If you love a Gibson then you probably hate a volutes. But, they do play an essential part of a guitar.
What is a Volute? A volute is located on a scarf headstock joint and is a slight ridge on the weaker area to provide support and tuning stability to guitars with a headstock that is angled.
There is much debate on this topic whether volutes actually work. I will take you through my experience and my thoughts of this whole debate.
1. What are Volutes?
I like to provide clarity and so I will go into slightly more detail about what a Volute is.
A “Volute” or also known as a “carved heel” is a triangular reinforced beam located at the point between the headstock and the fret board.
These are only relevant to tilted headstocks because the tilted headstock has a weak point at the point where the headstock and fret board join (scarf joint).
This reinforced beam is a thickening of the wood usually triangular, as triangles are known to be the strongest form.
2. Why are Volutes Important?
Les Pauls are famous for their tuning problems, which is mainly down to the neck not being able to support a headstock at such a large angle.
Volutes are important for tilted neck guitars (especially those that have greater angled) as the support it provides helps the tuning stability.
This means in cases when you bend a note, the string will add extra tension to the neck where it would bow and sharpen the other strings (making them slightly out of tune for a moment).
It is said that by having a Volute will reduce this phenomenon.
3. Do Volutes Increase the Strength of a Tilted neck?
There is no denying that volutes add to the stability to the guitar neck. Thicker wood and denser wood always means stronger reinforcement for the properties of wood.
It obvious, but the debate is the amount of support it gives is not noticeable and worth the extra time is spent to manufacturing.
End of the day if you drop your guitar (with or without a volute) the neck will probably break.
3. Aesthetics of a Volute
Gibson players hate volutes because it takes away the characteristics of a Les Paul.
Les Pauls are already known for their thick necks and so by adding more thickness to it is overkill.
And… To be honest I think they are right in saying this.
But, overall I think Volutes are actually aesthetically pleasing and the work well for Ibanez and my custom guitar has one which I really like.
Volute is another component that is overlooked do to appearing small and insignificant. But, it does play an important role in tuning stability and aesthetics.