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View Full Version : What do slotted headstocks do for ukuleles?



dip.mojica
03-17-2011, 03:39 PM
It's always sparked my curiosity. is it just an aesthetic thing?

ukulelecowboy
03-17-2011, 03:51 PM
Aesthetics, yes. But some players feel that it

A. Lightens the headstock and provides a more balanced instrument

B. Has a positive effect on string tension and intonation

Mike

Lexxy
03-17-2011, 04:14 PM
Aesthetics, yes. But some players feel that it

A. Lightens the headstock and provides a more balanced instrument

B. Has a positive effect on string tension and intonation

Mike

I'm not sure A is right though. Slotted Headstocks, (I THINK) makes the head of the uke heavier, therefore..)

I think Peghead tuners make the head lighter.

Nuprin
03-17-2011, 04:21 PM
I'm not sure A is right though. Slotted Headstocks, (I THINK) makes the head of the uke heavier, therefore..)

I think Peghead tuners make the head lighter.

This is the case with most uke builders. Many builders won't offer a slotted headstock on anything smaller than a tenor as it becomes too heavy.

RyRod
03-17-2011, 04:22 PM
My slotted headstock uke is lighter than the unslotted I have. The tuners are geared on both(therefore near the same weight), the size and thickness are the same too, but that little bit of wood you lose for the 2 slots lightens things up a bit. I can't see how it can hurt weight-wise.

+ like everyone else metioned, aesthetics. I like that flamenco/classical guitar look.

Ronnie Aloha
03-17-2011, 04:35 PM
The headstock does have to be thicker to accompany the side tuners on a slot head. That might offset any weight savings from the slot. IMHO, slotheads look pretty cool.

philpot
03-17-2011, 04:40 PM
IMHO, slotheads look pretty cool.

Agreed. I would lovvvvve a Kamaka with a slothead... whats weird though is even the Jake custom model didn't have a slotted headstock, and when I was emailing them they said they cant do slotheads... -sigh- so ends my dream....

OldePhart
03-17-2011, 04:46 PM
I believe the primary purpose of slot heads is to make changing strings a pain in the neck.

I believe the secondary purpose of slot heads (at least the only one I've owned) is to put the G and A tuning heads in just the right place to interfere with certain first position chords (notably E7, E7sus, etc.).
:biglaugh:

They do look cool, I 'spose.

dip.mojica
03-17-2011, 05:46 PM
Thanks for the replies guys!

GX9901
03-17-2011, 06:11 PM
I love slotted headstocks (currently have 4 ukes with slot heads), but I think the only thing they do for the ukulele is make it look cool (assuming you actually find them cool looking, of course). I don't find any of them to be heavier than the non-slotted headstocks, but as Mr. OldePhart mentioned, they are indeed a pain in the butt to string.

As an aside, I'm not sure why most builders refuse to offer slotted headstocks on ukes that are smaller than a tenor. I have two concerts and a mezzo soprano (basically an in-between sized between concert and soprano) with slotted headstocks. None of them exhibit any head-heavy bias as far as I can tell. While two of them are custom luthier built ukes, the other one is a Lanikai. Frankly, I don't think the headstock being too heavy is an issue at all for concerts when it comes to slotted headstocks.

dip.mojica
03-17-2011, 06:45 PM
what are some good brands that offer slotted headstock? i find them really nice!

Wagster
03-17-2011, 07:27 PM
I thought they made slotted headstocks so you would have more place to hang your bling?

kenikas
03-17-2011, 07:28 PM
what are some good brands that offer slotted headstock? i find them really nice!

Lanikai's exotic wood ukes in concert and tenor, and Kala's tenor acacia have it. Mainland offers a couple of models too, and some of the higher end Kamoa's, and Pono's. I'm sure there are others, but can't think of any right now.
I've never found them difficult to restring, but maybe since I've strung classical guitars for years it just seems normal.

dip.mojica
03-18-2011, 03:07 AM
I think you can get a bigger angle down off the nut if you use slotted headstocks. That angle can have an impact on sound and the design of the nut. They are used a lot for nylon string and classical guitars. The mass of the headstock (either heavy or light) can be part of the design to get a certain tone or resonance. I think they are harder to make in a factory line than drilling four holes, so they are not a common feature of mass produced ukes.
I suspect Jake's ukes are purpose designed for his style and the greater angle from the nut from the slotted headstock might make some other parts of the design easier to implement. I doubt he wanted it just for bling, although there are a lot of fans who automatically want stuff because it has a high purchase price, so it becomes bling.
As has been said before a bigger headstock is not suited to some styles of playing, particularly the popular strum and sing style of playing where you are making a lot of chords nears the headstock, so instead of getting stuff because you think it is bling, you should work out what style you like and what sound you want, and then find a uke to match.

I'm definitely not the chords/singing type. though i do play some songs like that, I much prefer playing Jake's songs. I just learned how to play while my guitar gently weeps, and am not trying to learn thriller. Its definitely the style I like playing best.

I still have a lot of time to think about this though as I wont be upgrading any time soon. Thanks again for the replies!

mm stan
03-18-2011, 03:37 AM
I personally prefer the regular style headstock best....the slotted looks too bulky and obstructive...wonder if it is a trend that was carried over from guitars..

casarole45
03-18-2011, 03:54 AM
Jakes luthier put one on partly to balance the tone, its in one of Jakes interviews.

The less density of wood apparently will give it a slightly brighter tone which he felt would balance it out better.

70sSanO
03-18-2011, 04:31 AM
I believe the primary purpose of slot heads is to make changing strings a pain in the neck.

I believe the secondary purpose of slot heads (at least the only one I've owned) is to put the G and A tuning heads in just the right place to interfere with certain first position chords (notably E7, E7sus, etc.).
:biglaugh:

They are also more aerodynamic if you play your ukulele while driving and the headstock is sticking out of the window. At 65mph it can be a significant benefit.

John

PS... On a side note I find that mahogany absorbs an impact better than koa.

Lexxy
03-18-2011, 04:35 AM
Jakes luthier put one on partly to balance the tone, its in one of Jakes interviews.

The less density of wood apparently will give it a slightly brighter tone which he felt would balance it out better.

Jake's Luthier. The great Casey Kamaka? :)

CulpRJ
03-18-2011, 07:16 AM
Here's how I converted a regular headstock into a slotted one:
Uke Build Ep.8 - Slotted Headstock (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLarSgcdrY4)
The dremel bit I used is called a "Drywall Cutting Bit," and the tuners I found on ebay.

hoosierhiver
03-18-2011, 08:09 AM
I think most of the popularity is due to Jake having one.
I have never been able to discern any benefit sound wise and as Oldphart said, they are a pain to restring.

casarole45
03-18-2011, 08:43 AM
Jake's Luthier. The great Casey Kamaka? :)

Lol, thats the one ;)

Uncle Rod Higuchi
03-18-2011, 09:19 AM
As I was watching the video on the previous page I thought, what about 1/2 slotted + 1-peg and 1-geared? OR
1-slotted, 1-geared, 1- peg, and 1 friction? Franken-uke I realize, but it might appeal to someone. After all I have
a proto-type 5-string Mele Concert with geared tuners (4) and one friction tuner sticking up and down in the middle
of the head!

Different strokes.... : )

Keep uke'in',

OldePhart
03-18-2011, 10:46 AM
As an aside, I'm not sure why most builders refuse to offer slotted headstocks on ukes that are smaller than a tenor. I have two concerts and a mezzo soprano (basically an in-between sized between concert and soprano) with slotted headstocks. None of them exhibit any head-heavy bias as far as I can tell. While two of them are custom luthier built ukes, the other one is a Lanikai. Frankly, I don't think the headstock being too heavy is an issue at all for concerts when it comes to slotted headstocks.

I suspect it's due more to geometry than weight. Slotted headstocks tend to be a little wider than a normal headstock and, as I've noted half-jokingly above, it puts the tuner buttons right up against the back of your hand on open chords even on some tenors. I suspect that to put slotted headstocks on smaller scales you'd either have an even bigger problem tangling with tuner buttons or else the headstock would have to remain as big as a tenor headstock which wouldn't look balanced on, say, a soprano.

Also, smaller bodies, especially sopranos, are more likely to be used for "strum and sing" compounding the problem with the open chords.

GX9901
03-18-2011, 11:17 AM
I suspect it's due more to geometry than weight. Slotted headstocks tend to be a little wider than a normal headstock and, as I've noted half-jokingly above, it puts the tuner buttons right up against the back of your hand on open chords even on some tenors. I suspect that to put slotted headstocks on smaller scales you'd either have an even bigger problem tangling with tuner buttons or else the headstock would have to remain as big as a tenor headstock which wouldn't look balanced on, say, a soprano.

Also, smaller bodies, especially sopranos, are more likely to be used for "strum and sing" compounding the problem with the open chords.

I can see how slotted headstocks could interfere with the chording hand, but I have not run into this problem with any of my slot heads (3 of them are sub-tenor).

BTW, of the 4 ukes I have with slotted headstocks, the only tenor also have the thinnest and narrowest headstock. I often wish I had ordered it with a bigger headstock because one of the things that drew me to slot heads is seeing how chunky it looked on Jake Shimabukuro's uke.

OldePhart
03-18-2011, 11:50 AM
I should have mentioned that my only slot-head was an 8-string - now that I think about it that doubtless compounded the problem with the tuning heads.

lookingforcurly
03-20-2011, 01:32 PM
They also create a sharper angle for the strings, which I thought supposedly improves sound.

KevinV
03-20-2011, 02:55 PM
Here's how I converted a regular headstock into a slotted one:
Uke Build Ep.8 - Slotted Headstock (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLarSgcdrY4)
The dremel bit I used is called a "Drywall Cutting Bit," and the tuners I found on ebay.

Just watched your video...good work. I think it turned out nicely.

KevinV
03-20-2011, 02:58 PM
I'm a fan of the slotted headstock. I've got a Kala with it, a Loprinizi custom in the build process with one, and when Chuck calls to let me know my build can start, my MB will have one too. I've never found a reason to have it versus a non-slotted other than I dig the way it looks...and that's good enough for me.