Headless Guitar Design Alternative – Scott French

Headless guitars lend themselves to ergonomic design through their potential to improve instrument balance and centralize weight closer to the guitarist’s body where it is more easily carried. Unfortunately, headless guitar parts are limited in choice, tend to be expensive and even hard to source. (Read more about some options at Headless Guitar Resources.)

For example, I purchased a Musicyo Steinberger in order to obtain the neck, headpiece and bridge necessary for guitar build #1. Because of these issues, I’ve been seeking out examples of headless guitar design alternatives that might provide interesting approaches. See the Related Posts section at the end of this post for more.

Like the TK Instruments guitar seen previously in Alternative Headless Guitar Design – TK Instruments, Scott French’s design moves the tuners down by the bridge and the ball ends of the strings are retained where the headstock would normally be. This general approach uses conventional strings and opens up the opportunity to use a wider variety of necks and bridges.

Scott French Headless Electric Guitar Full

Scott French’s SF3 Travel Guitar adds an additional detail to the solution by retaining the strings with a through-the-“headstock” design as seen here:

Scott French Headless Travel Guitar Headstock Detail

This string retention solution, although a bit more involved to implement than a locking nut, has the advantage of quick string changes without the need for tools. Feed the string through the ferrules and pass the end down to the Steinberger tuners that pass through the guitar body. The solution is both simple and elegant.

This general approach is one to keep in mind for a future guitar build. For more on the design, visit the SF3 Travel Guitar at Scott’s site.

Scott French Headless Electric Guitar Front
Scott French Headless Electric Travel Guitar Back.jpg

18 Responses to “Headless Guitar Design Alternative – Scott French”

  1. Hey! You messaged me on The Gear Page a while back about a design I posted on the Project Guitar forum.

    The other day my boss found an old Arbor Stiletto in a locker in his building and gave it to me. It’s a Steinberger style, but looks like it was made from a carved up Jackson Soloist copy. The tuners run along the rear of the body, while the headpiece is a very simple design. I’ll take some pictures and link them later. It’s a pretty cool setup, one I may swipe when I get around to building my design.

  2. Great to hear from you! I remember coming across your design idea soon after joining Project Guitar Forum. It looked very interesting. Let me know when you have some pics of this one. I’d love to take a look.

  3. Hi, Robert – sorry not to have posted for so long. Your near-finished project looks amazing, and it’s a real inspiration to me to get on with my doubleneck project!

    So much so that my Steinberger Spirit arrives tomorrow, and the screwdriver is ready to discover its secrets… and it will become one-quarter of my doubleneck project.

    The problem I’m trying to solve with the other three-quarters is very much the ergonomic one of having – er – inevitably higher and lower necks! I’ve worked out as a starting point that having the necks splayed out at least 6″ at the nut end, bridges as close as possible, and the 12-string neck (top)forward of the 6-string gives good clearance for bar chords on the 12-string and allows the guitar to be pivoted on the strap to allow a reasonable compromise of playing positions on both necks. What I have also worked out is that the 12-string neck should be a shorter scale to allow it to be forward of the 6-string (talking nut positions)yet be just as reachable/playable; so the second component will probably be a custom 12 string headless neck of say 24 3/4 inches.

    The third quarter is the body. I think I’ll need a lot of prototypes to test the angles, playability, etc…

    And the final part is making the 12-string bridge based on the TracTuner, which my engineering father-in-law is excited about!!!

    I will have a web site in the next month or so, and will post pics as the project progresses.

    Keep up the inspiration!!!

    P.S. I wondered if you’d seen the pics of the Klein guitars at Ed Roman – I saw these whilst gathering ideas for body design!


  4. Hey Rob! Good to hear from you! Thanks for the kind words.

    I’m really looking forward to your double neck build. That’s going to be very interesting especially with a custom bridge for the 12 string! I would love to see a 6 string version of the bridge as well as I’m partial to fixed bridges.

    And, thanks for the link to the double neck guitars. BTW – Take a look at the double neck Klein on that page. The neck positions may be a good point of reference for your build.

    Let me know when you get your site up!

  5. I decided to strip that guitar down and refinish it. Sixty grit sandpaper made short work of the finish. I threw a few primer coats on, then followed with some Krylon satin. I purposely skipped the grain sealer, so the finish is sinking into the grain. It looks kinda cool. Jackson did this on a few models. Tomorrow evening I’ll reassemble it and take some pics.

  6. Scott’s guitar is great! I think this would be the winning idea (string through mini-headstock, Steinberger gearless tuners) if I were to do a fixed bridge. It seems like there’s much greater room for headless creativity with a fixed bridge.

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Black Mariah – I’m looking forward to seeing the pics. As you can tell by the nature of this blog post and related ones, I’m always on the search for alternatives.

  8. GregP – I can’t agree more! Of all the headless solutions I’ve seen, Scott’s approach seems the best of all situations – if you can accept a fixed bridge. As my preference is a fixed bridge, my next build is going to incorporate this general approach with the likelihood of a variation on the mini-headstock design. I’ll have more on this variation once I start the second build thread.

  9. Nice I like the colour, it looks a lot to adjust the string as well.

  10. Hmm… The recent post Building Guitars – Ten Resources For the Guitar Builder might be a good place to post resources. I’m always looking for new resources and I’ll publish another set in a post where they’ll be easier for readers to find. Meanwhile, note the Recent Comments section along the left hand side of the blog. It’s feed based so it takes a bit to populate but it will give you a general idea of comments activity.

  11. I’m not sure of the best place to post comments about sourcing parts. I just added a comment to the TK instruments post about ABM Single bridges with tuners.

  12. Hi! Great stuff, thanks for sharing your pursuits. Have you come across Austin, TX luthier Chris Forshage’s version? Quite nice, and excellent price. I can’t figure out how to post a pic here, but I have several pics of his work (I have a guitar on order from Chris right now). His web site is: http://www.forshage.com however, it’s outdated and there are no pics of his headless model.


  13. Marc – Shoot me an email with the pics. I’d love to see the build.

  14. Perhaps I’m a bit slow on the uptake or my eyes are getting worse than I think, but I’m having trouble figuring out how the tuners work on this design. It looks like a perfect solution to a design that I’ve had in mind, but I’m not exactly sure how that tuner system works. Can someone enlighten me.

    Thanks, Chad

    1. Chad – I’ve updated the article with a link on Musicyo.com’s site that illustrates how the Steinberger gearless tuners work. I think that should help clear things up.

  15. Thanks Robert! I’m going to buy a bunch of these so that I don’t have to worry about MusicYO going out of business. Now, If I can just convince my wife of just how much sense that makes!

    1. I’m glad to help, Chad. Mind you, I have no direct experience with these and I have heard of folks having mixed results from these – particularly problems with breakage during installation. I’ll see what else I can dig up.

      Banjo tuners are another possibility…

  16. Great guitar, rocks!!!!