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Thread: Swap from friction tuners questions...

  1. #1
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    Question Swap from friction tuners questions...

    I am thinking of buying a uke with average quality friction tuners. I was wondering what my options are and how hard would it be to swap them out to maybe peg head or geared tuners. I don't mind paying a pro to do it as long as it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

    Which brands of tuners do you prefer?
    Is it worth the trouble or the risk of screwing something up?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mthurman52 View Post
    I am thinking of buying a uke with average quality friction tuners. I was wondering what my options are and how hard would it be to swap them out to maybe peg head or geared tuners. I don't mind paying a pro to do it as long as it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

    Which brands of tuners do you prefer?
    Is it worth the trouble or the risk of screwing something up?
    So, I've swapped FROM geared to Friction tuners & once to Pegheds on a relatively high-end uke (my Gstring). Depending on what uke & what type of friction tuners, moving to a geared tuner may be somewhat "drop in", except for the screwholes for the tuner plate. Pegheds do require a bit of careful reaming and depending on the size of the hole the frictions used, my require a luthier's assistance.

    Good friction tuners work well, they are just a pain in the butt during that new string stretch in period. I prefer them on Sopranos & prefer Pegheds on anything else, though I won't be changing out the gotoh tuners on my KoAloha super concert.

    Forgot, you asked about "brands" - Gotoh & Grover are nice & usually priced accordingly. Mainland ukulele sells tuners separately as does Mele - I REALLY like Mele's open geared tuners - they'll set you back about $40, though.
    Last edited by Gmoney; 05-21-2011 at 12:35 PM. Reason: Added brand info...
    Soprano: Sailor Brand SPC-S, Donaldson Vintage-S, Gstring Longneck, 1920's Martin 0, Makala Dolphin, Mainland Chili!, Roy Smeck. 1920's Kumalae
    Concert: ] Kala "Mighty Uke", Kamoa Grand Concert, Martin 2K
    Pineapple/Other: Mainland red-cedar, Mya-Moe Concert Pineapple (Mango), KoAloha Longneck Pineapple, Vintage Kamaka Pineapple, Kamaka 100th Anniversary Pineapple, KoAloha Concert Pops' Pineapple Sunday

    Aloha from Charleston, SC!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mthurman52 View Post
    I am thinking of buying a uke with average quality friction tuners. I was wondering what my options are and how hard would it be to swap them out to maybe peg head or geared tuners. I don't mind paying a pro to do it as long as it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

    Which brands of tuners do you prefer?
    Is it worth the trouble or the risk of screwing something up?
    Pegheads require a specific tapered hole in the headstock and could be problematic. However, it's easy to install geared tuners and shouldn't cost much. Here's an example:

    http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tuners/U..._Machines.html

    Keep in mind that it's an 'ukulele, with low-tension non-steel strings. Any name-brand geared tuner will be an improvement over friction tuners regarding ease of use and holding string tension.

    If you install (or have someone install) geared tuners, there will be small screws used, which will permanently mark your headstock (on the back). Going back to friction tuners will not cover these small holes.

  4. #4
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    If it's a soprano I'd really recommend staying with friction tuners (unless you spring for pegheads, which I've heard are nice). Most of your geared tuners, even open geared tuners, are going to be heavy enough to kind of unbalance a soprano uke.

    I had a bad experience with the average tuners on a Kiwaya longneck soprano (which was easily cured by upgrading to better friction tuners). Other than that I've found that friction tuners are not really a problem once you get used to them. Honestly, if I bought a soprano or longneck soprano with geared tuners I'd probably try to switch them to friction tuners for the weight savings. (If I didn't think pegheads are so ugly, though, I'd probably go for them instead.)

    John
    I'm not entirely convinced that it is possible to polish a turd. However, if one were to accomplish that feat one would still have a turd, and one all the more noticeable for being shiny.

    Check out my ukulele-themed "stuff" at http://www.cafepress.com/fivebyfiveukulele - proceeds go to a good cause...UAS treatment!

  5. #5
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    +1 What OldePhart said!! Good friction tuners work well & are easy to tune once you understand them & certainly hold their tune well too boot. Bad friction tuners are just that, bad tuners - I have bad friction tuners on my Makala Dolphin that I am definitely going to replace - they feel like sandpaper turning! Pegheds may be "ugly" but they are light, have gears(!) and look very vintage.

    But, it is relatively easy changing out either direction except for the through-the-wood hole that will either be too big, too small, need reaming, or just right! (oh, and screw holes from friction tuners? that's what wood putty & touch-up markers are for!)

  6. #6
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    I just got done upgrading the cheap friction tuners on the Makai pineapple I just bought and had previously replaced the friction tuners on an older Kamaka soprano. Both with friction tuners. Was fairly easy although you have to pay attention to the diameter of the holes in the headstock and the bushings. I too prefer friction over geared especially on a soprano and find them just as easy to tune and keep in tune once the strings stretch.

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