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Headstock Angle

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Southpa isn't being silly; you can build a guitar with a zero degree angle.

You just have to do something so the end of the strings are low enough to keep pressure on the nut. If you build a "headless" rig, then you already have a little bit of angle and down-force. If the posts (on your tuning machines) stick up fairly high, then you have to do something; angle the head, or offset it.

By the way, it looks like the Steinberger "Gearless" tuners put the ends of the strings pretty close to the surface of the head, so that would be another case where you would not need a lot of angle or offset... but I have not seen any of those for a bass.


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Sorry, didn't mean to come across as a smarta** but you asked, right? :D Now if you specified what type of headstock you were building I could have been more specific on my end. The headstock angle on a Fender style bass may be zero degrees but that doesn't dictate how the strings go. Strings are still angled off the nut by the stepdown angle to the headstock face as well as with the aid of string trees (like fender) or bar (like hagstrom).

The standard angle for Gibson style is 14 to 15 degrees. Its necessary to maintain a good angle so you have adequate pressure on the nut. This gives better sustain and string stability. The shallower you go the sloppier it gets. From what I've read here a lot depends on the inherent tension of the string when tuned to pitch. They mention a classical guitar headstock at 7 degrees but that is allowable given the light tension applied by nylon strings. So a shallow headstock on a higher tension bass might hinder performance.

Edited by Southpa
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I guess I should have been more specific in my question, sorry :D...

Well, I'm gonna build a 4-string neck-thru fretless bass.

The neck will be constructed out of 1 piece mahogony and 2 pieces hard maple. Fretboard is Rosewood.

The wood for the neck is 5 cm (2 Inch) thick, which means I can't make 13 degrees angle headstock without cutting and re-joining a piece of wood (which i DON'T want). Beside, i really want to go for the more clean look and don't use a retainer.

Another critical question, what should be the headstock thickness? If 1.5 cm is fine, I think i can get away with 10-11 degrees. Is it eanough?

Thanks guys...

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Take a look at Rickenbackers.......0 degrees on my 1980 custom shop fretless and 0 degrees on my 1977 fretted. They use a 5/16" fretboard instead of the typical 3/16" so there is a string angle created which holds them in the nut.

I have an old Bartell fretless that has 0 degrees also but they used a zero fret with a string through nut to guide the strings and keep them down on the zero fret.

Oh, no.....I just realized my Bartell is junk because it has a zero fret :D

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