Uke design pet peeves

Tuners which are mounted crooked, due to widely flared headstock shape. Koaloha comes to mind. Just bugs me. Ears are one thing....crooked ears are something else altogether!

View attachment 165000
Yeah, those are especially annoying. I get the idea of providing symmetry to the headstock shape, but at the KoAloha’s price, planetary tuners couldn’t be too much to expect! (OK, maybe bump the price $30. Yeesh.)
 
Yeah, those are especially annoying. I get the idea of providing symmetry to the headstock shape, but at the KoAloha’s price, planetary tuners couldn’t be too much to expect! (OK, maybe bump the price $30. Yeesh.)
I think the objective of the tuner orientation is to align the knobs perpendicular to the headstock edge. That said, agreed. Maybe “house” brand planetary tuners (keeping the orange Koaloha knobs) would be a better future alternative?
 
I think the objective of the tuner orientation is to align the knobs perpendicular to the headstock edge. That said, agreed. Maybe “house” brand planetary tuners (keeping the orange Koaloha knobs) would be a better future alternative?
Or dump the dumb guitar tuners all together and go back to the perfectly serviceable friction tuners with the KoAloha logo on the buttons. I’m not opposed to gotoh upts either. I just loathe the “ears” of guitar style tuners on a uke.
 
Another uke design pet peeve: commemorative or reproduction ukes that really aren't that close. Take the Martin Konter uke. See pic, original Konter on left, the modern reproduction on the right. I'm not so concerned about inside the uke, but exterior appearance is important, and this headstock is way off. 20s Martin headstocks were shorter, pudgier, with a smoother, more graceful transition above the nut. The modern Konter uke headstock seems longer, has straighter sides, with a quick outward flare above the nut, more like 50s/60s Martin headstock shape. I guess most people wouldn't notice, or care about small details like this, but to me it screams "not a 20s design, more like A 50s design". I mean, in these days of CNC, how hard could it be to get the headstock shape correct?

Another pet peeve is that the Walsh & King book doesn't seem to even mention this obvious early/later Martin soprano headstock design change, unless I missed it. What's up with that?
 

Attachments

  • 20240326_111203.jpg
    20240326_111203.jpg
    83.4 KB · Views: 12
Last edited:
Machine head tuners.

It’s not difficult to tune a Uke using friction tuners. It simply takes a little practice or patience.

Friction tuners look better.

Machine head tuners sticking out the side of the headstock look terrible.

Machine tuners are often heavier than friction tuners which spoil the balance of the Uke.
 
Thinking of just the visual design aesthetics, it's more things that just aren't for me and not so much a pet peeve.

If there's something that doesn't appeal to me, I just think "I'm glad that exists for people who might like it" and move on.

Personally I'm not a big fan of bling and flash. I don't really care for highly figured wood grain, lots of fancy inlay work, busy rosettes, painted/dyed wood on acoustic instruments or things like different colored woods assembled in some geometric shape for a soundboard, etc.

I appreciate the artistry of a lot of that and even find a lot of it beautiful. I just have no desire to own it.

I'm not crazy about side port sound holes either, but I see the utility of them.

Other than that, I'm not too picky.

I'm far more interested in how a ukulele plays and sounds than what it looks like.
 
I HATE transfer “rosettes” included under the finish on perfectly good ukes by manufacturers. Often it is just some ugly thing and the uke would look so much better without it. It likely has some historical significance, but it makes me feel like they threw it on the ukulele as a cheap afterthought and ruined it. In the beginning of my UAS, there were many ukes that I really liked, but did not buy because of transfers. My Famous FS-5G has a gold transfer rosette and I really don’t like it. I was so irritated by it that I decided to go over the top cheesy and put multiple inlay stickers/temporary transfers on the ukulele. At least if it has one transfer, it also has ones I actually chose. (Apologies to those who hate inlay stickers/transfers.) The Famous FC-5G concert version does not have that transfer rosette and it looks much better.

See pics below.

IMG_1535.jpegIMG_1865.jpegIMG_1760.jpeg
 
I’m new to uke, but I already have a solid opinion here 😝. My biggest issue is most design trending toward what I’m going to generalize as “the preferences of former guitar players with big hands who like to rest instruments on their knees.” Secondary issue - the assumption that most people playing silly sopranos are strumming three chords and never leaving first position.

Meaning (in soprano fingerstyle/classical land where I live): headstocks and necks that are way too heavy for the body they’re attached to, neck shapes designed for thumb on back of the neck, geared tuners, guitar-sized frets that mean even my tiny fingers don’t fit up the neck of a lot of sopranos, wide nuts, wide string spacing so that the A string is super close to the edge of the uke. (Not a problem if you play guitar style with your hand away from the uke and the uke on your knee. Less fun if you support the uke on your hand - even with my small hands, I end up accidentally muting the A string quite often, so after this I’m learning more about fret bindings, because I think they’re my newly desired design feature!).
 
My pet peeve is not just with ukes but with nylon string instruments in general--whenever anyone makes an electric version, they always make it in a Les Paul or Telecaster shape. For electric guitars, apart from being aesthetically displeasing (to me), LPs and Teles are always super heavy, big and clunky feeling. I was excited when I heard Ibanez was making a nylon-stringed electric and it was going to be in the mid-range price point, until I saw it--another stupid telecaster shape.

I know I'm in the vast minority not liking these shapes, but...that's my pet peeve. I was also supremely disappointed in the shape (including sound hole shape) that Ko'olau chose for their new affordable model.
 
My pet peeve is not just with ukes but with nylon string instruments in general--whenever anyone makes an electric version, they always make it in a Les Paul or Telecaster shape. For electric guitars, apart from being aesthetically displeasing (to me), LPs and Teles are always super heavy, big and clunky feeling. I was excited when I heard Ibanez was making a nylon-stringed electric and it was going to be in the mid-range price point, until I saw it--another stupid telecaster shape.

I know I'm in the vast minority not liking these shapes, but...that's my pet peeve. I was also supremely disappointed in the shape (including sound hole shape) that Ko'olau chose for their new affordable model.
What shape would you prefer...something more traditional uke, figure-8? I like those 2 guitar shapes, but would never want a uke shaped like that. I like the Pono solid body, single cutaway design...simple, understated and attractive to me. Also, I guess another pet peeve, steel strings on an electric uke never sound good to me. Just get a guitar.
 
What shape would you prefer...something more traditional uke, figure-8? I like those 2 guitar shapes, but would never want a uke shaped like that. I like the Pono solid body, single cutaway design...simple, understated and attractive to me. Also, I guess another pet peeve, steel strings on an electric uke never sound good to me. Just get a guitar.
I like offset shapes, like a Jazzmaster. Could be cool to have an electric uke shaped like that. If it has a sound hole, though, just the traditional figure eight shape. I don't like the look of electric shapes (Strat, Tele etc) with a sound hole; it just doesn't look right. Like Fender's whole Acoustasonic line, or their acoustic ukes made to look like guitars. I'm a bit of a traditionalist, I guess. If a uke has a sound hole I want it to be figure eight or a pineapple.
 
I don't know if this applies to me only and the way I hold the uke with my left hand, however, there are times when the sharp point on the edge of the nut, by the "A" string cuts into my hand and makes playing uncomfortable. I appreciate the builders and brands who file it down a bit (round it off), knowing how it can present a problem for the player. To me, those companies think about the end user and want to make sure everything is easy for the player. Pretty much the same way that Koaloha puts edge binding on the fretboard so that the fret edges are smooth. It is the little things.
 
Last edited:
I don't know if this applies to me only and the way I hold the uke with my left hand, however, there are times when the sharp point on the edge of the nut, by the "A" string cuts into my hands and makes playing uncomfortable. I appreciate the builders and brands who file it down a bit (round it off), knowing how it can present a problem for the player. To me, those companies think about the end user and want to make sure everything is easy for the player. Pretty much the same way that Koaloha puts edge binding on the fretboard so that the fret edges are smooth. It is the little things.
So much this. I assumed I was doing something wrong at the nut or it was just a small-hand problem, until I got my most recent uke and the nut is nicely rounded and swoon so comfortable! The frets on that uke are also so smooth on the edges. That luthier clearly took the time.
 
Last edited:
It does seem weird to get a guitar-inspired uke to show the world how special and unique you are, and then get the most ubiquitous guitar shapes. I would think something more like a flying-V or a B.C. Rich warlock would fit the bill.
 
I’m new to uke, but I already have a solid opinion here 😝. My biggest issue is most design trending toward what I’m going to generalize as “the preferences of former guitar players with big hands who like to rest instruments on their knees.”
I noticed last time I saw a video of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain that everybody had the ukes in their lap, even the sopranos.

 
It does seem weird to get a guitar-inspired uke to show the world how special and unique you are, and then get the most ubiquitous guitar shapes. I would think something more like a flying-V or a B.C. Rich warlock would fit the bill.
Koaloha Sceptre!
1716565157917.png
 
Top Bottom