PDA

View Full Version : Best aftermarket friction tuners?



OldePhart
03-12-2011, 06:26 AM
Okay, lets have some opinions. Which are the best friction tuners and where can I get them? The tuners on this Kiwaya are driving me nuts. I love the uke but the tuners are the worst I've seen - even the tuners on my Kala pocket uke are miles better than the junk on this KSL-2.

I thought maybe these would "wear in" and be a little smoother but it's been just the opposite - they've taken a set so they won't hold at the in-tune pitch but are still stiff and grainy elsewhere. I can get them to work better for a while by completely slacking the tuning by close to a full turn of the knob then bringing them back up to pitch but a few days later the "set" is back. It's not a matter of tightening the tension screw because the tuners are already "tight" everywhere except the area immediately around the in-tune position.

BTW, I am not looking for geared tuners to replace them. Just some good friction tuners of a similar quality to those on my KoAloha, or even the humble Kala.

pdxuke
03-12-2011, 06:34 AM
I traded out some vintage tuners on my Martin and Gibson with Ping (available at Elderly.) I selected Ping because they are narrow enough to fit the hole in these old ukes without altering the uke, so I could change them back again if I wanted.

I also just took off the geared tuners and put Ping on a Dolphin I have:2146821469

I've been very pleased with these tuners. There are certainly more expensive ones out there, but Ping has me as a satisfied customer!

soupking
03-12-2011, 06:36 AM
Without a doubt, Pegheads work the best in my experience, but are expensive. Flea Market Music sells them. Although, the Koaloha friction tuners are fantastic, as well.

Gmoney
03-12-2011, 06:49 AM
I replaced the geared tuners on a Kala concert travel uke w/a set of friction tuners that Mike sells at Mainland ukes. I've since used Pings on a vintage no-name 30's/40's uke and they worked as Pdxuke mentions, but the Ping's stick up a bit more than the originals did. I've done a swap w/some Grover 3B's. AND, I've used a set of the ones that Taimslu sells on Ebay like these:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Gold-Machine-heads-Ukulele-button-4-pieces-229G-P2W-/160552812634

Ken Timms (AKA Timbuck on UU) uses these on his Martin-style ukes he builds & sells, so I would bet that they are pretty good or he wouldn't use them.

And of course, there are Pegheds. I have a set of those being put on a Gstring I bought off of Nuprin here on UU. He had put geared tuners on because he preferred them (at the time) to friction tuners. But, ask Nuprin about Pegheds - he's getting them on all his newer ukes now - best of both worlds.

pdxuke
03-12-2011, 06:51 AM
Well the BEST friction tuners I have are on my Kamaka, but they don't sell them after market. :-(

Ingrate
03-12-2011, 07:00 AM
Mainland sell these:

http://shop.mainlandukuleles.com/product.sc?productId=18&categoryId=5

I use them, and they appear to be the same as those on my KoAloha, except for the tuning knobs. They work fine.

OldePhart
03-12-2011, 07:02 AM
Thanks for responses, keep 'em coming. :)

I've done a little more research and found a site that indicates that the Kiwaya "eco" series are delivered with Gotoh standard uke tuners, while the solid-wood lines are equipped with Gotoh Deluxe tuners. Comparing the tuners on my uke to the pictures of Gotoh tuners at Elderly seems to confirm that.

I'm considering going with Gotoh Deluxe as I can be reasonably sure the shafts will be the same size.

Does anyone know if the various brands all have the same shaft diameters? I was hoping information on shaft diameters would be included in the descriptions at elderly but so far no luck on that score. Will do more googling, I guess.

How heavy are the peghead tuners compared to friction tuners?

John

pdxuke
03-12-2011, 07:09 AM
Thanks for responses, keep 'em coming. :)

I've done a little more research and found a site that indicates that the Kiwaya "eco" series are delivered with Gotoh standard uke tuners, while the solid-wood lines are equipped with Gotoh Deluxe tuners. Comparing the tuners on my uke to the pictures of Gotoh tuners at Elderly seems to confirm that.

I'm considering going with Gotoh Deluxe as I can be reasonably sure the shafts will be the same size.

Does anyone know if the various brands all have the same shaft diameters? I was hoping information on shaft diameters would be included in the descriptions at elderly but so far no luck on that score. Will do more googling, I guess.

How heavy are the peghead tuners compared to friction tuners?

John

I think Ping have thinner shaft, which is why they fit many vintage ukes.

The GoToh delux sounds like a good bet; on a uke of that quality it makes sense.

WestPhillyUke
03-12-2011, 07:12 AM
Pegheds aren't friction tuners...

I think Gotoh deluxe are the best, and Hana Lima is a good source: http://www.hanalimastore.com/servlet/the-Ukulele-Tuners/Categories

Can you tell us more about what's bothering you about the pegs that are on there now?

soupking
03-12-2011, 07:14 AM
Pegheds are super light. They're awesome.

haole
03-12-2011, 07:16 AM
Shoot MGM an email and ask if he has any KoAloha friction pegs in stock. He usually sells them for about twenty bucks a set, and they're some of the best on the market.

Ingrate
03-12-2011, 07:27 AM
I earlier mentioned those at Mainland, because they appear identical to those on my KoAloha and cost $20. They feel the same in use, as well.

Trivia: I put some Grover 3w's on my KoAloha to replace the OEMs. It's a soprano, and the balance is now much better. The whole kit weighs 11 oz. Go figure... :p

OldePhart
03-12-2011, 07:30 AM
Pegheds aren't friction tuners...

I think Gotoh deluxe are the best, and Hana Lima is a good source: http://www.hanalimastore.com/servlet/the-Ukulele-Tuners/Categories

Can you tell us more about what's bothering you about the pegs that are on there now?

I know the Pegheads are planetary gear tuners - I was just wondering how heavy they are because my primary objection to geared tuners on small ukes is the weight. ALthough, honestely, I think the pegheads are ugly, anyway - I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I can understand wanting to keep vintage appearance on an old uke.

When I got the uke these tuners were very gritty feeling. In fact, when I changed strings rotating them quickly with no tension to "wind up" the strings they actually made grinding noises. The friction tuners on my KoAloha and Kala are smooth as butter. These tuners have always been very "finicky" to get the string right on pitch. Again, the KoAloha and Kala are no problem. This one as you apply smooth, even pressure the tuning will suddenly jump from twenty cents flat to twenty cents sharp. I was hoping the tuners would "wear in" and become smoother, but instead they've actually gotten worse. They now take a "set" around the position where the string is in tune. By that, I mean that at that rotary position the tuner will not hold so the string goes flat. Go a little flatter, or a little sharper and it will hold pitch. I've found that I can undo the "set" for a while by tuning down almost a full turn of the tuner, then bring it back up to pitch. This seems to "erase" the "set" the tuner took and it will then work much better around the correct pitch for a few days until it takes a "set" again. It seems like it's taking a "set" much faster as time goes on.

It's not a matter of adjusting the tension. I'm familiar with how friction tuners work and I've got these set, if anything, a little bit tight. I guess the best way I can describe the "set" I was talking about above is that the tension is "too light" a few degrees to either side of in tune even while it is "too tight" when you rotate it out of that zone. Loosen a full turn then tune back up and that situation goes away for a few days.

I've had no such problems with my KoAloha, it has always tuned smooth as butter right to the correct pitch. Ditto for my pocket uke, although it's a bit touchier due to the very short scale.

OldePhart
03-12-2011, 07:32 AM
Shoot MGM an email and ask if he has any KoAloha friction pegs in stock. He usually sells them for about twenty bucks a set, and they're some of the best on the market.

Cool! I didn't know you could get the KoAloha pegs aftermarket. Okay, that dilemma is solved! Thanks

pdxuke
03-12-2011, 07:35 AM
One more thing, as a matter of reference: I have spent a great deal of time with a concert size Collings with pegheads: they are light. Although I agree--I don't much care for the looks. BUT I like them better than the look of geared tuners!

ukeatan
03-12-2011, 08:00 AM
Funny, I never had a problem with the same tuners on my KS1 -- in fact, they worked the best of any friction tuners I've used, go figure.

Maybe you just got some duds. Also, did you you try taking them apart to see if there was anything obviously wrong? I recently had some trouble with a tuner on another uke slipping. Took it apart and found that the hole was a tad too wide and as a result the tuner wasn't properly seated. Stuffed a little paper in to make up the difference, and it's worked as a temporary fix so far.

pondweed
03-12-2011, 09:40 AM
I've got a photo of some of the KoAlohas retrofitted on the UK Kala Sop Travel Uke in the marketplace. They are nice and compact and seem to work very well once they are tight.

Plainsong
03-12-2011, 10:57 AM
The Gotoh deluxe are the best friction tuners I've yet used, but Schaller does sell their friction tuners not just to Kamaka...

I don't care for Schaller friction tuners in the least little bit, but you can get 'em.

http://www.millbrook.fi/tuotteet.php?tuotekoodi=620&hakustr=schaller%20ukulele#a_-2531143

http://www.thomann.de/fi/schaller_uca_ukulele_mechanik.htm

OldePhart
03-12-2011, 11:07 AM
Funny, I never had a problem with the same tuners on my KS1 -- in fact, they worked the best of any friction tuners I've used, go figure.

Maybe you just got some duds. Also, did you you try taking them apart to see if there was anything obviously wrong? I recently had some trouble with a tuner on another uke slipping. Took it apart and found that the hole was a tad too wide and as a result the tuner wasn't properly seated. Stuffed a little paper in to make up the difference, and it's worked as a temporary fix so far.

It could be duds. Although three of the four are misbehaving and two of them are really bad. I could see one tuner in a set being messed up maybe, but three of the four seems strange. Only the G works fairly well. I'd be more inclined to think maybe during the (uke) manufacturing process they got messed up. They feel gritty like there is sand in them...so maybe there is.

I think I'm just going to order some of the KoAlohas from MGM as was suggested above. Those I know I like!

pdxuke
03-12-2011, 11:23 AM
The Gotoh deluxe are the best friction tuners I've yet used, but Schaller does sell their friction tuners not just to Kamaka...

I don't care for Schaller friction tuners in the least little bit, but you can get 'em.

http://www.millbrook.fi/tuotteet.php?tuotekoodi=620&hakustr=schaller%20ukulele#a_-2531143

http://www.thomann.de/fi/schaller_uca_ukulele_mechanik.htm

Thanks for the info on Schaller!

mailman
03-12-2011, 11:30 AM
I swapped out a set of terrible, cheap friction tuners on my soprano and installed a set from Tiamslu, as previously mentioned. They were cheap, the shipping was fast, and they completely changed my mind about friction tuners. I have no experience with other brands, but I'm more than satisfied with what I bought....

Plainsong
03-12-2011, 11:32 AM
Thomann.de does have an English link, if you go to their main site. I'm just used to clicking the Finnish one to get the prices for here and such. My bad!

OldePhart
03-12-2011, 03:07 PM
It occured to me that it's very unlikely that KoAloha makes their own tuners so I compared the tuners on my KoAloha to pictures of various tuners from Elderly. As far as my tired old eyes...supplemented by a +3.5 magnifying hood...can tell the tuners on my KoAloha are Gotoh Deluxe tuners. Just for grins I looked at the ones on the Kala pocket uke as well, and they are either Grover Champions or a very close knockoff.

So it looks like changing the Kiwaya from Gotoh standard to Gotoh Deluxe (maybe purchased as "KoAloha" through MGM if the price is right) is the way to go. I still think a $300 laminated uke should have come with the "deluxe" tuners to begin with...

Thanks for your help, y'all.

John

spots
03-12-2011, 04:09 PM
The Kiwaya KTS-4 comes with Gotoh Deluxe, and they work well.

Another option may be Grover 4B tuners. I have these on my Flea and they work very well. They are almost identical to the Gotoh Deluxe. The button size and shape is different than the Gotoh, but the basic design of the bushings, etc. are very close to each other. Flea Market Music sells the Grover 4B for about $12-$15 for a set of four.

The nice thing about Schaller's is that you are supposed to be able to tighten/lock them with your fingers. The Gotoh and Grover pegs will require a screw driver.

Plainsong
03-12-2011, 04:24 PM
But the annoying thing about the Schallers is that eventually your strings will start to buzz for no reason. You'll panic, and wonder what happened with the action. Then you'll remember: the tuners. They need to be refilled with new cotton.

Talk about annoying. I mean at the time they were just about the only friction tuners around, so they came up with a good system, but time has moved on and friction tuners don't need that anymore. Koaloha used to use Schallers. The soprano I had started buzzing within months. It was the cotton in the tuners. Fixable, but still gives you some stress when you're wondering what's going on. The local player who has that uke now put in the Koaloha frictions.

Good for them that they don't use those anymore. I understand why Kamaka sticks with them, the tradition and the relationship with Schaller and all that, though.:)

pdxuke
03-12-2011, 04:28 PM
But the annoying thing about the Schallers is that eventually your strings will start to buzz for no reason. You'll panic, and wonder what happened with the action. Then you'll remember: the tuners. They need to be refilled with new cotton.

Talk about annoying. I mean at the time they were just about the only friction tuners around, so they came up with a good system, but time has moved on and friction tuners don't need that anymore. Koaloha used to use Schallers. The soprano I had started buzzing within months. It was the cotton in the tuners. Fixable, but still gives you some stress when you're wondering what's going on. The local player who has that uke now put in the Koaloha frictions.

Good for them that they don't use those anymore. I understand why Kamaka sticks with them, the tradition and the relationship with Schaller and all that, though.:)

Ha. I didn't know anything about the cotton. I just liked that they were nice and tight. I'm glad you mentioned that. I may be changing those out myseld someday.
Let's hope the Kamaka holes with the Schallers are the same gauge as the Koaloha, cause if I ever changed them I would not want to do any mod (read "drilling") of the instrument.

Plainsong
03-12-2011, 05:37 PM
Since they're the same tuners, if ever you get mystery buzz, check this first. :)

If I have my uke history right, Schaller came up with more or less the first modern type friction tuner that worked really nicely specifically for Kamaka, so I can understand why they stick with them. Maybe the outcry would be pretty bad if they switched.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzPVz62apis

Gmoney
03-12-2011, 05:42 PM
Since they're the same tuners, if ever you get mystery buzz, check this first. :)


So, WHAT exactly does the cotton DO? Some engineer want to enlighten me?? Both of my KoAloha's have newer tuners.

Plainsong
03-13-2011, 12:25 AM
I have no idea. To me it just seems to be a solution that was a good idea at the time?

ichadwick
03-13-2011, 03:56 AM
Funny. I wouldn't ever put "best" and "friction tuners" togetehr in the same sentence.... ;-)

Plainsong
03-13-2011, 04:59 AM
I've used gotoh deluxe and some gotoh deluxe clones that track smooth as silk though. Then like everyone else I've had the grover type that were a bit of a pain.

pdxuke
03-13-2011, 07:41 AM
So, can anyone with any experience (or a math mind that understands gauges!) tell me if the gotoh or mainland tuners will fit a Kamaka without having to alter the instrument?

http://www.thomann.de/gb/schaller_uca_ukulele_mechanik.htm
http://shop.mainlandukuleles.com/product.sc;jsessionid=3A0E8568B9D9BCDC466E7307821E 873E.qscstrfrnt03?productId=18&categoryId=5

I'm just curious, in case changing cotton gets old.

Plainsong
03-13-2011, 08:33 AM
Be careful about altering the Kamaka too quick though. I mean the relationship of Schaller to Kamaka has some tradition to it. If they haven't given you problems then don't sweat it yet. And really it's just a minor annoyance if it ever does happen.

pdxuke
03-13-2011, 09:47 AM
Be careful about altering the Kamaka too quick though. I mean the relationship of Schaller to Kamaka has some tradition to it. If they haven't given you problems then don't sweat it yet. And really it's just a minor annoyance if it ever does happen.

No, I won't be messing with it. But i'm curious if anybody else has. I change out tuners all the time and keep the originals. I often switch them back. I won't alter (drill, re bore) an instrument unless there is absolutely no other option. A kamaka doesn't fall into that category!

Plainsong
03-13-2011, 09:57 AM
I'm not at all handy with tools and wood. You're lucky. :)

ceviche
03-13-2011, 10:22 PM
Since they're the same tuners, if ever you get mystery buzz, check this first. :)

If I have my uke history right, Schaller came up with more or less the first modern type friction tuner that worked really nicely specifically for Kamaka, so I can understand why they stick with them. Maybe the outcry would be pretty bad if they switched.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzPVz62apis

Great video! That answered my own question about who made the tuners on my Y2K KoAloha standard uke. So far, no buzzing or other abnormalities. I do like the set-screw at the end of the tuner knobs. They do serve well in adjusting the friction of the tuners.

My only gripe about friction tuners is that I need a clip-on digital tuner to make sure I accurately nail the tones for the strings. It's so easy to jump past the mark with friction tuners. Geared tuners, however, move gradually enough to make it to the mark without going past. Then again, if you can make it, what's the worry about how you got there?

--Dave