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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

As you may know, Sperzel tuners have staggered heigts to eliminate the need for a string tree. You can see that here:



But what I think is interesting is that there are nevertheless many guitars around which either have string trees or tilted headstocks, regardless of the staggered heights of the Sperzels. Like for instance this Carvin:



And Suhrs are interesting as well, seeing that not only do they have slightly titled headstocks but they also appear to use non-standard heights for the G and D strings. You can see that very well here:



So I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts at all about this particular thing? I mean is it so that you just need a string tree or a titled headstock even though the tuners are staggered? Or is it just a matter of personal preference? Or do some people tilt the headstock purely to increase sustain?

Any input would be appreciated. :)

Thanks,
Myst
 

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As far as I know, the headstock is tilted to add tuning stability but not for increasing sustain (I could be wrong though). I also have seen some guitars that have the staggered tuners in reverse order to compensate for the tilted headstock and achieve the same tuning stability you'd get with simply a set of staggered tuners.

Which makes me thing about my American Standard that's 20yrs old... Last time I changed the strings, I didn't recall the tuners being staggered but, there were string trees. Now, on my strat plus, I believe the schaller locking tuners are staggered but I'm going to have to double check on that when I get home...

Jimmy:smile:
 

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Staggered tuners, string trees, and tilted headstocks are all about getting the right string angle over the nut. Whether the tuners alone get enough angle (and enough angle is somewhat subjective) depends on a number of things like the headstock size and shape. You need enough angle to keep the vibrating string contact point at the front of the nut where it belongs. Sometimes tuners alone are enough, but not always. People will argue forever over whether there are other benefits to a particular string angle, such as different sustain. Some of those arguments have merit, many do not.

More often, the combination used has more to do with aesthetics and habit more than any functional purpose. Staggered tuners are often swapped onto existing guitars with trees or tilted headstocks as replacements -- even though not necessary. Getting rid of string trees on non-locking-nut guitars can only help though.
 

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I used staggered Sperzels on a lot of my guitars. On the straight headstock ones, the break angle over the nut is marginal for the high E and B, even with the shorter tuners. On one guitar, I had a very "pingy" high E and did have to go ahead and add a string tree. I didn't want to do that because one of the main benefits of locking tuners is eliminating any bind points between the nut and tuner -- having a tree introduces another possible bind point. But... I lube everything (nut, tree and bridge) with Nut Sauce and it works pretty well.

That Suhr pic is interesting --- looks like he wanted a sharper break angle for the D and G and went with the E/B height tuners for those as well. Like others said, the need to do that would depend on many things, including the height of the headstock face relative to the nut position. Adding an 1/8" laminate would raise the face up and reduce the angle, unless you compensated by milling the face down before adding the laminate.

Cheers,
Bert

(Edit: BTW, I believe the Eric Johnson strat uses staggered tuners. But they also modified the neck/headstock joint so that the plane of the headstock sits a bit lower relative to the neck plane than does a normal strat. With both features (staggered height + dropped headstock), he's able to do without string trees.
 

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Keep in mind Carvin designed most of their headstock/neck configurations before they ever started using Sperzel's. They're not going to reprogram all their CNC machines just because of the new tuners.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Do you guys think one would need a string tree if you'd put Sperzels on a JS neck, like the one on the new JS1600? Which doesn't have a locking nut? Or would the angle be just fine?

 

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The JS1600 allready has locking tuners (the Planet Waves ones I think). If you want to chage them to Sperzels anyway, I don't think you need stagered ones, since it has the string tree already...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
The JS1600 allready has locking tuners (the Planet Waves ones I think). If you want to chage them to Sperzels anyway, I don't think you need stagered ones, since it has the string tree already...
No, the reason I've posted this thread (and a few others like the '1 piece vs. 2 piece bodies' thread) is because my next guitar will be custom guitar that I've 'designed' from scratch. I'm getting it made real soon. It's going to have a headstock just like the one on the JS that I posted. And it will have Sperzels and a non locking nut which is similar to the one on the JS.
 

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Hey, what excactly is a pingy E?
I've found that there is a certain diagnostic sound associated with a weak break angle over the nut. There's an obvious lack of sustain, along with these feint, high-pitched harmonics that I think come from the string actually vibrating behind the nut. It's reminiscent of the sound you get when you pluck the stings between the nut and tuners.

Regarding the JS1600 -- I've had it go both ways with straight Ibanez headstocks. Like I said, I think it depends largely on where the plane of the headstock sits relative to the plane of the neck and the nut. I'd try it first with just the staggered tuners -- you can always add the string tree later if necessary. That's an easy job.

Bert

Edit: another afterthought... As an example of a straight headstock that needs a string tree -- for some mysterious reason that I've never figured out, the old RT650 can't get by with just staggered tuners. It really needs a string tree. Without it, you get both the pingy sounds plus the high-E has an annoying tendency to pop out of the nut (even when the nut is well cut). In contrast, the non-locking Radius models (542R and 442R) do fine without a tree. But now that I look at the Radius, I see that there may be a very slight back-tilt on the headstock -- nothing close to the angle of some models, maybe just 2-3 degrees. That seems to be enough to remedy the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I've found that there is a certain diagnostic sound associated with a weak break angle over the nut. There's an obvious lack of sustain, along with these feint, high-pitched harmonics that I think come from the string actually vibrating behind the nut. It's reminscent of the sound you get when you pluck the stings between the nut and tuners.
That's interesting. I've heard someone say once that he had that sound coming from his Suhr guitar. It became especially apparent when playing at high volumes.

Regarding the JS1600 -- I've had it go both ways with straight Ibanez headstocks. Like I said, I think it depends largely on where the plane of the headstock sits relative to the plane of the neck and the nut. I'd try it first with just the staggered tuners -- you can always add the string tree later if necessary. That's an easy job.

Bert
I see. Well, then I'll just have to see what the luthier in question will find. If a string tree ends up being needed, I'll just have him install a self-lubricating one:

http://www.graphtech.com/products.html?SubCategoryID=61

They've got teflon in it. So there'll be way less friction. :)

Thanks again, Bert! :)
 

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Do you guys think one would need a string tree if you'd put Sperzels on a JS neck, like the one on the new JS1600? Which doesn't have a locking nut? Or would the angle be just fine?
On a JS style neck, 100% absolutely you need the tree. The drop from the nut to the tuners is huge on a JS neck. Without the tree you'd have the stings entering the pegs at an angle that would likely result in strings breaking really often.
 

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On a JS style neck, 100% absolutely you need the tree. The drop from the nut to the tuners is huge on a JS neck. Without the tree you'd have the stings entering the pegs at an angle that would likely result in strings breaking really often.
I own a JS guitar and have to agree that the angle is is far too steep to trade the tree for the lockers.

not to say that it wouldn't work... but for the JS series guitars the string tree seems to be the most suitable option.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I've been looking around on the internet for photo's of guitars with straight headstocks and Sperzels and every one of them had a tree.

I think you guys are right; a tree will probably be needed. I don't mind, really. It looks cool. :wink: But I'll see what the luthier will say.

Thanks again.
 

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I have a JS6 with Sperzels and no tree. Yeah, I know, it's worth $$$ now, but I just found that out a few weeks ago and been playing the Sperzels for years without the tree. (I hope I have the original tuners in case I ever want to sell it!) I don't notice any weird harmonics/sounds coming from above the nut, but then my hearing probably isn't as fine as other's.

The reason I put Sperzels on it in the first place was because it wouldn't stay in tune, which was for a fixed bridge, none-the-less. Even the Sperzels didn't help til I figured out that since it was always going out of tune on the sharp side, that it was because the strings were getting 'caught' under the string tree. (Is there a lube for that?) Took it off and it stays in tune beautifully.

My strings don't break and they don't come out of the nut either, but I don't string bend every other note, but I do bend. (Never bend out on the high E, but I suppose no one does.)

Don't know if this'll help or hinder your quest, but it's one man's experience.

Good Luck and post a pic when it's done.
 
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