Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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Beowulf
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Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by Beowulf » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:31 pm

This was explored briefly over 10 years ago and I am wondering if anybody has discovered anything since then...?

I have only seen a few references to the use of a reduced head stock angle, as in less than 12°-15°:

Two may be found in Roy Courtnall's book, "Making Master Guitars", in the plans for the Hauser and Romanillos guitars.

Hauser...9°

Romanillos: 7°

The other is the report by Yamaha that in the development of the GC71, Segovia advised a reduced head angle for a "milder tone."

Any thoughts on the effects of head angle on the tonal character of the instrument, and does anyone prefer a particular angle?
1971 Yamaha GC-10 (Hideyuki Ezaki)
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Keith
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Re: Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by Keith » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:01 am

This was from 9 years ago so it may count. Al Carruth weighed in so we have an expert opinion

viewtopic.php?t=47140
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Beowulf
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Re: Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by Beowulf » Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:21 am

Keith wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:01 am
This was from 9 years ago so it may count. Al Carruth weighed in so we have an expert opinion

viewtopic.php?t=47140
Interesting...I missed that thread in my search. Still, nothing definitive as to tonal character. I wonder given Segovia's comment and the tonal character of Hauser I's guitars if it does in fact produce a "milder" tone? Certainly it does seem possible that the reduced head/neck angle changes the resonant contribution of those elements to the overall sound of an instrument. I would be surprised if Segovia had not been referring to an audible phenomenon.
1971 Yamaha GC-10 (Hideyuki Ezaki)
2017 Yamaha GC82S (Akio Naniki/Naohiro Kawashima)

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James Lister
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Re: Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by James Lister » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:03 pm

Dare I say that in this case, Segovia was mistaken. As Alan stated in the linked thread, it is difficult to imagine any mechanism by which the head angle could affect the tone of a guitar, provided it's above a certain minimum so that the string is well anchored and cannot move vertically within the nut slot.
Beowulf wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:21 am
Certainly it does seem possible that the reduced head/neck angle changes the resonant contribution of those elements to the overall sound of an instrument.
There will almost certainly be a change in the neck mode frequency, but it would be far too small to be significant. A small change in the density of the neck wood, or the dimensions of the neck would have a greater impact.

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Beowulf
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Re: Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by Beowulf » Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:59 pm

James Lister wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:03 pm
Dare I say that in this case, Segovia was mistaken. As Alan stated in the linked thread, it is difficult to imagine any mechanism by which the head angle could affect the tone of a guitar, provided it's above a certain minimum so that the string is well anchored and cannot move vertically within the nut slot.
Beowulf wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:21 am
Certainly it does seem possible that the reduced head/neck angle changes the resonant contribution of those elements to the overall sound of an instrument.
There will almost certainly be a change in the neck mode frequency, but it would be far too small to be significant. A small change in the density of the neck wood, or the dimensions of the neck would have a greater impact.

James
If that is the case, why does anyone use a head angle greater than 7°-9°? Is this simply a habit, or is there greater ease in construction with a 12°-15° angle?
1971 Yamaha GC-10 (Hideyuki Ezaki)
2017 Yamaha GC82S (Akio Naniki/Naohiro Kawashima)

Matthew Masail
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Re: Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by Matthew Masail » Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:05 pm

For a guitar with slotted head the string tie point is below the face of the head so angles as low as 7° are fine. maybe 6° would be fine too. but for a guitar where the tuners sit about the head plane such as steel string guitar or guitar with peg tuners instead of machine heads the angle of the head must be enough to insure that the strings arrive at the nut at an angle that insures they are well anchored, as James explained. 15° is common.

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Re: Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by Beowulf » Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:54 pm

Matthew Masail wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:05 pm
For a guitar with slotted head the string tie point is below the face of the head so angles as low as 7° are fine. maybe 6° would be fine too. but for a guitar where the tuners sit about the head plane such as steel string guitar or guitar with peg tuners instead of machine heads the angle of the head must be enough to insure that the strings arrive at the nut at an angle that insures they are well anchored, as James explained. 15° is common.
Yes, I can understand that a steel string or peg tuner guitar would require a larger head/neck angle. However, why is 15° common with machine heads when 7° is just fine? The actual break angle of the strings is greater than the head/neck angle and I would think that too great an angle could make tuning a bit "tight". Does anyone angle the nut slots downward towards the tuners to deal with this...or is it an non-issue in practice?

So far, it seems no one has experienced any tone variation related to the string (head/neck) angle...and I guess no one has experimented with different head/neck angles on the same guitar?

I am still left wondering why Hauser and Romanillos chose to use a reduced angle.
1971 Yamaha GC-10 (Hideyuki Ezaki)
2017 Yamaha GC82S (Akio Naniki/Naohiro Kawashima)

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Re: Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by Matthew Masail » Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:09 pm

A reduced angle gives a greater gluing surface for a scraf joint, but as you said 15 works just fine. And Hauser and romanillions eventually both used some form of a V joint so maybe they preferred to make that joint with a lower angle, or they had some other personal reason . I am only making my first guitar but I have been doing repair and setups for a few years and I always angle the nut slot, never had a real issue. As you can tell no real truth is emerging here, I don't believe this is a vital area to explore and practically fine either way.

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Re: Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by James Lister » Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:26 pm

Beowulf wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:54 pm
However, why is 15° common with machine heads when 7° is just fine?
Tradition I suspect - the larger angle was necessary for peg heads, and was just kept by most makers after the switch to machine heads.
Beowulf wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:54 pm
I am still left wondering why Hauser and Romanillos chose to use a reduced angle.
As mentioned above, both used V-joints between the neck and head. With a V-joint, you need a significantly thicker neck blank to allow for the point of the V. The larger the head angle, the thicker the neck blank you need, so a large head angle gets very wasteful. The head angle on my guitars is about 10 degrees - even with that low an angle a 25mm thick neck blank is only just thick enough for a V-joint (although there are a few tricks you can play to gain a couple of millimeters).

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Beowulf
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Re: Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by Beowulf » Tue Jan 08, 2019 7:45 pm

James Lister wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:26 pm
Beowulf wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:54 pm
However, why is 15° common with machine heads when 7° is just fine?
Tradition I suspect - the larger angle was necessary for peg heads, and was just kept by most makers after the switch to machine heads.
I see...so most likely a carryover from an earlier necessity.

Beowulf wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:54 pm
I am still left wondering why Hauser and Romanillos chose to use a reduced angle.
James Lister wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:26 pm
As mentioned above, both used V-joints between the neck and head. With a V-joint, you need a significantly thicker neck blank to allow for the point of the V. The larger the head angle, the thicker the neck blank you need, so a large head angle gets very wasteful. The head angle on my guitars is about 10 degrees - even with that low an angle a 25mm thick neck blank is only just thick enough for a V-joint (although there are a few tricks you can play to gain a couple of millimeters).

James

Thanks...that helps to clarify the use of the reduced angle with a V-joint.

I find a noticeable increase in playing tension "feel" with an increase in break angle at the bridge, so perhaps an increased break angle at the nut leads to a similar change...though admittedly this is subjective. Perhaps with a lower break angle at the nut, this contributes to a slightly looser "feel" to the player and thus to Segovia's impression of a "milder" tone, as contrasted with a "bright, punchy" tone.
1971 Yamaha GC-10 (Hideyuki Ezaki)
2017 Yamaha GC82S (Akio Naniki/Naohiro Kawashima)

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Re: Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by guitarseller345645 » Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:24 am

QUOTE I find a noticeable increase in playing tension "feel" with an increase in break angle at the bridge, so perhaps an increased break angle at the nut leads to a similar change...QUOTE

I too would like to know if head stock angle affects LH playability.

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Re: Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by Michael.N. » Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:10 am

Can't say I've noticed much difference with the lute and that has one severe head angle. Some baroque guitars had a head angle of only 10 degrees, given they had pegs it's effectively not much angle at all. They work fine.
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Re: Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by Alan Carruth » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:04 pm

Trevor Gore points out that reducing the angle of the strings over the nut can reduce the change in tension when the strings are fretted. This is a consequence of the string sliding a little in the nut slot, so that the back strings between the nut and the tuner rollers can stretch a bit. It should also reduce intonation issues, particularly in low positions. For this reason he advocates 'straight pull'.

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Re: Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by Stephen Faulk » Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:51 am

I guess we need to go back and reset the peg boxes on 400 years of lutes and violins then.

I don't think it makes a damn bit of difference. It's just More voodoo mumbo jumbo for players to get worried and obsession bound over. Any angle between 7 and 20 degrees works for pegs or rollers.
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Beowulf
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Re: Revisiting Head Stock Angle

Post by Beowulf » Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:19 am

Stephen Faulk wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:51 am
I guess we need to go back and reset the peg boxes on 400 years of lutes and violins then.

I don't think it makes a damn bit of difference. It's just More voodoo mumbo jumbo for players to get worried and obsession bound over. Any angle between 7 and 20 degrees works for pegs or rollers.
I comprehend your opinion. but disagree that it is, "...just More voodoo mumbo jumbo for players to get worried and obsession bound over."

My question was based upon an interest in deepening knowledge in an area of the art and science of building classical guitars. I am curious, not worried and not obsession bound...not everything is known and curiosity about even the smallest of details can lead to new creations.

This chap may look a bit like me...however he is not me... :mrgreen:
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1971 Yamaha GC-10 (Hideyuki Ezaki)
2017 Yamaha GC82S (Akio Naniki/Naohiro Kawashima)

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