What portion of a guitar does the customer look at first?

 I was watching a commentary by a noted luthier/dealer who stated the head stock is the first portion of a guitar that a customer looks at when they are shopping for a luthier-built guitar. What input do my fellow luthiers have regarding this theory?

Regards- Phil 

Tags: headstock

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I think I see the general shape of the instrument initially but I tend to focus on the head stock first. I think it may be the natural result of always trying to identify any guitars I see. I have noticed that it bugs me to watch a guitar on TV that has the head cut off in the picture. I also think that an otherwise beautiful guitar can be ruined by a weired shaped head.

Just my two cents.

The price tag is on the headstock - so after looking at the predominant style/visual feature that grabs the eye I guess that's where they look.

Acoustic guitar people have very little style differences to look at - one piece of yellow wood on the front with a hole in it looks much the same as any other, ditto the brown wood back and sides - the bridge shape, pick-guard shape  and headstock shape is the general points of difference.  But, if the customer is shopping for a brand they will obviously look at the headstock and the price tag to determine if two of their principle selection criteria are met (what brand?, how much?). 

Electric guitars are generally blinged-up, shiny plastic toy like objects with all sorts of figured appearances and eye-catching knobs and hardware sets  coupled with "look at me" inlays both plastic and genuine - some with headstocks which can take your eye out.    They suffer the vagaries of fashion with retro styling and "relic" finishes currently abounding, overlayed with enough shiny figured wood (and plastic faux wood finishes) to make a million coffee tables.   The big end of town still get a tick for brand recognition and tone - the rest of it is;  how good does this look in a mirror.

Yours, not entirely seriously, Rusty.

I hold the guitar up to a mirror and say "Does this guitar make my ass look fat". I don't know why I bother, they all do...




I asked my wife the very same question once.

She simply said: "The guitar has nothing to do with it!!".

Hi Phil,

"the first portion of a guitar a customer looks at"... the first glance, or the first part being closer inspected, or... It sounds verry obvious- but it isn’t.

I think the way guitars are displayed has lots to do with the part that is "first seen"...

But: looking at a guitar does start at a distance, it is seen as it is (the full picture).

Then, right after that, they come closer and start their inspection.

If the guitar is hanging from the wall, with the soundhore on nose hight, their attention will be focused on the parts they can then easely see. Maybe it’s the label, or the bridge or, or...

If that guitar is on a stand, then the headstock (are we ever sure they’re not then looking at the tuners?) would be more visible,

and that one with the most beautifull backside, hanging front to wall...

Is it realy interesting to know what part is "seen first"? I mean: your question relates to a specific kind of guitar-buyers: the ones "shopping for a luthier-built guitar". Now that’s the kind of person I wouldn’t expect to "go for the first impression". They will almost "study" a guitar and will compare them to either phisical pressent other instruments or to their remembrance of ones they’ve seen before....

In all: I’m sure your friend is wrong with his assumption: like in retail it’s not too difficult to have cusomers focus precisely on what we want them to focus on (but only for a short period of time) if they are left to look arround for themselves.


The price tag. I get really annoyed if it is turned around so that I can't see the price, especially if I am not allowed to get the guitar down myself. I want to know what the instrument is that I am looking at, and the price, of course.

Thank you for the input. I want to stress this gentleman was talking about luthier built guitars in the $7K price range in an

exclusive shop.

Regards -Phil

It find it best to let my ears and hands 'see' first. Then look at the price tag.

The Finish !   First question.....Did you do the finish?


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