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Building your own tuning machines?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by JTGale, Feb 5, 2006.

  1. JTGale


    Oct 26, 2004
    Hummelstown, PA
    I have this crazy idea running around in my head about building a different headstock. It is literally keeping me up at night sketching and resketching on graph paper, burning up pencils, scaring the cat ... And what I am wondering is have any of you taken apart a sealed tuning machine to see how they work? The only info I can find on the Web is a blown apart planetary drop tuner for a banjo.

    I am afraid to crack open an Ultralite to see what is inside. I do have some Grover guitar tuners in the basement that I have been eyeing rather lustily but am avoiding for the moment. This "idea" I have would require either serious machine work to rework existing tuning machines or creating some from scratch. Anybody ever tried it?

    TIA: Any and all comments are appreciated!

  2. why don't you examine an open-back design like a Schaller or a vintage Fender....they are basically a gear on a post (the shaft that the string wraps on) driven by a screw (which connects to the tuning key).

    Without the right type of machining equipment and knowlege, my guess is that it would be quite difficult to create a quality, functionable tuner.
  3. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    All angeled tuners are simple worm gears. Easy to understand, very hard to make.
  4. JTGale


    Oct 26, 2004
    Hummelstown, PA
    I never thought they would be that "simple." So what keeps them tight, is it friction (like an open Fender tuner)? Then what's the benefit of a sealed tuner, aside from keeping dust, grit, grime and sweat out?

    Is there such a thing as a tuning maching that is "packed" like a bearing and uses a clutch system to adjust?

    And Hambone, what mods have you tried, successfully and unsuccessfully?

    Sorry for all the Q's. I even dreamed about this thing last night. I grabbed my trusty Dremmel tool and cut the top off a tuning barrel only to find that I had burnt my fingers and the parts fell out too fast for me to keep track. Essentially, a nightmare, I guess. ... Maybe I need to take some Nyquil and try to get some quality sleep ... :meh:

  5. the benefits of a sealed tuner are exactly what you said + keeping lubricant IN.

    what keeps tuners "locked in, is a combination of friction and the multiplication of this holding force (remember this works in "reverse" on a tuner so, for example: if your tuner has a 20:1 ratio and it takes 2 inch-pounds of torque to turn your key to tighten the string...the force required to pull the string around from the other end would be 40 inch-pounds, and if that is the case, and your string is 0.25 inches from the center of the turning radius...then this tuner could hold 160 lbs before slipping...

    this is just an example, of course...the numbers are out of my head (albeit close), but it is a good demonstration of just how well a tuner can hold string tension.
  6. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Now that is awesome. I have to think about some way to do that...
  7. JTGale


    Oct 26, 2004
    Hummelstown, PA
    Thanks for all the responses. This pretty much answers all I needed to know. I never realized that there is that much pressure on a post, but now that I think about it, I guess that that goes without saying. It is a wonder that the shafts don't go cocky-eyed and wear out more than they do.

    Thanks again!