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Magic Headstock Angle


Kenny
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I modeled the neck of my first one after the neck of my Carvin California Carved Top, so it has the same headstock angle... I think 14 or 15 degrees. I like it so I'll keep using it (and my templates are already built that way now...)

Edit: I guessed poorly--it's 11 degrees.

Edited by Rick500
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Anything less than 17 degrees like Gibson does is good. I kind of like not having the headstock break off when I accidentally bump into something. Personally I like flat, but anything that angles reasonably, just enough to bring the strings down from the nut, is good. I haven't had this problem yet with a flat headstock, so I don't even see the need for one.

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ive snapped off a headstock before; but it was with a one piece mahogany neck; somewhere around 13 degrees

i can tell you from experience that as long as you have a solid scarf joint there is absolutely no reason to worry.

i accidently sanded through a neck i was making, and to remove the truss rod i had to break apart the neck. i started by clamping it down and proceeded to hit the nut area with a large hammer. 12 hits later it broke....around the 4th fret (i used a scarf that met in the middle of the headstock for that one) take that with a grain of salt though; i use angled headstocks now though :D i just don't really like the look of flat ones, not many options for 3 on 3 imo

Kenny

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For my first build I bought a partially done neck blank and the angle was already cut. It's around 10 degs. I used Grover Locking tuners on that one (very tall posts) and the break angle at the nut is very gentle. Sometimes that's a good thing, it makes some guitars ring better. It's a one piece flamed maple neck, BTW.

For the following builds, I made the necks from scratch and I've been using between 12 and 13 degs. None of these are scarfed, two of them are one piece construction (one rosewood, one mahogany) and the third is a laminate of Korina and rosewood. So far the only one finished is the rosewood neck, and it's working fine ion terms of string break angle at the nut (Sperzels on this one).

I don't want to use too steep angles because I personally like non-scarfed headstocks and for the better ringing reason given above.

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I modeled the neck of my first one after the neck of my Carvin California Carved Top, so it has the same headstock angle... I think 14 or 15 degrees. I like it so I'll keep using it (and my templates are already built that way now...)

Edit: I guessed poorly--it's 11 degrees.

Yeah, Carvin puts theirs between 10 and 11 degrees.

FWIW, mine was 13 degrees, 3pc neck, big volute. Strong like Hulk!

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ive snapped off a headstock before; but it was with a one piece mahogany neck; somewhere around 13 degrees

i can tell you from experience that as long as you have a solid scarf joint there is absolutely no reason to worry.

i accidently sanded through a neck i was making, and to remove the truss rod i had to break apart the neck. i started by clamping it down and proceeded to hit the nut area with a large hammer. 12 hits later it broke....around the 4th fret (i used a scarf that met in the middle of the headstock for that one) take that with a grain of salt though; i use angled headstocks now though :D i just don't really like the look of flat ones, not many options for 3 on 3 imo

Kenny

Ah, I knew someone would call me out on scarf joints because I forgot to exclude them.

I was speaking specifically about Gibson necks, which are usually one-piece, and made rather poorly. They can't even make necks as good as their budget subsidiary, Epiphone.

A good scarf would probably be stronger than a flat headstock even. But I'd be more worried about it breaking somewhere else if it fell because of the headstock angle. An angle around 4-5 degrees might be best, enough to set the strings down over the nut, but not enough to cause any instability. It'd be kind of nice if it came back to the same level as the back of the body, too.

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Ah, I knew someone would call me out on scarf joints because I forgot to exclude them.

I was speaking specifically about Gibson necks, which are usually one-piece, and made rather poorly. They can't even make necks as good as their budget subsidiary, Epiphone.

Epiphone necks usually have scarfed headstocks....

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12.87 degrees. The 0.13 degrees less than 13 hit that sweet spot which causes the strings to vibrate freely without losing positive contact with the nut. You can go down to 12.63 degrees or so, but once you're in 12.62 territory you start losing tone.

Er.

Yeah. :D

Seriously, though... I don't have years of experience testing all the different headstock angles and doing scientific tests. 11 to 13 degrees seemed like a well-loved range during any of the reading I've done, and the main two angled-headstock guitars I've played and loved are in that range. I think my quasi-LP is 13 degrees and my Godin LG-90 is 11.

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Ah, I knew someone would call me out on scarf joints because I forgot to exclude them.

I was speaking specifically about Gibson necks, which are usually one-piece, and made rather poorly. They can't even make necks as good as their budget subsidiary, Epiphone.

Epiphone necks usually have scarfed headstocks....

I personally think that a scarfed headstock is better.

Gibson continues to build their necks the same old way because they want to please the traditionalist crowd with regards to neck construction. Back in the 70's, when they added a volute, they were criticized because of that (among other things). What did they do? Remove the volute.

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Ah, I knew someone would call me out on scarf joints because I forgot to exclude them.

I was speaking specifically about Gibson necks, which are usually one-piece, and made rather poorly. They can't even make necks as good as their budget subsidiary, Epiphone.

Epiphone necks usually have scarfed headstocks....

I personally think that a scarfed headstock is better.

Gibson continues to build their necks the same old way because they want to please the traditionalist crowd with regards to neck construction. Back in the 70's, when they added a volute, they were criticized because of that (among other things). What did they do? Remove the volute.

True, it's about pleasing the traditionalist in this case. I'm not arguing against the scarf construction. It's simply that I don't quite like how it looks. It's a personal thing, I prefer to build a reasonably strong neck without resorting to scarfing. Still I reserve the right to change my mind at any time... :D

And back to topic: In those days you mentioned, Gibson were also criticized for reducing the headstock angle from 17 to 14 degrees. Go figure !!

Now people venerate the Les Paul, with it's one piece mahogany neck, but back in the day it was meant to be a cheap guitar. For the good stuff Gibson used laminated necks of 3 and 5 pieces. Usually involving flamed maple and ebony. No scarf, but much stronger structurally.

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