Machine heads

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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Arash Ahmadi
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Machine heads

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Sat May 12, 2018 5:45 pm

There are so many machine heads with lots of cosmetic materials that make them very expensive (they can go up to 1500 USD as far as I know), but if you were to disregard those cosmetic materials/decorations and choose the best machine heads in terms of quality and durability for a very good handmade guitar, what would you choose?
To send light into the darkness of men's heart, such is the duty of the artist. (Robert Schumann)

GuitarsWeB
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Re: Machine heads

Post by GuitarsWeB » Sat May 12, 2018 5:57 pm

Sloane Bronze with the roller bearings $300 from Stew Mac

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Michael.N.
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Re: Machine heads

Post by Michael.N. » Sat May 12, 2018 6:14 pm

Durability isn't a concern. Providing the tuners holes are drilled correctly and providing minimal maintenance is carried out even some of the cheap tuners will last many decades. I suspect that if anything deteriorates it will be the teflon bearings. Same with 'quality' - there are some relatively cheap tuners with excellent mechanisms.
May as well choose on aesthetics and/or price.
Historicalguitars.

ChristianSchwengeler
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Re: Machine heads

Post by ChristianSchwengeler » Sat May 12, 2018 6:46 pm

Michael.N. wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 6:14 pm
I suspect that if anything deteriorates it will be the teflon bearings.


yes they do!!

brian
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Re: Machine heads

Post by brian » Sat May 12, 2018 6:50 pm

Gilberts.
apart from the fact i
think they look cool,
there's a plate which you can
use to adjust the tension/downwards
pressure of the worm against the cog/gear attached to the roller. also, you can basically
replace every part if needed (which
i never did and i've used then on every
guitar the past 20 years, even
on the Brögger). they're also
light. about $300 with lotza choices
of color and material for the
button/dot/plate/ and roller color.
with that being said, i also
agree with GuitarsWeb regarding
the Sloans. (they were just too heavy for some
guitars i've owned and made the neck
top heavy. the Brögger being an example
of this.)
but when this isn't the case,
the Sloans w bearings are about as smooth
as butter. the brass plates are solid and
they do have a classy look.
i've never had any more expensive tuners
that those two.
i had rubners come w a guitar which
were fine, but i had an extra set of
Gilberts in the box, so i swapped them out.
if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
then quit.
there's no use being a damn fool about it.
-w.c. fields

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petermc61
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Re: Machine heads

Post by petermc61 » Sat May 12, 2018 7:10 pm

Klaus Scheller, unequivocally.

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Steve Ganz
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Re: Machine heads

Post by Steve Ganz » Sat May 12, 2018 7:41 pm

Function over appearance.
Steve

MessyTendon
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Re: Machine heads

Post by MessyTendon » Sun May 13, 2018 6:23 am

Almost anything in the 50$ and up range will work just fine. Tuners are not exactly a high wear item.

The only thing that really matters is that the tuners are going into a well seasoned piece of wood for the neck...Stability is stability, those tuners aren't going to see high RPMs...and most machining these days is pretty darn good regardless of price.

I suppose I'd consider buying a simple tuner with a flat metal plate that has no decorative features...Then pay a master engraver to add some artistic embellishments...At the end of the day you can always get a nice set of tuners, but having custom engraving makes it far more special and unique.

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Arash Ahmadi
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Re: Machine heads

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Sun May 13, 2018 8:13 am

Thanks for all your comments. I agree that custom engraving would make it more special but as long as you can find a pro to do that for you.

Many have suggested Sloane but these days I see many luthiers use GOTOH 510 series and Sloane seems to be less popular, why is that?
To send light into the darkness of men's heart, such is the duty of the artist. (Robert Schumann)

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Michael.N.
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Re: Machine heads

Post by Michael.N. » Sun May 13, 2018 9:17 am

Sloane are a perfectly good high quality tuner that are a little different to others. The base plate is cast bronze. Narrower than the vast majority of tuners due to the wormshaft posts being cast. They do not use a teflon bearing. The bearing surface is a metal to metal contact but a highly accurate one. They feel different when turning the buttons, more resistance (friction) but they are designed that way. They are smooth in their function though. Don't confuse greater friction with uneven operation. They are most certainly not uneven and the friction is such that a 2 year old will be able to turn the buttons. There is zero backlash in any practical sense of the term. The Schaller grandtune are another that use the exact same bearing surface and they too have a very similar feel to them, functionally another high quality tuner that uses a cast plate. The tuners that use a teflon bearing feel freer in their operation, very low resistance. I can't begin to tell you how long those teflon bearings last. Presumably a long long time but I have no knowledge on their longevity.
Historicalguitars.

GuitarsWeB
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Re: Machine heads

Post by GuitarsWeB » Sun May 13, 2018 12:51 pm

If you don’t want to spend over $75, buy a set of Schallers. They work great.

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Pat Foster
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Re: Machine heads

Post by Pat Foster » Sun May 13, 2018 4:21 pm

Arash Ahmadi wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 5:45 pm
<snip> for a very good handmade guitar, what would you choose?
Sloanes are very good, though on the heavy side as mentioned, but they don't have "that European look," which some prefer on a guitar with its roots from that part of the world. I had Sloane, Alessi, and Gilbert in my shop last week, so I took some time to compare them side by side. All had zero backlash and smooth operation. Here's how I'd rate them on feel and appearance.

Feel -- Gilbert, with Sloane and Alessi tied for second place
Appearance -- Alessi, Sloane, Gilbert
Cost -- Sloane and Gilbert tied for cheapest, Alessi most costly

I dismantled a set of $80 Gotoh tuners for evaluation, and though simple, appeared to be better designed than most in that price range. They had some backlash, but not as much as some of their peers. They were less dependent on accurate drilling of the roller holes in the neck for minimal backlash than say, Stewmac Golden Age classical tuners, but they did show propensity for wear on the roller gears after a short time.

Overall--gross generalization here-- I'd say most $50 to $100 tuners, though certainly sufficient, have a clunky feel compared to the higher end ones I compared.

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bacsidoan
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Re: Machine heads

Post by bacsidoan » Mon May 14, 2018 2:44 am

GuitarsWeB wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 12:51 pm
If you don’t want to spend over $75, buy a set of Schallers. They work great.
Regular Schallers are fuctional but not great. The Grandtune variety with real roller bearings is much better.

jim watts
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Re: Machine heads

Post by jim watts » Mon May 14, 2018 3:26 am

bacsidoan wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 2:44 am
GuitarsWeB wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 12:51 pm
If you don’t want to spend over $75, buy a set of Schallers. They work great.
Regular Schallers are fuctional but not great. The Grandtune variety with real roller bearings is much better.
Or spend 20 more and get a set of Rubners, very good machines for the money.
I agree with the comments on Gilberts and Slones too. Slones are my go to machine as I prefer the aesthetic, but they don't seem to be quite as smooth as Gilberts.

James Frieson
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Re: Machine heads

Post by James Frieson » Mon May 14, 2018 4:21 am

In the cheaper gears Schaller and Rubner are decent . I don't like the cheaper Gotohs . But in the upper end , I do like Gotohs , the 510 series are very well made and not exorbitant in price at all , although some models get pricey .

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