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  #16  
Old 01-16-2020, 08:09 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Look, I'm kind of a fanatic when it comes to tuning gear accuracy, I know that. It comes from the fact that my first musical instrument was mountain dulcimer and I used to teach classes in dulcimer.

My dulcimers always had mini Schaller guitar tuners, and stayed in tune beautifully, but the vast majority of the dulcimers owned by the people I taught were either wooden friction pegs or those Grover Sta-Tite metal friction pegs like these:





˙˙˙

Those are simply horrible tuners that will fight you every step of the way, and then not hold when you finally do get the instrument in tune.

Of course as the instructor it was part of my job to get my students in tune until they could learn to do it themselves. I taught classes both through the Communiversity program in Kansas City and at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, as well as in music camps and festival workshops here in Alaska.

Because of that honestly trying and difficult experience over the course of many years, I've been a total tuner nerd ever since.


Wade Hampton Miller

PS: The alert among you will say: "But those, in fact, are not open gear tuners!" Yes, I know that. But the overall experience of teaching classes full of instruments that are baulky or impossible to tune has made me intolerant of even the tiniest slop or inaccuracy in ANY tuner.
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  #17  
Old 01-16-2020, 08:21 PM
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brencat brencat is offline
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Open geared butterbeans for me...for the vintage look and lighter weight in the headstock.
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  #18  
Old 01-16-2020, 08:54 PM
Jaden Jaden is offline
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When I was shopping for guitars over $1000, the choice between brands often came down to the stock tuners included - Martin had made the switch over to open gear Grovers by that time and the black pickguard was gone & replaced by faux tortoise - these are only details but at that price point it made the choice much easier (for me) - keeping the guitars in cases works to reduce any dust and particle accumulation on the gears.
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  #19  
Old 01-16-2020, 08:54 PM
HodgdonExtreme HodgdonExtreme is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brencat View Post
Open geared butterbeans for me...for the vintage look and lighter weight in the headstock.
I would just love to see a blind test performed on audiophiles - with lighter and heavier tuning machines.
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  #20  
Old 01-16-2020, 08:59 PM
whvick whvick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
Look, I'm kind of a fanatic when it comes to tuning gear accuracy, I know that. It comes from the fact that my first musical instrument was mountain dulcimer and I used to teach classes in dulcimer.

My dulcimers always had mini Schaller guitar tuners, and stayed in tune beautifully, but the vast majority of the dulcimers owned by the people I taught were either wooden friction pegs or those Grover Sta-Tite metal friction pegs like these:





˙˙˙

Those are simply horrible tuners that will fight you every step of the way, and then not hold when you finally do get the instrument in tune.

Of course as the instructor it was part of my job to get my students in tune until they could learn to do it themselves. I taught classes both through the Communiversity program in Kansas City and at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, as well as in music camps and festival workshops here in Alaska.

Because of that honestly trying and difficult experience over the course of many years, I've been a total tuner nerd ever since.


Wade Hampton Miller

PS: The alert among you will say: "But those, in fact, are not open gear tuners!" Yes, I know that. But the overall experience of teaching classes full of instruments that are baulky or impossible to tune has made me intolerant of even the tiniest slop or inaccuracy in ANY tuner.


So were you and the students able to upgrade the dulcimers to better tuners, or did they have to buy a better dulcimer?
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  #21  
Old 01-16-2020, 09:59 PM
AZLiberty AZLiberty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whvick View Post
I would think closed and sealed would be better.
Absolutely agree. Sealed are much nicer, and don't collect desert crud.

However, 'tis the fashion these days.
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  #22  
Old 01-17-2020, 01:20 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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After I described the genuinely awful tuners on most mountain dulcimers back in the Olden Days, WH asked:

Quote:
Originally Posted by whvick View Post
So were you and the students able to upgrade the dulcimers to better tuners, or did they have to buy a better dulcimer?
Oh, sure, the more dedicated and serious students often did so on my recommendation. I routinely sent them and their dulcimers to a good repairman to get Schallers or (later) Gotohs installed.

With the traditional dulcimer headstock the repair tech would have to put a thick piece of rosewood bridge stock to serve as a shim on either side of the headstock - otherwise the guitar tuner shafts would be too long for the space inside the headstock.

But, yes, I sent a lot of students to get that work done. They always appreciated how much easier it became to get in tune once some Schallers had been installed.

As for my own dulcimers, I’ve always preferred guitar-style paddle headstocks rather than the traditional scroll. It’s much easier and faster to change strings on a paddle headstock than the usual scroll headstock, and the physical balance of the dulcimer is better with the modern headstock, too - those scroll headstocks put a LOT of weight right where you need it the least.


whm
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  #23  
Old 01-17-2020, 05:10 AM
lowrider lowrider is offline
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First of all, nobody can see your tuners, not even you.

What do people do, turn their guitar around and stare at it?

Right now I have 5 guitars; 2 with open gears and 3 with closed. The closed gear tuners are smoother and easier to turn. If I was going to change anything, I'd take off the open ones and replace them with closed ones.
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  #24  
Old 01-17-2020, 06:21 AM
cdkrugjr cdkrugjr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whvick View Post
So were you and the students able to upgrade the dulcimers to better tuners, or did they have to buy a better dulcimer?
Feeding his students' DAS...
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  #25  
Old 01-17-2020, 06:29 AM
cdkrugjr cdkrugjr is offline
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It shouldn't make a huge difference—it's just as easy to build a crappy open tuner as it is to build a crappy closed tuner . . . and just as difficult to get it right.

I thought friction tuners were crap until I played in instrument with good ones..

It's really about the look of the instrument, whether the builder is going for "clean" or "vintage" or any other of a gazillion meaningless adjectives.

I even know a few players who SWEAR by friction tuners. Me? I mostly swear AT them . . .
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  #26  
Old 01-17-2020, 08:28 AM
hermithollow hermithollow is offline
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Even well fitted and maintained friction pegs can work fine as many violinists will attest. The key words being "well fitted and maintained".
With machine tuners performance is less about open or closed back, and more about initial quality and need for maintenance. Open back tuners may need periodic cleaning and oiling where closed back tuners have the lubricant sealed in away from dust. On a small bodied instrument the weight of a set of full sized closed back tuners can affect the balance. With many companies offering "mini" tuners this is less of a problem.
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  #27  
Old 01-17-2020, 08:31 AM
phavriluk phavriluk is offline
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Someone mentioned that the tuners on his inexpensive guitar worked just fine (to copy a phrase). When I started building guitars (5 and counting) I was, and still am, conscious of the cost of each project, and I took the experimental path of buying a couple of sets of closed tuners from China, the twelve-dollars-a-set kind. So far, they've worked well enough not to be noticeable or objects of fussing. Not particularly different from the tuners on my GS Mini or the Pings on my first project. No one who's played my guitars has noticed anything unusual about the tuners. One set even had its manufacturer's name cast into the bodies...
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  #28  
Old 01-17-2020, 08:47 AM
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Sealed makes my brain feel better, but open makes my eyes feel better.
Just think open gear tuners look WAY better than the sealed equivalents.

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  #29  
Old 01-17-2020, 08:52 AM
swampyankee swampyankee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bufflehead View Post
Style. These days, open tuners have the cool factor.
Funny, back even just a few years ago, I thought open tuners were primitive, and the sign of a cheap guitar. I mean, my Regal R200 ($27 in 1967) has open tuners.

Besides, I'd be afraid of getting my beard caught in them.
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  #30  
Old 01-17-2020, 08:57 AM
cliff_the_stiff cliff_the_stiff is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayBee1404 View Post
I love the look of the Waverlys on my Martins and the Sta-Tite 18-1s on my Brook. Very ‘cool’ indeed. But from an operational standpoint, the enclosed Gotoh 510s on my Lowden are far superior.
Dead on☝️.
Pretty tough to beat the look of an open gear.
Pretty tough to beat the function of a Gotoh 510.
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