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Author Topic: Slotted vs. Paddled Headstocks?  (Read 714 times)

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Offline GrasshopperBlues52499

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Slotted vs. Paddled Headstocks?
« on: March 29, 2017, 12:59:40 PM »
So I'm very new to vintage guitar collecting...

I don't buy often, but I'm absolutely head-over-heels for the pre-war/ladder braced/parlor guitars (particularly the 1900s Lyon & Healy and 1920s Stella). One thing I often fantasize over on these guitars (besides the immaculate tone!) is the slotted headstock. As of right now, my only slotted guitars are my first classical (owned since I was eight-years-old) and a beater "Montaya" from a consignment shop. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy with the guitars I currently own, but having one of those old parlors with a slot head and a giant v-neck would surely put a giant grin on my face!

Although this has likely been debated numerous times, I'm dying to know for sure whether or not the slot head affects the sound of the instrument -- I've heard that because of the angle the strings sit at, and hence the downward pressure it puts on the nut, it makes for a better sounding instrument; on the other hand, I've heard that it's simply an aesthetic difference. Again, I'm clearly very new to this ordeal, so what I would like to know is this: Am I losing sleep over something crucial to the vintage sound I'm chasing after, or something that makes me look cool? I would love to get some food-for-thought on this.  :)

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Offline banjochris

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Re: Slotted vs. Paddled Headstocks?
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2017, 09:29:15 AM »
I dunno about the sound, but they definitely look cooler. They are, however, kind of a pain in the ass.

Offline harriet

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Re: Slotted vs. Paddled Headstocks?
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2017, 11:33:45 AM »
I kind of agree with Banjochris opinion that they are a pain, but some people really like them in a vintage or resonator so there's that to consider - its a personal choice. 

So far as the discussions I've been invovled in  - while all materials can effect the sound or so I have heard, I personally have not heard "sound from headstock" as being a hot discussion topic.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2017, 03:33:45 PM by harriet »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Slotted vs. Paddled Headstocks?
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2017, 06:33:48 PM »
No effect on the sound in my experience, but hard to prove either way. Slot heads look the part though.

I'm currently less concerned with aesthetics than finding a guitar in my stable that can handle the climate in upstate NY; my Guild is cracked top and back, and my Tonk bridge is lifting. My Gibson J-45 Koa is hangin' in there really well so that's what I'm playing. And it helps that it sounds really good. That's the main thing.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2017, 06:36:12 PM by Rivers »

Offline waxwing

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Re: Slotted vs. Paddled Headstocks?
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2017, 07:35:25 PM »
I remember discussions on the old Guitar Forum and on the Acoustic Guitar Forum about mass. The more mass the more energy is bounced back to the body. There are actually weights designed to add mass to the headstock to create better tone. So then there were arguments about which had more mass: Slot heads are thicker, but have portions cut out. The tuning shafts in one are longer than the other. I could never convince any luthiers to cut a couple heads off and weigh them. I guess we'll never know.

I like the slot heads that happened to come on the guitars I purchased, but that's not why I bought them. I guess I've gotten used to restringing them as I have no problems. I wouldn't worry about it too much.

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