Significant Tonal Improvement Changing Klusons for Grovers

Dougie

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And now my only beef with Grovers, Schallers, and other sealed tuners. The washers on the tuner shaft are usually the curved little spring called a bellville washer. Once under tension of tuning a string, these flatten out. Any change can cause the washer to spring back into it's curved state, which causes the tuning post to turn, usually causing the string to rise in pitch. Had manufacturers put the bellville washer on the other side of the tuner case, so it would actually pull the gear lash toward the case instead of away, this would never happen and tuning would be much more stable.

I take the springs off, and put the tuner button back on and this is never more an issue as gear lash is now held snugly in one place without the inconsistency of the spring changing shape.

If you have a non-locking tremolo guitar, Bigsby or Maestro, and sealed tuners, try this. Stick toothpicks through the string hole once the guitar is tuned up, then work the tremolo, and watch those posts turn. The toothpick becomes a handy pointer so you can see the movement I outlined in the first paragraph. Once the tuner steals a little bit of slack from the string by the post turning, it won't go back to where it was when it was tuned and you have to retune. Take the curved washers off and repeat the experiment and notice that the tuners stay where they were when the strings were tuned.

THIS is why I stick with Klusons. The gear lash is held against the back of the tuner cover, like it should be and I have excellent tuning stability.
 

jm55

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I'm susceptible to commenting on contentious issues, so I'll add my observations that tuners can absolutely affect tone and sustain, and the effect can be not so subtle at times. It can go both ways though. I have a Taylor 615 that I've switched out the original metal keys for wood keys, and I've A/B'd them many times over the years, and hands down my 615 sounds better with less mass at the headstock. I can see where some LP's would be happier with more substantial tuners. There are resonant modes of the neck of which the frequency is raised when using lighter tuners and lowered when using heavier ones. It's not even a question of how can mass effect tone but rather how could it not.
 
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Jewel the Sapphire

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I'm wondering how many folks that replaced the tuners and noticed a difference in sound had brand new strings on the guitar before and after the tuner swap.
Exactly so many people are ignorant to that factor and are noticing new strings compared to the used worn in strings..

If tuners hold tune, great-- if they add mass I dont give a rats ass. I prefer the feeling of using kidney beans, keystones or tulip buttons than any other shape, that and ratio are more important to me.
 
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Scott A Novak

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The washers on the tuner shaft are usually the curved little spring called a bellville washer. Once under tension of tuning a string, these flatten out. Any change can cause the washer to spring back into it's curved state, which causes the tuning post to turn, usually causing the string to rise in pitch.
Here is a link to an exploded diagram of a Grover Rotomatic: from
http://images.lilypix.com/albums/userpics/10068/IMG_0020.JPG

Here is a link to the discussion about the Grover Rotomatic:
https://www.lespaulforum.com/forum/showthread.php?133661-A-Grover-Rotomatic-exploded

It sounds to me that the solution to this issue is to replace the Bellville washer with a solid hardened washer. You may need to carefully grind the washer to the correct thickness. But you can easily do that by hand wet sanding and polishing the washer with wet or dry silicon carbide sandpaper to the correct thickness. That's a minor modification.

Scott Novak
 

Scott A Novak

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I'm wondering how many folks that replaced the tuners and noticed a difference in sound had brand new strings on the guitar before and after the tuner swap.
When I replaced the Klusons on my guitars in the '70s I never thought about possible tonal changes and I wasn't listening for any. But whatever tonal changes may have occurred, I was not displeased by them. After replacing the Klusons with Grovers it gave me more of a sense of well being. I liked the way the Grovers felt and looked. It's also possible that any tonal change was pleasing and I just took it for granted.

One thing that I've noticed about human nature is that people are less likely to notice an improvement as they are a detriment. I always tried to set up A-B listening tests with the improvement first and the original condition second. It makes any differences more apparent.

Scott Novak
 
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Dougie

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It sounds to me that the solution to this issue is to replace the Bellville washer with a solid hardened washer. You may need to carefully grind the washer to the correct thickness. But you can easily do that by hand wet sanding and polishing the washer with wet or dry silicon carbide sandpaper to the correct thickness. That's a minor modification.

Scott Novak
A lot of the sealed tuners come with a flat washer and no bellville washer. I have not generally had probs removing the bellvile and putting the tuner button right back on the shaft since there is usually a flat nylon washer or a flat metal washer already there.
 

Scott A Novak

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If added mass at the headstock improved tone, couldn't you just attach a mass to the headstock?
That could very easily be done. For a tone experiment you could even clamp different weights onto the headstock.

I think that the sonic differences between tuners is caused by two main things. There is the mass difference that I think will mainly affect the resonant frequency and result in a change of tonal balance. The other is the solidity of the tuner. If the tuner isn't perfectly stiff and solid, there will be energy loss in the tuner/headstock interface which would reduce the sustain.

I think that the main sonic advantage of a Rotomatic style tuner is that it is essentially clamped solidly onto the headstock, which will probably improve the sustain and attack. Any change in the resonant frequency, caused by the mass increase that might shift the tonal balance a bit, can probably be compensated for by slightly adjusting a tone control on an amplifier.

Changing a high impedance pickup, pick thickness, speakers, or type of strings would cause a greater change in tonal balance than changing tuners.

Scott Novak
 

ErictheRed

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That could very easily be done. For a tone experiment you could even clamp different weights onto the headstock.
That was my point exactly. Clearly it's a bunch of crap or people would be doing it, since it would be about the simplest and easiest mod to possibly do on a guitar.
 

Scott A Novak

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Clearly it's a bunch of crap or people would be doing it, since it would be about the simplest and easiest mod to possibly do on a guitar.
I remember in the '70s reading about a luthier that added mass to his acoustic guitars to affect the tone.

Scott Novak
 

ErictheRed

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I remember in the '70s reading about a luthier that added mass to his acoustic guitars to affect the tone.

Scott Novak
Acoustic guitars are quite a bit different. You could add mass to different parts of the soundboard to affect the way it vibrates, such as changing the bracing. There is no soundboard on an electric guitar, and we're talking about the headstock, anyway.

There might have been a luthier adding mass to a headstock in the 70's, sure, but that doesn't prove anything except that there was a luthier in the 70's who believed in superstition, and had customers that bought into his superstition.
 

PierM

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I remember in the '70s reading about a luthier that added mass to his acoustic guitars to affect the tone.

Scott Novak
In the acoustic domain, everything in contact with the main resonance source, it will resonate as well. Even a concrete wall, if you touch it with an acoustic guitar, while strumming, it will resonate loudly.

In an electric guitar, this is doing absolutely N O T H I N G.

In a completely unpotted pickup, all you can get back would be noise and rumble being grabbed my the microphonic pickup.
 

Scott A Novak

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In an electric guitar, this is doing absolutely N O T H I N G.
An electric guitar will resonate like anything else and mass loading will affect the various resonances. This would actually be easy to measure. It's easy enough to hear the tonal differences between different types of wood.

Just the weight of a steel clamp on a headstock should affect the resonant frequency and tone. It's easy enough. Just make sure that you lay something smooth over the headstock so that it isn't damaged by the clamp. You would also want to remove the sliding bar that most clamps use so that it won't rattle.

Scott Novak
 

PierM

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An electric guitar will resonate like anything else and mass loading will affect the various resonances. This would actually be easy to measure. It's easy enough to hear the tonal differences between different types of wood.

Just the weight of a steel clamp on a headstock should affect the resonant frequency and tone. It's easy enough. Just make sure that you lay something smooth over the headstock so that it isn't damaged by the clamp. You would also want to remove the sliding bar that most clamps use so that it won't rattle.

Scott Novak
Of course it will, but the domain isnt acoustic, air isn’t involved. Domain it’s electromagnetic. It’s just a current induced in a coil by a electromagnetic field around strings, so the extra resonance does nothing but damping more energy, out of the body of the guitar. We discussed this at nauseam, dont want to start again lol.

What a tuner can rally do, is to affect the compliance, which is the perceived stiffness of the strings, either while picking or bending... Compliance it’s affected by everything; neck stiffness, fretboard stiffness, fret material, trussrod, tuner shafts, saddles, break angles etc.

A better compliance (subjective preference) can for sure affect playabilty.
 

Scott A Novak

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Of course it will, but the domain isnt acoustic, air isn’t involved. Domain it’s electromagnetic. It’s just a current induced in a coil by a electromagnetic field around strings, so the extra resonance does nothing but damping more energy, out of the body of the guitar.
A resonance in the neck will affect the strings. There is no way it couldn't. Therefore any resonance change in the neck WILL be pickup up by a guitar pickup.

Scott Novak
 

Dolebludger

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It has long been my theory that the more secure connection between the strings and guitar body at all points, the better the primary and secondary tone. Here, the Grover’s may have provided that.

I am not a fan of “classic” Kluson tuners. Using them to tune gives an uneven feel and the string wrap post does not feel secure against the headstock wood.
 




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