Machine heads affecting tone?

the passenger

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I know there were several discussions about this, but maybe my observations will be helpful for those who's planning to replace there tuners in the future.
I've had problems recently with the tuning stability of the stock klusons, so decided to try something else. I orderd a set of grover style metal gotoh machine heads, wich are pretty nice by the way. After the replacement I put back the old strings to see if there are any noticable differences regarding the tone.
So I fired up my monster JCM800 stack and plugged in the beast.
The difference was pretty obvious even on cranked volumes. There's a noticeble volume jump on the higher strings. The high G-B-E strings sounds thicker and louder than before. The lows haven't changed that much, only became more focused and a litttle more punchy. I never really liked how power chords sounded with the klusons for the heavier styles I play. Kinda too uncompressed, like the notes didn't stick together and trying to break up. With the new gotohs its gone. Sustain increased as well.
Maybe I have too trained ears but it was a pretty noticable difference. Acoustically it wasn't that apparent, maybe the overall resonance and volume decreased a bit after the change, but through a cranked amp it's a definite improvement.
By the way, the Klusons weighed 140g the whole set and the Gotohs weighed in at 220g. So they're lighter than Grovers anyway.
 

Dolebludger

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I believe (but do not absolutely know) that the "tightness" of all parts of the tuner mechanism may affect tone on some guitars. Not as much as bridges and nuts (on open strings), but a little (just like TPs do. For the best tone, as a general rule, all hardware that forms an attachment of the strings to the body should be secure internally and to the body (or neck) for optimum tone.
 

River

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Got before and after clips?
 

the passenger

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No clips. But I will do one if I make the same replacement again. It's a pretty audible difference. For me it had a bigger effect on tone than a tailpiece replacement.
I also think it's due to the tightened parts and the added weight is a secondary factor. The new tuning pegs are secured to the headstock so everything got rock solid. The klusons seemed very unstable in compare with these gotohs.
And most importantly the guitar stays in tune forever.
 

Les Paulverizer

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I agree, they do somehow affect the sound of the guitar, absolutely.

I know that a lot of these theories hail from "Geekville", but this I've experienced myself.

A while ago I was given a set of Sperzel locking tuners and decided to fit them to a Les Paul that, at that time, I was using regularly so I needed it to do everything quicker, including changing he strings.

Anyway, before I even plugged the guitar in I straight away noticed an overall improvement in sound, acoustically; I didn't do it on purpose, I just grabbed the guitar and as I was about to plug it into a Marshall I just nonchalantly strummed a couple of chords, like we all do, and straight away I went "hold on, what is this...?"

The whole thing just sounded so much better, and once I played it through the amp it got better and better!

I think it has something to do with the weight of the tuners, the Sperzels being heavier than the stock ones hence increasing the mass of the headstock; we've all noticed how, if you lean the guitar against something (a wardrobe, a wall, anything really) the volume increases, and the same thing probably happens when fitting heavier tuners.

I know that there's a device available on the market, a metal plate you kinda clamp at the back of the headstock, called FatHead that does exactly that, and I know that Joe Satriani has it fitted to his guitars, at least in the studio, so there's definitely some truth in that.

BTW, I plan to fit Sperzel locking tuners to all my les Pauls... ;-)
 

the passenger

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It's really not a placebo thing. Mass and stability have a big impact on tone, especially on an area like the headstock, which is one of the most sensitive parts of the body of a Paul. The importance of the tailpiece material is a little overhyped in my opinion. Just think about it. The headstock is the weakest point of a guitar, therefore the most sensitive to any changes.
 

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