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Rllink
12-30-2018, 12:56 PM
I've seen several threads lately where people are talking about how much they love slotted headstocks. Why? I'll go ahead and start by saying that I'm not particularly attracted to them. I'm just asking for the sake of discussion.

Django
12-30-2018, 02:07 PM
Classical guitars and 19th and early 20th century guitars often had them. They are classic and they also put additional downward force on the nut. They allow for the use of very nice geared tuners without having the knobs sticking out like ears, (I never liked that on a banjo or ukulele). The downside is that they are a little more difficult to string. It comes down to preference, but unless the instrument is vintage, or a replica of a vintage instrument, I prefer them and I preferred them on my guitars as well. I also like the way the slots expose the different layers and shades of the wood where they bevel. To me, they give the head a lot of character and style.

kohanmike
12-30-2018, 02:48 PM
I have and like them both, no preference particularly. It's nice that the layers of wood shows in a slotted head, but knobs sticking out or down don't matter to me at all.

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 10 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini electric bass guitars

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jelow1966
12-30-2018, 04:27 PM
I assume a heavier headstock would increase sustain. That is the main function of the upper gourd on a sitar,to add weight. Whatever sound it produces is only heard by the player though you can get a really cool sound by recording with a mike inside it, built in reverb :)

As for slotted versus non I would tend to lean towards a slotted though I don't own any right now. It's a nice look.

John

UkingViking
12-30-2018, 11:09 PM
For me, I guess I just like the look of a slotted headstock.

I assume that they were there in the first place to provide better support for the tuners, so didnt have to cantilever, which was probably an advantage if they couldnt make them with todays precision. I dunno. Does anybody have facts on this?

Anyway, of my ukes only my Anuenue Mahogany has a traditional slotted headstock. It looks good, but considering the extra weight it brings - I am not sure I consider it an advabtage. I dont think that I will necessarily persue these headstock on future ukes, all though it was part of what made me buy this one.

peterbright
12-31-2018, 01:47 AM
More difficult to restring is the primary downside to me.

Swamp Yankee
12-31-2018, 02:05 AM
I like the look—more consistent with other stringed instruments. Flat paddles to me look more like toys.

The tuners all tighten the strings in the same turning direction, and turning the pegs is more ergonomic, less awkward.

The break angle across the nut is increased—similar tonal advantages as at the saddle (though, as far as I can work out, this would only affect strings played open, and I don't see the sense of having them sound different from stopped strings—rather, that strikes me as a disadvantage).

The buttons point back, as with friction tuners, for a somewhat sleek look—at least, from the front. (I often hear people say they prefer friction tuners for this reason, ignoring that, to the player, friction tuner pegs actually "stick out" more than standard geared tuners. But maybe they're more concerned with the visual impression they make on others—or spend more time looking at their ukes than playing them.)

With a slotted headstock, an ornate logo or headstock design is unnecessary. I'm not a fan of the kind of glitz often added to paddle headstocks.

Tuners for slotted headstocks are usually joined by a plate, often embossed with a design reminiscent of filigree—dressy without lapsing into gaudy.

Slotted headstock tuners tend to be of good quality, and are always open-geared and adjustable (at least, I haven't yet encountered an exception). There's no way to adjust a sealed tuner or UPT, apart from tightening the button, if you can even do that. Of course, many open-geared standard tuners are adjustable, and it costs less to replace them, should the need arise.

If there is added weight (remember, the slots take away some mass that the thickness adds), the "imbalance" may not matter if you play routinely with a strap, as I do.

A heavier headstock is said to aid the sound in some way: resonance? tone? sustain? I forget.

A slotted headstock carries more cachet as far as general public perception, partly because you seldom see cheap ukes with them—they cost more to make.

I've seen some cool slot designs—more striking and stylish than varying the paddle shape. The beveled bottom of a slot also shows off a layered headstock more effectively.

This masterful response not only mirrors my reasons for appreciating slotted headstocks, it also gives me some new reasons as well. :D

Jerryc41
12-31-2018, 02:06 AM
I simply like the looks. I even bought a slothead neck to make a banjo uke.

Down Up Dick
12-31-2018, 03:11 AM
My Tenor Guitar and my Eight String Uke both have slotted headstocks, and my Flea has a big rectangular hole in the headstock. I haven’t had any more than the usual problems stringing any of them.

I really like the look of the first two a lot. The big, rectangular hole and the ears sticking out — not so much. :old:

TheBathBird
12-31-2018, 03:16 AM
This
More difficult to restring is the primary downside to me.

I have one uke with a slotted headstock and I hate it, as soon as I get a chance I'm planning on trading it in for pretty much anything else (as long as it's got a flat headstock).

Slotted headstocks on guitars are fine, but IMO ukuleles are just too small, it makes string changes tediously fiddly.

merlin666
12-31-2018, 03:49 AM
I think for ukuleles they are mainly used in tenor size to emulate a "classic guitar" look, whereas for soprano and concert friction tuners (or geared look-alikes) provide a more instrument-appropriate design. I have a 12-fret 12-string guitar with a slotted headstock, and I prefer its tuner button access to the paddle headed guitars I own.

Jim Yates
12-31-2018, 04:22 AM
114382Regal tiple headstock
114384Banduria heastock
114383Maggie's Martin

I have no ukes with slotted headstocks, but do have three instruments in the house with slotted headstocks. I like the looks of these instruments, but re-stringing takes at least twice the time that my other instruments do. These instruments all have steel strings; perhaps nylon would be easier.

Rllink
12-31-2018, 04:39 AM
I've always liked them on guitars, but I think that they look clunky on ukuleles. Visually they also look heavy, I guess that is the same as clunky. Physically that in itself would not bother me, I'm strong enough that the weight wouldn't be an issue, but I have read here treads from people who are really put off by the weight of the headstock, so much so that they use light weight tuners. I would think that those folks would avoid a slotted headstock.

Rakelele
12-31-2018, 04:49 AM
1. I like the looks of a slotted headstock, especially on the more guitar-like builds with a spruce or cedar top.

2. A slotted headstock makes changing strings easier for me (all tuners facing and turning in the same direction).

3. My impression is that a slotted headstock has a positive impact on the sound, if it has an impact at all.

I can see how a slotted headstock could be a bit too much on the smaller sizes and more traditional builds.

Kenn2018
12-31-2018, 12:41 PM
I have read that some slotted designs are more fragile than paddle headstocks. I have no evidence that is the case.

It's mostly aesthetics and what you are used to. Back in the 70s, for acoustic guitars, classical guitars with nylon & wound strings had a slotted headstock, while steel strung folk & jazz guitars were paddle. That seems to have changed a lot and is more what you like than functionality.

I don't find slotted headstocks any more difficult to string. Maybe a little longer to do so. The MyaMoe website has an interesting video about how he strung their ukes so the strings would absolutely not slip on the tuners.

luv2uke
12-31-2018, 08:29 PM
Joel Souza, owner and builder of Kanilea ukuleles, mentioned that slotted headstocks sound better. Something about the break angle?

ralphk
01-01-2019, 03:40 AM
If you are a "change the string set" type, stay away from slotted headstocks -- much harder than conventional

EDW
01-01-2019, 03:50 AM
I've always liked them on guitars, but I think that they look clunky on ukuleles. ....

I tend to agree with that, especially on smaller ukes. Perhaps on a larger uke they look better. For what ever reason, I also like ukes to look a little more distinct and not like little guitars.

ScooterD35
01-01-2019, 03:55 AM
Four of my Ukes and two of my guitars have slotted headstocks. There was a bit of a learning curve for restringing at first, but it quickly became just as easy as paddleheads for me. I love the look, as well as the added benefit of the better break angle at the nut.


Scooter

Rllink
01-01-2019, 04:25 AM
Joel Souza, owner and builder of Kanilea ukuleles, mentioned that slotted headstocks sound better. Something about the break angle?Do you have some link to that discussion? I just wonder how he defines a better sound? Sound is pretty subjective. .

Martinlover
01-01-2019, 04:46 AM
As mentioned by Kenn2018, I too found Mya-Moe’s video to be a great help the first time I restrung a slot head.


https://youtu.be/4nrCvmcY9oA

kerneltime
01-01-2019, 04:52 AM
Do you have some link to that discussion? I just wonder how he defines a better sound? Sound is pretty subjective. .

Disclaimer: I am not an expert but have seen and read enough to be dangerous :-( I would like some one who truly knows to chime in and either disagree or agree.

From what I understand the break angle helps avoid leakage of the vibration beyond the nut (when you pluck a string, does the string after the nut vibrate). The job of the nut is to send the vibration back down to the saddle... since the tuner rod is lower down the break angle is steeper.

This is also believed to be a marginal gain, most folks won't notice such a difference but I also believe, sum of all marginal gains makes a great ukulele.

That said, it also depends on the overall design of the uke, is the whole body participating, neck, head stock (I believe lighter builds do it) whereas heavier builds tend to isolate the vibration to the strings, saddle and top.. Also, slotted head stocks tend to lighter but I would guess it depends on the wood used for the neck.

In summary.. there might be a legitimate difference in sound for a given uke building technique between a slotted head stock vs regular. Check with the builder if he believes this.. there many luthiers who will upfront state that for them it is purely aesthetical.

Rllink
01-01-2019, 05:09 AM
Disclaimer: I am not an expert but have seen and read enough to be dangerous :-( I would like some one who truly knows to chime in and either disagree or agree.

From what I understand the break angle helps avoid leakage of the vibration beyond the nut (when you pluck a string, does the string after the nut vibrate). The job of the nut is to send the vibration back down to the saddle... since the tuner rod is lower down the break angle is steeper.

This is also believed to be a marginal gain, most folks won't notice such a difference but I also believe, sum of all marginal gains makes a great ukulele.

That said, it also depends on the overall design of the uke, is the whole body participating, neck, head stock (I believe lighter builds do it) whereas heavier builds tend to isolate the vibration to the strings, saddle and top.. Also, slotted head stocks tend to lighter but I would guess it depends on the wood used for the neck.

In summary.. there might be a legitimate difference in sound for a given uke building technique between a slotted head stock vs regular. Check with the builder if he believes this.. there many luthiers who will upfront state that for them it is purely aesthetical.I am just going to take your word for it.

Doc_J
01-01-2019, 05:13 AM
I like the look—more consistent with other stringed instruments. Flat paddles to me look more like toys.

The tuners all tighten the strings in the same turning direction, and turning the pegs is more ergonomic, less awkward.

The break angle across the nut is increased—similar tonal advantages as at the saddle (though, as far as I can work out, this would only affect strings played open, and I don't see the sense of having them sound different from stopped strings—rather, that strikes me as a disadvantage).

The buttons point back, as with friction tuners, for a somewhat sleek look—at least, from the front. (I often hear people say they prefer friction tuners for this reason, ignoring that, to the player, friction tuner pegs actually "stick out" more than standard geared tuners. But maybe they're more concerned with the visual impression they make on others—or spend more time looking at their ukes than playing them.)

With a slotted headstock, an ornate logo or headstock design is unnecessary. I'm not a fan of the kind of glitz often added to paddle headstocks.

Tuners for slotted headstocks are usually joined by a plate, often embossed with a design reminiscent of filigree—dressy without lapsing into gaudy.

Slotted headstock tuners tend to be of good quality, and are always open-geared and adjustable (at least, I haven't yet encountered an exception). There's no way to adjust a sealed tuner or UPT, apart from tightening the button, if you can even do that. Of course, many open-geared standard tuners are adjustable, and it costs less to replace them, should the need arise.

If there is added weight (remember, the slots take away some mass that the thickness adds), the "imbalance" may not matter if you play routinely with a strap, as I do.

A heavier headstock is said to aid the sound in some way: resonance? tone? sustain? I forget.

A slotted headstock carries more cachet as far as general public perception, partly because you seldom see cheap ukes with them—they cost more to make.

I've seen some cool slot designs—more striking and stylish than varying the paddle shape. The beveled bottom of a slot also shows off a layered headstock more effectively.

I agree. Well put.

Jim Yates
01-01-2019, 09:36 AM
Disclaimer: I am not an expert but have seen and read enough to be dangerous :-( I would like some one who truly knows to chime in and either disagree or agree.

From what I understand the break angle helps avoid leakage of the vibration beyond the nut (when you pluck a string, does the string after the nut vibrate). The job of the nut is to send the vibration back down to the saddle... since the tuner rod is lower down the break angle is steeper.

This is also believed to be a marginal gain, most folks won't notice such a difference but I also believe, sum of all marginal gains makes a great ukulele.

That said, it also depends on the overall design of the uke, is the whole body participating, neck, head stock (I believe lighter builds do it) whereas heavier builds tend to isolate the vibration to the strings, saddle and top.. Also, slotted head stocks tend to lighter but I would guess it depends on the wood used for the neck.

In summary.. there might be a legitimate difference in sound for a given uke building technique between a slotted head stock vs regular. Check with the builder if he believes this.. there many luthiers who will upfront state that for them it is purely aesthetical.

I feel that the "job of the nut" is the same as the job of the frets - to give the string a definite length. Once the string is fretted, the nut no longer plays a part in the sound produced by the string.
I've often wondered why more builders don't use the zero fret method of building and eliminate the nut altogether, replacing it with a string spacer as builders like Hofner do. This would provide a better tone balance since both fretted and open strings would be vibrating off a metal fret rather than having the open strings vibrating off a bone, ebony, plastic. . . nut.

114413

Joe King
01-01-2019, 11:40 AM
I only play a concert Flea from The Magic Fluke Company.

These ukes have their own style of open headstock.

The Flea works great for me. :)

I'm not looking to acquire another uke.

Whatever the headstock might be on a future uke is way less important to me than how it sounds and how it feels to play.

A headstock' "design" makes no sound per se, and therefore is a low, if any priority to me.

besley
01-01-2019, 12:18 PM
The effect of break angle over the saddle and nut is something that acoustic guitarists have been arguing about since well before there even was an internet. There are those that say an absolute minimum of 15° is required, while others say as little as 6° is enough. So while it may be that there is a benefit from the potential increase in angle with a slotted headstock, it may be too subtle to detect. Heck there are people who say that they can tell the difference between ebony and ivory bridge pins on their guitars (I'm certainly not in this camp). But if you like the look of the slotted headstock, go for it.

I had an Enya with a slotted headstock for a few months, and felt that changing strings was indeed more of a pain. Enough that I would certainly never choose a slotted if I could avoid it.

Snargle
01-01-2019, 01:23 PM
If you are a "change the string set" type, stay away from slotted headstocks -- much harder than conventional

I don't understand this...why would a slotted headstock be more difficult to change strings? I have a uke with a slotted headstock and I have ukes with conventional headstocks. To me, it's actually easier to change strings on a slotted headstock. The tuners all turn in the same direction and the backward-pointing tuner buttons are much more accessible.

ksiegel
01-01-2019, 02:11 PM
I've had classical guitars for years - slotted headstock, tie bridge. I always found it easier to change the strings on my flattop guitars with bridge pins and standard geared tuners than the classical, but that was because of tying the strings, nothing to do with the headstock.

None of my uke have pin bridges, but a couple have string-through bridges. Again, stringing at the headstock is no different to me, standard or planetary tuners. Not a fan of friction tuners, however, regardless of headstock. (Which is why my Fluke has PegHeds.).


-Kurt]


(My only slotted headstock ukes are the Fluke and the Ohana Quilted Eucalyptus.)

luv2uke
01-01-2019, 08:07 PM
Rllink,
Sorry I don't have a link to the discussion. It was a Q&A that was on a Christmas greeting e-mail that Joe sent out from Kanilea that I already deleted.

bunnyf
01-02-2019, 08:11 AM
I got myself my first slotted headstock (Pono steel string tenor guitar) and love it, but would not have selected slotted headstock if given the choice. I don’t find it more attractive. It’s not easier for me to tune (use to the other paddle headstock set-up). If the break angle is an improvement in sound, it’s lost on me. I just changed the strings and sound it a bit more of a nuisance. I have my technique down pat on all my other ukes, guitars, and mandolin (all paddle headstocks) and can change strings out pronto. Not a hard job on slotted but not my preference. All in all, give me a pretty paddle headstock.

spookelele
01-02-2019, 09:55 AM
There's three physics things that a slotted does.

Add weight, which can help sustain. This does seem to be a real thing, but it could also be done with a clip on tuner, or heavier machines.

Increase the break angle. This one... although I can see how it would work, I don't seem to ever feel like it is really doing anything and I can't hear it.

Relieves the sideways torque on the peg. This one... I definitely notice. Slotted tuners being supported on both ends of the post do turn more smoothly. The inexpensive grovers on a kala cedar top, turn smoother than the gotoh on my rebels. If you think about the physics of a tuner, pulling the post sideways is going to make it less smooth than if it was an axle supported on both ends of the post. The flat head post is really only supported on the gear side of the machine. The post kinda rests in a grommet that goes into the head. That grommet thing.. is not precise and does not act like a bearing, and it's just pressed into the wood, so all the tension on the post is really at the gear post, putting the tension on a 1/2" ish lever arm. I think flat head machine tuners also tend to wear faster because that post ends up tilting the gear than in a slotted stock, but that could just be (mis)perception.

Rakelele
01-03-2019, 04:03 AM
Thanks for the great explanation, Spook. I'm just not sure if it is generally true that all slotted headstocks add weight??? I know this allegation has become a bit of a commonplace on UU, and while I assume that some designs will do just that, I don't think this can be generalized for all slotted headstocks and to my knowledge, in many cases, the opposite is true.

Ahnko Honu
01-03-2019, 04:41 AM
Currently the only slotted headstocks in my house are my wifeʻs Washburn acoustic guitar and my Magic Fluke which Iʻm not sure counts. I used to own a baritone Northern clone with a slotted head. It was nice sounding, had it tuned low G though but I did not play it much so I sold it. Iʻm more a strummer than a picker so my abilities Iʻm guessing would never bring out the supposed superior sound quality of the slotted head. My 2 cents for a penny! :)

Rakelele
01-03-2019, 05:08 AM
Many of the points brought up in this thread are being discussed in the Book "Acoustic Guitar" by Teja Gerken, Michael Simmons, Frank Ford and Richard Johnston, Chapter 1: The Headstock:

https://books.google.ch/books?id=rUZMAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA9&dq=acoustic+guitar+chapter+1+headstock&hl=de&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjqoLPt9NHfAhWFsaQKHeOCCmMQ6AEIKzAA#v=on epage&q=acoustic%20guitar%20chapter%201%20headstock&f=false

I don't know how much of an authority this book is, and it's about guitars, not ukulele, but many points will transfer to ukes and other stringed instruments. Some of the statements about are:

p. 4: Slotted headstocks are a bit more difficult to string, especially when in a hurry.

p. 4-5: The break angle of a slotted headstock will produce a slightly brighter sound, which is used by luthiers such as Rick Turner.

p. 9: The mass of the headstock can affect sustain and tone as well as playability (balance of the instrument).

p. 9: Most builders and players feel that a heavier headstock will add sustain, but might take away some treble response and volume.

p. 9: In order to bring out more volume, nylon-string builders try to make the headstock as light as possible, using friction pegs on flamenco guitars and slotted headstocks on classical guitars. This implies that slotted headstocks are conceived as a means to reduce the the weight of the headstock.

p. 10: A steeper break angle creates more downward pressure which helps the strings stay seated in the slots.

p. 10: Some builders and players feel that a steeper angle increases clarity and sustain, but too much angle will wear out the nut prematurely.

spongeuke
01-03-2019, 07:41 AM
114472Can't resist showing off the double headed and sloted Bass'nBari with violin and cello pegs. This set up was the only one where the pegs didn't get in each others way. Yes it is a two sided instrument Bass on the green side and Baritone on the purple side.
114471

captain-janeway
01-03-2019, 10:26 AM
I simply like the looks. I even bought a slothead neck to make a banjo uke.

I may put one of those on one of my next builds. I love the look of slotheads!
Post your next creation.

MopMan
01-03-2019, 03:44 PM
Can't resist showing off the double headed and sloted Bass'nBari with violin and cello pegs. This set up was the only one where the pegs didn't get in each others way. Yes it is a two sided instrument Bass on the green side and Baritone on the purple side.

I think that instrument deserves a bigger spotlight than you gave it there... a two sided uke?!?:eek: I must know more.

bazmaz
01-03-2019, 10:03 PM
I like them a lot and have owned several. For me it's purely about aesthetics and haven't yet found a reason why they are better or worse technically / sound wise. I suspect that's one of those subjects that 'might' have some weight, but it will be marginal and yet people spend far more hours than is healthy trying prove one way or the other.

Saying that, I would only really want one on a tenor, or a particularly large concert ukulele as find they look odd if applied to a soprano.

Contrary to some other views, I don't find the string changes harder. If anything I find them easier.

Jim Yates
01-04-2019, 02:33 AM
114472Can't resist showing off the double headed and sloted Bass'nBari with violin and cello pegs. This set up was the only one where the pegs didn't get in each others way. Yes it is a two sided instrument Bass on the green side and Baritone on the purple side.
114471

I'd love to see a photo of the whole instrument Spongeuke.

mswiggins
01-04-2019, 05:27 AM
I have a Kala tenor with a slotted head. I do not find it any harder to string versus my concert or soprano ukes.
I love the look of the slotted head but do find it a little more difficult to fret some chords on the first fret.
The slotted head is thicker and wider.

spongeuke
01-04-2019, 08:56 PM
Back (to back) by popular demand
Sorry that was an previous version.
all is good nowhttps://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/images/attach/jpg.gifhttps://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/images/attach/jpg.gif

Wukulele
01-09-2019, 08:47 AM
I've seen several threads lately where people are talking about how much they love slotted headstocks. Why? I'll go ahead and start by saying that I'm not particularly attracted to them. I'm just asking for the sake of discussion.

I appreciate that someone is not attracted to slot heads...

With the exception of Magic Fluke, I'm particularly UN-attracted to them, aesthetically... which makes looking for a guilele/guitlele/guitarlele/kiku challenging

Rakelele
01-09-2019, 09:58 AM
I appreciate that someone is not attracted to slot heads...

With the exception of Magic Fluke, I'm particularly UN-attracted to them, aesthetically... which makes looking for a guilele/guitlele/guitarlele/kiku challenging

Not that challenging. Have you had a look at the Islander GL6, the Cordoba Mini, the Romero Creations TT6, the KoAloha D-VI (now Opio G6), the Kanilea GL6 or the Baby Bard from Luthier Jay Lichty? All of these Guilele/Kiku models are available without a slotted headstock.

Wukulele
01-09-2019, 09:40 PM
Not that challenging. Have you had a look at the Islander GL6, the Cordoba Mini, the Romero Creations TT6, the KoAloha D-VI (now Opio G6), the Kanilea GL6 or the Baby Bard from Luthier Jay Lichty? All of these Guilele/Kiku models are available without a slotted headstock.

Thanks, Rakelele. I started a spreadsheet w/ some of the ones you mentioned... but appreciate you mentioning some of the ones that hadn't made it on my comparison (RC TT6, Baby Bard) yet... actually looked at TT6 but unsure who else sells it besides HMS (out of stock). There may be more stock in spring.

Two other specs that trump headstock: width at nut & total length. Prefer nut width in the 40's mm & tenor size length (28in / 710mm or less). I saw your review/comparison of the Opio G6 vs Kanilea Islander G6 (https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?134521-Comparative-Review-KoAloha-Opio-KTO-G6-vs-Kanilea-Islander-GL6-Guitalele) & the wideness at the nut, 51mm - not so much for me...
Cordoba specs for several different models, for me need to be verified, given the disclaimer on their website: "Due to ongoing product development efforts, specifications are subject to change without notice." & the fact that many sellers, especially retail, are posting conflicting/different numbers, or posting numbers that are total misquotes or off from what I've seen in person (which is only one so far - Lag TKT150E).