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Wooden Tuners?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by DLemos, May 4, 2016.


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  1. DLemos

    DLemos

    Sep 7, 2015
    Has anyone tried making wooden tuners before? I mean from the shaft, to the gear, to the knob- Not metal tuners with wood accents.

    My second thought would be to make tuners that are similar to violin or viola tuners, where it is just a peg with a knob. I am not sure how long they stay in tune though?
     
  2. IWieldTheSpade

    IWieldTheSpade

    Mar 15, 2010
    As far as geared tuners go, the shapes required would probably leave the timber quite brittle and liable to break due to short grain in places.
    For pegs, I'm not sure if they've been used in the past for uprights, but I would imagine that they would be prohibitively large for an electric headstock. I could see tuning being a nightmare too and definitely needing finetuners at the bridge end.
    There are half wooden, half metal tuners for uprights available though:
    20639.

    What's your motivation here?
     
    DLemos likes this.
  3. T_Bone_TL

    T_Bone_TL

    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    Just don't try to make them like metal gears. Look at old wooden mill gearing for how to make wooden gears that work when made of wood... Miniaturizing those will be fun.

    [​IMG]

    Un-geared simple pegs may be a bit difficult to adjust. Certainly most of the V/V/C crowd that use plain pegs also use "fine tuners" IME. Not sure how far back double-basses with geared tuners go, but I can't recall ever meeting one with plain pegs. If you don't already know, V/V/C pegs are tapered pegs in s tapered hole, which is a good deal of how they come up with the friction to stay put.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2016
    DLemos likes this.
  4. DLemos

    DLemos

    Sep 7, 2015
    My idea was to make the entire bass out of wood, rather than out-sourcing for the parts. It seems you may be correct with the limited grain capabilities. I guess I must stick with my Grover tuners for now. Thank you guys for your insight!
     
  5. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    Doubtful, but friction pegs, like a violin, again doubtful of success.
     
  6. DLemos

    DLemos

    Sep 7, 2015
    I feel- like you said- I would get to the assembly portion, where the screw threading finally meets the gear, and no magic would be present- I mean, it might turn it a little bit, but 100% consitancy seems a little far fetched.
     
  7. Ninevolt

    Ninevolt

    Nov 26, 2015
    Maybe a hardwood with wood hardener treatment? Ebony would look good. I don't know if it would help small intricate gears n whatnot keep from breaking. Just an idea.
     
    DLemos likes this.
  8. My father makes wooden clocks out of birch ply. The complexity of these things is insane, never mind the perfection required to get a clock to run. His clocks run well throughout the winter, but as soon as it gets a little humid they stop working. Of course clock gears have a lot less stress than tuners.
     
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  9. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    Phenolic might work, not metal and comes in colors that mimic wood, plus usually looks like it has grain, cosmetically.
     
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  10. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    Will there be pickups as that would screw the whole wood theme?
     
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  11. DLemos

    DLemos

    Sep 7, 2015
    I guess I mean what can be wood. I do have some spare ebony around, I was going to try to just see how far I can go with it, but it seems to be very flaky- breaking in long streaks with the grain.
     
  12. DLemos

    DLemos

    Sep 7, 2015
    Do they resume their functionality when the winter strikes again? Has he tried using less absorbent wood?
     
  13. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    Wood will absorb moisture but less so if sealed with something.
     
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  14. DLemos

    DLemos

    Sep 7, 2015
    I have tried using Seal-Lac on a drum I made two(?) years ago. It does not allow too much moisture in, but boy, did that moisture want to escape.
     
  15. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD Supporting Member

    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    It is exceedingly unlikely that the teeth or gear-pegs in a tuning machine even made from Lignum vitae or somesuch would be able to withstand the tension from the strings.
     
    DLemos likes this.
  16. Yes, they stop working in late spring and start working again on the late fall. I'm sure he could extend that with finish, but he's ok with how they work.
     
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  17. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    More work, but multiple gears, sort of a ratio change, might take load off gears, more accurate tuning but sore wrists doing string changing.
     
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  18. T_Bone_TL

    T_Bone_TL

    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    Mostly the tooth that connects to the pin needs to be strong enough, no matter how many (or few) gearing stages you use after that, since that tooth is applying the full tension to the string. For that matter, the gear to shaft joint also needs to be strong enough. First and foremost, throw out the metal-gear design if you want this to work - and realize that they won't be very compact, because to be compact, the material has to be strong, like metal is strong. I'm pretty sure it could be done if you design it right, but that design will not (IMHO) resemble the tuners you are familiar with.
     
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  19. DLemos

    DLemos

    Sep 7, 2015
    Yeah, I am sticking with my Grover tuners for now. :) Too much hassle at the moment.
     

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