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Thread: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

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    Default Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    If you were to pick your favorite tuning machines, which would you choose and why. Thinking about replacing mine and what I see are:

    Grover 309: something of the "Gold standard" I hear they are good quality at a good price.

    Schallers: Look a little fancier cost a little more.

    Rubners: Look even fancier still and cost about $50-$75 more.

    What are your preferences and why?

    I like the fancier look and would love black buttons as available on the Rubners, but not sure I wanna spend the extra $$$

    Discuss
    aka: Spencer
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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    For the money, I would go for the Grovers 309's. I have a set of basic Rubners and I do like them, but I got them for way less than what they are going for now. Faced with the choices I see on the Rubner site right now, I would go for the Grovers for sure. Sometimes I see them new on eBay for ~$50 (A style). I haven't tried the new Schallers. I have a set of Waverlys -- they are definitely nice but Grovers are pretty darn good.

    Seems like there have been theads on what buttons fit on which tuners, etc, so you might find some black buttons that would work.

    Two things I found that could help any tuners work more smoothly: Triflow lubricant and properly sized (and maybe lubed) nut slots.
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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    I'm a fan of Rubners but pickings look a bit slim over there right now. When I bought a pair of A style you could by them for $70. And they had many more designs to choose from.
    The new Schaller Grandtune are very nice, but you're looking at $150+.
    The Grovers are solid, and affordable, but the F style may not fit all headstocks due to shorter posts, and I seem to remember that one of the F types has reversed gears.
    Gotoh have also been solid, at least the M40 series.
    The only ones that I would definitely stay away from are the Golden Age by Stew Mac. I've had several sets and all were lousy.

    Edit- looking at your signature, I see you have 2 A-style mandolins. I assume you're looking to replace the tuners in the Eastman MD305? If that's the case then the Gotoh MA40 are about $65 and are good. Grover 309NA can be found for about $50. If you can still find the old style Schaller MNI3 tuners, they are good, but hard to come by.
    If you're flush with cash, I'd spend the $92 on the Rubners though. Very well machined.
    Any will be a good step up from the stock tuning machines.
    Last edited by colorado_al; Dec-03-2018 at 12:27am.

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    Registered User Steve Sorensen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    Alessi are the "Platinum Standard" -- the Ferrari. "Gold Standard" of mass produced are Waverlies -- the Camaro. To my experience, Rubners hold their own in this heady realm of excellence . . . the Audi.

    On the other hand, Gotoh, Schaller, and Grovers would be more like Gold-plated standard -- the quality difference is huge and obvious once you look below the surface. They are good but never excellent. The Honda Accord/Toyota Camry.

    I wish Schertler made mandolin tuners . . . then we'd have a Porsche in the mix.

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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    I would probably go with the Grover 309 as best bang for the buck. I wish you could get something other than pearloid knobs for them. If it were F style I would definitely seriously consider Stew Mac Golden Age. They completely redesigned those recently, and they now have replaceable knobs, closer tolerances, and nylon bearings. Also available in relic finishes with black or ivoroid knobs. I would not consider the A style as they have glued on knobs like the Schallers (which I also do not care for). I suspect these have not been re-worked like the F style ones and I had trouble with binding on a set I used to have.

    Ping used to be horrible but I used to have a Kentucky with Golden Gate tuners on it, made by Ping (I think) and I thought they were very good, pretty close copies of Gotoh. It seems Ping has been trying hard to improve their quality, but of course their ‘economy” tuners are still junk. You get what you pay for. But I have to give them credit for what they’ve done with their upper line.
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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    I like fine well built things so I love the look of any of the old tuners that have stood the test of time, the old Handel button to the Pearl button to the different colors of plastic to even the metal button! I would like to try those Alessi tuners even Rubners? Compared to new Waverly are the Alessi more or less cash? I guess I could look them up as I'm sure there is a website?

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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    I'm actually considering trying something different on my SA. What Ken put on there is nice looking but they seem to be a little lacking. He wasn't sure exactly what they were, but they look like Grover Deluxe tuners. I had requested something with gold finish and he just happened to have these in the shop so they went on. A want for black buttons and something a little "smoother" is the reason for the question. Plus I find the instrument doesn't stay in tune very well. Its a 50-50 shot as to whether it will still be in tune an hour after I tune it up. I have chalked it up to it being a newly built instrument with wood that is still settling, but wonder if the tuners play a part.

    Thoughts?
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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    Rubner-they are as good as Waverly at a fraction of the price ! Beautiful also !

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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    I have owned many different mandolins in the 50+ years I've been playing. Some tuners work smoother than others, some look better than others but I've never had tuners that wouldn't hold the strings in tune. I would eliminate all other possibilities of slipping out of tune before I changed tuners. I guess tuners could be the problem but think they are blamed too often when it's something else. Just my opinion

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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    I've got two mandos with 309's on them and they are fine.

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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandoplumb View Post
    I have owned many different mandolins in the 50+ years I've been playing. Some tuners work smoother than others, some look better than others but I've never had tuners that wouldn't hold the strings in tune. I would eliminate all other possibilities of slipping out of tune before I changed tuners. I guess tuners could be the problem but think they are blamed too often when it's something else. Just my opinion
    My Goto tuners were adjusted by my luther and now they never slip out of tune and are smooth as silk. Can't see why people don't adjust the darned things before spending money on new ones.
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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    My Goto tuners were adjusted by my luther and now they never slip out of tune and are smooth as silk. Can't see why people don't adjust the darned things before spending money on new ones.
    Gotoh's are actually pretty good - probably the best in that price range.

    Let me put out a shout for Gotoh Stealth - smaller and very significantly lighter than anything else out there, and work great too. Can't fit them to an existing instrument though...

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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tavy View Post
    Gotoh's are actually pretty good - probably the best in that price range.

    Let me put out a shout for Gotoh Stealth - smaller and very significantly lighter than anything else out there, and work great too. Can't fit them to an existing instrument though...
    I have a couple of instruments with Gotohs but I can’t say they’re my favourites. A local luthier showed me the stealth tuners and said that they were intended to be “built into” headstocks - what’s your take on fitting them Tavy?

    My favourites have to be the Alessis. I have those without the screw heads and I’ve no idea how to get them apart or adjust them; not that I need to - any ideas? (They’re not illustrated on the Alessi website - just the guitar versions.)

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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    You might be able to buy direct from Rubner:
    https://rubner-markneukirchen.de/onl...ndolin&x=0&y=0

    You can get ebony buttons on these:
    https://rubner-markneukirchen.de/onl...0-700-004.html

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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    $70
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Rubner-700-...s/253379951535
    Ship from Australia, but a good price on great tuning machines, in polished brass

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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    I just checked your post about your Silver Angel.
    These are the tuners you're talking about?
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Those look to me like Grover 308 tuners, which I think are awesome, but are hard to find anymore.
    If that is what you have, I don't think you have to replace them.
    You can adjust the friction of the machines by tightening the screws that attach the buttons. Don't make them so tight you can't turn them easily, or that you break a button. My bet is those screws are a bit loose and you can snug them up and fix the problem.


    These:
    http://www.playbetterbluegrass.com/g..._4900_prd1.htm
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I don't think that ebony replacement buttons are available for those anymore, but I bet you could make some, or find someone to do it for you.

    PS- I'd just double check that you are not getting string binding in the nut slots
    Last edited by colorado_al; Dec-04-2018 at 12:41am.

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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    My favourites have to be the Alessis. I have those without the screw heads and I’ve no idea how to get them apart or adjust them; not that I need to - any ideas? (They’re not illustrated on the Alessi website - just the guitar versions.)
    There's NOTHING to adjust on standard tuners (not only Alessi). They should be assembled and all screws tight to hold them together - the cog and worm should be fixed in exact alignment from production and tight screws will hold them there (unless manufactured incorrectly). Alessi knows this and probably doesn't want folks to mess with them and cause damage. Cleaning and lubing is the only thing you can do for your tuner after PROPER installation.
    (I used custom Alessis few years ago with all slotted screws to mimic Loar machines)
    Adrian

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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    Thanks but I’d still like to know how they’re held together. (I know how a car engine works but I’d rather pay someone else to fiddle with it.)

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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    You can add tuners to the long list of things where if you spend more, you generally get more, be it in utility or aesthetics.
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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    I have a couple of instruments with Gotohs but I can’t say they’re my favourites. A local luthier showed me the stealth tuners and said that they were intended to be “built into” headstocks - what’s your take on fitting them Tavy?
    I'm not sure that "built-in" is correct at all - the posts are quite long so you'd have to have a mighty thick headstock to do that. I believe the Gotoh website mentions that it has been done, but I haven't seen it, and they certainly don't say that is the intention.

    I've used them on my travel mandolins because they're so small and light, so you can shrink the headstock size down quite a bit (if that's what you want).

    Click image for larger version. 

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    They are not particularly easy to fit - you need a smaller hole at the rear than the front - and the body of the mechanism is barely any larger than the post diameter so the everything does need to be super-neat and precise.

    Very nice and smooth though.

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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tavy View Post
    I'm not sure that "built-in" is correct at all - the posts are quite long so you'd have to have a mighty thick headstock to do that. I believe the Gotoh website mentions that it has been done, but I haven't seen it, and they certainly don't say that is the intention.

    I've used them on my travel mandolins because they're so small and light, so you can shrink the headstock size down quite a bit (if that's what you want).

    Click image for larger version. 

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    They are not particularly easy to fit - you need a smaller hole at the rear than the front - and the body of the mechanism is barely any larger than the post diameter so the everything does need to be super-neat and precise.

    Very nice and smooth though.
    i was thinking that he was talking about being built into the back of the headstock. So that you wouldnt see the gears, theyd be covered by wood, all you would see is the posts on the front and the knobs/shafts.

    Sort of like the tuners on old bowlbacks where the back of the headstock is covered with a metal plate.

    Ive never seen these done like that before, but thats what i assumed he meant
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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    What's recommended for cleaning and lubing tuners?...

    I do know my nut needs to be lubed and have done a couple slots with graphite
    aka: Spencer
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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by soliver View Post
    What's recommended for cleaning and lubing tuners?...

    I do know my nut needs to be lubed and have done a couple slots with graphite
    Tri-flow. From a drip bottle, not aerosol.
    Check this out:
    http://www.lutherie.net/tuner.maintenance.html

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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    I used to believe in the use of pencil "lead" (graphite) shavings for a nut lubricant. I don't any more. Real graphite may be OK, but pencil graphite has clay in it. And to be honest, I wondered whether any improvement was a placebo effect or real. I use D'Addario Friction Remover now. I think it is probably just repackaged petroleum jelly, but the hypodermic style applicator is handy.

    Triflow is great for tuner lube and you only need a tiny amount, once every other blue moon or so.
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    Default Re: Tuning machines: whats your favorite and why?

    Ray: On some of the Alessi tunnig machines, there is a decorative pearl or wooden circle that covers the screw on the back of the big gear.

    The price of Alessi depends upon the currency rates, but generally they are about $100 less than a set of Waverly if you get a basic model. Custom inlays and engraving can add much more to the price.

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