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Thread: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

  1. #1
    Registered User verbs4us's Avatar
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    Default Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    Looking for advice on Waverly tuners. My Weber Absaroka has Schallers and they are all smooth and easy to turn. They have a little slack in the gearing, and you have to over-turn slightly to come back to concert pitch. So on my Capanella, I asked Joe to make the leap to Waverlys. I have them on one guitar and they are silky and very precise, so I expected the same on the mando. Joe’s build was delayed, he said, because the first shipment of tuners was flawed, so he got another set. They are almost all very stuff to tune. The E and G are OK, but the A and especially the D take enormous torque. Not what I expected for top-tier machines. On a recent set-up, I asked Joe to take a look and he lubed them. Helped slightly but I’m wondering if Waverly is living on its past reputation and has jumped the shark. Given...the Weber is 15 years old and the Campy is 2 years old. Do I need to give the tuners 10,000 miles to break in? Bear grease? Cold-Pressed virgin olive oil? Phil Wood Waterproof bearing grease? Your experience?

    PS: I have not tried the tuners unloaded, without strings, to see if string tension has something to do with it. Running medium-gage Nickel-Bronze D’Addarios but seems the same with almost any string type or weight.
    Last edited by verbs4us; Aug-11-2020 at 8:23am.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    is there a lot of play between the tuner stems and the bushings?
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    I have Waverlys on three guitars -- two Bourgeois and one Collings. None of them are particularly smooth and easy to turn. I've just learned to live with it.
    awm

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    I have Waverly tuners on two mandolins and two guitars and a banjo. All are fine. If there is something wrong with the tuners Stewmac will replace them.

    You might want to check if they are easy to turn with no string tension.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    Recently had new mandolins built. When ordering I suggested Waverly’s. My builder talked me out of them saying that he has done some luthier work changing them out for people due to stiffness.
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    Registered User Jim Roberts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    I bought a new Red Diamond roasted F5 in 2013 and had similar issues with the Waverly tuners. Sent the mandolin back to Don and he installed new Waverly’s and I have not had any problems since. To this day they still work flawlessly.

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    Registered User Steve Sorensen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    It is so frustrating and sad that the "Best" mandolin tuners are so poor compared to "Average" guitar tuner sets. A few years back, I tried to convince Stephan Schertler to make four-on-a-plate mandolin tuners using his open gear guitar sets. "Not enough demand," he responded.

    Here is the point were James Condino will pop in to talk about Alessi tuners . . . which are great.

    BUT compared to what is readily available for guitars, the mandolin choices are sad at best.

    Steve

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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    It really is too bad there’s not such a wide range of choices as with guitars. Rodgers tuners for guitars set an amazing standard, both for beauty and ease of use. Although they are about twice the price of Waverlys. Rodgers offers an incredible range of styles and choices, perhaps they could be persuaded to extend the range to mandolins.

  11. #9
    Registered User verbs4us's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Sorensen View Post

    Here is the point were James Condino will pop in to talk about Alessi tuners . . . which are great.

    Steve
    THe Alessis are beautiful. Are they as silky as they look?
    https://alessituningmachines.it/

  12. #10

    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    If you want to save some money, and angst, try the Rubners before you spring for the Alessi's. I have mandolins with all of these tuners on them, and the Alessi's are nice, but I would not say they were worth 4 times the $$$. If a luthier does not have a lot of experience with them things can get a bit rough. I spent several agonizing years before I had my luthier look at a mandola I had retrofitted with Alessi's by another luthier. He fixed the issue quickly, because he knew exactly what to do. While it plays great now, I'm not sure I'd order another set.

    But if there is something wrong with your set of Waverlys, get in touch with Stew Mac and get them swapped out.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  13. #11

    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    I have a set of Waverly tuners on my Kimble. I’ve complained to them about being stiff and hard to tune and they jump/stick when starting the turn after sitting over night. I don’t think they are worth what they charge for them. They sent new sets to me and were nice to deal with but the 2 they sent were worse than what I had so I had to keep the ones I had. I am thinking of changing them in the future. Anyway, just my experience with Waverly.
    " Practice every time you get a chance." - Bill Monroe

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    If you want to save some money, and angst, try the Rubners before you spring for the Alessi's.
    +1 on the Rubners. I really like them!
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    Registered User EvanElk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    I have Alessis on three mandolins and Waverlies on the other two. One set of Waverlies is awesome and the other set is stiff and is a total pain in arse. I have been transitioning to Alessis because they look and function better than any tuner on the market. I'm obviously a fan. I order them directly from Nicolo and the turnaround time has varied depending on how busy he is in the shop.
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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    I'd NEVER judge tuners by how stiff they are during tuning. ALWAYS try them removed from headstock and check for any dirt or corrosion first. If aleaned and lubed properly they turn nicely off the instrument there's problem with installation. You can loosen genuinely stiff tuners without too much trouble as well (Waverlies worms can be adjusted by their locking nut, but you need special tool).
    Adrian

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    Registered User EvanElk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    That's great info Adrian. What does the tool look like and where do you get one!
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    Here is an old thread from another site dealing with the same problem....

    https://fretsnet.ning.com/forum/topi...waverly-tuners
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  22. #17
    Mandolin & Mandola maker
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    I'd NEVER judge tuners by how stiff they are during tuning. ALWAYS try them removed from headstock
    Absolutely. If they turn ok when off the instrument, then the fault is with the installation. Most problems with tuners are with installation, and the better quality tuners are far more sensitive to poor installation because the tolerances are smaller. The headstock holes must be drilled very precisely - i.e. exactly in line and exact spacing between holes. Easier said than done, but not difficult to fix. Replacing Waverly with Rubner might solve a stiffness problem because the Rubners are more tolerant of poor installation, not because the Waverly tuners are faulty. Schaller GrandTune tuners are also very intolerant of poor installation. Do I get it right all the time? No, more bad language has been directed at tuner installation time than any other.
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    I have Waverlys on my Campanella but I don’t recall any problems with stiffness. I will check to see but I do guess that, as Peter and others have said, that the problem might be in the installation. I will check my mandolin tomorrow and see how the tuners are.

    BTW I also have Waaverly tuners on my Huss & Dalton guitar and they work just fine.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    I have Waverlys on one mandolin, Rubners on one, and Gotohs or something else on the third. The Waverlys are smooth, as are the Rubners. I guess I'm not that picky about tuners, wouldn't change out tuners just to have Waverlys, but if for some reason I had to put on new tuners, or spec a new mando, for the money I'd choose Rubners.

  26. #20
    Registered User geechee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    I'm not a machinist, but can't help but wonder if some type of combined needle roller bearing/bushing could be designed to help reduce friction when a string shaft is installed out of perfect alignment? Click image for larger version. 

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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    The Waverlies on my two Martins are SOOO smooth to turn - I just love them and get extra satisfaction every time I tune. I bought a 2018 Kimble mandolin with Waverlies in March and was surprised that the tuners weren’t so great - sort of stiff, and not consistent from tuner to tuner. Nothing like my guitar tuners. I was thinking this week that I need to lube and spin the mandolin tuners at my next string change to see if that helps any (I didn’t think to do that at the other string changes.). I’m certainly not feeling at this point that they feel much better than my Rubner tuners on another mandolin (to be fair I was disappointed by the Rubners too). The Grovers I put on my Eastman MD315 may actually work a bit better than either the Rubners or the Waverlies. I do wonder about how much of the difference between guitar and mandolin tuners might be due to the smaller tuning buttons on the mandolin.
    Doug Brock
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    Mandolin & Mandola maker
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    I do wonder about how much of the difference between guitar and mandolin tuners might be due to the smaller tuning buttons on the mandolin.
    That is part of it, but mandolin tuners are a lot more difficult to install. There are 4 on a plate, so the hole spacing needs to be spot on. Guitar tuners (except classical) are separate so the hole spacing does not matter. However, you still need to get the holes perpendicular, and that can be tricky if the headstock is tapered. There are still a lot of complaints about tuners in the guitar world! I like Schertler for guitars. Very smooth (smoother than Waverley) and accurate. Made in Switzerland.
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
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  30. #23
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Has Waverly Jumped the Shark?

    Quote Originally Posted by geechee View Post
    I'm not a machinist, but can't help but wonder if some type of combined needle roller bearing/bushing could be designed to help reduce friction when a string shaft is installed out of perfect alignment? Click image for larger version. 

Name:	bearing.jpg 
Views:	10 
Size:	9.4 KB 
ID:	187905
    NO! Bearings require VERY exact alignment usually in hundreds of mm. No way you can get that in wood. Post skewed through such bearing would kill it and they would bind as well.

    The problems with improper installation are manifold. From exact drilling of holes (plus problems how to get by the typical tapered headstock) size of the holes, proper installation of bushings AND VERY IMPORTANT is also how precisely the mounting screws are installed! Tere are older threads with more detail.
    I wonder why Waverly does replace the tuners without looking at the installation in the first place...
    Single guitar tuners leave very small opportunity for such errors, perhaps just the mounting screw(-up).

    I will repeat myself but worm and wheel gear is soooo low tech that it is pretty hard to machine them really bad even in low cost asian factories. If there is some small imprecision in the cut (slightly off center gear or worm, or some extra thick plating inside the teeth) you can use grinding paste and turn tem with hand drill and they will loosen nicely, then clean and lube - I do this to every tuner I install on my mandolins just to make sure they do turn well without unexpected tight spots. If the space between post shoulder and bottom of cog wheel (the gap for the plate) is too small you can remove tiny amount of metal from underside of wheel (flat piece of sandpaper or sharpening stone). If the worm-whell are mounted in misalignment on the plate (pretty much exclusive to simple plates with bent hooks) it is easy to realign them. There's no magic, just some simple physics.
    The tool for waverlies is not sold, you have to make it yourself. It's pretty basic - take small piece of metal and bend/file till it fits. I've modified tons of screwdrivers and wrenches when I needed to open or disassemble electrical appliances, car parts or whatever thing I was repairing that had some very odd custom bolts or such.
    Adrian

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