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Old 09-05-2018, 02:21 PM
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Frank Ford Frank Ford is offline
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Default Banjo pegs for OM guitars that WORK

I offer this with apology for "jumping the gun" a bit - I figured this is big enough news that the word ought to get around the guitar building and repair community.

Of interest to those who have or want banjo style tuners on their guitars, these tuners are a real breakthrough. For the last ninety years, we've suffered with those pitiful 4:1 banjo pegs that have to be tightened so much to avoid slipping that tuning has been, to be polite, "tentative."

There's a new tuner just about to hit the market, and it looks like this:



Pretty much like the conventional planetary geared peg in appearance, this one is completely different on the inside:

1. Ten-to-one ratio, for reasonable tuning.
2. A completely different drive, utilizing no gears.
3. Positively can't slip backward, even if the button is loose.
4. They also work on banjos for improved tuning (nyuk, nyuk).


I've installed some on guitars, and have shown them to players, all of whom have been amazed. Builders have noticed the design possibilities for guitar, harp guitar and other interesting applications.


Here's a set, configured with original ivoroid buttons and a light aging treatment, on the peghead of an original 1931 OM-18:



Should be a little while before the first production run is complete, and pricing is yet to be determined. I'll post more details about availability when I know them.

Oh, and I don't personally have a financial interest in this project. . .
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Old 09-05-2018, 02:26 PM
jklotz jklotz is offline
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Sure wish they'd make something like that with the stops on them, so I could put it on my tele for a drop D. A lot of folks use those Keith tuners for that, but 4 to 1 ratio? Not a great solution in my book.
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Old 09-05-2018, 02:38 PM
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For world class repair guys, this must be a dream come true. Thanks for sharing, Frank!
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Old 09-05-2018, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jklotz View Post
Sure wish they'd make something like that with the stops on them, so I could put it on my tele for a drop D. A lot of folks use those Keith tuners for that, but 4 to 1 ratio? Not a great solution in my book.
Believe it or not, it's under consideration, and maybe something will develop there, too.
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Old 09-05-2018, 03:26 PM
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As many of you may know, I’ve been working on various machining and metal projects related to stringed instruments, and a few of them ended up as “products,” including “Jack the Gripper” and “Frank’s Cranks.”

One project is far less obvious unless you have the misfortune of living with me. In 1974, a friend who worked in a local high tech machine shop developed and made a banjo tuner using a preloaded ball bearing drive that had no gears. I thought it was pretty amazing, because it also had a higher than usual ratio, nearly 10:1, if I recall.

Three decades later, I found myself on the learning curve to operate a home machine shop. That’s when I started working with different designs, and trying to make my own preloaded ball bearing planetary drive banjo peg.

It’s a long story so I’ll try to keep to the bullet points.

I’m no machinist or engineer, so all my work is more on the order of “tinkering” - making and trying stuff until it works (or doesn’t). Over about ten years I spent some time messing about and working on the preloaded ball bearing principle until I was able to make a peg that worked very well and was absolutely smooth in its action. I showed my prototype to the StewMac folks who voiced approval and felt it solved the problem of the sort of “grind-y” feel of the conventional geared tuner.

All was well until I started testing my tuner on guitars. I discovered one small flaw. It simply wasn’t strong enough to hold the tension!

Back to my lack of drawing board, I set about looking at other ways to work on the problem. I hit on the idea of a different sort of drive, and made my first prototype cycloidal peg in 2010. I don’t know if it’s a big deal, but I’m unaware of another instrument tuner employing a cycloidal reduction drive, so maybe I can claim credit for being the first.

A few years ago I called banjo maker Bill Rickard because I heard he was working on making the ultimately smooth banjo peg. He was improving the planetary gear system, and having no end of difficulty getting the gears perfectly machined. As we spoke, I told him of my experimentation and the crying need for high ratio tuners for the guitar crowd, which surprised him. Over the course of several discussions, I eventually turned over my designs and experimental tuners so he might incorporate some ideas into his project.

Well, the time has finally come. Bill has patented his version of the cycloidal drive and started actual manufacture of the tuners we’ve all been waiting for.

They have a ten-to-one ratio, are perfectly smooth with no backlash, simply can’t slip and have no need for tension on the button.

Here's a quick silent video on the assembly and operation of my big bass banjo tuner, illustrating the cycloidal drive principle Bill improved and developed for these great new tuners:

https://youtu.be/Dfs--w3lorw
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Old 09-05-2018, 03:54 PM
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Can't wait to try these out. Thank you Frank for your "tinkering" I'm sure it will be appreciated. Rickard makes excellent banjo parts, I'm sure these will be no exception.
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Old 09-05-2018, 04:05 PM
numb fingertips numb fingertips is offline
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For those of us without a clue, why banjo tuners on a guitar? Is there some kind of advantage?
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Old 09-05-2018, 04:06 PM
jt1 jt1 is offline
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Thanks, Frank! This is the perfect solution for my 1917 Dyer Style 7 harp guitar:

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Old 09-05-2018, 04:09 PM
jklotz jklotz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Ford View Post
Believe it or not, it's under consideration, and maybe something will develop there, too.
If they do, put me 1st in line to buy one.
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Old 09-05-2018, 04:39 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Originally Posted by numb fingertips View Post
For those of us without a clue, why banjo tuners on a guitar? Is there some kind of advantage?
When the Martin Guitar Company first developed their OM model, their primary consultant on the project and artist endorser was a famous banjo player named Perry Bechtel. The music of the time was moving away from banjos and towards guitars, but Bechtel didnít like the tone of the archtop guitars that Gibson and Epiphone were producing. So he worked with Martin to help develop a flattop guitar that would serve as an effective Big Band rhythm guitar.

Many players identify the OM so strictly as a fingerpickerís guitar that they assume that was what was intended when Martin came out with it. Theyíre often flabbergasted to learn that, no, it was first intended to be a rhythm guitar in the Big Band era.

Anyway, as a famous banjo soloist, Bechtel was used to using banjo tuners, so thatís what the first Martin OMís came equipped with. The practical problem for modern day guitarists who want that original look on their OMís is that 4 to 1 gear ratio banjo tuners basically suck. Theyíre inexact and imprecise, and just a pain in the butt all the way around.

These new pegs Frank Ford posted about changes all of that - suddenly, using a banjo-style tuner no longer subjects the player using them to such imprecision.

So itís a big deal, as in a major sea change so far as tuner technology is concerned.

Hope that makes sense. Frank, Iíll be interested in getting a set of two of them once they become available, as well.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 09-05-2018, 08:33 PM
silvertonebetty silvertonebetty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
When the Martin Guitar Company first developed their OM model, their primary consultant on the project and artist endorser was a famous banjo player named Perry Bechtel. The music of the time was moving away from banjos and towards guitars, but Bechtel didnít like the tone of the archtop guitars that Gibson and Epiphone were producing. So he worked with Martin to help develop a flattop guitar that would serve as an effective Big Band rhythm guitar.



Many players identify the OM so strictly as a fingerpickerís guitar that they assume that was what was intended when Martin came out with it. Theyíre often flabbergasted to learn that, no, it was first intended to be a rhythm guitar in the Big Band era.



Anyway, as a famous banjo soloist, Bechtel was used to using banjo tuners, so thatís what the first Martin OMís came equipped with. The practical problem for modern day guitarists who want that original look on their OMís is that 4 to 1 gear ratio banjo tuners basically suck. Theyíre inexact and imprecise, and just a pain in the butt all the way around.



These new pegs Frank Ford posted about changes all of that - suddenly, using a banjo-style tuner no longer subjects the player using them to such imprecision.



So itís a big deal, as in a major sea change so far as tuner technology is concerned.



Hope that makes sense. Frank, Iíll be interested in getting a set of two of them once they become available, as well.





Wade Hampton Miller


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Old 09-05-2018, 09:00 PM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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These look very much like PegHeds. Are they different internally?
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  #13  
Old 09-05-2018, 11:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Bard Rocks View Post
These look very much like PegHeds. Are they different internally?
No similarity. Peg Heds are revolutionary in that they look exactly like wood friction pegs (or, a few like metal patent friction pegs) but with clever internal 4:1 planetary gearing.

These new tuners have a cycloidal drive, and are the first ever with the non-geared high ratio mechanism.

follow this link to the video of my big banjo tuner to get a rough idea of how it works:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dfs--w3lorw
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:21 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Frank, you referred to the tuner in the video as your "big banjo tuner," and that leads me to a question that occurred to me when I watched the video earlier today: is that tuner in the video the size they're going to be, or is that an oversized prototype that you're showing off to demonstrate the concept? Because that does seem to be a big old chunk of machinery.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 09-06-2018, 01:07 AM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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Frank's big tuners were for a bass. The production tuners are normal size.

Quote:
Anyway, as a famous banjo soloist, Bechtel was used to using banjo tuners, so thatís what the first Martin OMís came equipped with
Actually, the very first OM's had a slotted headstock. Martin's reissue of Perry's first OM was the same. I own the third one made (#39904, dated Oct 15, 1929), and it has a slotted headstock and a 1 13/16" nut width. However, I do own three other early OM's with banjo tuners.
My tuning woes ended when I installed Gotoh planetary tuners on my player grade 1930 OM-28. Not only are they smoother and infinitely easier to tune than Waverlys, they are lighter, to boot.
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