A few weeks ago, the S7G team boarded a flight to Anaheim, CA, with several new guitar models to debut at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show. In fact, the hassle of traveling with full-size guitars is what prompted one of our new designs – the lightweight, travel-friendly headless fanned fret guitar we call Raven HL.
Headless guitars – which cut off the traditional headstock and relocate the tuners – have been growing in popularity lately, much like fanned fret guitars. With no headstock, headless guitars become easier to travel with. Ours measures 34-36 inches (as opposed to 45 with a headstock) and weighs only six pounds. Even though it is not chambered, this is a sold body neck through monster.
Back in 2013, Strictly 7 Guitars ghost-built headless guitars on contract for another company, so we already had a history with this type of instrument. The tone of the guitars we ghost-built was not bad – at least, not for jazz and rock – but it wasn’t designed for heavy metal, which is what S7G caters to So last August, I finally sat down with our CAD designer, Dave, to hammer out our own design, improving the issues we’ve seen on other headless guitars, and 12 hours later, we had the plans for Raven HL.
Today, we were stoked to finally unveil our new headless fanned fret design. Here’s why we think we’ve created a superior headless axe:
It’s headless; not ass-less.
The biggest nuisance that personally bothers me about most headless guitars is where most luthiers stick the misplaced tuners. With no headstock, many manufacturers cut sections of wood out of the back of the body – what I call the “ass-end” of the guitar – and plop the tuners there.
But when you cut sections out of the guitar body, it alters the mass of the instrument, which alters tone, because there’s a direct correlation between mass and tone. Plus, visually speaking, it just bothers me to cut away more of a guitar when the headstock is already missing.
I wanted to design an aesthetically balanced headless guitar that allowed room to tune, but without cutting the ass out. I achieved this by cutting away just enough wood to access the tuners, but maintaining the mass of the instrument – and, therefore, the monstrosity of tone... all while allowing this cutaway to flow with the design and shape of the instrument, as opposed to a forced, obtrusive and blunt cutaway
On a traditional guitar with a headstock, the strap button is in normally in the center of the butt. That piece gets cut away on most headless guitars, which forces the strap button to relocate, which shifts the balance of the instrument. Because we maintained the ass end of Raven HL, we left a place to put the strap button, which improves the balance of our headless guitar when it hangs from the strap on your shoulder.
Thanks to its balanced shape, you can set this guitar on your lap and play traditionally, or even play in classical position – which is not normally an option with most headless guitars because the tuners are in the way.
Additionally, this design uses S7G’s proprietary Flattened "D" neck shape, which makes this guitar ergonomic and more comfortable to play.
It’s built for monstrous tone.
To keep Raven HL lightweight and easy to travel with, we selected swamp ash from the bottom of the tree for the body wood. Not only is it lightweight, 1.2-1.4 pounds per board foot, it’s a nice responsive wood that attacks tone on the low end as well as your mids. Metal demands the quick, sharp, in-your-face attack that swamp ash provides; otherwise the sound can get rounded and muddy.
The maple neck-through with walnut stringers and ebony fingerboard gives the pickups a tight-grained wood to mount to, which helps to further accentuate the mids and tightens up the low end.
It’s one-of-a-kind, down to the hardware.
Ideally, the bridge pickup should be as near parallel to the bridge as possible, to maximize the attack of the low notes. On the headless guitars we built previously, the pickups were either just perpendicular to the strings or not as aggressively slanted as they could be to match the angles created by the multi-scale in question. This left too much space between the bridge and the pickup, and the low end of the tone suffered.
Typically, on a headless multi-scale guitar, the severe angle of the frets paired with the extended scale length can severely limit the pickup options, making it difficult to achieve the aggressive, growly tone metal musicians crave. To solve this, we sought out a company to custom-manufacture pickups specifically for our angles, and Johan Lundgren agreed. Now, thanks to one-of-a-kind custom pickups from Lundgren, the custom M7 and M8 bridge pickups and the bridge are almost perfectly parallel, while the neck pickup is much more parallel to the 24th fret as well.
For now, we’re using Floyd Rose locking nuts, although we are working with a company to produce lockdowns unique to this guitar.
It has more options than Baskin-Robbins.
Neck-through or bolt-on, multi-scale or not, headless or headstock: This model has nearly limitless options, like all of our instruments at S7G.
Our standard Raven HL is a neck-through model (unlike many headless guitars on the market right now, which have bolt-on necks). We will make a bolt-on version to cut costs for customers, but the neck-through design really creates a monstrous tone.
We make a headless guitar without multi-scale as well, but from a metal perspective, the fanned fret design delivers a lot of benefits.
Read our blog post - Is A Multi-Scale Guitar Right for You? to learn more about why you may going multi-scale may be right for you.
While we designed Raven HL with heavy metal guitarists in mind, we constructed it so that, by simply changing out the pickups, altering wood options, and chambering if desired we can alter this instrument for rock, jazz and even country – much more effectively than a rock or jazz guitar could be modified for metal.
S7G introduced two versions of its headless Raven (Patent Pending) model at NAMM – the standard swamp ash and maple/walnut neck painted in black (pictured above) and a special edition featuring stripes of ebony, maple and black limba, or black korina, and a fingerboard of beautiful East Indian Rosewood (below).