Let me start by saying that I wasn’t sure how to manage the official count for hockey stick headstocks in this article. There are more than five brands mentioned in this article, but do you count brands that have similar guitars in their parent brand? (Hockey) stick with me here …
Spoiler alert … Gibson has a hockey stick headstock offering in their Explorer. Epiphone also has an Explorer with the hockey stick headstock. Counting them as separate guitars seemed wrong to me. Kramer is owned by Gibson, but they’re worthy of their own listing here because their guitar isn’t an Explorer. Hopefully, my logic is not flawed.
Before getting into the list, I’ll also quickly mention that I know these headstocks are often referred to as banana headstocks. I prefer the hockey stick term. I don’t find the banana name to be … a-peeling.
So, knowing that we’re looking for different guitar styles from one brand or different brands simply using the hockey stick headstock, let’s get straight into it.
The Gibson Explorer is a guitar model that has been a recognisable user of the hockey stick style headstock for many years. The headstock fits the guitar’s body shape perfectly both in style and angles. It’s also iconic for being one of very few Gibson guitars to have a six-a-side headstock design.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there is also an Epiphone Explorer with a hockey stick headstock. It’s the same, but different.
As the name implies, the Kramer 84 is a guitar whose design comes from the decade that saw the hockey stick headstock rise in prominence. The Kramer model has one thing in common with every other guitar in this list. The headstock is attached to a Super Strat—complete with a locking nut and locking vibrato.
In the 80s, this combination was strong. Few did it as well as Kramer did with this 84 shape (or the Baretta range with its offset bridge pickup that you can still purchase today).
ESP Sunburst Tiger
The ESP Sunburst Tiger is a great example of the signature models that George Lynch made popular when he became ESP’s first signature artist. Both this guitar and the Kamikaze-1 feature the bright and bold graphics that suited this guitar shape and the playing style that George and other guitar icons of the era were playing.
Just as Epiphone has an offering very similar to the Gibson offering, it’s worth noting that George Lynch has his own custom guitar offering where people can get guitars similar to his ESP signature series. Those guitars are called Mr. Scary Guitars and they often come with hockey stick headstocks. The Mr. Scary Guitars are hand-made by George Lynch.
EVH 5150 series
One of the most prominent users of the hockey stick headstock was Eddie Van Halen. An obvious example would be his 5150 signature guitar and its iconic striped design. For me though, the 5150 Series Standard in Ebony is near perfection.
Everything is black and everything is in place for some hard rock or metal guitar playing. The headstock suits this guitar perfectly.
JHALE Guitars None More Black
Speaking of all black, one guitar I’ve been a fan of for a very long time is the None More Black by JHALE guitars. It’s the dark horse in this list and it’s a guitar I believe needs greater recognition.
Like the ESP offerings, the None More Black features a reversed hockey stick headstock. This guitar also features all of the locking vibrato joy that the other Super Strat guitars include in this list. All of the hardware on this guitar is top shelf including an FU-Tone brass block and titanium string-lock inserts.
I’m sure there are more manufacturers out there utilising the hockey stick headstock in their designs. I hope there are. It’s a design style I’m yet to own and fully appreciate, but it’s a style I’ve long admired.
If you’re an observant person, you’d have noticed that the header image for this article features a guitar that’s not in this list. That would be because at the time of writing, the Dave Mustaine signature series by Gibson hasn’t been released. Promotional images have been shown online, but the models themselves have not been made available for sale.
Should there be a black or white flying V with the hockey stick headstock, and it’s what I’d call affordable, then it’s most likely going to be the next guitar I attempt to buy.