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Thread: Who was the first guitarist to use the reversed headstock

  1. #1
    Overlord of Music kimball492's Avatar
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    Who was the first guitarist to use the reversed headstock

    Who was the first guitar player to rock a reverse headstock? Hint: It wasn't Jimi Hendrix.
    Jimi Hendrix and Otis Rush flipped their right-handed guitars over and played them lefty. Steve Miller flipped a lefty over and played it righty. They all certainly helped to popularize the look of the upside down headstock, but none played a true "reverse headstock", with the orientation of the headstock intentionally mismatched to the body. So who was the first player to do it? And which guitar company was the first to offer it as original spec?
    The idea of situating the tuning machines along the treble side of an electric guitar headstock is probably older than you think. The Iolana lap-steel, manufactured by Valco in the 50's, was a double-neck affair with a reverse-headstock on the lower of the two necks to improve tuner access. The first production 6-string electric guitar to feature a reverse headstock - on a neck-through design no less - was the Gibson Firebird®, which was released 1963. This model is now commonly referred to as the "Reverse Firebird®", not because of its reverse headstock, but because of the unusual prominence of its lower bout. The tuning machines on those early models were "banjo-style" tuners, with the buttons situated behind the headstock, in-line with the gears.

    The reverse headstock as we think of it today was certainly inspired by players like Otis Rush, Jimi Hendrix, and Steve Miller, all known for rotating the entire guitar 180 degrees and playing it upside down. While Otis and Jimi may have done it out of necessity (left-handed models being somewhat rare), Steve probably did it because he liked the look. However, flipping the guitar over in such a manner had an undesirable side-effect: it put the controls, tremolo bar, and output jack in an unusual and awkward position, and inhibited access to the upper frets.

    Fender® instruments, however, had an important distinction from other manufacturers. Their modular, bolt-on design opened up the possibility of mixing and matching components. The first person to actually bolt a left-handed neck to a right-handed body was probably someone who, like Steve Miller, simply liked the look of the topsy-turvy headstock. Unlike Miller, however, this approach allowed them to keep the guitar's controls, tremolo bar, and output jack in the traditional locations.

    So, who was it?

  2. #2
    Overlord of Music dave.king1's Avatar
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    Damn good question, probably not John Jorgenson but he did play a reverse headstock at a Hellecasters reunion show.

    Thought it was this clip but as usual I'm wrong but it's too good not to post ( John, Jerry & Will doing what they do best )
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=d424fO4RZpg
    Last edited by dave.king1; 11-11-2015 at 06:33 PM.

  3. #3
    Overlord of Music kimball492's Avatar
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    Let's build up the suspense lol

  4. #4
    Moderator dingobass's Avatar
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    John Maher?

    There is always a workaround for glitches, mistakes and other Guitar building gremlins.....

  5. #5
    Moderator Gavin1393's Avatar
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    I was going to say Keith Urban! hahaha

    But Michael Hampton is regarded as the first, and I think the first guitar was the Gibson '63 Firebird.....
    http://www.buildyourownguitar.com.au/forum/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=1258&dateline=1443806  448Gavmeister

  6. #6
    Overlord of Music kimball492's Avatar
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    Initials Are MH. Gavin Is correct

    It is tough to say with complete certainty, but there is a good chance it was Michael Hampton, guitarist for the world-renowned funk band Funkadelic. Hampton's career with Funkadelic began around 1974. Photos and video footage of Parliament-Funkadelic concerts from that era show him playing a right-handed Fender Stratocaster® equipped with a left-handed neck. Hampton had long been a fan of customized cars, and enjoyed modifying things to suit his own personal taste. In addition to the left-handed neck, Hampton also tricked out the body with rhinestones, sparkles, and most interesting of all: three DiMarzio Super Distortion® humbucking pickups. This makes his guitar all the more noteworthy, as it predates Eddie Van Halen's famous pairing of a humbucker and a Strat®-style body by several years! Hampton still owns the guitar today, and has considered bringing it back into rotation, but admits that after countless gigs the iconic neck needs a little TLC before that can happen.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by kimball492; 11-11-2015 at 09:59 PM.

  7. #7

    An interesting question that came to my mind the other day.......

    It may not be a six-string, but I noticed the other day that Glenn Cornick of Jethro Tull, in his 1968 performance on the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus had a leftie neck on his right-handed Fender Jazz bass. It had previously had a conventional original neck fitted. Apparently it was taken from a Precision and was the only one he could find at the time. I'm fairly certain I have not seen an earlier example of a proper 'reverse headstock' (leftie neck on rightie body)..... but would love to know the definitive answer....

  8. #8
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    1968 probably pre-dates this one... I think Dusty Hill started to use one in the 1970s...

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    He'll be missed...

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