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View Full Version : How hard to switch to friction pegs



roxhum
07-05-2011, 03:51 AM
I am kicking around the idea of switching from geared to friction pegs on my Mainland soprano. How hard is that to do? How do you do it? Keeping in mind I am not particularly mechanically inclined. And what do I do with the screw holes on the back of the uke when I am done?
Thanks....

didgeridoo2
07-05-2011, 04:27 AM
You should send Mainland Mike a pm and seen if he has any suggestions. Perhaps, he will have some friction tuners that will make the switch pretty simple. As far as the screw holes are concerned, some folks just put the screws back in, I used a wood filler pencil trying to match the wood.

hoosierhiver
07-05-2011, 04:33 AM
The holes had to be reamed out to accomidate the geared tuners, I think you will most likely be able to convert it back to friction tuners, but you'll have to make sure they aren't sitting too loose in the holes or they may rattle and cause a buzz. The easiest way to fill the screw holes is probably a little wood glue with saw dust and then touch it up with a brown sharpie.

Ken Middleton
07-05-2011, 04:33 AM
... And what do I do with the screw holes on the back of the uke when I am done?

Pretend they are not there or cover them with a band aid. The choice is yours. In reality, there is usually not much you can do. You could fill them in, but they will still be there.

Why not see if anyone has a uke with friction pegs that wants to trade? Friction pegs aren't exactly popular in the US.

By the way, I think you are right to be considering friction pegs. They stay in tune well, they give the uke a much better balance, they make it quicker to put new strings on and many would say that they look more elegant. The only downside is that they are a tad more tricky to tune, particularly on stage in front of a large, unsympathetic audience.

mm stan
07-05-2011, 10:26 AM
Aloha Roxy,
Althought you might not like the geared tuners, they are easier to use....the problem of balance and looks to me doesn't outweigh the the friction tuners sensitivity to tune....you may be
dissappointed with the outcome after all that trouble..compared to just the screw holes...ha ha.. think twice about it.. and all the trouble and money..shoots..

EDW
07-05-2011, 11:11 AM
I agree with Ken's thoughts on the positive aspects of friction tuners. I prefer them and would not want geared tuners on any instrument.

garywj
07-05-2011, 11:28 AM
I will give an opposing view. My experience with friction tuners is they are difficult to tune and will not stay in tune. My best instruments have friction tuners and absolutely stay in tune. I have found no disadvantages to geared tuners. If it were me, I'd trade for an instrument that was made for the type of tuners you want. Wishing you the best outcome.

SailingUke
07-05-2011, 11:29 AM
I agree with Ken's thoughts on the positive aspects of friction tuners. I prefer them and would not want geared tuners on any instrument.

peghead tuners are the best of both worlds, lightweight and looks of friction, accuracy of geared.

Ataraxia
07-05-2011, 12:01 PM
I agree with Ken's thoughts on the positive aspects of friction tuners. I prefer them and would not want geared tuners on any instrument.
ANY instrument? Have you ever tried keeping a steel string guitar in tune with friction tuners? There's a reason why geared tuners were invented, and it's the same reason that we now have automobiles instead of horse drawn carriages.

Don't get me wrong though, I think friction pegs have their place on smaller instruments for those who appreciate their aesthetics and the balance that they lend to a nice instrument... BUT having to carry around a screwdriver in your case is certainly a bit annoying. I seem to always come across threads where people mention swapping/upgrading/replacing their friction tuners... If they work so well, why replace them? I have geared tuners on all of my guitars that I've never had to perform a second of maintenance on.. more time for playing :D.

Ataraxia
07-05-2011, 12:06 PM
Anyway, to the OP..

How unbalanced does your soprano feel? If it's only slightly off, I would definitely recommend keeping those geared tuners. Since you're thinking of changing them though, I would second the recommendation to just swap with somebody else.

roxhum
07-05-2011, 12:43 PM
Thank you everyone for your reply's. I have both friction and geared tuners and do not see what the big deal about friction tuners are. They stay in tune well for me and I don't carry a screw driver around accept for when I am changing strings. I like the lighter head is why I want to change them. I could trade I suppose but....

crowsby
07-05-2011, 01:26 PM
I don't think I would modify a uke to use friction pegs, especially if it's going to be the trouble that it sounds like. I prefer geared tuners, but after getting my Ohana, I've learned to appreciate frictions as well. Pegheds are great fro my limited experience with them, but I don't know if they're worth the trouble and money it would take to put them on, at least to me.

iDavid
07-05-2011, 01:32 PM
I was Mr. Anti-friction tuners about a year ago and they can be a bit of a pain to get an instrument in tune. Since getting a KoAloha concert and now a Black Bear soprano, I've grown to appreciate friction tuners. They do stay in tune better and the balance in a small instrument is a HUGE deal for me. I had a smaller tenor with heavy geared tuners and play havoc with my hands. I prefer open geared tuners on tenors and some concerts, but for most concerts and sopranos, I definitely prefer friction.

Mainland uses some pretty nice friction tuners, if you haven't had them for too long, I would wait a while and see if you grow to appreciate them more.

mm stan
07-05-2011, 01:35 PM
Thank you everyone for your reply's. I have both friction and geared tuners and do not see what the big deal about friction tuners are. They stay in tune well for me and I don't carry a screw driver around accept for when I am changing strings. I like the lighter head is why I want to change them. I could trade I suppose but....

Aloha Roxanne,
Here's an analogy for ya...when I was young I had this hot rod and it had a automatic transmission and I wanted a manual, I went around and everybody to just get another car with a manual...
it would more cst effective...Stan

RyanMFT
07-05-2011, 02:06 PM
Wait, here is the solution to the whole problem, just buy another Mainland which has the exact tuners you want.......Then you have both.....another uke never hurt no one! Go on, you deserve it!

roxhum
07-05-2011, 02:30 PM
Ha ha, buy another uke. I prefer friction tuners but it does seem like too much of a hassle. Especially because of what Mainland Mike said. Maybe I should trade or sell......

Pondoro
07-05-2011, 02:52 PM
I also vote to buy a new uke with friction tuners.

allanr
07-05-2011, 02:55 PM
Wait, here is the solution to the whole problem, just buy another Mainland which has the exact tuners you want.......Then you have both.....another uke never hurt no one! Go on, you deserve it!

+1

...and a few random words 'cause the phrase "+1" wasn't long enough

EDW
07-05-2011, 04:38 PM
ANY instrument? Have you ever tried keeping a steel string guitar in tune with friction tuners? There's a reason why geared tuners were invented, and it's the same reason that we now have automobiles instead of horse drawn carriages.


Oh, I thought we were talking about ukes. Maybe I should have clarified my position. I don't care for them on trombones, pianos or bagpipes. They are fine on the African nose flute. ;-)

FWIW- I don't carry a screwdriver for use with friction pegs. They seem to stay in adjustment just fine for me.

roxhum
07-05-2011, 04:46 PM
FWIW- I don't carry a screwdriver for use with friction pegs. They seem to stay in adjustment just fine for me.[/QUOTE]

I agree. What's up with carrying around a screwdriver? Are people loosening and tightening every time you tune your uke? If that is the case no wonder you don't like them. I think good friction tuners are actually easier. Just a tap to tune rather than turning a geared tuner around a half turn. I think the friction tuners get a bum rap.

Ataraxia
07-05-2011, 09:56 PM
I'm certainly not saying that a screwdriver should be used regularly, but I also wouldn't want to arrive at a show without one on hand. If the pegs stopped holding during a set, it would pretty much ruin the event. I also think the necessity of a screwdriver to maintain their friction is kind of lame, those screws are irreplaceable in some parts of the world.. and why should a person have to buy a new set of tuners? I want one set of tuners to last me the lifetime of my instrument.

There are some people who argue in favor of friction pegs simply for the sake of tradition, but unless the pegs in question are wooden then there's nothing traditional about them. I think it's fair to say that mechanical friction pegs don't belong on the instrument any more than geared tuners do.

That being said, I'm going to buy a new soprano with a nice set of friction pegs and get used to them. I've only ever used cheap friction tuners in the past, so I can't really speak for them not doing the job. I can't believe that so many Hawaiian manufacturers would use them if they simply didn't work.

EDW: Oh, Well on an African nose flute they're fine...in fact many tribes traditionally carried spare friction pegs inside their ears (NOT!). Just don't throw any friction pegs on a steel-string guitar haha.

mattydee
04-10-2012, 06:29 AM
The holes had to be reamed out to accomidate the geared tuners, I think you will most likely be able to convert it back to friction tuners, but you'll have to make sure they aren't sitting too loose in the holes or they may rattle and cause a buzz. The easiest way to fill the screw holes is probably a little wood glue with saw dust and then touch it up with a brown sharpie.

If the holes are too big for the friction tuners, would you use the same sawdust/glue solution to fill them out? Or would it be a lost cause at that point? Or maybe just time for a luthier?

I'm thinking about switching tuners on a second-hand Mainland honeybee, currently fitted with geared tuners. I'm not particularly experienced with this sort of thing, but I'm detail oriented. I would certainly use Mike's tuning machines, since I've had good experiences with them (pre-installed) before, but I really love this uke, and would hate to kill it with this project if it has any potential for catastrophic failure.

weerpool
04-10-2012, 06:44 AM
Thank you everyone for your reply's. I have both friction and geared tuners and do not see what the big deal about friction tuners are. They stay in tune well for me and I don't carry a screw driver around accept for when I am changing strings. I like the lighter head is why I want to change them. I could trade I suppose but....

same thoughts exactly, well said.

coolkayaker1
04-10-2012, 06:46 AM
God, the eternal friction tuner debate crops up even when the OP was asking how to change them, not if they are good or bad.

People have strong opinions about tuners, that is for sure.

I will say that I have friction tuners on three of my ukes, one of which is my highest end Kiwaya tenor--a very expensive instrument.

I would choose quality friction tuners over quality geared tuners every single time. Not someties, but every time. There is, literally, a thread about friction tuners on UU Forums every month. Those who know QUALITY friction tuners know what I mean and the reasons for it.

Rox, sell the uke and get good quality friction tuners from Mike on a new Mainland. Adios!

TheCraftedCow
04-10-2012, 08:49 PM
Why not have the best of both of them? PEGHEDS look like wooden pegs, but have the ease and precision tuning capabilities of much larger, heavier geared tuners.
Check out the evaluation of PEGHEDS by Tim Szerlong at www.ukeeku.com
check out www.PEGHEDS.net to see what they are. I should line up all of the different sizes and shapes of ukuleles which have been made better.. Today I put them on a new UB-1f Eddy Finn Banjo ukulele with brass plated trim. I think gears with ears are ugly. They stick out to the side and really spoil the looks.

drbekken
04-10-2012, 09:11 PM
On the smaller ukuleles, friction tuners both look and feel better. Get good ones, like Grover's, and you're not likely to have reason for complaint. On tenors, I also feel that friction tuners are the best. However, this is all very individual.
On the baritone, I go for the geared ones, just because of the size of the instrument.