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Old 06-01-2021, 09:44 PM
perttime perttime is online now
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Default "Open" headstocks - why?

Photos in the 'Guitars in stock - June 2021' thread reminded me of something that I've been wondering:

Some luthiers like to use "open" headstocks. Is it a stylistic element, or does it also have functional advantages?

A photo from that thread for reference:



https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...56&postcount=2
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Old 06-02-2021, 12:02 AM
runamuck runamuck is offline
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In my opinion, an open headstock is only about traditional aesthetics and little to do with superior function.

EDIT: I saw "open headstock" and thought, "slotted".
I take it back

Last edited by runamuck; 06-02-2021 at 10:57 AM.
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Old 06-02-2021, 02:57 AM
nickv6 nickv6 is offline
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That's proper posh that is
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Old 06-02-2021, 03:46 AM
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They’re very pretty. I wish they were a shortcut to improving my playing.

Rick
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Old 06-02-2021, 03:59 AM
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I am one of those luthiers that likes to use open headstocks. They have more room than slot heads to get in there when you are changing strings.

Like slot heads they put the tuner buttons in an ergonomically superior position to see and turn compared to solid headstocks. We all are used to solid headstocks but if you think about it why would you want the easiest strings to break and the hardest strings to tune to be the most fiddly to access?
If those treble string tuner buttons were bolt heads on a car engine they would be described as "*expletive* hard to get to".

Open headstocks are lightweight making it easy to avoid making a neck heavy guitar.

Finally, open headstocks do offer an alternative ascetic that is very contemporary. Since contemporary guitars are in a golden age it's nice to have a headstock style to flaunt it!



When I looked at this picture I realized I forgot to add how nice it is to have such easy access to the torsion rod.
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Old 06-02-2021, 09:24 AM
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I agree with Mark, including some additional points. I have an open headstock design which has become my most popular headstock option since I introduced it five years ago. I call it the "Omega" headstock. I originally came up with this design when a friend/patron asked me to design a headstock that had the straightest possible string pull from the nut to the tuner posts. I think straighter string pull will improve tuning accuracy and stability, as it does not cause the strings to have to break at an angle at the nut. This is VERY useful to people who play open tunings, and re-tune a lot. I think it also may prolong the utility of a set of strings, by not putting that kink in the bend at a headstock that tapers wider at the crest.

One great advantage of an open headstock is that you have a very wide array of choices for tuning machines, because open headstocks utilize standard tuners, not the much more limiting array of slot-head tuner choices.

In addition to that, I, and many of my customers, really like the post-modern look of an open headstock. I'm sure it probably does not appeal to some people who are hard-wired traditionalists, but this IS the 21st Century, and I think innovation is a GOOD thing.

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Old 06-02-2021, 09:32 AM
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Here's my symmetric Omega headstock:

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Old 06-02-2021, 10:58 AM
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I think open headstocks look cool and that's good enough for me
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Old 06-02-2021, 11:19 AM
brad4d8 brad4d8 is offline
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Looks like it might be a little easier to restring than a standard slothead.
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Old 06-02-2021, 11:37 AM
joeld joeld is offline
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I really like the way that they look. I have two electrics with that style headstock. I don't have an acoustic like this, but I would consider it a bonus if a guitar I was considering to buy had an open headstock. So, "Why?" 'cause looks cool!
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Old 06-02-2021, 12:07 PM
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I'm still not sure I like the look. I do like some headstock designs that aren't exactly traditional, though

The technical explanations on why it works well do make sense. However, it looks like the 1st and 6th strings make a pretty abrupt turn down at the nut. No problems with that?
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Old 06-02-2021, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perttime View Post
I'm still not sure I like the look. I do like some headstock designs that aren't exactly traditional, though

The technical explanations on why it works well do make sense. However, it looks like the 1st and 6th strings make a pretty abrupt turn down at the nut. No problems with that?
Are you ESSBA?

Open headstocks, like slotted headstocks, exist to create anxiety in people who are extra-sensitive to string break angles (ESSBA). Those who are ESSBA can certainly hear the difference in the strings with the three different break angles.

Just kidding. I like the traditional (Martin-like) slotted or solid headstock design despite the fact that it forces strings to veer out of line and notwithstanding my 40 years of engineering practice.
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Old 06-02-2021, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brad4d8 View Post
Looks like it might be a little easier to restring than a standard slothead.
Yes, an open headstock is easier to string up than a slot-head; however there is a specific procedure to do it. If you don't know the best way to do it, it could result in some frustration. I'm trying to figure out how to post a video that demonstrates how stringing an open headstock is just as quick and easy as with a solid headstock.
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Old 06-02-2021, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perttime View Post
I'm still not sure I like the look. I do like some headstock designs that aren't exactly traditional, though

The technical explanations on why it works well do make sense. However, it looks like the 1st and 6th strings make a pretty abrupt turn down at the nut. No problems with that?
My open headstock has an 8 degree back-angle, as opposed to the standard 13 degree pitch of a solid headstock. Since the string posts on an open headstock are in the middle of the headstock rails, you get the same string angle as you would with a 13-degree solid headstock.
BTW, have you ever seen the headstock on a lute? Talk about a steep angle! That's about 85 degrees, almost a right angle.
I would like to reassure you that after making at least three dozen open headstocks, I have never had, nor heard of any functional problems with them. It is a sound design. And I love making them.
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Old 06-02-2021, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonWint View Post
Are you ESSBA?

Open headstocks, like slotted headstocks, exist to create anxiety in people who are extra-sensitive to string break angles (ESSBA). Those who are ESSBA can certainly hear the difference in the strings with the three different break angles.

Just kidding. I like the traditional (Martin-like) slotted or solid headstock design despite the fact that it forces strings to veer out of line and notwithstanding my 40 years of engineering practice.
You had me worried for a moment there: I migh thave some "condition", that I hadn't heard about.

Actually, I'm not a great fan of solid headstocks that get wider either, esthetically. Some solid headstocks manage to keep the strings pretty close to inline. Edwinson has good examples of that too.
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