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Headplates—Do they affect the tone of the guitar?

Some might find it far-fetched, but there are many established luthiers who give serious credence to the idea the headstock is an important part of…tone production!

The idea is, if there is significant mass and weight, and if the peghead is constructed solidly (usually this means laminated), then it will not move too much. Too much motion means that energy (vibration, sound) is lost. We’d rather have it headed into the tone-producing body via the strings then out the peghead.  Now as with every tonal consideration there is a corresponding structural one. In a nutshell, no one wants to wrestle with a guitar that has a super heavy neck! As usual, it’s a balancing act.

In order to arrive at the proper weight at the headstock you want to consider the size of the tuners, the thickness of the headstock, the headstock design and shape, and the wood choices for the headplate veneer and laminations (if you are using them). The headstock inlay (with the guitar’s brand or luthier’s name) might even be a factor in the sound of the guitar, though this probably has more to do with the luthier’s reputation influencing how you listen to the guitar than the actual weight of the inlay itself! But, that’s a subject for another blog…