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Question about headstock modification

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Question about headstock modification

Postby Christopher Trosclair » Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:55 pm

Hey y'all,

I'm thinking about buying a cheap DYI strat kit and experimenting with it. I don't really mind if it turns out badly, I just want to have fun with it.
I got the idea to buy a cheap Dean neck with one of those ugly V headstocks and cutting it to the shape I want since it seems to have a lot of material to work with.
Basically I'm going for a look similar to a Kramer split headstock, but not as large of a cut in the middle (because for one thing it's obviously made of wood.)

Here's a rough photoshop edit to show the basic idea of what I'm imagining:

Image


So the obvious question arises: Will this deep of a cut down the middle compromise too much of the headstock's stability?

Also, does anyone know if Dean necks actually fit Strat type bodies? (not to say it matters much since I'll be buying a really cheap kit, the size might not be the usual standard anyway.)


So what do you think? Is this a terrible idea, or would it possibly work?

Thanks!
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Re: Question about headstock modification

Postby Barry Daniels » Tue Jul 12, 2016 10:01 pm

It could work. You would need to start with a wide headstock.
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Re: Question about headstock modification

Postby David King » Wed Jul 13, 2016 1:48 am

Keep your nut slots deep,
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Re: Question about headstock modification

Postby Brian Evans » Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:02 am

In matters of aesthetics, I have no judgement - one person's art is the next person's "damn, you spilled paint on the floor". In terms of mechanics, you're going out of your way to design in the worst possible technical response to "I need a headstock to mount the tuners on". The ideal in a headstock is sufficient uniform back angle on the strings to keep them in the nut, the smallest possible nut groove depth, and that results in a straight pull for each string across the nut to the tuning peg. Fender/Dean/Kramer necks that have the headstock in the same plane as the neck but stepped down don't have a uniform back angle on the strings and often need string retainers for the strings that are farther away from the nut to artificially get the needed back angle. Keeping that design in tune if you use a tremelo bar would be very hard, tuning it in general will be problematic. With all that said, each issue has work-arounds and fixes, and aesthetics and design are a huge part of the fun in guitar making, so exercise your right to claim your vision! Go for it!
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Re: Question about headstock modification

Postby Steve Sawyer » Wed Jul 13, 2016 12:38 pm

As to David and Brian's points about the angle across the nut, would a locking nut be an acceptable work-around?

As a furniture-builder, I'd be a little concerned about a split developing between the two "tines" of that "fork". Cross-drilling the headstock for a dowel, or even counter-sinking a wood screw that would run across the centerline and plugging would address that.
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Re: Question about headstock modification

Postby Christopher Trosclair » Wed Jul 13, 2016 6:31 pm

Thanks for the insight/suggestions so far!
I like this forum, people seem to be genuinely helpful.

I'm still deciding on if I'll do this or not, but if I do, I'll definitely post pictures and let everyone know how it's going and what I had to do to get it to work if it doesn't work out straight away.
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Re: Question about headstock modification

Postby Jim McConkey » Thu Jul 14, 2016 1:59 pm

I'm not so sure about the splitting potential. Most of the string tension is almost directly down the tines, but there are 3 strings on each, splaying to the center, and so the tension on them will tend to pull the tines together, not apart.
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Re: Question about headstock modification

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Jul 14, 2016 2:46 pm

Jim McConkey wrote:I'm not so sure about the splitting potential. Most of the string tension is almost directly down the tines, but there are 3 strings on each, splaying to the center, and so the tension on them will tend to pull the tines together, not apart.

I agree - but that "Y" still makes me nervous, and I'd probably reinforce it if I was doing it. But then again, I'm famous for over-engineering things! :)
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Re: Question about headstock modification

Postby Freeman Keller » Thu Jul 14, 2016 10:13 pm

I would lay it out carefully to make sure that the strings do not fowl on tuner posts - that is a potential problem on headstocks which flair out. I would also carefully check to make sure its going to work on your body - scale length, size of the pocket (I'm assuming the Dean is a bolt on), whether the holes will line up. Will the Dean neck work with the strat geometry - pickups and bridge? Is the fretboard radius compatible with the bridge you plan to use? A minor point - will it fit in a standard case or gig bag - custom cases can be very expensive.

Your ace in the hole is that if it doesn't work just get a standard Fender neck or use the one that came with the kit providing you don't change the pocket.

Fwiw - I don't know what kind of kit you are actually going to get but a friend just "built" a diy double neck SC shaped thing with bolt on necks. The neck pockets were routed completely wonky and the neck angle was terrible - I had to help him do a lot of work to the pocket so that the ToM bridge was within its working range. Also some of the worse fretwork I've seen in a long time - he got to learn all about leveling and dressing.
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Re: Question about headstock modification

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Fri Jul 15, 2016 4:58 pm

As has been said already, scale length is the most important thing, next to the shape of the neck heel and the shape of the neck pocket.
These three things outweigh any headstock considerations, in my opinion.

A kit guitar will come with a pre-routed neck pocket. If it is a Strat kit, the pocket will be slightly rounded at the heel, and routed for a neck width of 2 3/16 in.
It will probably also have the tremolo bridge pockets routed in the body, which fixes the bridge position.
I do not know what shape a Dean neck has at the heel.
Any shaping in this important junction changes the measurements, which affects scale length.

If the Strat body can be ordered with no bridge rout, and you can either rout it yourself after fitting the neck, or just go with a hardtail bridge, you may be able to make things fit.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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