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View Full Version : friction tuners vs. sealed geared tuners?



evanL777
07-19-2009, 09:03 AM
what is the difference?

hoosierhiver
07-19-2009, 09:08 AM
Friction pegs are prefered by folks who like the "old style" look, they work fine but need a little more finesse to tune them in.

Sealed gear are much more prefered today and can be more easliy "dialed in"

We sell sealed gear over friction pegs at probably 10 to 1 now.

evanL777
07-19-2009, 09:10 AM
do they look different?

12imnew
07-19-2009, 09:13 AM
do they look different?
one goes out to the side, the other to the back- i believe friction goes back and sealed out to the side (like on most guitars)

DaveVisi
07-19-2009, 09:28 AM
Friction tuners are a straight post. One turn of the knob equals one turn of the string post. There is a small screw in the end of the knob to adjust friction so it doesn't loosen when you let go.

Geared tuners use gear reduction so that somewhere around fourteen turns of the knob equals one turn around the string post. This makes for much more precision tuning. Geared tuners use two gears. One worm gear on the tuning knob and a standard gear screwed to the back end of the string post. Because of this arrangement, the knob is usually at right angles to the shaft. Sealed gears work the same, it's just that the gears themselves are enclosed for protection from corrosion and dirt.

ichadwick
07-19-2009, 10:55 AM
what is the difference?
Friction versus geared tuners.
It's the same as the difference between:

An icebox and a refigerator;
The telegraph and the Internet;
A clipper ship and a cruise ship;
A Model A Ford and a Corvette;
A flintlock and an M16;
Churning your own butter and store-bought butter;
Milking the cow yourself and store-bought, pasteurized milk;
A Kinetoscope and a digital camcorder;
Kitty Hawk and a 747;
The Daimler-Maybach Reitwagen and a modern Harley Davidson;
An abacus and a digital calculator;
A dinosaur and a chicken;
A 78rpm gramophone record and a CD;
A VHS tape and a Blu-Ray DVD;
A Commodore Pet and a Dell dual-core laptop;
A Linotype machine and Adobe Indesign...

Dirka
07-19-2009, 12:13 PM
It should be noted that friction pegs are usually lighter than geared tuners, which I think makes the uke easier to hold.

I'm curious how they'll work for me on my new uke, I guess it'll take some getting used to.

ukantor
07-19-2009, 12:20 PM
My newest uke is a Kala slimline travel soprano. It came fitted with sealed geared tuners. They work very well indeed, but are SOOO heavy. They make the uke feel unbalanced, and adversley affect the way I control the uke while playing. I suppose if it were the only uke I ever played, I'd get used to it, but I've got - erm - several others. So I've changed my Kala to friction tuners, and now it feels normal.

I did like the precision of those geared tuners, though.

John Colter.

Tanizaki
07-19-2009, 12:58 PM
A [theropod] dinosaur and a chicken;

This is common misunderstanding of evolution. Descendant species are not more "advanced" than ancestor species.

haole
07-19-2009, 01:08 PM
Good friction tuners are better than bad geared tuners.

But in general, geared tuners are popular because they're easier to use. Friction tuners take more practice.

If you're asking this because you're considering a Mainland, opt for the geared tuners. I'm sure they use quality friction tuners as well, but the geared ones will be a lot easier to tune with. Plus, you get your choice of classy color combinations!

ambrose
07-19-2009, 01:10 PM
Geared tuners are much easier to use. Good thing because they go out of tune if you breathe on them. Wooden pegs, at least on my Kumalae never go out of tune. Actually that's not entirely true. The whole uke will go up or down in pitch depending on humidity, but individual strings, never. I do agree about the inDesign part though.

Pippin
07-19-2009, 01:19 PM
My newest uke is a Kala slimline travel soprano. It came fitted with sealed geared tuners. They work very well indeed, but are SOOO heavy. They make the uke feel unbalanced, and adversley affect the way I control the uke while playing. I suppose if it were the only uke I ever played, I'd get used to it, but I've got - erm - several others. So I've changed my Kala to friction tuners, and now it feels normal.

I did like the precision of those geared tuners, though.

John Colter.

John, I had a conversation about geared tuners with Kala Uke founder, Mike Upton. Mike is a guitarist and ukulele player. He believes that geared tuners are more efficient and the majority of ukulele players today were guitarists first... so, his thinking is that geared tuners are easier and more familiar to them and ukes are so light for them that the weight doesn't seem to be an issue. The ukulele traditionalists are shooting for the big "K" ukes and custom-built models more than the Kala uke line. Ohana has more traditional looking models, but Louis Wu is a big ukulele traditionalist and fan of lightweight ukes.

dave g
07-19-2009, 01:20 PM
Sealed geared tuners are pretty heavy for a ukulele, in my opinion. The ones with exposed gears are considerably lighter in weight. Every little bit matters in an instrument that weighs less than a pound overall... Friction tuners are lighter still, and work just fine once they settle in and are adjusted right. But it really comes down to a matter of opinion, rather like strings :cheers:

ukantor
07-19-2009, 01:32 PM
" Descendant species are not more "advanced" than ancestor species."

Quite correct - but they have adapted. To say they are more advanced suggests that they are better. Is a modern human being "better" than the versions which came before? Looking at the modern world would suggest otherwise.

Ukantor.

Tanizaki
07-19-2009, 01:58 PM
Is a modern human being "better" than the versions which came before? Looking at the modern world would suggest otherwise.

Ukantor.

I have great news for you. There are many places on this planet for people who wish to "get away" from the modern world. We call these places "developing countries".

Pippin
07-19-2009, 02:08 PM
Sealed geared tuners are pretty heavy for a ukulele, in my opinion. The ones with exposed gears are considerably lighter in weight. Every little bit matters in an instrument that weighs less than a pound overall... Friction tuners are lighter still, and work just fine once they settle in and are adjusted right. But it really comes down to a matter of opinion, rather like strings :cheers:

I really like the open-geared Grovers on my OU-5LCE.

Lanark
07-19-2009, 02:18 PM
It seems like some people just lack the patience to develop the finesse of a 1:1 turning ratio with friction tuners or develop a phobia of them because of what they read about them as written by these same people.

It takes a little practice to master, but it's less difficult than learning to play in the first place or changing strings.

It's a knob. You twist it. It's not complicated. If some folks find it too burdensome a difficulty to master, you really can't necessarily fault the mechanism for that. I've got either on different instruments. It's not an issue.

Aesthetically speaking though, I do prefer the classic look of friction tuners. And at this point that's what it comes down to mostly.

Meanwhile, my lovely wife still can't seem tune her uke on her own after months of playing even with geared tuners.

Thumper
07-19-2009, 02:44 PM
It seems like some people just lack the patience to develop the finesse of a 1:1 turning ratio with friction tuners or develop a phobia of them because of what they read about them as written by these same people.

It takes a little practice to master, but it's less difficult than learning to play in the first place or changing strings.

It's a knob. You twist it. It's not complicated. If some folks find it too burdensome a difficulty to master, you really can't necessarily fault the mechanism for that. I've got either on different instruments. It's not an issue.




Amen. It's really not a biggie at all. I've got both types, and don't really care one way or the other. They both work fine.

hoosierhiver
07-19-2009, 03:41 PM
I have great news for you. There are many places on this planet for people who wish to "get away" from the modern world. We call these places "developing countries".

or developing counties in my case.

Tanizaki
07-19-2009, 04:24 PM
It seems like some people just lack the patience to develop the finesse of a 1:1 turning ratio with friction tuners or develop a phobia of them because of what they read about them as written by these same people.

It takes a little practice to master, but it's less difficult than learning to play in the first place or changing strings.
To which I say, so what?

This seems like a very similar lament I hear from an old timer whom I have informed that I have never driven an automobile with a manual transmission. My geared tuners allow more precision, stay in tune better, and are less sensitive that friction tuners. It's a no-brainer for me. Of course, as someone with a life, I don't care about another person choice of tuner for his musical instrument.

nikolo727
07-19-2009, 05:05 PM
search function.



i hope this thread doesnt turn into another huge argument haha.


EDIT: In fact I already smell this is starting to turn bad. I am asking the mods to shut this down, this has been talked about before and it hadnt turned out to well.

DeG
07-19-2009, 05:35 PM
Aww, C'mon Nick..this thread has great entertainment potential...

Friction tuners rule!!


http://www.thehindu.com/2008/01/08/images/2008010856151201.jpg

Now that oughtta do it....:D

ukantor
07-19-2009, 10:18 PM
I have great news for you. There are many places on this planet for people who wish to "get away" from the modern world. We call these places "developing countries". - Said Tanizaki.

Well I've got news for you Tan. Those developing countries are also part of the modern world. Your "us and them" attitude is part of the problem.

John Colter.

clayton56
07-19-2009, 11:10 PM
I have been buying ukes with open-geared tuners because they face the sides, but will soon receive my first one with friction tuners.

I have tried the friction pegs in stores, and don't like the feel but it's not a big deal. I would switch them out, the only hesitation being drilling into the back of the peghead.

I noticed the good friction pegs are more expensive than open geared tuners.

ukantor
07-20-2009, 01:07 AM
Type of tuner is not an important issue for me. If it is a good example of its type, I'll cope. Enclosed geared tuners are noticeably heavier than open ones, and can affect the balance of the smaller ukes, but changing them is not a problem.

Ukantor.

Lanark
07-20-2009, 02:53 AM
To which I say, so what?

This seems like a very similar lament I hear from an old timer whom I have informed that I have never driven an automobile with a manual transmission. My geared tuners allow more precision, stay in tune better, and are less sensitive that friction tuners. It's a no-brainer for me. Of course, as someone with a life, I don't care about another person choice of tuner for his musical instrument.

I'd actually liken it more to my experience with people who are afraid of owning a tube amplifier because they've been scared off by dire things they've heard about them being fragile and persnickety and prone to randomly burst into flame or something. It just seems silly.

My point being that a tuner is a tuner. It's a knob. It is neither good nor bad. It is a simple machine. Friction tuners are what they are and they work fine. I have either kind and it doesn't really matter to me either way. I tune. I play. It's one of those silly debates that crop up where I truly don't understand what all the hubbub is about.

Geared tuners are your preference. Wonderful. Use them. Enjoy them. It works for you.

It's the fact that you would feel the need to bring up the concept of "having a life" that suggest a) you have much stronger feelings about the subject than I do and b) given the apparent strength of you conviction about this minor detail, may be less true than you would like to imagine.:p

PoisonDart
07-20-2009, 04:54 AM
" Churning your own butter and store-bought butter;
Milking the cow yourself and store-bought, pasteurized milk"

These two are true... Friction tuners are nicer if you're willing to spend the time at it.

;)

Actually as you can tell by the way this is turning into a holy war, it truly doesn't matter, you'll be tuning away in both instances in no time at all.

Distinction without a (meaningful) difference.

And Hiver, I sure hope Brown County ISN'T a developing county....

Raygf
07-20-2009, 05:39 AM
Can't we all just try to get along. Pick up a uke and strum a few chords with your friction tuner and sealed gear tuner brothers and sisters and smile. Please! :D

I have no preference. The friction tuners on my ukes are not difficult to use and they stay in tune as well as any of my sealed gear tuners. My Jenny concert and tenor neck fluke hold there tuning amazing well. Come to think of it, I do not recall reading anything about people having trouble keeping flukes and fleas in tune. I had Mike install friction tuners on my Mainland Mahogany pineapple. They work well and the instrument stays in tune. I wanted a traditional look and I'm obviously in a 10 to 1 minority and that's fine with me.

Now, cheap friction tuners are trash and should be replaced or avoided if possible.

Regards,
Ray

Pegheds anyone? I'm having them installed on a custom hand built uke. Traditional look, geared reliability. Now there's ingenuity for you.:shaka:

ichadwick
07-20-2009, 06:20 AM
It should be noted that friction pegs are usually lighter than geared tuners, which I think makes the uke easier to hold.
Do you really think that the addition of a few extra grams/ounces will make a difference? Even a tenor uke doesn't weigh in at much more than 24 oz (about 680 g). That's not even 2 pounds (900 gm)! Surely no one here is so weak that another oz or two will make him/her drop a uke!

haole
07-20-2009, 06:30 AM
Some sealed geared tuners do make the uke a little neck-heavy, so holding it can be awkward. They don't necessarily make it uncomfortable and dangerous to hold, but I can see why it bothers some folks a little. Good to have a strap, especially the kind that ties around the headstock, if you have especially heavy tuners that throw the balance off. When I had a Martin backpacker guitar, I had to hang a counter-weight off the body to keep the neck from sinking while I played. It was pretty bad.

Still, I'd love to get a uke with some geared tuners eventually. I have (good) frictions on both sopranos and the concert. They're easy enough for me to use and they do a good job of holding my ukes in tune, but it wouldn't hurt to try something different.

Tanizaki
07-20-2009, 06:56 AM
I'd actually liken it more to my experience with people who are afraid of owning a tube amplifier because they've been scared off by dire things they've heard about them being fragile and persnickety and prone to randomly burst into flame or something. It just seems silly.
Sorry, I'm a young tot so I don't even know what that is.


Geared tuners are your preference. Wonderful. Use them. Enjoy them. It works for you.
Yes.


It's the fact that you would feel the need to bring up the concept of "having a life" that suggest a) you have much stronger feelings about the subject than I do and b) given the apparent strength of you conviction about this minor detail, may be less true than you would like to imagine.:p
Why would it suggest that, and what are the supporting premisses of a. and b.?

ukulelearp
07-20-2009, 07:21 AM
I've used both and never really had a problem. This may be heresy to some, but I just prefer the look of geared tuners sticking out of the side. Just looks better to me. So it really just comes down to aesthetics for me.

ukantor
07-20-2009, 07:34 AM
Ian Chadwick, it's not a matter of overall weight; it is the balance. My Kala Travel uke used to balance at the seventh fret. I've changed to lightweight friction tuners, and it now balances at around the eleventh fret. It makes a big difference to the way it feels in use. It might not bother someone else, but it's MY uke, and I want it to feel right to me.

John Colter.

nikolo727
07-20-2009, 07:45 AM
guys they are tuners. on a uke. who gives a rats ass. whatever your preference is they get the job done. I could argue that sticking tooth picks in the tuner slots would work better than friction or geared tuners and all I would accomplish is making people pissed off. So dont even start arguing about tuners. If it has already started, which i think it has, just dont come back to this thread and just relax. believe me, what you have to say will not change the uke world forever, unless your deach. :D so just be chill

ProfChris
07-20-2009, 09:46 AM
No-one should tell you what kind of tuners to have - you should have the kind you like.

If you don't know what you like, then opinions of those who do know what they like might help.

I have geared tuners on my tenor and I like them fine. Geared make tuning easier, there's no doubt.

On my sopranos I have friction tuners, and I haven't liked any soprano with geared (though there are probably some models I would like). The reasons I don't like geared tuners on my sopranos are:

1. Weight. On a soprano I can really feel the difference. That makes playing less enjoyable for me.

2. I have large hands, and on a geared soprano the A string tuner gets in the way for fingering some chords. No-one's mentioned this, so maybe it's just me.

I'd say that if you like the feel of friction tuners on a soprano, and they're good quality, stick with them and learn to use them - it only takes a few days to get the hang of tuning.

If the feel and usability is the same, go with geared because they're easier and more precise.

This isn't (or shouldn't be) a religious war like the Mac/Windows conflict. If you can play your uke, no-one should look down on you merely because you have the "wrong" tuners on it.

RevWill
07-20-2009, 10:11 AM
It all comes down to subjective personal preference. Some think ukes look funny with "ears" coming off the headstock. Some are tuning fanatics who cannot cope with the gross movements of friction tuners. Some folks are willing to spend big bucks on a set of Pegheds in order to have the look of traditional tuners with the precision of gears.

When I get my Mainland I believe I'm gonna go geared with ebony buttons. But that's just me.

caz
07-20-2009, 11:22 AM
My Mainland has the geared tuners but the two ukes that I am deciding upon as my next purchase both have friction tuners. They are the Kamaka concert and the Kiwaya KTC-3. I think if I could have done it over, I would have gone with the friction tuners on my Mainland as I've now become enamored with the more traditional look.

buddhuu
07-20-2009, 11:22 AM
A [theropod] dinosaur and a chicken;


This is common misunderstanding of evolution. Descendant species are not more "advanced" than ancestor species.

Not more "advanced" per se. That concept, to me, would imply an ideal toward which evolution is working: a kind of teleological end product. I don't subscribe to that; but, in this case, the chicken is arguably both more useful and more "up-to-date" by virtue of its not being extinct... LOL.

Meanwhile, on-topic: my personal preference on a workhorse gigging uke is geared tuners. For me they are quicker to get in tune between songs when the rest of the band is waiting. YMMV. However, on a vintage uke, such as the old (estimated) 1930s Jolli-Joe banjo uke I'm restoring, I want friction tuners because they are in keeping with the original state of the uke, and with its character. There's room for all preferences.

I do find that the sealed tuners on my Kala give the headstock end a bit of extra weight, but they are so smooth and accurate that I'm happy to live with the slight balance issue.

freedive135
07-20-2009, 03:34 PM
This discussion is about as silly as what footwear is correct for a Luau from another forum I am a member of.

DeG
07-20-2009, 03:37 PM
This discussion is about as silly as what footwear is correct for a Luau from another forum I am a member of.

Non-matching HIC flip-flops...am I right?

cocohonk
07-20-2009, 05:20 PM
Slightly off topic:-

I've only had geared tuners, so while I know what friction tuners and sealed geared tuners look like physically, how do you use them?

I just assume you use them the same way you use geared tuners (by turning the pegs to tune), but the pegs are just in a different place (or covered), and it seems like you might need to use a screwdriver or something to turn them. Am I completely off?

Pippin
07-20-2009, 08:56 PM
Ian Chadwick, it's not a matter of overall weight; it is the balance. My Kala Travel uke used to balance at the seventh fret. I've changed to lightweight friction tuners, and it now balances at around the eleventh fret. It makes a big difference to the way it feels in use. It might not bother someone else, but it's MY uke, and I want it to feel right to me.

John Colter.

John, you have a good point. On that particular Kala uke, the weight is definitely felt. The headstock is heavy.

clayton56
07-20-2009, 10:10 PM
I'm surprised no one makes Planetary Tuners for uke. I have them on my banjos and they're the best. They have a 4:1 ratio and are geared, but they are inline, not right-angled.

I just received my first friction pegged uke, I think I'll adapt. Might make changing strings easier.

Lanark
07-21-2009, 05:22 PM
Slightly off topic:-

I've only had geared tuners, so while I know what friction tuners and sealed geared tuners look like physically, how do you use them?

I just assume you use them the same way you use geared tuners (by turning the pegs to tune), but the pegs are just in a different place (or covered), and it seems like you might need to use a screwdriver or something to turn them. Am I completely off?

The big thing with friction tuners and why some folks have a problem with them is that the turning ratio is 1:1. So one revolution of the knob is equal to one revolution of the peg. Gears on the other hand will change the ratio and make it larger, so it might be 8:1 where you have to turn the knob eight times around to make the peg rotate once.

The 1:1 ratio can seem tricky if you're used to cranking a gear since it requires much less turning for the string to be effected. Just really small tweaks and until you get a feel for how they work there is a tendency to continually overshoot your mark.

So while it is easier to fine tune with gears, there is some weight issues for some kinds and also an aesthetic aspect to how they look compared to the much more classic and traditional friction tuners.

Either works just fine for me. You're free to reach your own conclusions.

Pippin
07-21-2009, 08:59 PM
I'm surprised no one makes Planetary Tuners for uke. I have them on my banjos and they're the best. They have a 4:1 ratio and are geared, but they are inline, not right-angled.

I just received my first friction pegged uke, I think I'll adapt. Might make changing strings easier.

They are manufactured. They are pricey and a couple of custom luthiers do have them available, but you have to pay a stiff price for them.

jazzuke
07-22-2009, 12:39 AM
I use both friction and geared tuners: The main problem with friction tuners is the ability to hold the string in tune. If the screw is not sufficiently tight, the peg will slip...it is all too easy to overtighten the screw and strip the threads...which would cause even bigger problems.

I've just replaced cheap Grover's on my Concert with Gotoh precision tuners...I think I've got the screws sufficiently tight, but have also noticed the screw head has rounded...making further adjustment or replacement difficult.