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Thread: Slotted Headstocks?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Ames, Iowa

    Default Slotted Headstocks?

    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 don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    New Hampshire, USA


    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.
    Last edited by Django; 12-30-2018 at 02:11 PM.
    Current Herd:

    Recent Martins: 3 Centennial, 5K, 3 Cherry and OXK
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    Laughlin 3K, (1920 Martin 3K Bow Tie and Kite copy, 1 of 2) and Mahogany 3

    Laughlin 3K
    Kiwaya Mahogany Taropatch

    Kiwaya KMT-K
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    Anuenue Moonbird

    Yasuma (Martin T28 copy, Rosewood with Spruce top)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.


    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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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016


    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.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2015


    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.
    Last edited by UkingViking; 12-30-2018 at 11:11 PM.
    Ohana SK30M mahogany super-soprano, Cort UKEBWCOP Blackwood concert, Anuenue African Mahogany Tenor, Fluke Koa Tenor, Hora M1176 spruce Tenor

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Southwest Louisiana


    More difficult to restring is the primary downside to me.
    Ko'Aloha KTM-00 Tenor
    Kamaka White Label Baritone
    Martin 1T IZ Tenor

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    SE Connecticut, USA


    Quote Originally Posted by ubulele View Post
    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.
    Sopranos: aNueNue Khaya Mahogany 1, Bruko No. 6; Kiwaya KS-1; Kiwaya KTS-4; Kiwaya KTS-4K; Martin S-O
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Catskill Mountains, NY


    I simply like the looks. I even bought a slothead neck to make a banjo uke.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Southern California


    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.
    Kala "Spalted" baritone - Lo D GBE - Finger style
    Gold Tone “Mini” Travel Banjo - Steel GCEA - Noodling
    Luna “Peace” concert - CGBD Plectrum Banjo music

    Kala tenor eight string - gGcCEEAA Strum ‘n Sing

    Flea "Red" concert - Hi-G CEA - Wall hanger
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Bath, UK.


    Quote Originally Posted by peterbright View Post
    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.

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