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Thread: Tuner Musings

  1. #1
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    Default Tuner Musings

    Just having a quiet afternoon of mandolin maintenance which has given me time for thought.

    Over the years, Iíve acquired quite a few instruments; Iíve tended to simply buy another, canít remember ever trading one in, and, consequently, Iíve had a good selection of tuners to peruse.

    Itís clear that some people agonise over the choice of tuner but I already have most of them. Iíve experienced the benefits of Allesi and Waverley, been reasonably satisfied with Schaller, appreciated the StewMac ďRestorationĒ tuners and been delighted to replace a set of GAís with a special order set of Robson.

    The ones which work best, however, are on my cheapest mandolin - a Fylde - which I picked up at auction just over 3 yeras ago. For those who donít know, Fylde is run by Roger Bucknell MBE, a UK guitar builder - you can tell becuse he annoyingly always puts a fret marker on the 9th fret!

    You can also tell because he uses mini-guitar tuners rather than specific mandolin tuners - in my cas made by Gotho.

    So, to get to the point, why have other builders not gone the same way? Theyíre smooth, hold their tune impeccably and need no maintenance. If you were to fit them closer together than on my instrument, theyíd have the same post spacing as normal mandolin tuners. Is it purely down to tradition?

  2. #2
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuner Musings

    I have two 10 string custom instruments - a mandola and a mandocello. Both came with ugly cheap ass Chinese tuning machines.

    Just in the last year or so I embarked on a tuner upgrade. I decided to ditch all the pearloid buttons, chrome buttons and cheapassery, switching everything over to wooden buttons.

    Anyway I put Grover mini-rotomatic tuners with ebony buttons on the mandola and Grover milk-bottle rotomatics with ebony buttons on the 'cello. I like how they look and love how they work. Traditional open back tuners just wouldn't fit.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Tuner Musings

    Two thoughts-
    Cost?
    Extra labor to place 8 individual tuners vs. 2 sets of 4?

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    Default Re: Tuner Musings

    Doing a bit of post-post research, I suspect that it’s down to availability rather than cost - find me a set of 8 rather than a set of 6.

    As for labour, you don’t need to be deadly accurate with your hole spacing, the bush screws into the tuner body and theres a screw to stop them twisting round. Should work first time every time.

    There was a thread on this back in 2010 - https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...for-a-mandolin - looks like its a British thing! But two sets of six and you’ll have four left for an electric 4-string.

  5. #5
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuner Musings

    As they also get used on 12 string guitars .. 2 sets can be used on 3 mandolins..
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

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    Default Re: Tuner Musings

    I think they weigh more, so that may be a factor.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Registered User mandrian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuner Musings

    Ray,

    My impression is that the individual tuners always work better than the four in a plate type. That opinion is based on having a Sobell and a Taran that use that type. They function much better than the tuners on my other mandolins. Not sure why that should be.

    Incidentally, I feel much the same way about bridges. I think that the ebony bridge with or without the bone insert is superior to the thumbwheel type, those in my experience often develop leaning issues under string tuning pressure.

    I suppose it’s the Loar thing that means the tuners and adjustable bridge chosen by so many builders reflect his decisions.

    All the above are just my opinions as a player. Wonder what the luthiers think? I presume most of them just give, what the market expects?

    Regards,

  8. #8

    Default Re: Tuner Musings

    Anytime I replace electric guitar tuners, I use Gotoh non-locking. They’re super smooth and inexpensive.
    Soliver arm rested and Tone-Garded Northfield Model M with DíAddario NB 11.5-41, picked with a Wegen Bluegrass 1.4

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Tuner Musings

    Back in the day, three-on-a-plate guitar tuners usually signified an inferior instrument. Mandolins never seem to have caught up!

  10. #10

    Default Re: Tuner Musings

    This thread inspired me to browse Stewmac and how about these?
    [URL="https://www.stewmac.com/parts-and-hardware/tuning-machines/mandolin-tuning-machines/kluson-4-on-plate-supreme-series-a-style-mandolin-tuning-machines.html"] https://www.stewmac.com/parts-and-ha...-machines.html
    Klusons with 18:1 ratio and they're enclosed. Anybody tried em?

  11. #11

    Default Re: Tuner Musings

    It's about weight. When I built an octave mandolin 20 years ago, I fitted it with mini Grover rotomatics (had to buy 2 sets- 12 machines) because that was commonplace at the time. The machines are heavier than the 3 on a plate alternative and the instrument has significant neck dive, so I play on a strap at all times.

    The rotomatics are very smooth but really no smoother than Grover 309s which weigh way less.

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  13. #12
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuner Musings

    My Silverangel has Grover Deluxe tuners, not sure what's on my Jacobson, and I've installed Grover 309's on both of my builds. Of what I have, I like the 309's the best. IMO, a mando staying in tune is more an effect of the climate than the tuners. Relative humidity makes wood expand and contract and temperature makes steel (strings) expand and contract, so in my mind an instrument staying in tune is an indicator that the climate it's in does not change. That being said, what I believe makes tuning machines good/better/best is how smooth they turn and of what I have, the 309's are the smoothest and most functional.
    aka: Spencer
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  14. #13
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    Default Re: Tuner Musings

    Quote Originally Posted by Joed View Post
    This thread inspired me to browse Stewmac and how about these?
    [URL="https://www.stewmac.com/parts-and-hardware/tuning-machines/mandolin-tuning-machines/kluson-4-on-plate-supreme-series-a-style-mandolin-tuning-machines.html"] https://www.stewmac.com/parts-and-ha...-machines.html
    Klusons with 18:1 ratio and they're enclosed. Anybody tried em?
    I remember seeing a picture of those (or the guitar version) with the covers removed. They’re simply 4 on a plate tuners with tin covers riveted on and not grease filled like the ones 8 have - the clue is in the oil hole.

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  16. #14

    Default Re: Tuner Musings

    When I received my 1956 Gibson F-12 about 20 years ago, it came with the original Kluson 4 on a plate tuners and it suffered from a serious case of neck dive, too heavy and not very good at holding tune. I quickly replaced them with gold Gotoh tuners with MOP buttons and greatly improved the diving and tuning issues. Simple fix that is still working for me all of these years later. Klusons belong on Telecasters, not mandolins imho.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  17. #15
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Question Re: Tuner Musings

    I Had a Gibson A 40 with the original ones like that with the plastic button shrinkage issues ..

    Any How.. Needle tip grease gun .. tiny amount of grease … & then..

    bobs your uncle ..
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

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