PDA

View Full Version : Friction Tuners - seriously; why?



SamWise
09-22-2008, 01:54 AM
Is it just tradition? I've now played ukes from 30 to 200 or so with friction tuners, and all have the same problems to some extent - you're always walking the line between slippage and the peg being so tight that it won't move smoothly. On top of that, the direct drive makes fine tuning really really hard. Geared tuners work great and have no downsides that I'm aware of, so why all the friction tuners?

David Barnes
09-22-2008, 02:01 AM
As far as I can tell, this is the answer...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRdfX7ut8gw

(it's not a rickroll)

Sayyadina
09-22-2008, 02:19 AM
Is it just tradition? I've now played ukes from 30 to 200 or so with friction tuners, and all have the same problems to some extent - you're always walking the line between slippage and the peg being so tight that it won't move smoothly. On top of that, the direct drive makes fine tuning really really hard. Geared tuners work great and have no downsides that I'm aware of, so why all the friction tuners?

I agree with everything said here. I would never buy a uke with friction tuners. Tradition can kiss my ass.

SinisterDom
09-22-2008, 03:27 AM
Tradition, preference, and weight.

Geared tuners totally weigh down your headstock, and no one wants a top heavy uke.

Plus, in my opinion, they makes sopranos look stupid, just like tie bar bridges on a soprano, which is why I'll never buy a Kala/Lanikai soprano.

deach
09-22-2008, 03:38 AM
Plus, in my opinion, they makes sopranos look stupid, just like tie bar bridges on a soprano, which is why I'll never buy a Kala/Lanikai soprano.

So looks are more important than the sound?

UkeNinja
09-22-2008, 03:42 AM
The way I understand it, friction tuners and the ability to use them correctly and accurately is not only a necessary rite of passage for every ukulelist, it also brings you as close to the Holy Grail as any ukulele-related activity can. By performing the right moves and making your friction-pegged uke sing, your fingers will start to glow a faint pink and they will start running over the fretboard like Usain Bolt over the finish line.

Not to mention they are the coolest thing since sliced bread and clip-on sunglasses.

SamWise
09-22-2008, 04:06 AM
I've only got concerts and tenors here with geared tuners, but I'm not finding balance or weight a problem with them. Then again, my first instrument was my Dad's pre CBS Fender Jazz Bass; everything has seemed light as a feather since that.......

SamWise
09-22-2008, 04:22 AM
Looking around other boards, I now see that I might have hit on a bit of a sore point. My apologies - this wasn't intended as flamebait.

Dominator
09-22-2008, 04:44 AM
Tradition, preference, and weight.

Geared tuners totally weigh down your headstock, and no one wants a top heavy uke.

Plus, in my opinion, they makes sopranos look stupid, just like tie bar bridges on a soprano, which is why I'll never buy a Kala/Lanikai soprano.

That used to be the case but now you can get the geared peg heads that look like the original wooden pegs, work great and are light as a feather. The pic shows pegheads I installed on Hobbit's soprano.
http://www.dominator.ukeland.com/Images/hh_sop_2.JPG

They are a little pricey at $80/set but they are well worth it if installed on a decent instrument. Probably wouldn't want them on a intonation deprived Hilo ;).

SinisterDom
09-22-2008, 04:49 AM
So looks are more important than the sound?

Not really. How do friction tuners affect sound?

SamWise
09-22-2008, 04:51 AM
In my experience, by slipping repeatedly out of tune.

WS64
09-22-2008, 05:49 AM
As J Boy Shyne said in Ukulele Cosmos forum:

Well, since I too have learned the value of friction tuners, I'm now storing them in the following protective metal container

http://bostonhash.com/images/trashcan.jpg

Futch
09-22-2008, 05:57 AM
Having just bought a Bruko soprano, my first instrument with friction tuners, I have no complaints with them at all. They hold tune well, take very little getting used to. I don't get what all the fuss is about, for an instrument like a uke they seem fine to me.

freedive135
09-22-2008, 05:58 AM
You have your purists and your practicalists<--(not sure if thats a word but you get my point) and never shall the two meet!!!!

I like the little ears on my Soprano's they make it way eaiser to adjust when going from the sunshine to the basment and I have them both ways.
And then there is the Flea.....

If you want to hear bitching about friction tuners talk to a (new) fiddle player!!!!!

haole
09-22-2008, 06:39 AM
I don't mind them that much. The ones that come standard on quality sopranos are a lot better than the no-name ones that render souvenir ukes unplayable. After playing violin for 12 years and struggling with the awful traditional wooden pegs, I've learned to appreciate the Schallers and Gotohs a lot more. There's definitely a learning curve, though.

thejumpingflea
09-22-2008, 06:51 AM
I like em a lot.

I have some on my concert Kamaka. I find it never going out of tune (well at least not any quicker then my other ukes!) and I think the friction tuners are easier to tune up the way you want because they are so sensitive.

They also look better. :D

NukeDOC
09-22-2008, 06:57 AM
i prefer geared tuners, for tuning purposes. but friction tuners arent that much of a prob to me. ive found that by using a lever of some sort, i can make fine adjustments. yah it requires an extra tool. but either way works for me. aesthetically speaking though, i still prefer the mickey mouse ears of the geared tuners.

deach
09-22-2008, 08:10 AM
Not really. How do friction tuners affect sound?

They don't but you said -



Plus, in my opinion, they makes sopranos look stupid, just like tie bar bridges on a soprano, which is why I'll never buy a Kala/Lanikai soprano.

So you wouldn't buy a Kala because of the looks?

SinisterDom
09-22-2008, 08:19 AM
They don't but you said -



So you wouldn't buy a Kala because of the looks?

Oh, well no lol. So yeah I guess you're right, I do sometimes choose looks over sound. I just don't think sopranos look right with geared tuners. :?

GX9901
09-22-2008, 09:06 AM
I think the use of friction tuners has more to do with tradition/looks than anything else. There are people who thinks ukes look bad with "ears". Some builders, such as Dave Means of Glyph Ukulele, would not build a uke with ears sticking out (he does do slotted headstock where the pegs point backwards) because of personal preference.

I personally much prefer geared tuners since they make it easier to tune the uke, and I have no issues with "ears" on a uke. I think the head-heaviness of geared tuners is overrated. I have a couple of super-sopranos with geared tuners with no issues with head-heaviness. However, the KoAloha Pineapple Sunday, which is a super-concert, does have a very obvious weight bias toward the headstock.

NotoriousMOK
09-22-2008, 12:16 PM
i have the on a couple of my ukes, they are adjusted properly and I don't mind them at all -- they work great for me. I would not spend $80 for the pegheads, though I certainly appreciate what the product offers, it's just not that important to me.

i suppose it just takes the hands of a skilled lover to use them effectively ;)

VK18
09-22-2008, 01:54 PM
Ive been thinking about buying a hamano tenor because i like everything about it but it has friction tuners should i not get it then? are they that hard to keep in tune.

uke142464
09-22-2008, 02:01 PM
Ive been thinking about buying a hamano tenor because i like everything about it but it has friction tuners should i not get it then? are they that hard to keep in tune.

the hamano tenor's bridge looks really far down lol. not that its bad or anything it just looks funny, does anyone know anything about hamano ukes? quality and what not. and check out flukes, they are really cool and sound good, take a look at them too:D

bsting
09-22-2008, 02:52 PM
surely quality plays a role? well constructed friction tuners are better than poorly constructed geared tuners and vice-versa...

i never developed a preference either way, but i don't find my friction tuners ever slipping out of tune. and from guitar experience, there are definitely geared tuners that don't, for whatever reason, hold string tension very well..

MGM
09-22-2008, 03:59 PM
well heres one for thought. Most of the worlds high end collectable ukuleles ALL have friction tuners....

Howlin Hobbit
09-22-2008, 04:37 PM
...it has friction tuners should i not get it then? are they that hard to keep in tune.

It does take a little practice to get the knack, but no, they're not that hard to keep in tune.

SnakeOiler
09-22-2008, 05:11 PM
So looks are more important than the sound?

I would say not more important, but appearance is very important. A good quantity of Guitars and Ukes are sold by looks. The decision to use a certain kind of wood or body shape is often decided by the look of at as much as the way it might sound. One might choose a Koa or Mango Uke over a Mahogany one because those woods have more character.
Right now I'm shopping for some good friction tuners to replace the ones on my Arch-top, I just feel that Ukes look better with them. All my vintage Ukes have friction tuners and they do just fine.

berylbite
09-22-2008, 05:30 PM
I like owning instruments that noone else can even tune.. its a fun ego boost.

dhkane
09-22-2008, 06:01 PM
If you have fat finga and thumb muscles and have no trouble turning the friction tuner. Then go friction brah.

If it takes two hands to turn the friction tuner, then go geared.

And if you own a Kamaka concert, they will be more then happy to change out your friction tuners to geared tuners. They would require re-drilling to make the hole bigga, but still sound real good.

And if you are a purist, traditionalist, or watever.......ainokea!:rock:

SamWise
09-22-2008, 10:21 PM
I have a Hamano soprano here for review, and I like it. It's very very traditionally built, in a 20's style, but it sounds good, and is fun to play.

I'm not buying the fact that the high end collectible Ukes have friction as a good reason. The only thing I've heard so far that makes any sense at all is the weight.

Futch
09-22-2008, 10:31 PM
surely quality plays a role? well constructed friction tuners are better than poorly constructed geared tuners and vice-versa...

i never developed a preference either way, but i don't find my friction tuners ever slipping out of tune. and from guitar experience, there are definitely geared tuners that don't, for whatever reason, hold string tension very well..

People often blame the tuners for tuning problems or inaccuracy. However, even with the cheapest tuners the problem is usually elsewhere, normally at the nut. A poorly cut nut, or a nut that is not particularly smooth will cause far more problems than tuners.

Ukuleleblues
09-23-2008, 02:30 AM
I think it's becasue of the weight of some of the geared tuners. But, I also put a set of Grover statites pegs on an old harmony and they are heavy too. It's a 13 " scale reall small uke and kind of reminds me of a hammer with all that weight on one end. I'm gonna put the old ones back on after I plug and redrill.

I heard there are some light open back geared tuners out there. http://www.lmii.com/CartTwo/thirdproducts.asp?CategoryName=Tuning+Machines&NameProdHeader=Gotoh%99+Ukulele+Tuning+Machines

Kind of expensive

I've used the geared sealed GOTOH tuners and man they are SMOOOTH. But peg tuners aren't that bad once you get them adjusted right.

The only other reason I an se to use peg tuners ithat you can have a wilder headstock shape than it you use geared. Only a concern if you build crazy lookin stuff.

Spuash
12-08-2008, 08:59 PM
so what you guys are trying to say... friction tuners are like a classic car with no power stearing and the geared tuners are the power stearing?

Kekani
12-08-2008, 10:44 PM
The only thing I've heard so far that makes any sense at all is the weight.

For some builders, and players, weight on the headstock is a positive, not a negative. Its benefits can outweigh (no pun intended) what friction tuners don't bring to the table.

-Aaron

Lawn Jockey
12-09-2008, 02:21 AM
weight on the headstock is a positive, not a negative.

This is correct. Headstock mass increases sustain. I'm not sure you'd want to put a set of Fender P-Bass tuners on....but you get the picture.

Will_the_padrino
12-09-2008, 03:41 AM
i find friction tuners dont slip too much alltho more than geared
...but thier light and when in tune have the same sound quality as geared

friction is harder to get accurate tuning but u can get the knack for it

Geared is so much easier to fine tune and i prefer them even tho there heavy

GrumpyCoyote
12-09-2008, 05:50 AM
I have ukes with both. I prefer the geared - but haven't had real trouble with the friction tuners. I just keep a small screwdriver in the case for when they get loose. So far, I've only needed it a few times. Fine tuning is easy with both for me.

That said, I can't imagine a more horrible thought than going to a gig, needing that little screwdriver, and not being able to find it. So for anything I'm planning on performing with, geared it is.

The ear/no ear and weight arguments are irrelevant to me. All about the reliability and function.

(woah... old thread)

koalohapaul
12-09-2008, 07:16 PM
From a factory's stand point, they are traditional, quick to string, and more economical than geared.

Tradition and looks do play a part in the sale. Most people judge by looks, then sound. As a Hawaiian builder, people expect us to build with koa. Although there are lots of other equally gorgeous and nice sounding Hawaiian hard woods to use. Same with the tuners. Standards and concerts just have that nice traditional look with frictions.

Quick to string is pretty self explanatory. We do have string winders for the tenors, which have geared tuners, but they still take longer to wind than turning the friction knobs by hand. 14:1 gear ratio, versus turn, turn, turn.

Economy. We can buy the best friction tuners for much less than a geared of similar quality. As it was already mentioned in this post, cheapo geared tuners aren't better than good frictions. In fact, they are worse. They slip and have sloppy movement in the gearing. I haven't found any good geared tuners that can be competitive with the price point of our current frictions. Let's say we spent $5 more per tuner. X4 per ukulele. That's a $20 increase in the wholesale price, which translates to about a $40 increase at retail. Just for tuners.

Personally, I do like good geared tuners. They are much easier to fine tune. However, it's just not economical for most small US manufacturers to mount them universally, for the reasons mentioned above.

nikolo727
12-13-2008, 10:35 AM
I more or less dont care either way lol. But I do think that everyone should try friction tuners. For one reason. If you get to know the history and tradition of the ukulele, your love for it and your talet with it will increase imo. If you get to know the uke and its parts, you can appreciate it more and also, learn new ways to play to make your uke sound the best it can be. If you also have an understanding for how they were originally played, you will just get more apreciation for the uke itself.

stanny
02-19-2009, 09:39 AM
if the friction tuners are not allowing the person to be able to fine tune then of course it will affect the sound ,for the uke will be out of tune. bro

Pippin
02-19-2009, 11:02 AM
I had a little conversation about this with the owner of one popular ukulele manufacturing company. He acknowledges that guitar players are very happy with geared tuners. We were talking about demographics and how 58 percent of uke players surveyed started with guitars and took up ukulele afterward. We also talked about how much easier that geared tuners make tuning a ukulele. Then, there is the problem of slipping tuners, the need for a screwdriver, etc...

What it comes down to is this: traditional look and feel combined with less weight. That is the reason for peg-heads and friction tuners. There are planetary geared (internal) pegheads, as Dominator points out with Howling Hobbit's uke. Yes, they are worth it and do add a very small amount of extra weight, but you will most likely not notice.

I do prefer geared tuners, when they are made well and not too heavy, on concert size and larger ukuleles. I prefer friction on sopranos.

SamWise
02-19-2009, 11:15 AM
Yikes! Dead thread walking.....

hoosierhiver
02-19-2009, 11:53 AM
Yikes! Dead thread walking.....

It's back!

In friction pegs defense has any mentioned that it's easier to string up a uke with the friction pegs,1 to 1 ratio instead of the 14 to 1 of most geared uke tuners.Not that you have to string it everyday.

jhob
02-19-2009, 12:32 PM
In friction pegs defense has any mentioned that it's easier to string up a uke with the friction pegs,1 to 1 ratio instead of the 14 to 1 of most geared uke tuners.Not that you have to string it everyday.

That's a very good point!

My preference lies with friction tuners for primarily weight and secondarily looks. I mostly play sopranos where the weight will be more noticeable than on a tenor.

Tuning cheap strings with friction tuners can be a right bind, but decent tuners and decent strings it's no trouble. I find the need for a screwdriver is much less with decent tuners too.

I get on just fine with geared tuners as well, my applause and eleuke both have them, and the applause in particular does look good with the little red buttons sticking out, but it is a little top heavy.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
02-19-2009, 01:38 PM
Has anyone mentioned that heavier tuners can add to the sustain of an instrument? Certainly not a good enough reason by itself to use them but, ah, always a trade off.

ukantor
02-19-2009, 01:48 PM
Most of my ukes have friction tuners; some have geared tuners. I've used ukes with the old-fashioned tapered pegs. Never had a problem with any of 'em. You spend a couple of minutes (or less) tuning it, then hours playing it. Next time you pick it up, it might need a little tweak. What's the difficulty?

Having said that, I'd rate them as follows, for ease of use:- 1st geared : 2nd friction : 3rd tapered pegs.

Personal favourite, friction - I just like the appearance, and they work fine for me, but it's no big deal.

Ukantor.