The aesthetics of headless guitars are debated over nearly as much as tonewood, but there’s a lot more to the discussion than looks. 

What’s the point of a headless guitar? What purpose does it serve? Why even go headless? You may be surprised that their popularity doesn’t just lie in an aesthetic trend, but in practicality too.

Ergonomics

You’ve likely heard the term “neck-heavy” when talking about a beefy guitar like an SG or Les Paul before. These are guitars that tend to tilt when you’re wearing a strap, causing the headstock to point down toward the floor.

This can feel very unbalanced and be a bit annoying any time you take your hands off the guitar to grab or move something, but the biggest issue is the strain it puts on your body!

Even if a guitar isn’t neck-heavy you’re putting a substantial amount of weight on your strap-shoulder. Removing the headstock not only eliminates any potential of being neck-heavy, it also makes the entire instrument lighter.

If you’ve got shoulder issue, back issues, or are just smart enough to prevent them before they happen, headless guitars are a life saver!

Practicality

Right off the bat everyone always asks “Where do the tuners go?”

Easy, they’re by the bridge now. You know how some tremolo-equipped guitars have fine tuners on the bridge for making minor adjustments to tuning? It’s the same idea.

It’s a small improvement, but never having to move your picking hand off of the bridge to play or tune is really quite handy – no pun intended.

Tone

While you may not hear a major tonal change overall, one thing that will change is the tone between your open notes and your fretted notes.

For those unfamiliar with the zero fret, it’s a guitar design choice that makes your open notes sound just like your fretted notes. Fretted notes sound different because they are resting on metal (a fret) while your open notes are resting on plastic (the nut).

This is why there is a slight tonal difference when playing an open note. It’s similar to the experience of using a brass nut instead of a bone nut, all of a sudden it’s got a very bright tone because it’s metal, much like your frets.

Headless guitars are quite similar as they have no nut, it’s not necessary. You get more similar sounding open and fretted notes as well as improved intonation.

Portability

Chopping off that headstock means a shorter guitar without sacrificing the scale length. You can keep a 25.5’’ guitar while still making it the size of a 3/4 scale.

This reduced size results in increased portability. If you’re a touring musician who doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to hook up your rig to practice on the road this is a fantastic solution to your problem.

Even if you’re no professional, the portability factor is great for vacations or keeping at the office during downtime!

Some models even shave off more of the body so that it’s no thicker than the neck itself. These guitars can get TINY and even hide in a suitcase – what’s not to love about convenience?

New Possibilities

If you hate the look of them, that’s fine, buy the guitar you like the look of. But these are just a few of the benefits that headless guitars have, and innovation should always be explored.

I won’t suggest chopping off the headstock on your 1960 Les Paul, but if you’re looking for something new to try we highly recommend sitting down with one of these curious creations!

About The Author