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Lock stock and barrel

Posted by Anders on November 29, 2003

In Reply to: Lock stock and barrel posted by Lewis on November 28, 2003

: : : As you know, we recently had a discussion of the meaning of "flip side," at which point the coin-related expression "heads or/and tails" came up. Well, here's the expression again, only this time with a very different meaning: "These people were already building Stratocaster type guitars that were heads and tails better than anything Fender was doing" (from link below). The meaning, I suspect, is "in every way/aspect/detail/sense/etc." Has anyone seen this expression before?
: : : Anders

: : Perhaps the writer unconsciously warped the expression "head and shoulders"?

: : Head and shoulders: (a) By force; violently; as, to drag one, head and shoulders. "They bring in every figure of speech, head and shoulders." --Felton. (b) By the height of the head and shoulders; hence, by a great degree or space; by far; much; as, he is head and shoulders above them.

: Should have been 'head, neck and shoulders above'?

: Guitars have a head-stock where the strings are wound around the tuning pegs, a neck - on which the fingerboard/fretboard is placed and shoulders, where the neck meets the body of the guitar. I think I may have heard somebody once call the strap button (from which a guitar is suspended when played standing up) a 'tail' but 'tail-piece' is I think an accepted term for the string suspender when it is attached to the guitar at the point of that button, as it is on some semi-acoustic f-hole guitars (but not stratocasters/telecasters or other solid-body guitars).

: So it may be possible that the writer meant from one end to the other 'head to tail'. Not common, but conceivably accurate.

: I hope that helps.

Yes, you're quite right. The two parts of the guitar are called thus. I thought about just that after posting. However, it doesn't quite hold. Had this been the meaning, it should have been "heads to tails" (or "head to tail"), not "heads AND tails." The meaning is not just that heads and tailpieces were better done on the Fender alternatives; the meaning is that the alternatives were superior in every way. But I find it reasonable to suspect that the somewhat unorthodox expression has come about as you suggest, viz. as a reference to these two parts of the guitar, one at either end (almost). Bottom line, there seems to be no such expression as "heads and tails" meaning "in every way"; and the attempt here made at introducing it is inconsistent with the context.