Why lefty loosey?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Uncle K, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. Uncle K

    Uncle K Formally Monster Truck Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2011
    Erie, PA
    OK, here's a dumb question that no one has ever been able explain to me: Why are tuners designed to turn lefty loosey when we tighten our strings? Why not righty tighty like every other screw based tightening thing in the world?
  2. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Early makers of tuning pegs probably wanted the obvious functionality retained before and after the gear; that is, turning the peg clockwise corresponds to the shaft rotating clockwise.

    However, strings need to come off from the nut as straight (horizontally) as possible so as not to apply too much sideways pressure and either move or break the nut. In order to accommodate for this, we wind the strings in the opposite direction to tighten them.

    If we adopted some modified headstock system where the lowest string's tuner is farthest away, we could reverse the system.
  3. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    bicycle pedals and camera lenses go to the left too
  4. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    I'm trying to remember, but I think bike pedals were designed that way so as not to accidentally unscrew themselves during forward riding. No idea about the lenses.

    One thing to consider is the frame of reference. If you're holding a nut and a bolt with the nut toward you and the bolt away from you, and then you want to tighten the bolt while fixing the nut, you'll have to turn the bolt counter-clockwise (relative to your frame of reference) to tighten it.
  5. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Being a mechanic all my life it drives me crazy!!!
    I love my vintage reverse tuners.
  6. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    Never gave it a moment's thought.
  7. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Sarcasm: Just ONE of the many services I offer! Supporting Member

    The real reason is because it's "righty, tighty!"

    Dan K.
  8. Except that turning the peg to the left on most basses is what tightens it. :p
  9. IPA


    May 5, 2010
    My Sting P-bass is right to tighten for some reason.
  10. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    Bicycle pedals go on clockwise on the right side and counter clockwise on the left. This is done to avoid having the left pedal come loose due to the rotation.
  11. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    The plastic retaining nut on a conventional toilet handle is left-handed. Ask me how I know.

    Not only are Pedulla tuners lefty-tighty, so are his truss rods.

  12. Mehve


    Jun 2, 2012
    Kitchener, ON
    I always figured it was a throwback to classical instruments that don't even have worm gears at play. In those cases, you're simply turning the spindle directly, and left would pull the string tighter.
  13. jweber76


    Aug 10, 2011
    Attleboro, Ma
    Don't some vintage Chrysler products have "backwards" threaded lugnuts on one side too?
  14. St Drogo

    St Drogo

    Oct 9, 2009
    Because it's not a screw. When you tighten the string, you're not screwing anything into the wood. It's not a direct connection; when turning the key you turn a cog, which in turn rotates the actual peg. I'd compare it more to turning a dial to adjust something, than to fastening something with actual threads, like a bottlecap or bolts and nuts.

    Keeping that in mind, I always thought this way makes more sense. When you turn the key so that the upper part rotates away from the headstock, you tighten the string. Almost like you're winding the string directly onto the key, like opening a can of tuna or spam. Lovely spam. Wonderful spam.
  15. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    My P bass tuners are righty tighty
  16. St Drogo

    St Drogo

    Oct 9, 2009
    Your RW? It's because of the vintage tuners, they turn the other way. My RW jazz does the same.
  17. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    The real question is why anyone still uses the imperial system of measurement!
    Ok, I know the answer to that, but I reject it because it's dumb :)
  18. St Drogo

    St Drogo

    Oct 9, 2009
    You sir, are part of the rebel alliance and a traitor.

    Take him away!
  19. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    OH, and philips head screws. The motto should be "Designed poorly for people who can't control themselves!"
    Of course, flatheads are irritating too and torx has a patent...
  20. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado