While looking at several images of classical guitar headstocks, I noticed that there seem to be several ways people wind their strings on the capstans.

I have always used the variant where I wind the A, D, G and B string towards the inside:

enter image description here

But the other variant is to wind them all towards the outside:

enter image description here

(Note: These are images of some very expensive guitars, so I assume they know what they're doing?)

What would be the advantages/disadvantages of the second alternative? Can it be bad for the nut? Or does it depend on the guitar?


Here are a few of my own thoughts, but they are mostly theoretical:

  • With the second alternative, the tuning stability for the D and G strings might be better, because the last winding is being held in place by the other windings?
  • Look at the first picture: The G string touches the middle beam and that may be suboptimal? (If it happens also for the D string, which it sometimes does on my guitar, it may even cause abrasion on the wood and the string - I personally don't care too much about the wood there, but maybe some people do)

So I would like to try the second alternative, but looking at how the nut on my guitar looks, it seems that its notches have already been a bit indented to the left/right of the D/G strings. Currently, the amount of that looks just normal, but I assume this would get more pronounced if I use the other stringing alternative. I wonder, if this matters at all?

2 Answers 2


It's not going to make much difference on a classical guitar. Optimum would be that the strings follow straight lines over the nut to the tuner capstan, as there is slightly less stress sideways.So, if possible, finish the windings so that the string is as straight as it can be.

On electric guitars, with vibratos, it does help if this is the case.This was a reason that Leo used when inventing the Strat, although not all heads gave exact straight lines for all strings.

Obviously, on '3 a side' heads, it's almost impossible to do this, so a compromise is made.

More importantly, maybe, is that all three strings on each side are fed on the same.Sounds obvious, but I've seen guitars that teachers have re-strung, two one way, the other opposite.A pain when tuning !

Sometimes, it helps to wind a string over itself to stop the possibility of slipping.


The G string touches the middle beam and that may be suboptimal?

This may actually happen on G, D, and also both E strings. I marked the potential contact points in the photo:

classical guitar headstock with marked points where the strings might be in contact or proximity with the wood

If a string, in particular a wound one, leans on the wood, it will wear out the paint over time. But that's rather a very minor issue.

However, if a string passes very close to the wood, it may buzz on it unpleasantly when resonating with some notes. In such cases, one may try to change the winding pattern so that the string passes either farther away from the wood, or that it leans on it. I would suggest the former, as the contact with the wood also adds friction which may cause issues with tuning, as @Tim mentioned.

All these distances are quite small, and may vary from one instrument to another, so it's impossible to give a one-fit-all recipe.

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