I thought it was to have side gear tuners, but it has back geared (friction type) in this video.
And ugh, that video... they couldn't pay enough respect to spend the time to pronounce his name properly, or name a single song other than "Somewhere over the rainbow". He was just some guy who went viral on the internet to them?
I purchased a Kamaka Tenor in July and also took the tour. We saw one of the unfinished Jake models during the tour. Later on while I was placing my order for my tenor I asked why the Jake model didn't have the slotted head stock. I was told that it was very expensive to produce.
I find that kind of baffling. For one, you would expect that on a high-end custom uke that originally retailed at over $5000, and now re-sells at the $10 000 mark, simply having a slotted headstock would not be an expense to be spared. At such a high-end price range for a uke that is dedicated to be a clone of the original instrument played by the celebrity... why make such a huge compromise and get it wrong?
And the second thing that baffles me is why slotted headstock is considered such a premium in the ukulele world.
Are slotted headstocks really that expensive to produce? Yet you see slotted headstocks on the cheapest of classical guitars, and some inexpensive Lanikai and Kala instruments..
I agree. Slotted headstocks are cool because Jake plays a uke with one - and he is the coolest player on earth. Kamaka limiting their slotted head stock model to only their greatest players makes them more valuable to their fan base. So Kamaka probably has this pent up demand they are not meeting but if they tooled up for slotted headstocks (I'm sure easier said then done) I bet they would sell quite a lot of them.
It's nice that Kamaka is still family owned and operated and they can do what they want. But they are doing just fine with a slotted-headstock for their celebrity players.