5 Best Tips for Making an Acoustic Guitar Headstock

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This is the 5 Best Tips for Making an Acoustic Guitar Headstock. In this post I’ll show you several ways that you can make your headstock even better, and easier too.

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Acoustic Guitar Headstock

5-Best-Tips-for-Making-an-Acoustic-Guitar-HeadstockThe acoustic guitar headstock is one of the areas where you can have a little fun with the design of your guitar in a relatively safe way. While you don’t want to go nuts of course, you can have a little fun and have a headstock that still works really well.

Most acoustic guitar makers have a custom headstock. This is in line with all of the different manufacturers that mass produce their guitars. The headstock becomes an icon, and you can tell who’s guitar you’re looking at from across the room.

As a beginner, I’ll show you a few tips that can help you when it comes time to making your headstock on your acoustic guitar. They will help you have an easier time, and I’ll show you everything you need to know.

See Also: Acoustic Guitar Making For Beginners

Start With a Classic Design

One of the absolute best things you can do as a beginner is to start out with a classic design. The design becomes classic because it stands up to the test of time, and all the minor revisions that need to happen in order to perfect its function.

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You get all of the benefit of the years and years of refinement simply by using this classic design as a base for you to design your own headstock. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, start on a very solid foundation.

Thankfully, with so many different guitar headstock styles in production, they’re surely something that’s pretty darn close to what you are interested in making. Study it, and understand how it works.

The more you know about classic design, the better you’ll be able to create your own designs.

See Also: How to Design a Custom Headstock and Why You Should

Work Out Custom Designs on Paper First

If you are going to go with a completely custom design for your acoustic guitar headstock, then you absolutely need to work out the design on paper first. This gives you a chance to work out any bugs before you start cutting pieces of wood.

Also, work out the details at a full-size scale. Don’t even bother with drawing miniature versions of a headstock, because you really can’t see exactly what’s going to happen. With anything experimental, you want to minimize the chance of making a mistake.

Create the headstock and the neck as a full-size drawing, and then place the tuners on your drawing and start drawing the location of the strings and the nut. Make sure everything works, and that it all makes sense before moving onto building that headstock from wood.

See Also: How to Make an Acoustic Guitar Series – Part Twenty One – Designing the Headstock

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Make the Headstock Large Enough

A big mistake that a lot of new guitar makers fall into is that they make the headstock far too small to function properly. While a small headstock can look really cool, it can also be sometimes difficult to get all of the tuners in place.

You also eliminate some of the advantages of having a heavier headstock, and those include reducing vibration loss at the neck. A heavier headstock is harder to move around, so you lose less vibrational energy by having a bigger headstock.

In fact, if you make your headstock a little larger, or you add some weight to your headstock, you’ll notice a difference in the tone of the instrument. The vibration will last longer, and you won’t lose as much as the neck waggles out into space.

See Also: 50 Things I Wish I Knew When I started Making Guitars

Don’t Over Angle the Headstock

Another thing to be careful about is your head stock angle. Most heads stocks are angled backwards, and that helps create a termination point for the string as it passes over the nut.

This is half of what sets your scale length, the other being the saddle at the bridge. You need a good angle so that the strings don’t vibrate past the termination points. However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

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When it comes to the back angle on your headstock, don’t go past 15 degrees. This is a maximum angle that is more than enough to terminate the strings, and the headstock will be able to perform his job perfectly.

Anything over 15° becomes difficult to tune, because the strings will want to get stuck in the nut as they turn the corner. On the opposite side, if you go to shallow, you might have some problems with the strings not sounding quite the way you had hoped.

See Also: Headstock Relief Angle?

Use a Drilling Jig for the Tuner Holes

Finally, drilling the holes for your tuning machines can be a little bit of a stressful process, so I definitely recommend using a jig. Even if you have to make this jig yourself, if it saves you from messing up your headstock, then it’s definitely worth the time.

You would be surprised how difficult it is to drill six holes in six precise locations. Especially when those holes need to be symmetrical, or lined up with each other, the challenge compounds itself even farther.

Don’t take any chances, and instead create a jig that you can clamp to your headstock, and then drill your holes using the guide. It will make the process a lot faster, easier, and your results will be a lot more symmetrical.

See Also: 1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners

Your Action Assignment

Now that you know these amazing tips on making a headstock, get out into your shop and start building. Take action on what you have read, and turn those thoughts of making it a guitar into reality.

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Making a guitar is not really that difficult. If you’ve made other things before, you’re more than likely have all the skills you need to make an excellent guitar. The only thing you need to do is start, and that’s the most important part.

If you have any questions about these tips on making a guitar headstock, please post a question and I’ll be happy to answer them. Happy building.

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  • More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
  • 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
  • Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
Buy My Books on Amazon

I receive Commissions for Purchases Made Through the Links in This Post.

 

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