The 17 degree headstock angle

Discussion in 'Gibson Les Pauls' started by BentheMighty, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. BentheMighty

    BentheMighty Senior Member

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    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.
     
  2. RayL

    RayL Senior Member

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    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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  3. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories! V.I.P. Member

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    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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  4. HOT-BRIT

    HOT-BRIT V.I.P. Member

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    Just an other myth that has been propagated by cork sniffers
     
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  5. Ginger Beer

    Ginger Beer Senior Member

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

    Gibson has no explanation for this phenomenon.
     
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  6. Daniel

    Daniel Banned

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

    How much though is any voodoo witch doctors guess.
     
  7. KenG

    KenG Senior Member

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    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.
    :slash:
     
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  8. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Senior Member

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    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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  9. River

    River Senior Member

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    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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  10. voodo child

    voodo child Senior Member

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    It could increase sustain but so does the pickup rings :)thumb:) and my firebird doesnt have a 17 degree headstock angle and it resonates like a grand piano :applause:
     
  11. GitFiddle

    GitFiddle Premium Member

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    Thanks Ken. :thumb:
    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. :thumb:
     
  12. cynic79

    cynic79 Senior Member

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    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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  13. BentheMighty

    BentheMighty Senior Member

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    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.
     
  14. GitFiddle

    GitFiddle Premium Member

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    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. :cool:
     
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  15. daddyo

    daddyo Senior Member

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    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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  16. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories! V.I.P. Member

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    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. :thumb:
     
  17. TKOjams

    TKOjams Senior Member

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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 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

    [​IMG]

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

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rp6-wG5LLqE[/ame]
     
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  18. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories! V.I.P. Member

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    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. :laugh2:
     
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  19. TKOjams

    TKOjams Senior Member

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    post 17 edited...
     
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  20. Robert Arthur

    Robert Arthur Senior Member

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    But an Xr1000 and a Ducati 750ss sound suspiciously alike...
     

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