1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

'reverse head'...do basses with those behave any differently?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by cnltb, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Hi, I am wondering if any of you have ever compared basses with reverse heads( e string the longest past the nut) with those that have 'normal' ones...

    Do they behave any differently?
    Is there a reason for the conventional head over the reversed or did it 'just happen' ?

    Thanks for any input!!:)
  2. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    Cue debate about whether string length after the nut has any effect on tension and tone...

    (Pulls up chair, grabs popcorn...)
  3. HalfManHalfBass


    Jan 21, 2003
    Ok, I'll play first!

    All strings need to be pulled up to pitch by their tuner. The point from the bridge saddle to the nut is the length of string that must be stretched in order to sound the correct note. How long the string is before the nut or before the string saddle physically has no bearing on the part of the string (the speaking length) that needs to be stretched (i.e. between the nut and saddle).

    If this distance is 33 or 34 or 35 inches, then yes, it does require the string to be slightly more or less stretched in order to reach its desired note -but all this is happening only along its speaking length.

    There are some very clever and musically superior musicians -to me- who swear that increasing the distance from tuner to nut results in a real, perceivable difference to the feel of the string, it's taughtness and sound. I however call BS.

    On a guit@r with a locking nut (Floyd Rose system) you can even cut the strings off behind the locking nut and they still remain in tune and feel the same to play on (with the nut lock obviously locked down), so how can the string from the back of the nut towards the tuners possibly affect anything along the other side of the nut: on the speaking length of a string of a bass guitar?

    There, now it's YOUR turns!
  4. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    IMHO a reversed headstock, so a reversed, say, length from E string to G string before nut determines difference in tension, yes, no consequences on intonation (that's a matter of scale).

  5. HalfManHalfBass


    Jan 21, 2003
    Ciao Wallace, ho appena aggiunto un'altra riga nel mio post (in su) riguardo la chitarra elettrica...
  6. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    Ti giuro che stavolta non c'ho capito un benemerito...

    Innazitutto mi scuso per non essermi accorto prima che sei italiano...

    inoltre... no davvero dimmi a che post ti riferisci, prima che mi bannino per palese OT...

    Un abbraccio

  7. This is an interesting topic. I'm not sure there ever will be a noticeable difference, but in theory a string that is longer should stretch more and therefore possibly be a little floppier.

    Imagine a 1 foot rubber band. It can stretch a certain distance. A rubber band of 2 feet should stretch twice as long.
    If the E string is longer (behind the nut) it has more space to stretch and therefore, as mentioned earlier, should be a little floppier.
    Of course if the string was locked down by the nut there wouldn't be any difference because the part of the string behind the nut would not stretch when the string was pulled.

    Edit: To be clear, I'm talking about how much the string stretches when it's pulled. This of course has no bearing on intonation, but should affect the way strings vibrate.
  8. HalfManHalfBass


    Jan 21, 2003
    Yes, this is a mildly interesting topic, but one which Talkbass will never solve.....sadly.

    We have to remember that the nut creates a fixed point along a string, so tension is not equal all along the string but instead there is a certain tension up to the nut and another after the nut (the speaking length we play on - tuned to pitch).

    My analogy with the locking nut just further proves that what happens behind this fixed point is of no consequence to what happens after it. But this is an age old debate and I really wished I had never jokingly entered into it and had just pulled up a chair and some popcorn, like SoVeryTired said!
  9. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Pssst, mister, if you really want to know I have a Pawn Shop Reverse Jaguar I can sell you.... ;)

    Actually a lot of basses, Ibanez for example, while not reversed have a very different pattern of string lengths past the nut compared with Fender. If you believe there is a difference there are basses out there that let you take advantage of it.

    As the string vibrates the tension increases and returns to its rest value twice per cycle. The nut and bridge saddle force a vibrational "node" (zero vibrational movement) at their locations of course but the tension variations continue past them and in full force, less the frictional losses at those two points. So there is vibrational energy transmitted past the bridge saddle and nut to the string attachment point and the tuning post. It is not looney to claim that the length of the string beyond the bridge saddle and nut has some effect on the performance of the bass. As you try to claim that these effects are larger and larger you begin to approach the state of looniness and if you are bold enough to claim that it is a first order contributor to tone or sustain or whatever, well you have become a full fledged looney! As one indicator of this you will occasionally see double basses, which have quite a long distance from bridge to string attachment point, with some kind of material wound through the strings in that "non-speaking" area. This is because the tensional fluctuations of the sting motion can excite unwanted harmonics in those portions of the strings that are supposed to be non-speaking and the sound they make while low level is not pretty and a distraction to the bassist, at the least.

    These non speaking lengths can have some effect and as long as you are willing to admit that it is low level I am not going to argue with anything you claim about them. It would simply take to much of my time to try to prove or disprove them. Except tension, that length has no effect on tension whatsoever, so don't go there. In a real band situation I do not believe anyone will ever hear any difference due to these extra string lengths. But at home or in a recording studio you may detect a small difference and human nature is such that anything that can be detected will be a huge issue to some.

  10. We agree on the point that when the string stays static (nobody's playing it) the string length after the nut has no effect. And also on the point that if you lock the string down at the nut the string length after the nut doesn't matter.

    But if the string is not locked down, the whole area of the string, from the saddle to the tuning peg, does stretch. That's just basic physics. Whether or not it has any noticeable difference of the feel is a whole other debate that I don't consider myself qualified to take part in.
  11. Fresh Eddie

    Fresh Eddie

    Nov 13, 2008
    A bass with a reverse headstock will look 64% more metal than a 2x2 headstock and an astonishing 87% more metal than a standard four in line headstock.

    You cannot argue with the facts.
  12. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    That is not correct.

    Again, that is not correct. All that happens in your analogy is a shift of the location of the string anchor point to the nut clamp.
  13. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    You're wrong.

    You're operating on the flawed assumption that four in line headstocks are equal. A reverse headstock is, on average, only 18.6% more metal than a pointy four in line headstock and, in some rare cases, can actually be less metal.

    A reverse headstock is universally aceepted (although I don't have the studies to hand) to be 102% more metal than no headstock.

    Of course, the headstock is only one variable in the 'best bass for metal' debate.
  14. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    I dont think it makes any noticeable difference. If it did mfg would be suggesting that 2x2 headstocks where superior to inline for better balance between the strings. Lol. Is asthetic diff only for reverse inline headstock compared to regular inline.
  15. xander8280


    Dec 29, 2011
    Theory of the masses......headless basses must have really tight strings, because there's no string after the nut.
    The tension gets all messed up, because a 1.05 gauge E string isn't at the same tension when it's that same note and that same gauge. It changes, it's like a D note now, I even think this lefty neck changed my gauge to like 1.03.......
    *hiding* sarcasm, joking. LOL
  16. HalfManHalfBass


    Jan 21, 2003
    Whether I am right or wrong - it doesn't really matter to me.

    Having owned exactly identical model guit@rs (with reversed and normal headstocks) I can report that I didn’t feel, or hear, or notice any difference between them even using the exact same string make and gauges, and that after 30 years of playing and owning hundreds of instruments I would really hope that by now I WOULD BE in a good position to notice such small differences -should they really exist.

    As I said: there are some very clever and musically superior musicians -to me- who swear that increasing the distance from tuner to nut results in a real, perceivable difference to the feel of the string, its taughtness and sound….so, good for them if it makes them play and write better music. I am still however exercising my right to call BS.

    From owning both types, again, I can honestly state that a 2 over 3 bass headstock really doesn’t improve the B string’s response (as opposed to the 3 over 2 headstock arrangement), and that by having that extra inch or so of string between the nut and tuning post the B isn’t transformed into a subterranean blaster unfortunately….and also having owned both headless guit@rs and basses.....again: no difference.

    Anyway, that’s my last on the subject as I’m now off to practise and teach my instrument rather than debate about it….

    Ciao a tutti!
  17. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    Just make sure that the string angle on the lower strings is adequate. Those strings have less tension and the most mass thus need a sufficient downward angle to hold the string in the nut without any "giggling" around.
  18. I reverse hate this thread:)
  19. I guess the question is how much energy/vibration/stretch/etc is transmitted behind the nut into the "dead area" of the string. For example, a standard plastic nut might be a bit "grippier" than say a Wilkinsin roller nut. In the gui**** world, there's a whole similar topic concerning the roller nut vs. locking floyd nut vs. greased plastic, etc. All my Tele buddies love the "slicker" versions so you can do behind-the-nut- bends, etc. Anyhoo, does it change the tone? I dunno. Does it change the feel? Possibly if the extra 3-inches or so of string is "free" enough to stretch with the main part. As usual I ain't no engineer, YMMV, IMHO, FWIW, blahblahblah....
  20. Fresh Eddie

    Fresh Eddie

    Nov 13, 2008
    I stand corrected... I forgot to multiply by P factor!! Pointy factor is the number one contributor to metalocity... such a rookie mistake on my part! Thanks for setting me straight.

    No more math before coffee....

    **erases oversized whiteboard, starts again from scratch.**

Share This Page