Sanlele, Slotted Headstocks: Ukulele Window Shopping

Another ukulele hybrid: the sanlele. A cross between a uke and the sanshin a traditional instrument from Okinawa. Seems to be only available in Japan. You can listen to the sanlele here and some rocking sanshin here.

I’ve never read a convincing justification for slotted headstocks. The best I’ve heard is that they reduce wind resistance when you spin round on stage. Jake Shimabukuro discussed it when he appeared at the Corktown Jam. He says that a thicker headstock gives you a fatter tone but the slots are required to stop it getting too heavy. I’m still not entirely convinced but he has some interesting things to say in that video.

Kala have fancied up their bicote ukuleles and they’ve emerged as butterflies. I still don’t like that grain though.

There are a bunch of charity painted ukes on eBay Australia. This is my favourite (Thanks to @AnIdleDad).

First chance I’ve seen for an Ohana Resonator.

Ukulele nail clippers.

View Comments


  1. Ian Emmerson July 3rd, 2010 5:30 pm

    Slotted headstock has the advantage of geared tuners, but they still stick out the back in an aesthetically pleasing way, instead of dangling off the sides like big, ugly Gordon Brown ears. However, I still don’t like them. Dust traps.

  2. rico July 3rd, 2010 5:57 pm

    diggin’ that rockin’ sanshin…must investigate further,
    and yes, that gothic art work on the uke is gorgeous:)

  3. todd July 3rd, 2010 10:38 pm

    checked out the sanlele…realllly enjoyed the vid with the elderly gent singing and playing….lovely!

  4. Kelsi July 3rd, 2010 10:44 pm

    Oh wow, that painted uke is amazing! The guy who painted it is the author of my favourite picture book when I was a kid, How to Live Forever. That uke is painted like the book and I WANT IT, but alas, I am but a poor student.

  5. Marie July 5th, 2010 8:57 pm

    the bicote grain has too harsh a contrast.. looks like really cheap fake wood laminate in photos, I’d like to see one in person though.

    I spent a good portion of my morning digging for my nail clippers- so sad the ebay ones are gone already.

  6. Woodshed July 8th, 2010 9:15 pm

    Ian: I’ve never really understood people’s problem with how geared tuners look. And I’d say Gordon Brown’s ears were one of the better parts of his face.

    rico: If you find anything substantial about the sanleles in English do let me know.

    todd: Yeah, I quite enjoyed it too. Not so much some of the other videos.

    Kelsi: Thanks for the added info. Completely agree on the look of them. Can’t imagine them being much better in the flesh.

  7. Claude July 29th, 2011 5:04 am

    I play a little sanshin, a little ukulele: it might be fun to play both at once.
    I haven’t found much on it, but I did find this quick review in English, with two videos. One is haunting, the other has an Okinawan song and Hula dancers. You can’t ask for more.
    Here’s a source to buy your own, if you want one badly enough to pay so much.
    I see mahogany construction and rosewood bridge and fingerboard, fretted to an Okinawan scale.

  8. Woodshed July 29th, 2011 7:37 am

    Claude: Thanks very much for the links.

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