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View Full Version : Slotted headstocks are cool but do you notice a tone difference?



solocoukester
03-10-2012, 02:43 PM
I have a Pono mhtsh love the slothead, just wondered if you thought the tone was different.

trippntx
03-10-2012, 04:04 PM
I'm probably not at all qualified to answer this question intelligently given my lack of uke skill but I can tell you I own a Kala Solid Acacia Tenor which has a slotted headstock and it sounds simply wonderful. I have played no other tenor to compare so do take my comments with a grain of salt...

Liam Ryan
03-10-2012, 04:11 PM
There are a dozen other variables i'd be looking at, before the headstock, in the search for tonal advantage.

808boy
03-10-2012, 05:13 PM
Aloha,
I love my Mele Koa Slotted Headstock Tenor with Double Pukas and haven't noticed any difference in sound with the same uke with a standard headstock (compared at the Mele Store On Maui).
However, there is a difference in volume comparing a single hole to the double hole with hardly any change in sound quality...................................BO...... .........................

kapahulu50
03-10-2012, 06:44 PM
Not quite sure why a slotted headstock would change the tone. Maybe ask in the luthier lounge, lots of expertise there.

itsme
03-10-2012, 06:56 PM
I don't think there would be any real tonal difference from a slotted headstock if the nut and saddle are otherwise the same. Slotted headstocks are the norm with classical guitars. Personally, I think they look kinda classy. :)

A slotted headstock could be lighter weight than a solid one, so that might make a difference in how the instrument/neck feels when you hold it.

zac987
03-10-2012, 08:02 PM
Some people might tell you that the string break angle at the nut from the slotted headstock will give you better tone. Yeaaaaahhhh I highly doubt that. There are dozens and dozens of factors that I would look at before looking at the headstock in terms of tone.

hoosierhiver
03-11-2012, 04:28 AM
Some people might tell you that the string break angle at the nut from the slotted headstock will give you better tone. Yeaaaaahhhh I highly doubt that. There are dozens and dozens of factors that I would look at before looking at the headstock in terms of tone.

My thoughts exactly.

coolkayaker1
03-11-2012, 06:59 AM
If it works for Aldrine, Jame, Eddie Vedder, Kalei, etc., I guess that there's not enough tone difference to, ahem, make a difference.

The question, as a Pono owner, do you notice a tone difference?

hoosierhiver
03-11-2012, 08:18 AM
If it works for Aldrine, Jame, Eddie Vedder, Kalei, etc., I guess that there's not enough tone difference to, ahem, make a difference.


I think that is assuming alot.

solocoukester
03-11-2012, 09:02 AM
I noticed as I shopped most of the higher end customs had the slot head .I think they have a different feel if anything.

Liam Ryan
03-11-2012, 10:13 AM
It's just an exclusivity thing. The cheap and nasties have paddle heads, therefore, if you're going to spend all that money on a custom build, why not make it stand out from the crowd. Something to set it apart from the hoards of plywood junk.

mm stan
03-11-2012, 10:47 AM
It is from the school of thought from the guitars...not sure if they make that much of a difference on the ukulele though...hey you see all the big uke companies giving them to the
great known players for their exposure...I guess it's a way to advertise them, great marketing plan..ha ha and they can charge alot more for their ukes..all that hype, we seen that
on the forums boards already, you guys know what I'm talking about..ha ha

kapahulu50
03-11-2012, 12:50 PM
Might help the balance a little. I have a kanilea tenor w an ebony fretboard and faceplate, and I notice the balance being a little more head heavy. I have a bass that has a real "neck dive" problem, needs a thicker strap to keep it from slipping.

GX9901
03-11-2012, 01:20 PM
I'm a huge fan of slotted headstocks, and have 3 custom ukes with slotted headstocks. However, it is 100% about cosmetics for me. The only reason I get them is because I think they look cool.

mr moonlight
03-11-2012, 01:51 PM
No difference in sound, but there is a difference in the ease of access to your tuners. With a slot head you don't have to reach from the top and the bottom so it's a more comfortable angle for your wrist and it's a bit faster when you need to do a little adjustment while playing.

Nickie
03-11-2012, 05:45 PM
Well, that tears it. I'm getting a slotted headstock on my next uke!

mds725
03-11-2012, 06:37 PM
I asked Gordon Mayer about this last year. He said that some people believe that the slightly increased angle at which the strings bend at the nut with slotted headstocks makes the sound a little crisper, but he himself didn't think it made a noticable difference. For what it's worth, while Mya-Moe offers a slotted headstock, the standard headstock is not slotted.

mr moonlight
03-11-2012, 06:45 PM
I asked Gordon Mayer about this last year. He said that some people believe that the slightly increased angle at which the strings bend at the nut with slotted headstocks makes the sound a little crisper, but he himself didn't think it made a noticable difference. For what it's worth, while Mya-Moe offers a slotted headstock, the standard headstock is not slotted.

Even if it did make a very very slight difference it would only have an effect while playing open strings so there wouldn't be that much of a point to it.

hoosierhiver
03-12-2012, 04:16 AM
They are definitely harder to re-string.

coolkayaker1
03-12-2012, 03:13 PM
They are definitely harder to re-string.

HH, you are much more experienced than I am, so I respect your thoughts. But, I found my Pono sl;otted head to be much easier to re-string. Why? I can see what I'm doing by holding it upright and putting the string into the hole, and then I can even wrap it a couple times around manually (one on one side of the string hole, and one on the other), then when I start winding, it's not as sensitive to having too much string wound (that is to say, it's more forgiving to excess string, because there's more surface for the wind; with a standard peg, overdoing it and the string almost comes off the top of the peg). I find it easier also, before the strings are tight, to reach in there and push them together to assure that my winds are snug.

Just a novices view, though. Cheers in Indiana, from Illinois, by the way.

Teek
03-12-2012, 04:16 PM
Just to note, with standard tuners you should be directing the winding down towards the headstock, right when you start the take up of the string. I agree with you that stringing isn't really an issue. For me the only issues I have with stringing is if I have a pin bridge, I always keep my eyes averted and closed and one hand shielding the bridge when tuning up. ;)

I personally love slotted headstocks. I think they can add a lot of wood bling to a uke. Also since they have geared tuners, my guess is that taking some of the weight of the wood out should make for a lighter feel as noted previously.

PedalFreak
03-13-2012, 03:34 AM
I noticed as I shopped most of the higher end customs had the slot head .I think they have a different feel if anything.

This for ukes is really it. It will give you a different feel. If you play two of the same ukes, but one slot head one paddle, you'll notice that there is a little more string tension on the slot head, because it has more of a break angle for the strings. I think the nylon strings make it harder to hear a sound difference. I've played the same guitars this way, and slot heads you can hear a sound difference.

Whether one is better sounding or not is up to the player :)

vanflynn
03-13-2012, 03:44 AM
On my concert the added mass of the slotted head is noticable from a "balance point". I actually like it.

Probably not as much for tenor

bdukes
03-13-2012, 05:18 AM
Pure aesthetics for me. I like the look, and as said earlier I do find them easier to tune while playing. Here's a link to a very short article discussing slotted vs traditional headstocks for guitars. Some of the points may apply to ukuleles but it's clearly not something you can generalize. Given that conventional wisdom is that more mass at the headstock creates more sustain, it depends on lots of factors like builder, tuner choices, for example, when talking about adding mass.

http://www.guitarbench.com/2011/03/23/slotted-vs-solid-headstock/

mds725
03-13-2012, 09:07 AM
Even if it did make a very very slight difference it would only have an effect while playing open strings so there wouldn't be that much of a point to it.

Higher tension on the strings can be felt even when you fret. Compare playing a soprano (which usually has lower tension) and a tenor (which usually has higher tension) and you'll notice that the tension affects the strings and the sound they make even when fretted.

solocoukester
03-13-2012, 03:32 PM
Great thread lots of info,slot heads are cool.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
03-13-2012, 03:56 PM
It's the string angle itself NOT the angle the head stock takes that's important. The tuner post for a slotted headstock is mounted horizontally through the MIDDLE of the head stock rather than protruding through the top as you'd find on a traditional peg head. So you can have two different head stock styles with two different angles, but have the break angle of the string remain the same.
Either way there's no tonal difference as far as I can determine. They just look cool!

UkuleleAdventure
03-13-2012, 03:58 PM
My philosophy on the slotted headstock:
Ever since Jake got it on his uke, everyone wanted to be like him. The slotted headstock adds weight and has no advantage at all.
Sorry for my rant.

mr moonlight
03-13-2012, 08:01 PM
Higher tension on the strings can be felt even when you fret. Compare playing a soprano (which usually has lower tension) and a tenor (which usually has higher tension) and you'll notice that the tension affects the strings and the sound they make even when fretted.

There's really no difference in string tension between a slot or paddle headstock. You can build either one to have the exact same string length and break angle as the other.

Kekani
03-13-2012, 08:30 PM
+1 to Chuck.

-1 to UA. I like to add slotted headstocks because of what the weight up top brings to the table on my instruments.

Then again, I don't like to add them because they're a PITA, which is why there's a $300 up charge, with Gilbert's.
Besides, harder to extend the narrative inlay from the fretboard, which is way cooler than a slot head, IMO.

Aaron