Headstock

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Classical guitar headstock Guitar May 2009-1.jpg
Classical guitar headstock

A headstock or peghead is part of a guitar or similar stringed instruments such as a lute, mandolin, banjo, ukulele and others of the lute lineage. The main function of a headstock is to house the pegs or mechanism that holds the strings at the "head" of the instrument. At the "tail" of the instrument the strings are usually held by a tailpiece or bridge. Machine heads on the headstock are commonly used to tune the instrument by adjusting the tension of strings and, consequentially, the pitch of sound they produce.

Contents

Construction details

Bass guitar headstock Bass guitar headstock.jpg
Bass guitar headstock

Two traditional layouts of guitar tuners are called "3+3" (3 top tuners and 3 bottom ones) and "6 in line" tuners, though many other combinations are known, especially for bass guitars and non-6-string guitars. When there are no machine heads (i.e. tuners are not needed or located in some other place, for example, on guitar body), the guitar headstock may be missing completely, as in Steinberger guitar or some Chapman stick models.

Schematic section shows both straight and angled headstocks. Note the b angle between the surface of the neck and the headstock surface Guitar headstock angle.png
Schematic section shows both straight and angled headstocks. Note the β angle between the surface of the neck and the headstock surface

The headstock may be carved separately and glued to the neck using some sort of joint (such as a scarf joint). There are two major trends in headstock construction, based on how the string will go after passing the nut. The advantages and disadvantages of both trends are very debatable and subjective, so these two variants are used:

Luthiers of both styles frequently cite better sound, longer sustain and strings staying in tune longer as advantages of each style. Fragile construction is cited as a disadvantage of each style too: single-piece necks are more likely to break on occasional hit and are harder to repair, while glued-in necks can break with time.

Apart from its main function, the headstock is an important decorative detail of a guitar. It is the place where overwhelming majority of guitar manufacturers draw their logo. Some guitars without machine heads (for example, ones equipped with Floyd Rose SpeedLoader) have a headstock for purely decorative reasons.

Signature headstock outlines

Headstock from an ARTCORE series guitar by Ibanez Ibanez Artcore headstock.jpg
Headstock from an ARTCORE series guitar by Ibanez
Ibanez JEM 555 BK headstock IbanezJem555BK-headstock.jpg
Ibanez JEM 555 BK headstock
Details of a Seagull Guitar headstock. SeagullHeadstock.JPG
Details of a Seagull Guitar headstock.

Most major guitar brands have signature headstock designs that make their guitars or guitar series easily recognizable. As seen in a section below, even "copied" at the first glance designs retain clear visible changes in dimensions, proportions of elements, etc., so it is almost always possible to tell a major brand of a guitar by looking at headstock.

Fender-like curved 6-in-line headstocks

Gibson-like 3+3 headstocks

Slotted headstock on an acoustic guitar. Normally these are found on classical (nylon string) guitars. Slotted Headstock I.jpg
Slotted headstock on an acoustic guitar. Normally these are found on classical (nylon string) guitars.

Pointed headstocks, 6-in-line

Matching headstock

Matching headstock on an electric guitar PScardinalHeadSample1 20150921 (23831611941).jpg
Matching headstock on an electric guitar

On some electric guitars and basses the finish used on the body is also applied to the face of the headstock. Generally, matched-headstock models carry a price premium over their plain counterparts due to the extra processes involved in the finishing process.

Although Fender no longer offers matched headstocks on production models made in the United States or Mexico, certain models from Fender Japan are available with matched headstocks.

The definition of a "matched headstock" varies between manufacturers and players - for example, the headstocks of Gibson guitars are nearly always black, and it is debatable whether a black-bodied Gibson has a matching headstock. Generally, a guitar is only considered to have a matching headstock if the guitar is usually produced without matching body and headstock finishes.

Related Research Articles

Electric guitar Electrical string instrument

An electric guitar is a guitar that requires external amplification in order to be heard at typical performance volumes, unlike a standard acoustic guitar. It uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals, which ultimately are reproduced as sound by loudspeakers. The sound is sometimes shaped or electronically altered to achieve different timbres or tonal qualities from that of an acoustic guitar. Often, this is done through the use of effects such as reverb, distortion and "overdrive"; the latter is considered to be a key element of electric blues guitar music and rock guitar playing.

Gibson Les Paul Solid body electric guitar

The Gibson Les Paul is a solid body electric guitar that was first sold by the Gibson Guitar Corporation in 1952. The guitar was designed by factory manager John Huis and their team with input from and endorsement by guitarist Les Paul. Its typical design features a solid mahogany body with a carved maple top and a single cutaway, a mahogany set-in neck with a rosewood fretboard, two pickups with independent volume and tone controls, and a stoptail bridge, although variants exist.

Fender Stratocaster solid body electric guitar

The Fender Stratocaster, colloquially known as the Strat, is a model of electric guitar designed from 1952 into 1954 by Leo Fender, Bill Carson, George Fullerton and Freddie Tavares. The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation has continuously manufactured the Stratocaster from 1954 to the present. It is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top "horn" shape for balance. Along with the Gibson Les Paul, Gibson SG and Fender Telecaster, it is one of the most-often emulated electric guitar shapes. "Stratocaster" and "Strat" are trademark terms belonging to Fender. Guitars that duplicate the Stratocaster by other manufacturers are sometimes called S-Type or ST-type guitars.

Fender Musical Instruments Corporation American musical instrument manufacturer

The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation is an American manufacturer of stringed instruments and amplifiers. Fender produces acoustic guitars, bass amplifiers and public address equipment, but is best known for its solid-body electric guitars and bass guitars, particularly the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jazzmaster, Precision Bass, and the Jazz Bass. The company was founded in Fullerton, California by Clarence Leonidas "Leo" Fender in 1946. Its headquarters are in Los Angeles, California.

The Fender Starcaster is a series of semi-hollowbody electric guitars made by the Fender company. The Starcaster was part of Fender's attempt to enter the semi-hollowbody market, which was dominated by Gibson's ES-335 and similar designs.

The Fender Jazzmaster is an electric guitar designed as a more expensive sibling of the Fender Stratocaster. First introduced at the 1958 NAMM Show, it was initially marketed to jazz guitarists, but found favor among surf rock guitarists in the early 1960s. Its appearance is similar to the Jaguar, though it is tonally and physically different in many technical ways, including pickup design, scale length and controls.

Gibson EDS-1275 Model of guitar

The Gibson EDS-1275 is a doubleneck Gibson electric guitar, weighing about 13 pounds (5.9 kg) and introduced in 1963. Popularized by both rock and jazz musicians such as Don Felder, Jimmy Page, Alex Lifeson, Steve Miller, Steve Clark, and John McLaughlin, it was named "the coolest guitar in rock" by the website Gigwise.

Fender Precision Bass Electric Bass Guitar

The Fender Precision Bass is a model of electric bass manufactured by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. In its standard, post-1957 configuration, the Precision Bass is a solid body, four-stringed instrument equipped with a single split-coil humbucking pickup and a one-piece, 20-fret maple neck with rosewood or maple fingerboard.

Gibson Firebird

The Gibson Firebird is a solid-body electric guitar manufactured by Gibson from 1963 to the present.

Variax is the name of a line of guitars developed and marketed by Line 6. They differ from typical electric and acoustic guitars in that internal electronics process the sound from individual strings to model (replicate) the sound of specific guitars and other instruments. The maker claims it is the first guitar family that can emulate the tones of other notable electric and acoustic guitars. It also provides a banjo and a sitar tone. The Variax is currently available as an electric guitar, but modeling acoustic guitars and modeling electric bass guitars have been available in the past.

Tōkai Gakki

Tokai Gakki Company, Ltd., often referred to as Tokai Guitars, is a Japanese musical instrument manufacturer situated in Hamamatsu city, Shizuoka prefecture. Tokai is one of Japan's leading companies in the business. The company was founded in 1947 by Tadayouki Adachi and remains family-owned.

Outline of guitars Overview of and topical guide to guitars

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to guitars:

A solid-body musical instrument is a string instrument such as a guitar, bass or violin built without its normal sound box and relying on an electromagnetic pickup system to directly detect the vibrations of the strings; these instruments are usually plugged into an instrument amplifier and loudspeaker to be heard. Solid-body instruments are preferred in situations where acoustic feedback may otherwise be a problem and are inherently both less expensive to build and more rugged than acoustic electric instruments.

Fender Coronado

The Fender Coronado is a double-cutaway thin-line hollow-body electric guitar, announced in 1965. It is manufactured by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. The aesthetic design embodied in the Coronado represents a departure from previous Fender instruments; the design remains an uncharacteristic piece of Fender history.

Epiphone Casino Electric guitar

The Epiphone Casino is a thinline hollow body electric guitar manufactured by Epiphone, a branch of Gibson. The guitar debuted in 1961 and has been associated with such guitarists as Howlin' Wolf, George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Dave Davies, Paul Weller, The Edge, Josh Homme, Daniel Kessler, Noel Gallagher, Brendon Urie, Gary Clark, Jr., Glenn Frey, John Illsley, Peter Green and Dave Grohl.

Electric guitar design is a type of industrial design where the looks and efficiency of the shape as well as the acoustical aspects of the guitar are important factors. In the past many guitars have been designed with various odd shapes as well as very practical and convenient solutions to improve the usability of the object.

The Fender American Deluxe Series was a line of electric guitars and basses introduced by Fender in 1995 and discontinued in 2016. It was upgraded in 2004 and 2010 before being replaced by the American Elite series in 2016.

Starcaster by Fender

Starcaster by Fender is a range of instruments and accessories aimed at students and beginners, marketed by the prominent guitar company Fender from the early 2000s until at least 2011. As of April 2018, no products were being marketed under this brand.

The Fender Telecaster, colloquially known as the Tele, is the world's first commercially successful solid-body electric guitar. Its simple yet effective design and revolutionary sound broke ground and set trends in electric guitar manufacturing and popular music. Introduced for national distribution as the Broadcaster in the autumn of 1950 as a two-pickup version of its sister model, the single-pickup Esquire, the pair were the first guitars of their kind manufactured on a substantial scale. A trademark conflict with a rival manufacturer's led to the guitar being renamed in 1951. Initially, the Broadcaster name was simply cut off of the labels placed on the guitars and later in 1951, the final name of Telecaster was applied to the guitar. The Telecaster quickly became a popular model, and has remained in continuous production since its first incarnation.

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