Headstock Relief Angle?

Brian asked 9 months ago

What’s the best headstock back relief angle that ensures the strings are tight against the nut but doesn’t make it difficult to tune the guitar, or risk breaking strings around a sharp angle?

1 Answers
Westfarthing Woodworks answered 9 months ago

There really isn’t a best headstock angle, but there are a lot of thoughts on any one or another is the best.

Most guitars are made with an angle somewhere around 15 degrees, but not much over that.

Anything over 15 degrees will cause too much of a corner for the string to have to travel around when you are tuning the guitar. This can cause a pinch point while playing as well, and can lead to broken strings.

Too shallow of an angle, and you will not get enough downward pressure to hold the string against the nut.

This part is really important, because the nut and the saddle determine the scale length, and if it’s wrong, you will be playing out of tune.

Strings that do not have enough downward pressure due to a poor headstock angle don’t terminate at the nut as well, and they can cause sound issues with the guitar.

I recommend 15 degrees for your acoustic guitars, and if you already cut it too shallow, just buy some string trees or string retainers for the headstock that will pull the strings down more before they hut the tuners.

These are common on electric guitars, but not as much on acoustic guitars. However, if you don’t want to make another neck, you have to do what you have to do.

Happy building.

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