Changing Guitar Headstock

DIY hack – Guitar Headstock Shape and Logo.

Guitar Headstock Shape

Original Guitar Headstock and New Headstock

Original Guitar Headstock and New Headstock

It’s pretty easy to change the shape of a guitar headstock.  While the only consideration is the string direction across the head.  I wanted the strings to remain as straight as possible through the nut to the machine heads.  Because the original fender style has them continuing in a straight line from the bridge to the machine head and as little bending at the nut as possible.  This helps stabilise the tuning and puts less pressure on the nut.
Best option is to use the original machine head holes. This way I can use 4 on top side and only move two to the other.  A bit like an OLP.  I also wanted the guitar headstock to be smaller and lighter, so removing unwanted wood had to happen.  I couldn’t use locking tuners as this would have added more weight back to the headstock and ruined the lightening effort.  Just moving the 2 farthest machine heads over and in closer to the body of the guitar will give it a better balance.

Choosing Machine Heads

The original machine heads are going to be replaced.  Only because one is busted and replacing a single tuner would look out of place with old existing tuners.  I think replacing them will give me the opportunity to change the look and colour as well.  Now I’m thinking of going all black hardware with accents of silver and polished metal.  I’ll be getting two sets, a left and a right, and using two on the flipped side so they line up nicely.

This is going to pretty funky and that’s the whole idea.  I’m sticking to the $100 budget.  Two sets of machine heads still only cost me $15 brand new on Ebay.  Some of you will say that $15 machine heads will be crap.  Well I think that the set originally put on the guitar were around the same budget and they worked fine, so I’ll take a chance.

Arranging the layout

Looking at the front, the spacing needs to be moved a bit.  I put the first tuner on and when the second one was ready to be drilled I noticed the screw tab on the back would interfere with it.  So I drilled the second tuner a bit further away and as a result had to slide the first one a bit.  It’s not a big deal, just a bit of filler.  If I was going to put a clear finish and have the wood grain showing, it would have been a bad mistake.  Moving the machine heads created another problem.  The new rounded section near the neck had to be flattened because the tuner had to stay on the string line.  (Black Texter lines) This meant the guitar headstock had to be thinner so the button would clear the timber and look even.

The New Guitar Headstock logo!

This guitar was originally an Artist Guitar.  I must say that it is a great platform to start from.  So I think Artist guitars deserve to still have their logo on the guitar with a little extra bling added.

Now because you can’t actually buy this I’m calling it a ‘Unicorn Guitar‘.  I’ll also give it a unique serial number and include the upgrades.  CE001 seams to be acurate.  I’ve stuck the serial number in the middle of Unicorn to substitute the ‘i’ and it worked out pretty well.  The serial number stands for Custom Electronics number 1.  I’ve included the silhouette of a Unicorn on the end as well. The shape of the Unicorn head fills the round end of the headstock better.


I tried quite a few different designs and word variations in Microsoft Publisher, but any program will do. The one I use most is ‘InkScape’. It’s completely free and works better than anything else I’ve tried. I’ll put a link here for an easy download.  Maybe the design and wiring in it as well so you can load it a play around.

Once I finalise the logo I’ll print it on ‘waterslide‘ paper and get it on the guitar headstock.  I’m not yet sure what colour to do the head. Because I know there will be paint on the back of it. Most probably the same colour as the body to keep the cost down. But I have a few options I could try for the front. Paint is the logical choice.  It will make the waterslide logo go on nice and easy and really ‘pop’. And be the cheapest.

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The budget is still only $100. I may have to change something else to pay for the head work. Maybe a piece of veneer could be used and so keep the timber look. This is probably the way to go. It will add another dimension to the guitar and shouldn’t put much weight back. As a result, the only hassle will be the curve where the truss rod access is. Once I make a decision on this guitar headstock, more photos will be added.