What’s on a Bass Guitar Headstock?

bass guitar headstock

The headstock is the top of the bass guitar and houses the Tuning keys (pegs) that you use to change the pitch of the bass strings. The headstock can be straight or angled, and comes in many different shapes.

The nut is the piece of wood that holds the strings in place between the neck and the headstock. The nut is an important part of the bass guitar and can have a large impact on how it sounds and feels to play.

String Tree

A string tree is a small piece of hardware that can be found on the headstock of a bass guitar. It is designed to help keep the strings in place and prevent them from slipping off of the tuning pegs. It is usually made from metal, but can also be made of graphite to reduce friction and wear on the strings.

In general, string trees are only necessary on guitars with flat Fender-style headstocks and are not needed on angled headstocks. However, they can be helpful when you are experiencing issues with weak or buzzing sounds, as well as keeping your strings from rattling against the headstock while you are playing.

These little widgets create the proper break angle for each individual string, which keeps them firmly slotted in the nut. This is important for intonation, as the string will not vibrate properly when it isn’t firmly seated.

Depending on the guitar, you may see single or double string trees. These may be located near the tuning pegs or behind the locking nut.

Many people claim that string trees can help to improve the tone of a guitar by keeping the strings from rattling against the headstock. While this can be helpful, it isn’t essential and is ultimately up to the player to determine whether or not they are comfortable using string trees.

It is also possible to adjust the height of a string tree by inserting a short or tall spacer. This allows you to control the string angle, allowing you to use a shorter or longer set of strings in order to achieve the desired sound.

While some guitar players prefer to use string trees because they feel they affect the tone of the instrument, others do not. This can be a personal decision, but if you are not comfortable using them then it is best to contact a repair shop and ask about replacing them with something that is more appropriate for your needs.

Truss Rod

Bass guitar necks are prone to bowing, and the truss rod is an important tool to straighten them. A bowing neck will make it difficult to play and it can also cause fret buzz. The truss rod can be tightened to straighten a bowed neck or loosened to give it relief (up-bow).

It is crucial that you use the right sized tool for adjusting your truss rod and you should always check for any damage before removing the nut. You can usually get the correct sized wrench from your guitar’s owner’s manual or at your local music store.

To test for a bowed neck, put your finger on the 1st fret of the low E string and press down on the 22nd fret with your other hand. The gap between the strings should be about the thickness of a business card. If your guitar has a slight bow, the gap should be slightly larger.

If you notice that the gap is bigger, then you’ve probably bent the neck too far and need to loosen the truss rod. This is where the adage “righty tighty, lefty loosey” comes in.

Once you have determined that you’ve bowed the neck too far, you can loosen it by turning the truss rod nut clockwise. This will apply more pressure to the neck, which pulls it into a back bow. This can be a pain and will lead to a lot of tension in the neck, so you should only turn it a quarter turn at a time.

You should always re-tune your guitar after adjusting the truss rod to ensure that it is in-tune. It will take a few days for the adjustment to settle before you can see any changes, so be patient!

You can also loosen the truss rod by attaching two capos at the 1st and 15th frets of the neck. This will make the capos visible and show you if the curvature of the neck is correct.


The nut is a small piece of hard material that supports the strings at one end closest to the headstock. It also sets the spacing of strings across the neck, and holds them at the proper height from the fingerboard.

Nuts are usually made of bone, brass or plastic and come in different shapes and sizes. They are a big part of the tone and balance of your bass guitar, and can help you keep your strings in tune for longer by making it easier to adjust them while playing.

Some types of nuts are notched or grooved for the strings, and others are smooth-sided with no notch at all. The grooves are designed to lead the strings from the fingerboard to the headstock or pegbox in a smooth curve. This reduces friction between the string and the headstock or pegbox, as well as protect the strings’ windings.

Another type of nut is a ‘zero-fret’ nut, which means that the starting point of each string ‘takes off’ from the front edge. This is a common design that most guitars have and is useful for tuning consistency on the entire neck.

Many bass players prefer ‘zero-fret’ nuts to help their bass stay in tune better when they bend or tune their bass. However, they can be difficult to get right.

When a nut is worn out or poorly constructed, the resulting problems are often a lot more severe than you might think. A nut that’s out of place or wrongly shaped can cause buzzing, uneven action, fretting out and poor intonation.

The nut is a vital component of any bass, and it’s worth taking the time to get this piece of your guitar as perfect as possible. That’s why Graph Tech precision molds and engineers its nuts to create the most consistent tone, string balance and precise string spacing.

The nut width and string spacing can be tricky to get right, but they’re important for a bass’s tone. The nut is the narrowest part of a bass’s neck, and its width is a big factor in how the bass feels to play. It’s also the narrowest spot where a bass neck meets its headstock.


The fretboard on a bass guitar headstock is where your fingers will find the smallest notes as you play. This is the surface that your strings will touch, so it’s important to make sure that it’s made of a hard-wearing wood that can stand up to years of use.

There are many different types of fretboard woods that you can choose from. They vary in hardness, workability and tone, but all of them are designed to last for a long time. Some of the most popular fretboard woods include rosewood, maple, ebony and pao ferro.

Fretboards are curved to accommodate the natural shape of your finger in playing position. The amount of curvature that a fretboard has is called its radius and can be measured using a feeler gauge (which is usually provided with your guitar).

You’ll see this measure on the outside of the neck, near the nut or the top of the high E string at the 17th fret. The radius should be a minimum of a few millimetres. If it’s more than that then the neck is either bowing backwards or has a gap in it that will cause buzzes and rattles as you play.

If the measurement is a little too big then it’s time for a bit of maintenance and adjustments to make sure that the neck is curved in the right direction. It’s best to have a guitar technician check it for you but there are some steps you can take on your own too.

Getting your bass neck straight is essential. If it’s not you’ll end up with lots of string buzzes and intonation issues as you play, and it will also be a pain to hold the bass down on a flat surface because of the extra relief.

Rest the bottom of the bass on a padded workspace and position the headstock over your shoulder so that you can clearly see down the neck from nut to bridge via the lower outer string (B or E). You can judge the neck’s curvature by using this as your straightedge: If there’s a small gap between the nut and the first fret then the neck is bowing backwards, if not then it’s probably straight.