GV Blog – Headless guitars… but why?

Everybody talks about them. But what are they? Are they any better? And the most frequent questions: Why would anybody want one? …but mostly…  Do I want one?

         Headless guitars (and basses) aren’t a new thing. They’ve existed since the eighties. Father of these strange guitars was Ned Steinberger. If you think they’re weird, just imagine how they were perceived in the 80’s.
          Like them or not, they’re back. “Bigger” and better than ever before. Here at GV guitars, we also have a headless model called Syrius. Are you interested in headless guitars? Do you want to know more? In this article we will go through the most frequent questions regarding this engineered piece of art.

sting with steinberger headless bass
We know Sting mostly playing his P-bass, here you can see him with his headless bass

Why do most guitars have headstock?

           First guitars were almost entirely made of wood. To create the tension needed for the strings, some kind of mechanics had to be invented. The first tuners were basically just wooden pins. These pins were traditionally placed in the headstock. Creating bridge tuners back then was very hard, or even impossible. This is why our brain tells us, that  guitars must have a headstock. 

medieval lute with wooden tuners
medieval lute with wooden tuners

Why do some guitars have no headstock?

          Not having a headstock became a thing in the 70’s and 80’s when electric guitars were very popular. Most luthiers and designers started to scrape down the instrument as much as possible. This procedure involved breaking most traditions. Thus, it included omitting the headstock, too. Most of these new design guitars were really radical. Nowadays headless instruments are not only functional, but they can be aesthetically pleasing, too. So today,  not having a headstock is mostly a design choice. But, it also has it’s benefits.  for exaple, they are lighter than common guitars, which is an important aspect of an ergonomic guitar. 

headless monorail by ABM müller
headless monorail by ABM müller

Are headless guitars better?

          Not necessarily. They are just different. Less traditional, more progressive and modern. More manufacturers include headless instruments into their repertoire, GV guitars are no exception.  We already mentioned our headless model, called Syrius

Syrius banner headlessRUN
GV guitars' Syrius - Eternal

Are there any benefits to a headless guitar?

          Without the weight of a headstock (and tuners!) … it can be lighter, but at least it can have a very differently placed center of gravity. The lack of weight at the headstock means that if the guitar should fall down, there is much less momentum being built up, and the odds of the guitar surviving the fall without damage are higher. Also, there is no headstock which could break off.
          With less weight you’ll have less pressure on your shoulder while wearing a strap. 

How does a headless guitar work?

Unlike on common guitars, where the tuners are placed on the headstock, on a headless guitar or bass the strings are fixed just beyond the nut, so there is no head necessary. The strings then go over the nut, up the neck, over the bridge, and are connected to tuners on the body. This allows easier and quicker string changes. No more fiddling with strings around the tuners. Just insert the string into the bridge piece and tighten it with a hex-wrench at the other end. Also  fine-tuning the pitch is a lot more effortless.


Are headless guitars more travel friendly?

          Yes, they can be. No headstock means shorter instrument, which makes it easier to manipulate and to carry around. And, as it was already mentioned, the head part is less fragile. Headless guitars usually also have smaller body shapes too, which makes them even more compact.

Who uses headless guitars?

Yvette Young with her headless guitar
Yvette Young with her headless guitar

          Current virtuosos like Yvette Young, Plini Marshall both favour these instruments. But legendary musicians like Mark Knopfler, Allan Holdsworth, Eddie Van Halen and Sting have all used headless guitars, too.

intervals plini headless
Intervals' Plini Marshall playing his headless guitar

Hope we were able to introduce you to the “headless world”, and now you understand what is the difference between standard and headless guitars.

Do you agree with article? Do you own a headless guitar/bass, what is your experience?

Feel free to comment down below.

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