost bleed to warm and mellow like the best vintage Les Paul. But you're right about the strat thing - the pups on the Ric are so pristine that you would have to work really hard to make them as disgusting as a strat :D . I've also found the Sierra plays and sounds very different [brighter] from other Ric's I've encountered - something I attribute to the maple neck-thru construction.

    The Yammie, OTOH, is a very warm and rich instrument. Aside from it being a bass, I find the materials respond quite a bit differently. The Yammie has a maple neck and a big alder body - when I play it without being plugged in, I can actually feel the sounds vibrating through the body of the guitar against my body, something that doesn't happen in the same way with the Ric. This I attribute largely to the types of materials used for each instrument.

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. I'm here to learn and help when I can and have [hopefully] accomplished both on this thread.
  16. effbee


    Mar 9, 2002
    Actually, the headstock mass really can affect the tone and sustain of a bass (regardless of where it is fretted). For example, a vibrating bass string would not induce much energy into a solid brass headstock, allowing the energy to be focussed back into the string. Now imagine a rubber headstock. It would end up absorbing much of the strings vibrations, and would sound drastically different from the brass headstock. Granted, these are really extreme examples (no one I know of has either a brass or rubber headstock), but they should help players to understand the difference between say a Purpleheart headstock (very stiff and dense), and a Western Maple headstock (more flexable, lighter weight). Every single component of a bass matters in the final outcome of tone. Using different headstock woods is not "magical" by any means, but it does give me one more way to shade the tone in one direction or the other. I hope this makes sense :)

    BEE Basses
  17. Whoa there Verne...Ric and Peavey are the favorite basses of TB? That is one of the more ignorant statements I have ever seen here. And please take "ignorant" in the textbook sense of having the information available and not using it. I can easily name 4 other bass brands that get more mention and attention on these boards from folks that own them and like them. But even I wouldn't presume to tout any two of them as THE favorites of the 28,000 or so registered members.

    Sorry to be critical here too, but if you don't know the actual preferences of the market concerning neck profiles you can't make assumptions based only on your own preferences. It's called "projection". You also shouldn't make a declarative statement like your first sentence: "...yet many manufacturers, such as Ric, etc., tend toward a thinner profile because that's where the larger market is." only to backtrack in the next sentence to say you have nothing other than your own preference to offer as substantiation.

    Yet we aren't dealing with 2 "different" materials here. Not in the sense of a composite being attached to wood or metal being attached to wood. We are discussing wood to wood attachment and I will put to you that modern wood adhesives leave little room for doubt that they can make a joint that is stronger than the surrounding material. That's pretty much a proven fact.

    Doesn't a simple scarf joint fall into this category? Besides, I've seen dozens of custom builders do this with laminates and other methods with great success. The scarf joint alone probably accounts for millions of instruments a year considering that Samick, Cort, and quite a few other offshore companies use them extensively.

    Oh good lord, you aren't seriously comparing a 6 string maple guitar to an alder body bass and expecting us to be as confused as you as to why they sound different or why you can feel the string vibrations on the bass and not the guitar? :confused: I just don't think the "apples and oranges" analogy goes far enough here. If one were to really study the comparison of the string mass here, the answer would pop right up. I'm guessing here but I bet a .110" E bass string would just about equal the entire mass of an entire set of guitar strings. That might help clear up the mystery.

  18. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    No doubt. Basically I wasn't going to write a time-consuming reply to someone who might be (based on your recent signup and low post count, and my unfamiliarity with your username) one of the many who come and go, and wouldn't even see my reply. So I just made a quick comment to "ping" you so to speak.

    Glad you're here.
    I would say that a "one stick guitar" would have a tonality more closely related to the resonances of that wood, with a frequency response characteristic with a particular set of emphases and de-emphases; and that if the structure between the witness points of the string were of different woods, that the response would be more complex due to different "filters" along the way. But neither would necessarily sound better. For example, the potential "pure response characteristic" of a homogenious structure could create too much color, which "problem" could be "solved" by intentionally mixing woods in order to even out the response, and reducing the strength of particular peaks and dips.

    Also, to correct one of your assertions, mixed materials will not introduce any *dissonance*, it will simply make for a more complex response.
    I think you may be taking a bit of a stretch here in naming those two as TB faves.If anything, after a few years of posting here, I'd say the top faves were Fender, Music Man, and "my favorite boutique builder". In fact, I could be wrong; a search should be able to turn up a "who's your favorite manufacturer" poll.
    As above, I think you may be able to find one. You'll definitely find many people espousing various profiles, and disliking others.
    I'd say the most popular was "medium thin," since this is how I'd characterize a Jazz neck, which I believe is the most popular shape across all manufacturers.
    You might also want to try Ken Smith's wood pages, Warmoth's, Rampart Guitars' (although their opinions sometimes vary quite a bit from others') and many others. There's a thread to be found in the Luthiers' forum, I think, that has many sites listed.
    This might seem to be so, but it has been shown time and again that a proper glued joint in wood is stronger than the wood itself.
    Sounds interesting. Got a link? (seriously, not sarcastically)
    I'm sure that you've seen many, though you may not have realized it. Many, if not most, guitars with tiltback headstocks use a cut-and-reverse scarf joint for the headstock, which can be near invisible unless you're looking for it.
    The strat sound I might think you might not be able to get out of your Ric would be its percussiveness- regardless of brightness or warmness.
    This is common for bass guitars, as compared to guitars, regardless of material. There's a good deal more string mass, and a lot more kinetic energy in a bass.
    You'll find that there are respected builders who think wood choice is crucial; and respected builders who think wood choice is not that important.
  19. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Hammie, you beat me. I type too slowly!
  20. Look, I joined this thread to try and help out a guy asking an honest question which hardly anybody bothered responding to. It appears the only thing that seems to get you people to post is when you feel like jumping all over somebody - and here I thought this was the "friendly" forum. :spit:

    Why don't you spend the energy addressing the question posed by the author of the thread?

    Point 1 - Since September 2004 [3 months] when I became a member I've scanned the forum almost daily and have tended to see a fair number of positive posts in favour of Cirrus and Rics. Yes there are other basses - Warwicks, Jazz, etc. - but if you actually read the threads most of them talk about how to swap out pups or otherwise modify the bass because there's something the player doesn't like, or want's to improve. I have yet to see a Ric or Cirrus thread [not that they don't exist] that has been anything but raves and never once have I seen anyone talk about altering either of those instruments. I say that speaks volumes for customer satisfaction and is far more of a "rave" than someone who says "I spent 3 grand on a bass and the pups suck - tell me what to replace them with". I own a Yamaha, BTW, so before you get all over me, this isn't "projecting."

    Point 2 - I actually think you're going out of your way to be critical. If you bother to read my posts I make no bones about them being opinion and even suggest that a poll of Talk Bass users would be interesting to see what the reality is. Opinion is opinion - call it projection if you want - this is my opinion that, unless there is a law to the contrary I believe I am entitled to have. Am I wrong?

    Point 3 - That is your "opinion", which I have no problem with you having. Without getting into a long, drawn out techical discussion, you'll have to accept that I disagree with your opinion and hold to my position that at any point 2 or more separate materials are joined by artificial means there is a higher tendancy for joint failure than when the same structure is composed of a singular material.

    Point 4 - To the best of my recollection I maintain I have never seen a commercial instrument with a separate neck and headstock that have been joined together by artificial means as is being suggested in this thread. That doesn't mean they don't exist, and I'll certainly make sure I look a bit closer next time I visit my local music store, just that I've never noticed them before.

    Point 5 - This is not apples and oranges - this is 2 similar instruments held the same way that resonate differently - period! Since it has previously been agreed that an instrument is more than the sum of it's parts I have no disagreement with your suggestion that the strings, etc. also effect how the instruments feel, but I maintain that the different woods are far more responsible for the phenomenun I'm describing.

    In closing, I am not going to take you to task for your "assumptions, "opinions" or "guesses" and would like to ask that I be treated in kind. If you would prefer I no longer participate in the forum, kindly PM me to that effect.

    Geez - must be that time of the month around here. :meh: