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machine heads - any opinions?

07 Nov 14 - 01:46 AM (#3675310)
Subject: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Big Al Whittle

i don't like the machine heads on my avalon silver series guitar. i'm getting tuning problems, and the cheap nasty machine heads are prime suspect number one.

i note gibson machine heads are about fifty quid and the are similar looking ones on the same amazon page for fifteen quid.

anybody got any ideas on the subject - as usual. i am drowning in a sea of ignorance.


07 Nov 14 - 02:57 AM (#3675317)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Dave Hanson

Grover, Schaller and Alessi are probaly the top 3 makes but as you know Al the good stuff don't come cheap.

Dave H


07 Nov 14 - 03:10 AM (#3675320)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Musket

Grover certainly make the widest range of quality machine heads. Checking their website should yield more than one design that may even fit your original screw holes, causing no extra holes.

Discussions coming out of your ears on guitar chat sites on the subject but for me, I see no real difference between open and enclosed gearing, I can't really accept many of the arguments for single versus set of three on a frame and shape of peg post helps centre the string when putting it on if it is convex.

No.. If you have tuning problems, just ensure whatever you buy, that there are screws on the ends for you to adjust the tightness. If your present ones are adjustable, bugger about with them before shelling out.

As they are the other side of the nut, they have no discernible effect on the sound so long as they don't slip or rattle and mechanically are so simple it isn't rocket science to change or adjust them so long as they can be adjusted...

One or two have a lower screw ratio. Makes for finer tuning in theory but note that the manufacturers of the top end of the market don't bother.


07 Nov 14 - 03:32 AM (#3675326)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Big Al Whittle

well that's the prob - its not a top end of the marke guitart. but its a cool guitar. the present machine heads slip. i have tightened them but its still ghastly.

i wouldn't take it to the zoo to play to the monkeys at present.


07 Nov 14 - 04:01 AM (#3675329)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: GUEST,Johnmc

I can only add a couple of points to the previous ones: I fitted expensive ones to a relatively basic mandolin which I intend to keep and which I really value. The feeling of precision and the tactile response means it was worth it. (open sort, by the way).
If I remember correctly, one had to check the bushes that were supplied fitted the holes (these were separate washer type things) and also that the posts were of similar height to the old ones.
I am not saying you can't get cheaper varieties that would do the job, but I suppose the
famous brands might last longer too.


07 Nov 14 - 05:01 AM (#3675347)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker

GOTOH - still at the lower end of the price range for respectable mahine heads ?


07 Nov 14 - 06:30 AM (#3675373)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: GUEST,gillymor

Waverlys came standard on my Froggy Bottom and Collings and they're the best I've used. They ain't cheap and the bore is a bit narrower so you may have to add a grommet if you go with them.


07 Nov 14 - 06:34 AM (#3675375)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: bubblyrat

I too have an Avalon Silver series ; one of the first ones I suspect ,as the overall build quality is extremely good .I think that I bought it around 2001 ( "Guitar Mania" , Poole,Dorset).The tuners are Grovers , and have never given me any trouble at all ,although they do have their detractors .


07 Nov 14 - 06:44 AM (#3675378)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: GUEST,twerp

From my own experience:
Grovers can be very good, but of variable quality. Gotoh do some great tuners and Schaller are excellent.
Try for a bargain at a guitar show - I got some terrific Grovers for £30 and have them on my Taylor.
Gotoh are the weapon of choice for Lowden - mine have never let me down, and my old Guild loves the Schallers.


07 Nov 14 - 06:48 AM (#3675380)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Stanron

If your machine heads are of the cog and worm type, they don't slip. They can't. Not unless there are teeth missing from the cog or there is severe damage to the worm. Both of these should be easily spotted.

What can slip is the string on the tuner barrel. If the barrel is scalloped, i.e. thinner where the string goes through and gets wider above and below that, I fill all the scalloped area below the hole with neat winding when the string is tuned to pitch (as near as possible). This acts like a string clamp as the strings at the widest part of the barrel are forced upwards by the string tension and clamp the string against the top of the hole. This will only work if all the windings are in contact with the barrel. Quite often the string bends out before it goes through the hole and this needs to be pushed flat or it will slip. Each string needs to be pulled several tim es to get both ends to bed in fully. After all that they should not slip at all.

Don't forget to lubricate your tuners and to check for loose screws.


07 Nov 14 - 06:49 AM (#3675381)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: banjoman

I always use Waverly on my guitars. The banjos are a bit different and I always avoid instruments with Guitar Tuners on.
I suggest you go for the best you can afford if you want to keep the guitar.


07 Nov 14 - 07:03 AM (#3675388)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Big Al Whittle

holy shit! you're not kidding - they're not cheap!!!


07 Nov 14 - 07:30 AM (#3675398)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Richard Bridge

Waverley, Kluson, Gotoh, Schaller, Grover - all good.

I second what is said above about machine heads "slipping". It is mathematically demonstrable that a worm with a ration of 14:1 or higher will NOT "overhaul" as it is called in theoretical mechanics.

However, it is also the case that if you have three turns around a post, that cannot and will not slip either.

The most likely cause of tuning instability is (IMHO) friction at the nut, particularly if you are a string bender - you pull the string sharp, that stretches the bit behind the nut - you let go and one of two things happens - wither it stays stretched due to the friction so the string is now flat, or it pings back a bit too far so the string is now sharp. The latter should not happen if you ALWAYS ALWAYS tune upwards. If you go sharp, flatten the string and tune upwards again. This also eliminates or, to be technical takes up any backlash in the gearing.   

You get less friction at the nut with coated strings, and you can if you like lubricate the nut with powdered graphite.


07 Nov 14 - 07:33 AM (#3675400)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Richard Bridge

PS - keep an eye on ebay. I have a little Lamaq that had Grover copies on - gold coloured and apparently made of cheese (like the nut). I had a bone nut made and got a set of real Grovers second hand on ebay for peanuts - they were chrome not gold - and those two things transformed the guitar. It's not loud, being so small-bodied, but it sings quite sweetly now.


07 Nov 14 - 07:44 AM (#3675406)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Backwoodsman

I've put Waverlys on my Martins, they are in a different universe - excellent quality, precise, and no backlash in the gears. Excellent tuners. Not cheap but even the best guitar in the world sounds shit if it won't get in and stay in tune.

Avalons are a kinda 'Lowden-Wannabe' aren't they? My Lowden has Gotohs which are absolutely fine, easy-turning and 18-1 gearing, but it looks as though they're using Schaller M6's on the Lowden standard range now. Can't comment on those, but I think you can take it as read that GL wouldn't be using shitty tuners on his superb guitars.


07 Nov 14 - 08:09 AM (#3675408)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: GUEST,gillymor

I agree with BW's obsevations above. My near-30 yr. old Lowden has Gotohs and they've worked just fine but Waverlys are just plain better.

Bridge makes a good point about nuts. All luthiers are not created equal and nuts have to be slotted properly to work well (and a little graphite doesn't hurt). Having the nut checked out by a pro may be the best option.


07 Nov 14 - 09:19 AM (#3675420)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: GUEST

Schaller or grocers for me.


07 Nov 14 - 10:59 AM (#3675446)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Big Al Whittle

my avalon is a 2004 model. i bought after seeing mik parsons gold series model. bob kirkpatrick fell in love with it - so i lent it him for about its first year. anyway its horrible now.

its weird thing. i phoned up Newtonards last week to find out where i could get a feedback buster for it. they had no idea that the hole in the middle was smaller than standard.

at the moment my gigging guitars are yamaha cpx and ac range, but i'd love to get the avalon up and running.


07 Nov 14 - 11:00 AM (#3675447)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Midchuck

There's Waverlys and there's everything else. But among everything else, Grover and Gotoh make some not-half-bad tuners.


07 Nov 14 - 09:44 PM (#3675590)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Bert

Without seeing the guitar it is difficult to assess the problem. Most tuning machines won't slip. Slippage is usually between the string and the machine. It can also occur at the bridge. Make sure that the string has enough turns around the post and has at least one overlap so that it will bite on itself.

At the bridge end make sure that there is a slot in the bridge so that the ball can catch under the bridge and not pull the pin out.

If none of that works it may be cheaper to salvage the machines from a thrift store guitar than to buy new ones.

Also some authorities suggest that you never lubricate the tuning machines, but I really don't recommend that.


08 Nov 14 - 03:28 AM (#3675610)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Silas

Backwoodsman - avalon are not lowden wannabees, they are a quality guitar in their own right. I have an elderly a100 gold series and use it in preference to my hd28.


08 Nov 14 - 04:38 AM (#3675615)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Musket

I must admit, from the outset, I assume Al has run a pencil in the nut notches etc before narrowing it down to the machine heads.

Interestingly, two guitars I have use the same tusq nut but only one of them needs regular pencil lubrication. Why? I can only assume the zero fret, which I am a fan of, puts less pressure on the nut as it becomes the fulcrum point.

Elementary physics regarding ratios and numbers of turns of string, I tend to be surprised if the machine heads actually cause problems in most cases. I would try to look at other places where the strings can move afterwards, such as nut, saddle and pin slots.

(Just for aesthetic rather than techncial reasons, I try to put three turns of string on the machine head post, but one guitar, with slotted head, needs more than that if I use coated strings or they do slip slightly.)

I have seen where a friend couldn't keep his guitar in tune but loved it, he put a nut clamp on, borrowed from an old Yamaha Pacifica electric. I asked if it made any difference to the tone, but he said not. (I suppose after the hassle of fitting it, you woudn't admit it didn't quite work.....)


08 Nov 14 - 07:44 PM (#3675768)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Big Al Whittle

i couldn't afford the waverly ones so i ended up getting these


http://www.thomann.de/gb/gibson_mh025_tuners.htm

cross fingers touch wood!


09 Nov 14 - 02:09 AM (#3675814)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Backwoodsman

Lighten up Silas, I know Al in the Real World, and I was pulling his leg.

Guitars, like many other things in life, are a matter of personal taste. I'm constantly told by people that Martins are crap, but I love my three (2007 OM-28 Marquis, 2010 HD-28V, 2012 D-18) and I use all of them in preference to my 2002 Lowden O-25.

I know what I like, and I don't give a FF if others like something different.


09 Nov 14 - 02:34 AM (#3675821)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Musket

I like your Lowden. Mind you I still miss my D41..

I can't get involved in discussion with guitar purists though because of all my guitars, my Rainsong is still my favourite. I don't care if it is carbon fibre and not a fibre of timber anywhere on it.

(Here, Albert Deakin doesn't read Mudcat does he? I'd have to qualify that statement if he does....)
😬


09 Nov 14 - 03:12 AM (#3675826)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Backwoodsman

There ya go - all a matter of personal taste! I like my Lowden too, when I bought it I thought it was "The One" but tastes change over time - I used to like lager when I was a lad, but I'd rather drink my own piss than lager nowadays! (Not really, but you know what I mean!). :-)

But, whereas the Lowden has the sound I liked **back then**, the Martins have the sound that I like *right*now**. I doubt I'll ever sell the Lowden though (unless someone comes along with an offer I can't refuse, of course - never say 'never' is my firm motto!).


09 Nov 14 - 08:42 AM (#3675897)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: Big Al Whittle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4hxnM76zI4

Mik, his Avalon - singing his most famous song


09 Nov 14 - 09:11 AM (#3675902)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: GUEST,gillymor

Good looking tuners, Al.I always liked that Gibson style button.


09 Nov 14 - 02:31 PM (#3675998)
Subject: RE: machine heads - any opinions?
From: GUEST,classical

Rodgers, Alessi, and Graf.