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Emmel

ES335 headstock slant

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hi guys

I recently picked up a gorgeous 50th anniversary 1963 ES335, which feels, sounds and plays beautifully. Couldn't be happier...

...except for this weird sideways headstock slant that I noticed the guitar has, which I'd never seen before (definitely never this pronounced) and seems like a headstock break waiting to happen to my paranoid eyes. You can also see that the B string touches the high E's tuning post because of this 😕

I know no guitar is perfect, but does anyone recognize this? How 'within tolerance' does this look?

Again the guitar feels and plays beautifully and as far as I can tell the neck isn't warped at all --it's just that the headstock is on there crooked, which is... disappointing for a guitar in this price range.

IMG_4530.jpg

IMG_4529.jpg

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Your neck may be twisted. Does it fret out anywhere?

Edited by Sgt. Pepper

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it does not! I could swear the neck is straight

I wish I could add more photos on here, but the nut sits in a noticeably deeper slot in the headstock/neck on the bass side compared to the treble side, where there's pretty much no slot at all

look at the second photo in my first post and imagine the nut having a consistent height treble to bass side... that extra height on the bass side needs to go somewhere; it goes into a slot that's milled on the bass side but isn't there on the treble side 😕

does that make any sense?

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Yes, it does make sense.  I have two ES Gibsons that slant low on the treble side like yours - one just a little, the other noticeably more, but not quite to the level of yours.  Indeed, they too play beautifully.  What is going on here is that the guitar has been plekked to compensate for the headstock twist, so the fretboard is level & everything is fine in terms of playability.  You have already noticed the difference in the nut's slot depth from one side to the other, and that's part of the compensation that's occurred.

Essentially, this boils down to a cosmetic issue, but you'll have to decide whether or not it's going to bother you on an ongoing basis.  Interestingly, I have a Lloyd Loar era 1922 Gibson 'A' mandolin that's a wonderful player, and it's headstock also dips down noticeably on the treble side.  No plek machine back then, but the fingerboard is perfect!

    

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Hi Emmel and welcome to the forum.  If I were you I'd send it back it's not good enough and now you've spotted it, it will bother you for as long as you own the guitar.  You've also got to consider the resale value if you ever wanted to sell it.

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1 hour ago, IanHenry said:

Hi Emmel and welcome to the forum.  If I were you I'd send it back it's not good enough and now you've spotted it, it will bother you for as long as you own the guitar.  You've also got to consider the resale value if you ever wanted to sell it.

 

Yes, although this is not a structural issue, if you can do a return, I would tend to agree with Ian.  The dip on your headstock is easily noticeable compared to mine, and could impact it’s future selling price.  On the other hand, if you got a screaming deal on it you may want to keep it - or negotiate a partial refund with the seller, based on what you feel would be a reasonable amount.

Hope it all works out to your satisfaction!

Edited by bobouz

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8 minutes ago, merciful-evans said:

2nd picture. The nut and headstock appear out of parallel to the bridge/body by a couple of degrees.

 

The nut & headstock are indeed out of parallel with the body, but it’s the fingerboard that matters in this case - and it looks level.  Visually this is tricky, in part because the nut has been cut higher on the bass side to compensate for string diameter, which increases the canted appearance.

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thanks for the input guys

if it's strictly a cosmetic issue and not something that's likely to warp the neck overtime because of uneven string pull or, god forbid, snap the headstock clear off in the middle of a sick bend one day, I'm fine keeping it

I bought it second hand, checked the usuals but didn't think much of the slanted headstock at the time... don't really notice it while playing... it was only after seeing it laying down like in the photo that I noticed just how crooked it looks

might shoot an email to Gibson to see if they have any ideas since, to me, it clearly left the factory like this and isn't a result of mishandling the guitar, but I'm not holding my breath 🙂

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Emmel, you’d be surprised by how many headstocks are slanted to some extent.  I first began checking this out carefully after purchasing a guitar many years ago that could not be properly dialed in (action, relief, intonation) due to a twisted neck.  From that point on, I’ve always done an eyeball test to look for possible neck issues when assessing a potential purchase.  Many headstocks lean slightly in one direction or the other, but playability is typically not effected.

In the case of these ES Gibson models, it is clear that compensation took place at the factory to account for this, and structural stability should not be a factor.

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I have a ‘69 EB-3 that I have had for about 25 years with a twisted neck. I don’t think it’s gotten any worse in the years I’ve had it and it plays great. Other guitar companies have tried different types of truss rods, Gibson sticks with their original design......

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On 11/18/2020 at 1:55 PM, Grog said:

I have a ‘69 EB-3 that I have had for about 25 years with a twisted neck. I don’t think it’s gotten any worse in the years I’ve had it and it plays great. Other guitar companies have tried different types of truss rods, Gibson sticks with their original design......

 

As long as it handles ok & keeps the player happy, its good.

I once returned a PRS with a twisted neck (it was not visible, only  measureable). I just couldn't set it up as nicely as other guitars.

I imagine this is the reason why Rickenbacker use a pair of trussrods. 

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.I think it was Hagstrom who at one time had an extruded channel like truss rod to try to avoid twisting.........

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4 hours ago, Grog said:

.I think it was Hagstrom who at one time had an extruded channel like truss rod to try to avoid twisting.........

I have a 2014 Hagstrom which I love. 

The design may have changed, but the trussrod still is twist resistant :

"The neck on your Hagstrom guitar is reinforced with our H-Expander metal truss rod. The design of the truss rod prevents twisting of the neck,"

https://www.hagstromguitars.com/your-hagstrom/owners-care/h-expander-truss-rod.html

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