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acceler8

Headstock Tuner Locations

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Im building a custom guitar at the moment (first time builder). I have the body made up, it looks somewhat like a Jaguar but it will have Tele pickups and hardware (keeping it simple).

What I need to do now is cut the shape of my headstock and drill the holes for the tuners. I have purchased a neck from warmoth that has a flat paddle for a head. What I want to know is what are the restrictions when making a headstock shape. Also what restrictions are there on the placement of the tuners. I'm planning on 3 tuners on each side rather than the standard fender 6 on one side. Does it affect the intonation or anything by exactly where I place the tuners?

Thanks!

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Intonation is only affected by bridge and nut position. Drawing your headstock shape on a piece of paper will help you define where the tuners should be placed. Generally with a symetric shape and 3+3 configuration a half inch from the edge will work. Once you have the drawing you can put holes in the paper to mock it up.

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Intonation is only affected by bridge and nut position. Drawing your headstock shape on a piece of paper will help you define where the tuners should be placed. Generally with a symetric shape and 3+3 configuration a half inch from the edge will work. Once you have the drawing you can put holes in the paper to mock it up.

I find it helps to use graph-paper to get a symmetrical headstock design. that way you can just draw half of the headstock, and transfer the points on to the other half of the paper. You should also lay your tuners on top of the finished design to see how it looks, and to see if there is enough space to be able to install them properly, and tune the finished guitar. Then transfer the design to the headstock blank and go the bandsaw.

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FWIW, I think that tuner position can affect the perception of tension of the strings and the way notes will bend.

1) On a strat headstock the string travels in a straight line from the bridge to the tuner. If your tuner postion dictates a deflection of the string from the nut toward the tuner (e.g. gibson 3x3), you get more friction at the nut and you may percieve that as the strings being more taught. As you bend the note, you encounter the friction which you may feel as a tighter string. Of course you can have a 3x3 headstock which keeps the strings going in a straight line - your headstock will have to taper to accomodate this.

2) If your tuners are further from the nut (e.g strat high e string compared with Gibson e string), there is more string that needs to be stretched to reach the same tension change for a bend, so the deflection needed to bend a given pitch will be greater. Compare regular strat headstocks to reverse headstocks.

If you want undeflected strings, then on your plan (or on the headstock paddle) draw in the straight line continuation of the strings past the nut along the headstock. Mark in circles for your tuner posts just to the sides of those lines (as the string would wind onto the post - remember it doesn't go through the middle of the post). Note the distance from the centre of the posts to the tuning pegs. Now you have the limitations of the shape of your headstock.

I hope that wasn't too confusing.

Brian.

As a minor side note, FWIW, I have read that "dead string length" [from nut to tuner or from saddle to string anchor] can actually affect intonation. My understanding is: the higher the action is, the more the deflection is when you fret a note. This will sharpen the note and affect intonation. The more dead string length you have, then the change in tension will be less for the same amount of deflection, so the affect on intonation will be less. Some of this would be compensated for by the intonation adjustment, but as the string height and thus the deflection changes along the neck, this adjustment wouldn't be perfect all the way down the fretboard.

Compare this with number 2 above, where you need a greater deflection to get the same change in tension where the dead string length is longer.

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On my Strat tuners are 6 on one side have 25mm centres,

On my Acoustic 3 a side the centres are 35mm.

I can e mail you a gibson style head stock and you can model your own from that if you wish

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Brian makes some good points. The length of the string will affect the tension required to bring the string to tune. Perhaps this is one of the reasons Steinberg has no headstock. In any case you will need to balance asthetics with the desired tension length.

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One other thing to keep in mind is the angle which the string takes from nut to tuner. You don't want a string touching another string or tuner as it heads to its own tuner.

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Maybe it's just me, but TBH I normally prefer the look of a head which is NOT symmetrical!

Good point about keeping the strings spaced enough to avoid touching each other.

I think it's useful to have the actual machine heads sourced and present, so that you can measure them to help determine how far in from the head edge to position the holes for 'em.

With a six-a-side configuration I normally like the strings to go from the bridge over the nut and to the machine head in as straight a line as possible.

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Brian makes some good points. The length of the string will affect the tension required to bring the string to tune. Perhaps this is one of the reasons Steinberg has no headstock. In any case you will need to balance asthetics with the desired tension length.

No, it won't. String tension is the same for a given string at a given scale length tuned to a given note. Regardless of headstock/tuner configuration, etc. String compliance/bendability is affected, because the overall length can 'stretch' when you play, and that - as well as break angles and friction at nut and bridge - affects the feel or stiffness of the string, but the amount of tension remains unchanged. Brian said it right, mind, I'm just being slightly obsessive-compulsive about things.

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I find it helps to use graph-paper to get a symmetrical headstock design. that way you can just draw half of the headstock, and transfer the points on to the other half of the paper. You should also lay your tuners on top of the finished design to see how it looks, and to see if there is enough space to be able to install them properly, and tune the finished guitar. Then transfer the design to the headstock blank and go the bandsaw.

You can also just draw one half of the headstock and cut it out. To get it symmetrical place it on the centre line and draw round it, then flip it over the centre line and draw round it again.

I was using your method to get a symmetrical body design until my old man told me to do o it this way. He used to build boats and thats how they make sure it's all symmetrical.

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