What is your tolerance / standards for tuning machine functionality? ?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Bermuda Ron, Jan 10, 2021.

  1. Hey All, I note that many of you when first acquiring an "entry level" instrument
    , many immediately remark that "the tuners are crap" or that "of course I'll be changing out the tuners". Other than wanting to change out for lighter weight or different color / style, what is your tolerance or standard for tuning machine functionality? Do you expect them to hold tune for one song, one set, one gig, one overnight, one week? Just what is YOUR metric?
    Thanks in advance for your advice.
    shraderbass likes this.
  2. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    In my opinion they should at the very least be able to hold tuning over a gig. I know with air conditioning tuning may shift slightly but having to regularly tune between songs is painful.
    Bermuda Ron and shraderbass like this.
  3. Same. Most reputable tuners hold very well. Temperature and humidity can change the best tuned instrument ever so slightly
    Bermuda Ron likes this.
  4. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Even the cheapest tuners I have used held tune just fine. It’s the fit and finish and quality of materials that matters. Cast metal post tuners are a joke and a bad one at that, yet Warwick and Ibanez puts them on $1500 basses and this forum has many tales of woe about them.

    For open gear tuners it’s quite easy to see whether the gears are cut cleanly and have good plating or if they are MIC junk.
    wcriley, Zooberwerx and sissy kathy like this.
  5. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member


    tuning machines can work just fine, but the wood neck/fingerboard and strings can react to the atmosphere to cause the need for re-tuning. just because your ax needs tuning = doesn't necessarily mean the machines are at fault. per your question: on most gigs = i tune once + check the tuning before each set. temperature/humidity changes, stoutness of neck, and other factors/variables come into play.
  6. Okay, holding for a gig seems to be a pretty strict tolerence, considering the number of posts on TB regarding pedalboard tuners, Snarks, D'Addario minis, etc.?
  7. JKos


    Oct 26, 2010
    Surprise, AZ
    A tuning machine itself should never be the reason a bass goes out of tune. No excuse for that.
    One Way, wcriley and Zooberwerx like this.
  8. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Most of the "crap tuner' woes I encounter can be traced to other deficits in the string path, including:

    *Improper string install: inadequate wraps, no witness points, twisted strings.

    *Poorly cut nut: binds the string(s), slots not lubed, etc.

    *Operator error: tune up not down, machine heads not maintained (missing washers / spacers).

    All machine heads have varying levels of lash (play) but this becomes a non-issue when subjected to 30-35 lbs of string tension.

    96tbird, RSBBass and Bermuda Ron like this.
  9. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    It’s not necessarily about the ratio. IME cheap tuners just feel rougher to operate - like there’s more slop and resistance in the gears.
    I’ll usually just live with it on a budget instrument - unless one starts to seize or skip. Then I’ll source a used set of Gotoh/Schaller/Hipshot/Grover gears and enjoy having a $500 bass that tunes as smoothly and reliably as a $2000 bass.
    Bermuda Ron likes this.
  10. Fun Size Nick

    Fun Size Nick

    Feb 21, 2006
    In transit
    Agreed. Tuners hold tune by virtue of the high gear ratio (from the perspective of the string trying to rotate the gear), so it's rare that the tuner itself is the cause of problems. I've had no problems with the cheap stock tuners on Squiers, other than that my preference is for straight or straight tapered posts for better break angle over the nut, rather than posts that are shaped )(
    96tbird and Zooberwerx like this.
  11. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Inactive

    Feb 23, 2011
    Don't actually mind they if they might not be the best and a bit difficult to tune right as long as it is actually possible to tune precisely with them and they don't automatically move causing tuning instabilities.