Tuning machines, cheap vs. expensive

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments

Tuning machines, cheap vs. expensive

Post by glitteringtop » Sat Nov 25, 2006 7:20 pm

The other day one of the teeth on my tuning machine became stripped (due to lack of proper maintenance I'm sure). I play a Yairi CY-140 with Gotoh tuners. While I have every intention of replacing the broken tuners with the same brand and style, I went ahead and bought an $8 set of Ping tuners to serve as a quick fix. They seem to work every bit as well as the expensive Gotoh tuners, if not better. Are the differences purely cosmetic? Any insight is appreciated.

Pepe Vergara

Post by Pepe Vergara » Sat Nov 25, 2006 9:10 pm

I would really like to buy a Ferrari, if I could only have the money. I only have for a Toyota. My Toyota is a wonderful car. It does everything I need it to do for me. I could drive a Yugo, cheaper, or a Kia, or a Huyndai, but I prefer something unexpensive, not cheap.


Post by Derry » Sat Nov 25, 2006 11:38 pm

I can compare the Roger's tuners on my Rubios to whatever they place on the Takamine 132 classical,, soooo much smoother and easy to make very small adjustments,, also very little backlash,,

both do the same job it is just that the Rogers do it so much nicer,,

good comparison that Pepe used,,


Post by Sasquatch51 » Sun Nov 26, 2006 3:07 am

I think, up to a point, you pretty much get what you pay for. From what I've seen, in general, the more you spend the more you get (quality wise) up to about $300 to $400. Past that point, it seems that it's all "bling"....fancy engraving, fancier buttons, etc. Although...Gotoh has recently started producing a line of "Premium" tuners that sell for around the $200 mark that seem to be every bit as good as some of the higher-end tuners. LMII is carrying them.



Post by chimera » Sun Nov 26, 2006 7:04 am

I think what a lot of people forget is that improvements, from a cheap regular machine head in comparison to one that is more expensive one,
are harder to improve at the higher end. So what this means is that although you may be paying a lot more just go get a little extra at the expensive end of the scale, it costs that much because the work put into it just to make it that little bit better requires that much effort.

Rodger's tuners are easily the most expensive and probably the best tuners available. Now a pair of gilbert tuners does almost the same job although as stated by someone else, the cosmetics are that "extra work" and rodger's tuners are that lil bit better to use in terms of musicality. Although not much of a difference, it's enough to set the prices soaring.

This applies to almost everything, it's easy to improve what's totally crap
so you see a better ratio between improvement per dollar. At the higher end it's smaller improvement per many dollars.


Post by Derry » Mon Nov 27, 2006 3:00 pm

have to agree chimera, that last 1% of improvement is often very expensive,, is it worth it, to some it is,,


Post by glitteringtop » Mon Nov 27, 2006 5:43 pm

thanks for the responses. still I wonder, what is the musicality of a tuning machine? once the string is tuned, is its job not done?


Post by Sasquatch51 » Mon Nov 27, 2006 6:07 pm

glitteringtop wrote:thanks for the responses. still I wonder, what is the musicality of a tuning machine? once the string is tuned, is its job not done?
Pretty much. However, the really good machines facilitate easy, quick and (above all) precise tuning.

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Erik Zurcher
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Post by Erik Zurcher » Mon Nov 27, 2006 8:03 pm


Take a look at this site. Lovely craftsmanship. My advice: if you have an expensive guitar, use only the best.


Post by Derry » Tue Nov 28, 2006 10:40 pm

e.zurcher, those are some beautiful tuners,, certainly the way to go if the $$ allow,,


Post by Tuner » Wed Nov 29, 2006 1:09 am


I would just like to point out that my 01 line is priced for the working musician and including a 15 % discount for performing artists sells for $275 while having all the technical sophistication and very smooth and precise operation of the higher priced models.

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Post by mlfly » Wed Nov 29, 2006 4:17 am

I have Gilbert tuners on my Cedar top (http://www.gilberttuners.com/images.html). They added quite a bit to the price but are smooth and very easy to tune. The look isn't 18th century gold but more of a modern precision instrument. But, they look good and as mentioned, are like working with butter when tuning or restringing.



Post by chimera » Wed Nov 29, 2006 8:35 am

I was gonna post and ask a question on that. Currently getting a guitar
made and have gilbert tuners on them. Does anyone else have experience with gilbert tuners? Cause gilbert tuner's are very cheap in relation to
rodgers and the graf ones. Although I'm pretty interested in the graf ones lol.


Post by jay_curtis » Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:19 pm

I think we lost the point a little on this thread... is there a difference between the Ping and the Gotoh. my answer.. depends on which ones you get. Gotoh does have a line of $13 machines, and they are just as good as ping, but in the long run, they will wear out.

The real problem is not short term, but long term. After a while, the Pings will become very stiff to turn, and the worm will not mesh properly with the gear. You will be able to see metal filings flaking off from both components. Even the cheaper gotohs will do this.

However, Gotoh produces a line of machines in the $30-$60 range which will easily last for at least 10 years and more with a bit of maintenance. They have enclosed gears, making the mesh between worm and gear more consistent.

I really prefer Gotoh over Schaller, even though they are in the same price category. Schallers tend to breakdown after 3 or 4 years. I have had several guitars fit with gotohs and they all stand up to years of daily use.

Maybe they use a better gauge of steel for the worm and gear... maybe they are better designed than Ping and Schaller... what ever it is, they are superior.

So, the Pings may be great right now, but they will eventually start to wear out sooner than other brands. A good quality Gotoh in the mid price range will do the trick.

For curiousity sake, I have the current machine heads on my guitar.
2 pairs of Sloans,
Graf Tuners
and 2 pairs of Gotoh (one set of mid range, about $30, and a set of the more expensive Rogers copies)

The Gotoh are my machine of choice simply because they work well and they are very cost effective. Sloan is a great choice for aesthetic, quality and price.


What a quality tuner will do for you

Post by Tuner » Tue Jan 09, 2007 11:34 pm

Up-front I am biased. I make my living producing the finest tuners possible.

Here is a quote from one of my customers in Brazil.
"The difference between a Schaller and a Graf is like the difference between analog and digital radio, no more time wasted tuning"

And, may I add, once quickly tuned the tuner will stay rock solid in tune.
If you want to know more in depth what's behind a quality tuner go to my web-site http://www.graftuners.com and check out the "TECH" section.

Happy reading.

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