- 1 Guitar Like A Saxophone (Guitar World 1987)
- 2 Allan Holdsworth’s Untold Secrets + Worthy Quotes (Guitar Player 1990)
- 3 Axe Maniax (TGM 1993)
- 4 Allan Holdsworth: An interview (Atavachron 1994)
- 5 Axes Of God (Guitar World 1989)
- 6 Mike Pachelli Show (video transcript 1991)
- 7 On The Level (IM&RW 1991)
- 8 The Reluctant Guitarist (Jazz Journal 1992)
- 9 Unrewarded Geniuses (Guitar Player 1993, reader's letter regarding 1993 article)
- 10 Allan Holdsworth: One Of A Kind (Guitar Shop 1995)
- 11 Legato Land (Guitar Techniques 1996)
- 12 Med Siktet Innställt På Total Kontroll (MusikerMagasinet 1996, Swedish language)
- 13 Allan Holdsworth (steveadelson.com 2000)
- 14 Allan Holdsworth in exclusive LMS interview (tlms.co.uk 2000)
- 15 One Man Of 'Trane (Jazz Times 2000)
- 16 Whisky Galore (Guitarist 2000)
- 17 A Conversation With Allan Holdsworth (Abstract Logix 2005)
- 18 The Allan Holdsworth Interview! (Jazz Houston 2006)
- 19 Harnessing momentum (Innerviews 2008)
- 20 The Final Interview: Allan Holdsworth Talks SynthAxes, Jaw-Dropping Solos and More (Guitar World 2017)
Guitar fanatics showed up two hours early for his recent show at New York’s Bottom Line, scrambling for front row seats in order to better trace the paths of his fingers flying tip and down the neck. They howled at the announcement of each number and nearly levitated off the floor during Holdsworth’s solo excursions. Bassist Jimmy Johnson and drummer Chad Wackerman propelled things along as Allan switched modes from song to song - first the Steinberger, next the SynthAxe, back to the Steinberger and so on. Curiously, he never touched his patented Ibanez AH-I0 guitar. Backstage, Holdsworth talked about his recent conversion to Steinberger guitars.
"For the longest time I just didn’t think the thing would work," he says. "And I was wrong. I picked it up at a NAMM show once and played it for about two seconds and ordered one immediately. I’ve never felt like that about a guitar since I was 20 years old.
"When I first played the Steinberger it felt kind of strange because it was so little and it kind of moved around, but after I got used to its size I started to like it more and more. There’s something in the consistency of that instrument that I like. You can take two Steinbergers off the rack anywhere and play them and they sound the same. Whereas, a wooden machine you can’t find two that sound alike. Every piece of wood varies so much. The first one that Ibanez made for me was a great guitar, but they’ve made eight or nine for me since, but they never found another piece of wood that was as good as that first one. But I’m not going to give op on wood because I’m still working with Ibanez. Now I’m trying to get them to make their guitars out of laminates. It just makes the thing so stable and, from that respect, very controllable."
How do you get the guitar to scream like that, but within control?
This might sound like bull, but I’ve got the most control I ever had over any guitar sound since I started using the plastic Steinberger, the GM2T. I just love that guitar, man. Boogie sent me this little .50 Caliber that uses EL84 output tubes, my favorite tubes. They have an aggressive yet soft, spongy tone, and it just went. That guitar and amp worked perfectly for that track. It wouldn’t have been so good on "City Nights," where the notes sputter out more, but on this the notes were longer-toned, so it was great. The way you strike the string with the pick and then move your finger, you can get it to change vowel sounds, like an oo to an ee, and I really love that. On a bad amplifier it always goes the other way, from an ee to an oo. That’s the way I test amps: If you can have a note go to ee and stay like that, then it’s great. I ran the .50 Caliber into the Extractor, into the [???], and recorded it with the TLM17O, straight to the tape machine.
Allan Holdsworth is probably the world’s most respected fusion guitarist. He talks to Dominic Salmon about the appeal of Steinbergers in relation to his musical philosophy.
Allan Holdsworth has been hailed by many as one of the foremost pioneers of modern guitar playing. A champion of the SynthAxe, Allan swapped to Steinbergers after the collapse of the guitar synth company.
When I started playing the guitar again exclusively, I was attracted by the possibilities that Steinbergers offered. They seemed to me to be the only real advance in guitar technology, excluding synths, for 25 years. The use of double ball end strings means that one of the most problematic areas of the guitar, which is tuning, is overcome. The system means that you don’t need clamps to stabilise tuning, and also does away with having a lot of extra string flapping around, meaning that string tension is also very even. It was important that the guitars had a very consistent construction. Obviously no two models could be exactly the same, but really if you played one guitar one day and another one the next, the difference was imperceptible. That’s because of the material they’re made from. There is no way that two wooden instruments can ever sound exactly the same, the wood has too much to do with the sound, whereas the plastic material of the Steinberger offered stability between guitars. As I said, I am trying to take guitar away from the usual sounds associated with the guitar into new areas, so I didn’t want my guitar to have a characteristic sound. The other appealing features were the longer 25.5" scale length and the Gibson-like string spacing. I can’t play with shorter scale lengths or with really wide guitar spacing like you get on heavy metal guitars.
The necks were also a bonus in that they feel very large and rounded, almost like half a baseball bat. The flatter necks you get on modern guitars don’t really suit my playing. I cant seem to grip a neck properly if it’s insubstantial."
"A guy called Bill DeLapp (sic) from Canada approached me with the possibility of making a guitar for me. He built an acoustic which was very light in construction with light strings, but could be very loud. There were problems with that but he also suggested building a Steinberger-based guitar using wood in construction. I had three built for me and I have been using them for around a year now, and they’re surprisingly consistent in sound despite the use of wood. They are very similar in construction to a Steinberger, in that they have a hollow body. The neck is similar although it is slightly thicker." When I caught hint at London’s Jazz Cafe, Allan was using one which had an alder body with an ebony neck and rosewood fingerboard.
CH: Are you intending to continue to evolve the instrument like you have, I mean, with the baritone guitar; the smaller instruments...
AH: Well, yeah, I’m going to keep going with it all, because the thing is, that, you know, being influenced by Ned Steinberger’s design and the headless design, which I’m totally a big believer in... I’ve had some experiences lately that’re extremely funny, I think. For example, I’ve shown the guitar to a few other people in the past-you know, guitar companies, or whatever -- and they’d say, "Well, you know I think we should put a head on it," even if there was no machine heads on it. Isn’t that pretty funny? Don’t you think that’s unbelievable? Just for a cosmetic reason. Why would you want to put a head on a headless guitar, to make it look...? When, to me, it’s the guitars that have the heads on them that look wrong.
KK: Fear. Fear... that’s what it is.
AH: I mean, why would you want to do it when it’s fake? Sure, put the head on the guitar if it serves a purpose, if it has machines on it.
MP: They’re more concerned with visual perception.
AH: So, you know, I know a lot of guitar players who don’t like Steinbergers just because they’re not big. You know, it has nothing [to do with that]... Then you look at a Steinberger and you think, "Oh, it’s a short scale...." People come up to me and ask me about my guitars: "Oh, why do you play that short scale guitar?" My God, you know, it’s a 25-1/2" scale-it’s full size. I couldn’t play anything smaller than that.
KK: It’s a perceptual thing. It’s like a Salvador Dali painting.
AH: It seems small, because there’s no body and there’s no head. But it’s like taking... if you think of it as a double bass, really, the size that counts on a double bass is, of course the body, for acoustic purposes. But if you were talking of string length-which is what you are on electric guitar-if you took from the nut to the bridge on a big, full-size bass (or a ¾ size, which is a full size now, I guess)... if you take that, and just that, and look at the length, and chopped off the head and chopped off the body, it’s small, man! It’s not the huge dimensions that you think it is at all. So that’s what happens when you take that Steinberger design of 25... full-size, classical guitar scale length. And it’s like this, ‘cause that’s the way it is. A classical guitar bridge is halfway up the body, and it has a big head on it, you know; and the body only has twelve frets to the neck on it-it looks big.
CH: What was different about this new guitar you were designing with Bill DeLap? What was the difference between it...
AH: Well, I was trying to take the concept... Because I couldn’t work with Ned anymore directly because he sold out to Gibson for various reasons, you know. Of course, I don’t know him on a level where we were like close personal friends, or anything. So I don’t really know what his reasons were. I think the guy’s wonderful, and I respect everything he’s ever done. I think he’s a genius. The [tuning] machines he came out with-the ones that come from the back? That’s another thing, before we get back to that, is that the machines come out the back like banjo tuners and they’re fantastic; it’s a straight string pull. You pull it through the hole, turn it and tighten it. And you get guys with acoustic guitar players saying, "Well, can’t you make the machines that stick out at the side?"
MP: What’s the point?
AH: Because of the way they look. Because of the way they look, man. You have this fantastic mechanism... three times more precision than anything else... pulls the string down into the head, instead of wrapping it ‘round like an anchor on a boat. And they just rejected it because of the same reasons as his guitar, you know, it was just something that looked strange. Like it had a big nose, or something. I dunno.
One of the least constant factors in the equation has been Allan’s preference in the characteristics of the guitar itself. Since the early seventies, when he acquired his first Fender Stratocaster, he persistently sought to break the instrument down to an elemental form - moving on to the thinner Gibson SG, another chiselled Strat, several hollowed-out Charvel and Ibanez solidbodies and, most recently, to the deceptively resonant, stripped down plastic Steinbergers - ultimately using MIDI as the basis for its restructure. With two SynthAxes and their corresponding analog Oberheim Matrix 12 and X5B synth modules and disk player, some Yamaha DX 7’s and an Akai S-900 sampler, Allan feels that the dream has been finally realized. "For years, I’ve been trying to get the guitar to do things it simply didn’t want to do," he explains. "I never have to fight the SynthAxe to make it respond, and, in a surprising sense, it’s really the most expressive instrument I’ve ever played through"
After years of struggle with the tonal inconsistencies of wooden instruments, Allan today waxes ecstatic in praise of Ned Steinberger’s synthetic creations. "I was so floored by the thing that I couldn’t believe it," he recalls. "I haven’t felt that way about a guitar since I started playing, it’s really the most significant development in the last fifty years. Everything else has just been kind of a little tweak on something older guys like Leo Fender or Les Paul did."
Allan finds that, despite its size, the Steinberger cleverly embodies the tonal consistency, uniformity of feel and sleek playability he’d sought in guitars for years. "It’s unbelievably even," he says. "It has a kind of resonance, though not the kind induced by the various pieces of wood you’ve ordinarily got connected together. When I started playing the Steinberger, I was taken by its really scientific approach. The materials used were all the same; you could consistently operate under a formula that works. You’re not worrying about how far up the tree this piece of wood came from, how it was cut, how it was dried or how long the tree had been dead. It seemed that every single thing on the guitar just contributed, so you were left with either a really great guitar or a little junk pile. And for some reason, the Steinberger has a great sound. Between that guitar and the SynthAxe, I can’t imagine wanting another guitar - except to own another Steinberger. I actually had one stolen from the studio [Fron t Page Recorders, Costa Mesa, CA]; If anybody finds a black Steinberger with serial no. 2660, and when you take the top plate off, it’s got my name written on it in gold pen - it’s mine."
To create the tones customized for the specific tracks on Secrets, Allan cross-matched ideas, ingenuity and his inventions until he struck on a tasteful variety. Using his Steinberger GM2T, loaded with two custom Seymour Duncan Allan Holdsworth humbuckers and refretted by luthier Bill DeLap with Dunlop 6000 wire, Allan created "City Nights" by running a Boogie Mark III head through the Extractor prototype, into an equalizer, and back into a Boogie Simulclass 295 power amp, using only one side of the unit to drive his speaker box. There, the signal from a Celestion KS speaker was brought to tape via a Neumann TLM 170 microphone. The inline processing for his lead tone included an ADA Stereo Tapped Delay, two ADA mono delay lines and a Lexicon PCM60. Formulas differ on each track; there are few constants. "I used that power amp and the speaker box on all the tracks, with different variables," Allan reports. "On ‘Peril Premonition,’ for instance, I substituted a Boogie Quad preamp, and used a combination of a Shure SM58 and an AKG 460 on the same Celestion I’m very flexible, because it’s all a big experiment to me. If I thought that I’d gotten a really good guitar tone and just left the mike and everything in the same position and used it, I know I’d die after-wards. I wanted to get back to using tube amps. Since I started using the Juice Extractor with the Boogies, I’ve fo und that I can get more flexible variations of tone than ever before. I find myself customizing the amp from the outside."
MP: Great-sounding guitar…And then you got into Steinberger, recently how did that come about?
AH: Well this guy kept saying Hey have you checked out those little plastic things you know and I go I don’t think I’m gonna like that, and a friend of mine just took me up to the booth at one of those NAMM shows and I played one and I just fell in love with it. I couldn’t believe it. It was totally unexpected. And turned me inside out with the guitar. It was so consistent, had the right neck width, everything about it was great. And now when I go back to playing wood guitar they feel kind of dinosaur-like. I think it was the only significant thing that anybody did with electric guitar for like 20 years.
MP: What sort of pickup is on there?
AH: It’s the same one, a Seymour Duncan.
MP: How about string gauge? What sort of string gauge do you use?
AH: Well I do vary those but for the last, well I do use very thin strings, 8, I usually go from anywhere between a 10 and an 8 …at the moment I’m using 8’s.
MP: What’s the low E?
IM - There was also a double-necked Steinberger which I saw you using at a gig last year. Are you still using that?
"I used it on one gig as an experiment. I only did it once because I didn’t like the guitar. Synthax (sic) loaned me that guitar because the expense of doing the tour was so much that I went home and lost money. It wasn’t done like normal tours, we had to pay for our own hotels and transportation, so by the time it was over we lost money.
IM - That was the Guitarist Tour wasn’t it?
"Yeah. That’s why this year was a bit of a disaster as well because none of the guys who were normally in the band could do that tour and then I got this opportunity to do this thing with Level 42, which was perfect, because I couldn’t do a tour and then we had one gig to do, a guy asked if we could bail his out a little bit and help him with the finance thing which was the only reason that we would do it and I said yes. But obviously I would be doing it for free, but they wanted Gary to do it for free and I couldn’t accept that so I said no you have to pay him and they were paying for the other two guys to come over from the States the day before the gig, meaning that they would get in totally jet lagged and then we would have to do the gig without a rehearsal and the guy said, ‘oh well you can rehearse at the gig’, but that never happens, even if we got there at like 10 a.m., those guys are not going to want to get up that early and it was a big gig, like a London gig with no rehearsal, so as far as I was concerned it had to be knocked on the head. But what really did it is he started threatening me with giving me a hard time in his magazine, so up until that point I had only decided in my mind that I didn’t want to but I was hovering on it because I knew the reason why we had decided to do it in the first place was to help them out, but when he said that a release valve went and I said no, we’re not doing it. It was the wrong thing for me, the exortationate expenses were such that I couldn’t bring the Synthax. I brought my consul [sic] and Synthax supplied me with a Synthax. I brought one synthesizer and two TX7 modules which are emergency machines really. We couldn’t afford to rent the Matrix 12, which was what I would normally use, because they were too expensive. I had this idea of having this double-neck made so I could play all of the music that I had done on Synthax on guitar. The problem was that although I really love the Steinberger I didn’t like that one. Since then I have had another made but it had similar problems. But I found the regular guitar was suffering on the double neck so they made it longer to give it a bit more top, make it a little bit ‘brighter’ sounding. It’s not really happened, I don’t think it’s going to be a success. The huge guitar that I was talking to you about is a complete success but it’s just tuned like a regular guitar but really long."
The use of light strings was another important element in simulating a horn sound. It both enabled fast technique and facilitated hammering on and such expressive devices as vibrato and pitch bending.
‘I’ve always used light strings, because I’ve always felt there was a direct correlation between how hard you hit the string, naturally, and the gauge of string that you use. I strike the string very lightly. When other people play my guitar they put it out of tune: just by holding a chord down it’ll be all out of tune. When I first started using light strings they were hard to get. If I wanted a .008 top string I had to use like a Cathedral octave banjo string, and then displace the other strings by one and throw out the sixth. I’ve drifted between .008 and .010 gauge sets. I used .010s for a while because I liked the way they sounded on chords. But I liked the way .0085 sounded for solos; they had more of a ping. So I finished up most of the time I was using a wood guitar using a .009, but since I’ve got the plastic Steinberger guitars, they work just great with .008s.
‘I’m really over the moon with these Steinberger guitars. The necks are specially made for me. They’re made with no relief, ‘cause I’ve never believed in that. I don’t believe in that theory at all. It doesn’t make sense. I know why they did it on old acoustic guitars with a big action, just because the string where it vibrates the most in the middle is more likely to buzz. But it causes problems all over the guitar. The best way to me is to take two straight lines; so the neck’s made with no relief, and it’s got a 20in radius, so it’s really flat, and Jim Dunlop 6000 frets, so they’re really high. There’s something about the guitar when the neck’s got an underbow in it, it feels soggy in the middle.’
It was great to see the photos and mention of my work in the recent Allan Holdsworth article (Feb.’93), but some clarifications are in order. The guitar on page 65 is actually a Steinberger with a spruce wood top I made as an experiment. After noticing how different in sound two apparently identical stock plastic tops were, we decided to try a few different woods for the top. Allan’s regular 25½" scale DeLap hollowbody can be seen in the ads for his new instruction and performance video from REH. The two baritone guitars pictured on page 68 are a blonde 38.2" scale hollowbody and grey 36" scale solidbody. The last few years have produced a dozen prototype instruments ranging from a 19"-scale soprano guitar to the 38" baritone, all of them headless designs featuring Steinberger tremolo bridges. Allan knows the qualities he wants to hear and feel in an instrument, so it can be demanding but rewarding to work with him. He is a constant experimenter, a true innovator with music and the tools he uses to create it.
The Guitar Lab
“I love the Steinberger design, but ever since they merged with Gibson, I’ve had trouble communicating with them. Fortunately I met this guy named Bill DeLap who made me two Steinberger-styled guitars that use their hardware, but have wood bodies instead of plastic. We took the best things of a Steinberger and just tried to get more out of that design. They’re full-sized instruments – 25 – ½” – and like a violin, have a maple neck, ebony fingerboard, spruce top and a maple back. Bill also made me some baritone ones that are just really long-scaled guitars – there are 34”, 36”, 38” scale versions. I didn’t use them on the new album, but I did on my last one, Wardenclyffe Tower. I played the 34” on “Zarabeth” and the 38” on “Sphere of Innocence”. And now he’s making me a piccolo guitar. But they all work like a regular guitar with regular strings, partially because the Steinberger bridge system doesn’t need a lot of winds to get in tune. I use LaBella strings – the company has been really amazing to me, too, and helped out whenever they could. My action is pretty low, and I don’t use the tremolo bar much anymore, either. About five years ago when all the heavy metal guys were using them, I sort of stopped, because it started looking like a new toy that everybody got. It was like when the wah-wah and the fuzz box came out and all of a sudden you heard them on every record. So I basically stopped using it.
Allan has got through a number of guitars and amps during his long career. What equipment was used on ‘None Too Soon’ and what gear does he currently use?
"I was mainly playing my Steinbergers through a couple of Mesa Boogies, one of which is a Dual Rectifier, although I’ve actually switched to Carvin guitars just recently. Bunny Brunel (bass player, ex-Chick Corea) came over with this amazing Carvin bass guitar. I know they always had this reputation of doing high quality guitars at a lower price and all that stuff, but this guitar was really pretty amazing. Bunny suggested that I talk to them and see if they would make me an instrument. It turned out that they were interested in doing a special one-off custom guitar, but the bottom line was that if they weren’t able to make a guitar that I was going to play, then it was no deal. So they came up with several prototypes and they kept changing them and modifying them. I got two of the 1 advanced prototypes just a few days ago and they’re absolutely amazing. I’m really happy with them, so that’s what I’m going to be playing from now on. I used one for a recording yesterday and it sounded great!"
He has worked with Charvel, Steinberger, DeLap Guitars and most recently with Carvin.
- These people have been very helpful, but usually something has come in the way. Grover Jackson was the one who took care of the band when we first came to the United States. He let us rehearse in his factory, and built a red Charvel that I had for a long time.
- Something that has always been a problem is that [factory made] guitars vary in quality so much from one to the next [in the production line]. I do not like to rely on a (single) guitar and Steinberger came to the rescue. Their guitars sounded amazing and because the material was plastic, the copies were almost identical. I ordered custom-built guitars with a flatter neck. My communication with Ned Steinberger was very good, and we had a constant dialogue where I made suggestions regarding product development. At first, there were only a few parameters to control, but it developed. Unfortunately, it went as it always does when Gibson buys something - downhill. I received no help and they did not even bother to call me back.
TCG: When did synthesizers enter the picture?
AH: I tried the early Roland synth and loved the idea of the sounds, but it didn’t really work for me. Tom Mulhern at Guitar Player magazine recommended the Synthaxe and that was where that relationship started. Also guitar-wise, I played Charvels for a while, and later discovered the Steinberger. That was it. I just thought it was amazing. It was real hard to switch back to any other guitar. I became friendly with Ned Steinberger. He would send me the guitars without any frets, and then I would send them to a luthier by the name of Bill DeLap and he would flatten the fingerboard, and take out the relief. I like the neck to be absolutely straight. We would put Jim Dunlop 6000 fret wire in it. I had quite a few of these. Also, Bill built me a few baritone guitars. He made me a regular length wooden Steinberger and basically I’ve been playing that till I hooked up with Carvin for this new custom guitar. I play about 80% of the time now on the Carvin and 20% on the Steinberger. It’s still nice to switch back and forth. I love headless guitars. I think the new Carvin is an excellent guitar.
MRJ: Are you still using Steinberger guitars?
AH: Yeah I still have an original Stenberger. I’ve been using a Bill De Lap guitar. I also use a custom Carvin. The only difference between that and the Steinberger is that it has a headstock.
He also plays headless Steinberger guitars, custom made headless guitars by Bill DeLap and makes sparing use of his SynthAxe synthesizer controller. He uses Stella guitar strings and is very pleased with his setup of two Yamaha DG-80 amplifiers with extension speaker cabinets in combination with a DG-1000 pre-amp.
How has the Carvin guitar helped in this never-ending quest?
"The first ones were good, but they weren’t quite complete for me. But then I designed another one, called the Fat Boy. The top and the back don’t touch any wood on the inside, except the edges. So in that respect it’s like an acoustic guitar but with no holes. That one turned out really good. You can’t put a tremolo on it and that’s something I’m really pleased about too. But I’m still really fond of Steinbergers, so that’s never going to go away.
Bill: But the one that you played last night was...
Allan: Just a regular DeLap. You know, I designed a couple of guitars with Carvin and was on the road with those for a number of years, and I always had a few custom made headless guitars too. I was really fond of headless guitars. It’s such a struggle for me to jump and forth from a headless guitar to a regular guitar. If you get used to playing a (headless) Steinberger, it’s really hard to go back to a headstock. I can’t really describe it, it just feels awkward.
MM: What gear are you currently using?
AH: Well I’ve been playing on a bunch of Carvin guitars, prototypes and my productions models. I’ve also got a bunch of custom made guitars. Bill DeLap guitars, the baritone guitars, although I’ve kind of abandoned those things. You know a lot of speed metal bands started using them and drop down tunings so I just left them and moved on. I used them extensively on a couple of albums then I just figured it became more and more difficult logistically to travel with them. That’s why I like the Steinberger guitars. They’re easy to travel with…and they don’t get messed up by the airlines. Most airlines don’t let you take your guitars on the plane with you, they make you put them in the (cargo)hold which can really mess them up. I usually only take one, maybe two, guitars. It’s a convenience thing and also the condition of the guitar staying in the cabin, not the hold.
The last time we did an interview, you were heavily into baritone guitars. What’s your guitar of choice these days?
I quit playing the Steinberger-based baritone guitars because I had to carry around too much stuff. In recent years, it became impractical to carry two or three guitars when flying. Unfortunately, that means we don’t really play much Wardenclyffe Tower music, which heavily featured the baritone guitars. I can transpose the tunes but they don’t sound the same. So, I put those tunes on the back burner and hardly use the guitars anymore. I might pull them out for a recording project if someone wants me to play on a song and I think one might fit that track. These days, I typically use a Bill DeLap wood-bodied, headless guitar. I’m totally hooked on headless guitars. It’s hard for me to go back to a headstock and big body guitar. They don’t feel comfortable at all anymore. The DeLap is totally custom, but still all-Steinberger based. It has the Steinberger TransTrem and headpiece.
The Final Interview: Allan Holdsworth Talks SynthAxes, Jaw-Dropping Solos and More (Guitar World 2017)
You’ve played Carvin guitars for many years, and often play a Carvin Allan Holdsworth Signature HH2 headless guitar. How did it come about, and why do you like headless guitars? —Ed Simon
The first headless guitar that I played was a Steinberger—I fell in love with the design. They are extremely comfortable and make perfect sense. They are very stable and sound great, and it’s easier to change strings. Once you play a headless guitar, you get used to the fact that there is no headstock, and you’ll never want to play a regular guitar again. A number of years ago I talked to Carvin guitars, which is now Kiesel, about making me a headless guitar, and I loved it. I’ve been playing headless guitars ever since.