headstock angle

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headstock angle

Postby Warren May » Sat Aug 18, 2012 3:03 am

I cut the headstock angle for a Gibby SG clone using the bandsaw from a piece of near quartersawn mahogany using a pretty course blade. The surface of the 2 cut pieces needed to be planed and sanded and the scarf joint looks nice and tight now. I aimed for about 15-17 degrees but after sanding it's a little under 20 degrees. I'm assuming this will be okay since I'm not going for a historic reproduction. Question is whether the 20 degrees is a little too steep and do you see any problems with going that steep? I've read sources that say somewhere between 12-20 degrees on an angled headstock puts downward pressure on the nut and is a good range for string vibration as long as no tremelo/vibrato is installed (not sure if that's true or just someone justifying Fender versus Gibson headstock angles).
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Re: headstock angle

Postby Greg Robinson » Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:49 am

Hi Warren,
20° maybe a little excessive, you may find that the strings will bind during tuning or bends, but with a properly cut nut it should work. Anything down to about 8° will be adequate in my experience, though the two extremes both suffer more from a badly cut nut than "the middle of the road" ranges. Good luck.
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Re: headstock angle

Postby Rodger Knox » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:37 am

That's too steep for a solid neck, but you should be fine with a scarf joint. A zero fret might make the nut a little less critical.
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Re: headstock angle

Postby Warren May » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:28 am

Thanks for the advise.

It is a scarf joint and the neck is quartersawn mahogany. I've already fashioned the fretboard but the zero fret might have been a good idea for the steeper angle. I'll just have to try for a good nut slot job. I think I've gone too far, now, to recut the angle and reglue the headstock but it sounds like you feel 20 degrees will work if all goes well with the nut. Should I go for a shallow slot but one angled back to match the headstock so the string breaks at the front of the nut? Or should the slot be a little deeper? I'm not reasoning correctly, I think, by thinking it would need a deeper nut slot.

On future builds, what headstock angle works best for you? Gibson seems to use 17 degrees on all of theirs and I was going for an SG clone. I usually aim for about 12-15 degrees on non-tremolo electrics. On Fenders, I use a 1" thick neck blank and a 1/4" fretboard so I think the angle is maybe a little more than Fenders on the low E and A but I usually add string retainers for the other 4 strings. Should I use a 3/4" blank instead of the 1"?
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Re: headstock angle

Postby Henrique Schneiter » Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:23 pm

Warren, I have measured some Gibsons and other brands, and found 15 degrees on the most. It seems to be the "standard". However, the pegheads could have been angled more at building(like 17º) and just moved a bit to around 15º.

The "ideal" angle depends on your design, fretboard thickness, fretwire height, peghead thickness (thus tuning machine post height), nut, and even how turns you like to use on the strings around the tuners. Some designers have no angle at all and not even a "step" like Fender (Zachary for example). Of course they need string trees.

On my guitars, I've been using lately 18 degrees so I don't need string trees. I've found this is the ideal angle for a locking nut. Many companies use the "standard" 15º and ultimately need string trees/retainers even with a locking nut (see Ibanez and such). Design stuff on paper (real size) and experimenting is worthy the time spent.
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Re: headstock angle

Postby Henrique Schneiter » Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:26 pm

About the nut, you shouldn't go deeper on the slots. The unwond string should have slots with a depth equal to the string diameter, and the wounded ones, half the string diameter.
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Re: headstock angle

Postby Rodger Knox » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:33 am

I use 10° with 3 on a side, no need for string trees.
A man hears what he wants to hear, and disreguards the rest. Paul Simon
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Re: headstock angle

Postby Henrique Schneiter » Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:51 pm

Yes Rodger, of course you can get that. I mentioned 18º especifically for the locking nut setup. My two last guitars have one, I forgot to mention.

BTW, I still got nervous to see those Ibanez with the string retainer. A design flaw IMO.
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Re: headstock angle

Postby Rodger Knox » Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:31 am

I've never used a locking nut, so I have no idea how that would affect the headstock angle. I'm just sayin that 10° is enough with 3 on a side that string trees are not necessary.
For scarf joints or laminated necks, there's no good reason not to use a larger headstock angle, but on solid mahogany necks like Gibson typically uses, the headstock angle is the same as the runout of the grain through the headstock, so a greater angle makes a weaker headstock.
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Re: headstock angle

Postby Greg Martin » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:42 pm

Ive stuck with 15 degrees,seems to be great for 12 stringers or 6.
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Re: headstock angle

Postby David King » Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:38 pm

I'll second Roger's comment. At least for basses I've found 7-8º to be plenty.
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