Ever wonder why they designed the headstock for the Stratocaster?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by E5RSY, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

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    I do. It occurred to me that a headstock is typically a "brand" thing and is consistent across most all models in a company's line...this is true of Martin, Gibson, Rickenbacker, etc.

    I really wonder why they didn't just keep the Tele/Esquire headstock for the Strat (looks better with the Tele peghead, anyway). Why would they want all that wood on the Strat headstock just hangin' out there in the wind doing nothing? Who knows? Maybe they just wanted more space for decals. Or, perhaps Freddie just got a little carried away. :D
     
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  2. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Holic

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    Good question. But while
    I like the minimal Tele headstock, I also like the Strat years with the larger-than-usual headstock. Something funky-looking about those appeals to me.
     
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  3. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    This question, if researched thoroughly, would provide material for a book... Or at least a long article ... I would love to know ... My hunch is that it was cost related ( less labor trimming neck blanks)
     
  4. idjster

    idjster VERY grateful member Ad Free Member

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    I would tend to agree with rangercaster about the cost factor. Cost, or ease of manufacture, are the two usual reasons things like that get done in business it seems.
     
  5. tlsmack

    tlsmack Tele-Afflicted

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    Leo was a true visionary. He knew that one day, guitarists would need more room for clip-on tuners.
     
  6. Seasicksailor

    Seasicksailor Friend of Leo's

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    Decal room seems to make a lot of sense to me.
     
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  7. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    If they could save 2-5 bucks a unit or even less, the bean counters would approve ... Remember the Ford Pinto gas filler part fiasco ??? At least nobody died as a result of the larger headstock... At least none that I know of ...
     
  8. TeleTucson

    TeleTucson Tele-Afflicted

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    IBM_NORC - Strat - Copy.jpg

    Recently declassified archives reveal that in 1954 the US Navy's brand new IBM NORC, the most powerful computer in the world at the time, was test-driven with the problem of computing the highest performance headstock shape for imparting tonewood sonic enrichment to the electric guitar. The Stratocaster headstock was the result. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
  9. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

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    Maybe you guys are right, but in my mind making two designs when you could just make one would not represent a cost savings, but in fact just the opposite.

    Also, with my admittedly inexperienced eye, I would imagine it would cost MORE to trim blanks for the Strat. Of course, could be wrong.
     
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  10. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I don't disagree... That doesn't explain why they changed it...
     
  11. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    The Strat got the big headstock so it would show up better onstage.
    That's all, no cost savings. Having to use a larger blank would cost more.
    The Tele probably never got the big headstock treatment because it worked even more like a pregnant weenie dog than it already did.
     
  12. Mouth

    Mouth Tele-Holic

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    The Paul Bigsby Merle Travis guitar has a headstock sort of similar to the big stratocaster headstock.
     
  13. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    I like the original Strat headstock. Always disliked the big headstock. I've often wondered if the Tele headstock was small to avoid neck heavy balance....
     
  14. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I always assumed it was supposed to look sort of like a written music note.
    As well as of course being vaguely copied from the Bigsby guitar.
     
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  15. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's

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    Fender made some of the most visually cohesive guitar designs of the 50s/60s. I would think they put that before the headstock shape as a brand. CBS, of course, were all about decal visibility.
     
  16. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

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    I thought that was regarding the larger lettering and headstock that CBS implemented, not the original from the '50s. No?
     
  17. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

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    I always thought it looked like a double bass peghead viewed from the side.

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Tele-Afflicted

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    I read once a long time ago that at the time Leo was prototyping the Telecaster lumber was in shorter supply post WWII. And then by the time the strat came around, supply had turned around a bit so he made a wider headstock.

    Not sure how true any of that is, but if it is true you could possibly argue that if wood were more available at the time the telecaster was invented, it might have been designed with the strat shape. That's all speculation on my part though.
     
  19. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    The strat was designed as a response to the Les Paul, they wanted something fancier and modern to compete with Gibson. Why you would design a whole new body shape, pickup system and vibrato and leave the old headstock in place would be a bigger mystery. The new shape was elegant and allowed the decal to be seen.

    On a another note this idea that everything Leo did was based on cost is ridiculous. Leo spent plenty of money on things he dumped $5000 worth of machining when the original strat vibrato didn't work, he started a money losing acoustic guitar factory because he though he needed acoustic guitars, he certainly wasn't saving any money developing the electric violin and his investment in the rhodes piano wasn't exactly a winner either.
     
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  20. Apache Snow

    Apache Snow TDPRI Member

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    I like the Stratocaster head stock just fine. Always have.
     
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