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Thread: Trimming a head stock?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    Default Trimming a head stock?

    Silly question?

    I have a kala travel uke. It has a longish headstock. Could I trim the top off the head stock? Or would this cause the head to break or ruin the sound. Just want to make it a bit shorter for travel.

  2. #2
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    I'm NOT a luthier so take everything I say with the tiniest grain of salt, but I am a woodworker. As far as I can tell, the biggest risk you'd run is trimming too close to the tuners and not having enough wood to support the north side of the tuner holes. Seriously, you would want to leave more then you think you would need. How much you need to leave I don't know. But, you'd be surprised how easily little bits of unsupported end grain can break out. With that in mind, I'm not sure if you would want to trim enough off to make it workwhile.

    As far as sound, theoretically changing the weight of the instrument could make a difference, bit its such a small amount that in reality it won't make any difference. Might want to post this to the luthier forum for better advice.
    Last edited by CPG; 09-06-2019 at 04:03 AM.
    Takumi TC-1M Mahogany Concert
    1940s Martin Mahogany Concert
    Martin OXK Soprano

  3. #3
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    I expect you could shave some off without affecting the sound. Personally, I wouldn't, as you'd only gain an inch or so, and would ruin the uke's resale value.
    Screenshot_20190906-085029_Reverb.jpg
    John

  4. #4
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    Old Martin Backpacker had your idea (see the photo below). New ones have logo space on the top. Mahogany is easy to trim, maple is hard, according to my local guitar tech.



    Personally I would not either. A gentleman saw Martin logo on the head stock in my guitar and talked to me yesterday. Logo has brought us conversation.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Default

    Two thoughts. First, are you trimming headstock to make it shorter in length for travel. If so, heed the advice above about enough wood to hold tuners. You could also get a concert version or do what I did and get a Tiny Tenor.

    I played a liked the Kala travel Uke. But, I found the top heaven at headstock. If that is your thinking, buy the new Graphtech plastic planetary tuners. They will reduce your weight. This was my second though when reading the headline.

    Reason the got a Tiny Tenor was travel with tenor scale in concert size and not loose tenor sound. TT do this and are fantastic. I got solid top/laminate to replace a Fluke tenor and it’s great. But, I like it so much, I’d like an all solid wood Tiny Tenor

    Personally, I would NOT cut head stock. Change to graphtech tuners. Get a good gig bag and travel around all over the place.

    Good luck.

  6. #6
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    Default

    Thank for everyones comments.

    I bought this in Hawaii when there so not as expensive as buying in Australia.

    I have already fitted lightweight friction tuners - that make it feel more balanced to play.

    This is a dedicated travel Uke so the idea is to trim headstock to make easier to fit in hand luggage.

    From the pics you can see there is a lot of space at the top - a good 40mm (1.5").

    So how much could I safely trim off???

  7. #7
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    I have never taken any off an uke headstock but I have taken wood off an electric guitar headstock in the past without issue more than once. Just make sure you leave enough to safely hold the tuning machines, as stated above. Of course there is always some risk involved, but it may be well worth it to you. I think it would be hard for anyone here to give an exact number. Just keep in mind you can always take some more off, but you can't add any back on.

  8. #8
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by robinfowler View Post
    So how much could I safely trim off???
    I wouldn't take off more than half, if it were mine. The Tiny Tenor and XS Soprano have small headstocks, especially in the center, but the bit above the tuners is extended. There is considerable pressure on those tuners.

    Romero Headstock.jpg
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  9. #9
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    I would first make sure you can install Graphtech Ratio tuners down the road. I have no experience in shortening a standard headstock, although I did mod an inline tuner headstock. I’d figure out what the max ukulele length you can use, not the max you can remove from the headstock. If it comes down to having a uke on a trip or not having one, I’d remove no more than the logo.

    John

  10. #10
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    I've once installed 6 strings on my concert ukulele. You can fill original holes with putty and make new holes (see the photo below). We can get putty in DIY stores. In my 6 string case, I had holes in logo location.


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