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Unread 03-15-2012, 10:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
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The 17 degree headstock angle

I see this get mentioned in Gibson literature and then in a video with Gibson endorser Jon Schaffer, he comments how the headstock angle is an integral part of the sound.

What exactly does it do? I am very aware of the thin wood between truss rod channel and the outside world. Does the 17 degree angle have anything to do with the fragility?

I was thinking the headstock is angled for string pull, but alot of guitars don't advertise the headstock angle as an integral part of the sound.

Maybe I'm a noob, but a curious one.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 10:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

Quote:
Originally Posted by BentheMighty View Post
I see this get mentioned in Gibson literature and then in a video with Gibson endorser Jon Schaffer, he comments how the headstock angle is an integral part of the sound.

What exactly does it do? I am very aware of the thin wood between truss rod channel and the outside world. Does the 17 degree angle have anything to do with the fragility?

I was thinking the headstock is angled for string pull, but alot of guitars don't advertise the headstock angle as an integral part of the sound.

Maybe I'm a noob, but a curious one.
I am not sure, but apparently the increased angle increases the pressure of the string pushed on the nut, kinda like bring the tail-piece. Gibson advertises it as a plus for sustain.

But this is the very same company that says Nitro Finish is durable lol
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Unread 03-15-2012, 11:01 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

Angling the headstock away from the plane of the fretboard increases pressure between the sting and the nut, the idea being to increase sustain. Look at pictures of medieval and renaissance lutes for an extreme example of this idea.

There's nothing magical about 17 degrees; other makers use less, some use more.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 11:05 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

Just an other myth that has been propagated by cork sniffers
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

I've seen strats that sustain for days, fwiw.

Gibson has no explanation for this phenomenon.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

Headstock angle does make a difference in sustain and tone...

How much though is any voodoo witch doctors guess.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

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Originally Posted by HOT-BRIT View Post
Just an other myth that has been propagated by cork sniffers
Wrong, the 17 degree pitch 'myth' was started by Gibson's designers who designed the LP (Les did not) and was a part of the original design. If people would do their research and read books they wouldn't need to ask these questions.
Robb Lawrence has done two definitive books on the Les Paul. He was a personal friend of Les, interviewed many people including Ted McCarty, Del Casher and other famous LP users/performers. His first covers the original LP years and Les's early years as well up to '63. The second covers the '68 to 2009 period (and Les's life & death during these times). Very good reading, very informative, direct from the source(s), and some beautiful shots of LP guitars from all eras.
I highly recommend these 2 books if you're limited in which to buy.

Others include....
1. 50 years of the Gibson Les Paul (OK but not as good or informative - more like a summary than details)
2. BOTB is a picture gallery of original 58,59 & 60 LPs with measurements and the author's views on why the guitar is so special. Some interesting theories and reading.
3. Paul Balmer's Les Paul Book (some info on the Epi & Gibson models) but a good manual for setup and care info as well. All specific to the LP
4. D Erlewine Guitar Player Repair Guide - not LP or even Gibson specific, covers what Dan calls the Big Three Fender, Martin & Gibson with setup care and maintenance information on electrics & accoustics.

I own all these manuals and they beat the heck out of half remembered, mis-quoted factoids often called up on this forum.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

I've measured my Epi Gold Top hearstock at 10 degrees, and it sustains as well as any guitar that I own. That includes a couple of Gibsons. I really think that it's a gimmick worked out between Gibson and the nut lube manufacturers.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:27 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

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Originally Posted by RayL View Post
But this is the very same company that says Nitro Finish is durable lol
It is. If I compare my 20-year-old LP to many pieces of furniture I've had, that've taken no abuse, it's in fantastic shape. Yes, 1/8" of plastic like on my Epi is even more durable, but it doesn't compare in the looks department.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

It could increase sustain but so does the pickup rings () and my firebird doesnt have a 17 degree headstock angle and it resonates like a grand piano
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:38 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenG View Post
Wrong, the 17 degree pitch 'myth' was started by Gibson's designers who designed the LP (Les did not) and was a part of the original design. If people would do their research and read books they wouldn't need to ask these questions.
Robb Lawrence has done two definitive books on the Les Paul. He was a personal friend of Les, interviewed many people including Ted McCarty, Del Casher and other famous LP users/performers. His first covers the original LP years and Les's early years as well up to '63. The second covers the '68 to 2009 period (and Les's life & death during these times). Very good reading, very informative, direct from the source(s), and some beautiful shots of LP guitars from all eras.
I highly recommend these 2 books if you're limited in which to buy.

Others include....
1. 50 years of the Gibson Les Paul (OK but not as good or informative - more like a summary than details)
2. BOTB is a picture gallery of original 58,59 & 60 LPs with measurements and the author's views on why the guitar is so special. Some interesting theories and reading.
3. Paul Balmer's Les Paul Book (some info on the Epi & Gibson models) but a good manual for setup and care info as well. All specific to the LP
4. D Erlewine Guitar Player Repair Guide - not LP or even Gibson specific, covers what Dan calls the Big Three Fender, Martin & Gibson with setup care and maintenance information on electrics & accoustics.

I own all these manuals and they beat the heck out of half remembered, mis-quoted factoids often called up on this forum.
Thanks Ken.
I have been reading books 3 + 4. Great stuff. Been trying to avoid getting BOTB. Looking at those pics hurts my wallet. But I definitely want to read the two Robb Lawrence books. I had heard them mentioned before but couldn't recall the name.

Thanks again.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:46 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

I would imagine that the headstock was originally angled in order to provide proper string tension over the nut. On an unangled headstock, the strings would be more likely to slip out of their grooves on the nut during play (part of the reason for the string trees on Fender guitars). I wouldn't think that sustain would be a consideration, but I'd like to hear the opinion of some luthiers on that issue.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:50 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

Thanks for the info. I like how forums like this have experts that are so free with their knowledge. I learn new stuff almost every time I log on haha.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:55 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

Just a thought. The Japanese keep making V-twin bikes that look more and more like Harleys every year, but since they can't build the V-twin engine with the same angle, they never sound quite like a Harley.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:58 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

17 is a prime number.
1,2,3,5,7 area also prime numbers but they are too shallow for a tilted headstock.
13 is a good angle for a headstock but 13 is a "scary" prime number.
19, 23, 27, etc are too steep to be practical.
That leaves 17.
Science at your service
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Unread 03-15-2012, 01:01 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenG View Post
Wrong, the 17 degree pitch 'myth' was started by Gibson's designers who designed the LP (Les did not) and was a part of the original design. If people would do their research and read books they wouldn't need to ask these questions.
Robb Lawrence has done two definitive books on the Les Paul. He was a personal friend of Les, interviewed many people including Ted McCarty, Del Casher and other famous LP users/performers. His first covers the original LP years and Les's early years as well up to '63. The second covers the '68 to 2009 period (and Les's life & death during these times). Very good reading, very informative, direct from the source(s), and some beautiful shots of LP guitars from all eras.
I highly recommend these 2 books if you're limited in which to buy.

Others include....
1. 50 years of the Gibson Les Paul (OK but not as good or informative - more like a summary than details)
2. BOTB is a picture gallery of original 58,59 & 60 LPs with measurements and the author's views on why the guitar is so special. Some interesting theories and reading.
3. Paul Balmer's Les Paul Book (some info on the Epi & Gibson models) but a good manual for setup and care info as well. All specific to the LP
4. D Erlewine Guitar Player Repair Guide - not LP or even Gibson specific, covers what Dan calls the Big Three Fender, Martin & Gibson with setup care and maintenance information on electrics & accoustics.

I own all these manuals and they beat the heck out of half remembered, mis-quoted factoids often called up on this forum.
Well, if it's in print, it must be true, right? I'm sure your books thoroughly examined the hundreds of hours of conversations between Les Paul, Paul Bigsby, and Leo Fender that took place when the three of them were working together to perfect the solidbody guitar...err, I mean...when they were drinking buddies.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 01:21 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

They're just trying to make a major design flaw sound like it's a plus to keep the sniffers happy.
They adderssed this issue in the '70's with the laminated maple necks with valutes, but the purests were all up in arms about it so, they switched back.
I have only seen one broken HS on a laminated maple neck, and hundreds on the one piece mahogany necks.

Guess what neck this LP has?

Valute



jump to 8:00 in the video...
NO broken HS


Last edited by TKOjams; 03-15-2012 at 02:04 PM.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 01:36 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

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They're just trying to make a major design flaw sound like it's a plus to keep the sniffers happy.
They adderssed this issue in the '70's with the laminated maple necks with valutes, but the purests were all up in arms about so they switched back.
I have only seen one broken HS on a laminated maple neck, and hundreds on the one piece mahogany necks.
I spose "design flaw" is the best way to describe it, but to be fair, it's a very old design flaw, predating Gibson by hundreds of years. That said, now that they're stuck with it, it's pretty funny to see the ad copy they come up with, and how readily the public will accept it as fact.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 01:56 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

post 17 edited...
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Unread 03-15-2012, 02:00 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

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Originally Posted by GitFiddle View Post
Just a thought. The Japanese keep making V-twin bikes that look more and more like Harleys every year, but since they can't build the V-twin engine with the same angle, they never sound quite like a Harley.
But an Xr1000 and a Ducati 750ss sound suspiciously alike...
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Unread 03-15-2012, 02:03 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

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Originally Posted by TKOjams View Post
post 17 edited...
I love the bit where he's pounding the guitar against the stage. Try doing that to a '58.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 02:30 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

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I love the bit where he's pounding the guitar against the stage. Try doing that to a '58.
I would be willing to bet that a one piece Mahogany neck wouldn't even survive the banging on the stage without breaking. Nevermind being thrown across the stage at the cymbal.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 02:41 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

Quote:
Originally Posted by keng View Post
wrong, the 17 degree pitch 'myth' was started by gibson's designers who designed the lp (les did not) and was a part of the original design. If people would do their research and read books they wouldn't need to ask these questions.
Robb lawrence has done two definitive books on the les paul. He was a personal friend of les, interviewed many people including ted mccarty, del casher and other famous lp users/performers. His first covers the original lp years and les's early years as well up to '63. The second covers the '68 to 2009 period (and les's life & death during these times). Very good reading, very informative, direct from the source(s), and some beautiful shots of lp guitars from all eras.
I highly recommend these 2 books if you're limited in which to buy.

Others include....
1. 50 years of the gibson les paul (ok but not as good or informative - more like a summary than details)
2. Botb is a picture gallery of original 58,59 & 60 lps with measurements and the author's views on why the guitar is so special. Some interesting theories and reading.
3. Paul balmer's les paul book (some info on the epi & gibson models) but a good manual for setup and care info as well. All specific to the lp
4. D erlewine guitar player repair guide - not lp or even gibson specific, covers what dan calls the big three fender, martin & gibson with setup care and maintenance information on electrics & accoustics.

I own all these manuals and they beat the heck out of half remembered, mis-quoted factoids often called up on this forum.
i think you did not understand me but the myth is how much detectable difference the 17 degree headstock angle makes if any to the sound the guitar generates, if any one can detect any difference in a blind test then they have better hearing than me
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Unread 03-15-2012, 03:57 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

Does the 17 degree angle have anything to do with the fragility? It has EVERYTHING to do with its fragility and is the sole reason why they break so easily.

Do a Google image search for "broken headstock" and you will notice the majority are Gibsons.

That said, the 17 degree headstock looks great. One just needs to be careful with ones guitars.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 04:01 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Exclamation Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

Quote:
Originally Posted by cynic79 View Post
I would imagine that the headstock was originally angled in order to provide proper string tension over the nut. On an unangled headstock, the strings would be more likely to slip out of their grooves on the nut during play (part of the reason for the string trees on Fender guitars). I wouldn't think that sustain would be a consideration, but I'd like to hear the opinion of some luthiers on that issue.
This.
Fenders use string trees, instead.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 04:04 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Exclamation Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

Quote:
Originally Posted by GitFiddle View Post
Just a thought. The Japanese keep making V-twin bikes that look more and more like Harleys every year, but since they can't build the V-twin engine with the same angle, they never sound quite like a Harley.
They duplicated everything...Harley sued and Harley lost.
The reasoning behind the difference in Vee angle is compression of stroke, not the sound - it is engine efficiency.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 04:56 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

I thought it was a design that Epiphone had and used on their old hollow bodies.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 05:01 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

Quote:
Originally Posted by TKOjams View Post
They're just trying to make a major design flaw sound like it's a plus to keep the sniffers happy.
They adderssed this issue in the '70's with the laminated maple necks with valutes, but the purests were all up in arms about it so, they switched back.
I have only seen one broken HS on a laminated maple neck, and hundreds on the one piece mahogany necks.

Guess what neck this LP has?

Valute

http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/memb...3-untitled.png

jump to 8:00 in the video...
NO broken HS

Wont Get Fooled Again - YouTube
Sorry but you're coming across as another A-hole. Just because someone prefers the design of the original to the Norlin doesn't make them a cork sniffer anymore than someone who prefers Norlins is to be bashed. Grow up.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 05:09 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

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Originally Posted by mudfinger View Post
Well, if it's in print, it must be true, right? I'm sure your books thoroughly examined the hundreds of hours of conversations between Les Paul, Paul Bigsby, and Leo Fender that took place when the three of them were working together to perfect the solidbody guitar...err, I mean...when they were drinking buddies.
They are not MY books & I'd take the years of research done by Robb Lawrence over the say so of most of the members on this forum! Sorry if that seems weird! Have you even read his books? Where did you hear that Leo collaberated with Les Paul? It was only after the Leo's Broadcaster came out that Gibson decided to design a solid body. And the fact is it's generally accepted that Gibson came to Les with a complete design for his endorsement. Les asked for the Trap Tailpiece and the Gold Colour as Gibson was actually normally doing bursts on their other models.

No offense intended to Mr Les Paul who was a talented player & real pioneer in recording techniques, but he wasn't perfect and many have said he was know to spin some tall tales or exaggerate at times.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 06:15 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: The 17 degree headstock angle

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Originally Posted by KenG View Post
They are not MY books & I'd take the years of research done by Robb Lawrence over the say so of most of the members on this forum! Sorry if that seems weird! Have you even read his books? Where did you hear that Leo collaberated with Les Paul? It was only after the Leo's Broadcaster came out that Gibson decided to design a solid body. And the fact is it's generally accepted that Gibson came to Les with a complete design for his endorsement. Les asked for the Trap Tailpiece and the Gold Colour as Gibson was actually normally doing bursts on their other models.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I'm familiar with Lawrence, who is essentially rehashing the same story already told years ago by guys like Tom Wheeler.

I don't remember the first time I heard about Paul, Leo, and Les being drinking buddies; several times over the years, when talking to local old-timers, including one guy who claimed to be related to Paul. He had a couple of very nice Bigsby guitars, that guy.

I actually read about it for the first time just a few years ago, in a news article (LA Times, I think...). And even later, in a book entitled: "The Story of Paul Bigsby: The Father of the Modern Electric Solidbody Guitar".

You don't give nearly enough credit to Les. He built one of the earliest solidbody electric guitars ever made out of a 4x4 and Epiphone parts. This was in the 1940s. He invented the concept of multitrack recording using synchronized discs, then designed, engineered, and built one of the first multi-track tape recorders ever. After he was done with all that, he went on to pioneer the use of echo and flanging. Also made hit records.
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