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Old 10-18-2020, 12:10 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Chugiak, Alaska
Posts: 28,013

Acoustom, Iím a huge fan of Gotoh tuners, and actually worked with them as a consultant when they were developing better quality mandolin and planetary banjo pegs - they didnít pay me any money for my help but they gave me about a dozen sets of tuners out of the deal, so I canít complain!

So Iím very familiar with all the tuners Gotoh makes, and have both sealed gear 510ís and 301ís on most of my instruments. (I own lots of instruments.)

Quite honestly, there really isnít any compelling reason to replace 301ís with 510ís - both are extremely accurate and exceedingly smooth functioning. If I thought I would get better performance out of 510ís on my instruments that currently have 301ís, Iíd swap them out in a heartbeat.

But it would gain me precisely nothing if I did that.


My suggestion is that if you want to dress up the guitar a little bit, get some nice aftermarket tuner buttons in either wood or high grade plastic. Among the wooden buttons I have on my instruments are ebony, snakewood and what I think is cherry, while the hand-machined plastic buttons I have are in ivoroid and tortoiseshell.

My personal favorite button shape is the rectangular Schaller-style buttons, but theyíre also available in the Grover kidney bean shape and the futuristic Jetsons-like button shape that comes stock on 510ís.

So, seriously, if you want to spend the money on 510ís, go ahead. But itís unnecessary because you wonít get much discernible improvement in performance. You can spend a LOT less money and get more visually enticing tuners out of the deal if you keep the 301ís and put some fancy aftermarket tuner buttons on them.

Itís your call, naturally, but my friends can attest to what a perfectionist I am when it comes to guitar tuners. I wonít tolerate mediocre tuners for an instant longer than I have to - itís a quirk of mine, I admit it.

It was that same perfectionism in this regard that convinced the folks at Gotoh to ask me to work with them in developing better mandolin tuners - I was working with the National Reso-Phonic Guitar Company to develop what became the National RM-1 resonator mandolin at the same time.

So Iím intimately acquainted with Gotoh tuners on a professional level, and I think you should save your money and just get nicer tuner buttons on the 301ís.

Believe me, I wouldnít be posting that if it wasnít true.

If you do get aftermarket buttons, just make certain that theyíre specifically for Gotohís; donít buy any cheapo sets off eBay that claim to fit all brands. All of the tuner brands use different shaft shapes from each other, and anything that will fit onto all of them will be necessarily oversized, and deliver lousy, sloppy tuner performance as a result.

Whereas the tuner brand-specific buttons fit exactly.

Hope this helps.

Wade Hampton Miller
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