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View Full Version : friction vs. geared tuners



ripock
09-20-2017, 07:37 AM
I assume this is the place to ask this question since you are the guys with the technical acumen.

I am very smitten with the look of the old fashioned, pegs jutting perpendicular to the head stock, look.

In case I am not making myself clear, here's a link to a photo http://pickerssupply.com/sites/default/files/hs_197.JPG

Here's my question: what's the deal with friction tuners? Are they a viable option? To me, who knows nothing, they seem obsolete. Most ukuleles have geared tuners and I assume there's a good reason for that.

I am going to have a long-neck tenor custom built and I want the friction tuners (for the frivolous reason of how it looks). Do you guys think it is wise, or at least feasible?

ksquine
09-20-2017, 07:47 AM
Lots of people still use friction tuners, especially on soprano sizes. Seems like most tenors get geared tuners but there's no reason friction tuners won't work.

Andyk
09-20-2017, 08:35 AM
Gotoh UPT are an option if you want the friction tuner look but the geared function. You pay for it though as they are not cheap...

Graham Greenbag
09-20-2017, 10:02 AM
Some Sopranos come with friction pegs and they seem to work well enough to still be chosen as an option. However when thinking of bigger sized instruments you need to understand that string tension goes up and with it the amount of anti-turning friction in a friction tuner. I understand that it's not that easy for some folk to turn Soprano tuners in a controlled way, how much more difficult is it going to get with the tighter tuners required for longer strings? Perhaps I'm completely wrong but I believe that friction tuners on Tenors are not a good idea, if you don't want to see the buttons then perhaps consider a slotted head ..... more expense though. To be clear, I'm not against friction pegs on smaller Ukes - and as an experiment am even thinking about fitting some to one of my Sopranos - but on bigger instruments I think it's probably impractical.

Michael N.
09-20-2017, 10:37 AM
Friction tuners work on any sized instrument. It's a verifiable fact. I've literally fitted hundreds of them over the years, on all manner of instruments. There's also a technique to using them. If you can tune harmonically it seems to make things easier in my experience, as does tuning up to the note rather than down to the note.
Now it may be that it's slightly slower than tuning with geared tuners but it's not a huge difference by any stretch. Alternately you can use geared pegheds which have a 4:1 ratio. If you can't tune with those you really need to start training your ear. It's not difficult, you just have to do a bit of ear training every day, 5 minutes or even less.

actadh
09-20-2017, 10:41 AM
Nearly all of my early acquisitions had friction tuners, and the geared style looked odd to me. Now that I have been playing for a while, I don't even notice which ones in my stable are friction or geared. If you like geared but feel that friction is a "truer look", stick an artificial flower on the headstock, and no one will notice what it is but you.

ripock
09-20-2017, 11:22 AM
gosh, I didn't realize this was such an acrimonious topic, but I just did some looking online and there are some very strong opinions on the matter.

Permit me to ask one more follow-up question.

I see that friction tuners have a 1:4 ratio whereas geared tuners have a 1:12. Why is that a good thing? As I understand it, that means you have to turn the friction tuners thrice as much to attain the same result...however, in the end you are getting the same result, right? It seems people are saying that the lower ratios of the friction tuner preclude accuracy. Unless I am missing something (which is very often the case), the ratios concern how much you have to turn them and they don't relate to accuracy.

Can someone set me straight on this issue before I go and buy some Waverly pegs?

jackj
09-20-2017, 11:46 AM
I'm sure someone better qualified than me will answer soon, but this is how I understand it: True friction tuners are a 1:1 ratio--one full turn of the peg button yields one string wrap. The Peghead and Gotoh turners that mimic the look of friction have internal gears that yield at 1:4 ratio, i.e., it takes four turns of the peg button to get one string wrap. And then many geared tuners are 1:12, meaning you're turning the button twelve times for one string wrap. The geared options thus allow "finer" tuning, maybe making it easier for some to zero in on the desired pitch.

But remember that violin, viola, and cello players all seem to get all the accuracy they need with friction pegs.

Allen
09-20-2017, 11:52 AM
Using 4:1 tuners get you to the note quicker than 12:1 or 15:1. The finer the gearing the easier it may be to get to the note for some, but most people wouldn't have any trouble with the 4:1

There are Peghead brand tuners as well that will give you the old fashion frictin peg look. They are also 4:1 ratio. They tend to be a love them, or hate them tuner.

For pure friction peg look and function, I like the Waverly's. For the 4:1 geared option my pick is the Gotoh UPT's.

WCBarnes
09-20-2017, 12:42 PM
I'm sure someone better qualified than me will answer soon, but this is how I understand it: True friction tuners are a 1:1 ratio--one full turn of the peg button yields one string wrap. The Peghead and Gotoh turners that mimic the look of friction have internal gears that yield at 1:4 ratio, i.e., it takes four turns of the peg button to get one string wrap. And then many geared tuners are 1:12, meaning you're turning the button twelve times for one string wrap. The geared options thus allow "finer" tuning, maybe making it easier for some to zero in on the desired pitch.

But remember that violin, viola, and cello players all seem to get all the accuracy they need with friction pegs.

Jackj pretty much nails it regarding the ratios and benefits. One of the benefits of the 1:1 or 4:1 is for string changes. Aside from the "ears" look of traditional geared tuners, I greatly dislike string changes. You have to turn.... And turn... And turn... IMHO, it is much quicker/easier with friction pegs or 4:1.

I have had a few custom ukes made over the past couple years and have put Gotoh UPTs in each of them. I love these tuners. The look and weight of friction with the fine tuning of geared. They are worth the price.

Graham Greenbag
09-20-2017, 12:55 PM
Friction tuners work on any sized instrument. It's a verifiable fact. I've literally fitted hundreds of them over the years, on all manner of instruments. There's also a technique to using them. If you can tune harmonically it seems to make things easier in my experience, as does tuning up to the note rather than down to the note.
Now it may be that it's slightly slower than tuning with geared tuners but it's not a huge difference by any stretch. Alternately you can use geared pegheds which have a 4:1 ratio. If you can't tune with those you really need to start training your ear. It's not difficult, you just have to do a bit of ear training every day, 5 minutes or even less.

With no disrespect to anyone intended I guess that this is going to be about as an informed answer as is possible. Puts me right too, but that's fine and it's good to learn new stuff. I note that there is a technique in using them and anticipate that not all friction tuners are equal or equally well adjusted - that might account for the variation in experiences.