Effects of equal and unequal circumferential pick spacing on the performance of boom type roadheaders having cylindrical cutting heads are investigated. For this purpose, two experimental cutting heads with equal and unequal circumferential spacing are designed and manufactured. The cutting head with unequal circumferential spacing is specifically designed to prevent tool-holder overlap at the nose section. Manufacturing difficulties associated with equal circumferential pick spacing due to tool-holder overlap are discussed with solid modeling and practical applications. The heads are tested at Park Cayirhan Coal Mine in Turkey and their cutting performances are analysed. Although better cutting performance for equal circumferential spacing are predicted by force-balance analysis, in situ measurements of instantaneous (net) traversing speed and cutting rate, pick consumption rate and machine vibration show that no significant difference exists between the performances of the two cutting heads. (C) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.