Classical Guitar Headstocks

Classical Guitar Headstock Design

The classical guitar builder can use the headstock design as an opportunity for creating a unique brand for his or her guitars. Sometimes luthiers opt for a slight variation or even exact replication of an existing design used by another maker. Personally, I have a love for branding - for creating a strong and distintive image behind a product or project on which I am investing my time, and this is a short background of how I came to use my current design and I hope, an encouragement to all artists and luthiers, that there are always an abundance of unique ideas available, and awaiting employment by the creative spirit.

My very first guitar was inspired by a late afternoon jog down my family home's half mile long driveway. I was already contemplating building a guitar, but there were no ideas that were exciting me yet. For me, to start something like building a guitar, any guitar, I need to feel like I have something to offer. This particular jog somehow summoned the headstock design of my first classical guitar, and the idea gave me enough inspiration to jump into the project. 

When completed, my first guitar was a good sounding and nice looking first attempt at guitar making. It was nothing to be embarrassed about and I wouldn't have let it become so - it's just the way that I am. The headstock design pictured at left was a laborious process - mostly because there was no real process to speak of. All the joinery and inlay on my first instrument, including the rosette, was done with a razor blade and a chisel.

Just a little tip, that most of you with common sense already know...

When you first get an inspiring idea that seems to good to be true, then do yourself a favor and bounce it off several friends or family members. Preferably some people that can give you some insightful criticism. I never did that with this design, and as result, almost every guitarist that has picked it up says, "Hey, wow! That's a beatiful guitar. Sounds great, but...I know your headstock design looks like...well...a penis" 

Well, of course it doesn't literally look that way. It's missing a few...details. But I got enough random, phalic feedback associated with this headstock design that it became clear that I should take my inspiration another direction.

Current Headstock Design

I don't like to respond so quickly to a bit of criticism, but the Second and Third Guitar used a headstock design that was intended to at least avoid any penile accustations. This time I was accused of oversimplifiying things. While I never expect to completely avoid criticism, the headstock design is a signature of a guitar maker, so I needed something that spoke to the amount of care that I place in each instrument. 

Again, returning to my experience at Gallagher Guitar Co, I took out some curly maple and did a binding around the simple design on Guitar No. 4, that I started with guitars two and three. I couldn't be happier with the result. It takes a long time, but I think that the resulting shape, with the binding, produces a very distinctive and elegant headstock design. I am pretty sure this design will remain an integral part of my future guitars. And this is saying a lot considering how many changes we all go through on the path to taking ownership over something as complex as a music instrument. See pictures of all guitars made to date and how this simple design concept brings a different life to each instrument.