Significant Tonal Improvement Changing Klusons for Grovers

Scott A Novak

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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.
Resonance does NOT damp anything. Resonance is CAUSED by insufficient damping.

Scott Novak
 

Scott A Novak

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Here are a few videos to demonstrate how wood type, amount of wood, and weight can affect electric guitar tone.

How does 10 POUNDS OF WOOD clamped to a GUITAR body influence TONE?
By Johan Segeborn

Electric guitar body TONEWOOD - Myth or Fact? Judge for yourself here!
By Johan Segeborn

Most of the guitar body SAWED OFF! Did TONE change
By Johan Segeborn

PROOF - Wood Affects Electric Guitar Tone - Chapman "Special Run" Swamp Ash ML-1
by Rob Chapman

What's missing is a video to show how much the mass on the headstock of an electric guitar can affect it's tone.

Scott Novak
 
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Scott A Novak

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For anyone that still isn't understanding that any change in acoustical sound of the guitar will be detected by the pickups and reproduced, let me explain.

The pickup not only detects the vibrations of the strings, but as the pickups are mounted to the body, any resonance of the body moves the pickup in relation to the strings. Therefore the acoustic resonance of the body that you hear will in fact be detected by the electromagnetic pickups.

The body and neck are joined together and vibrations travel up and down the length of the neck and body. Adding mass ANYWHERE on the neck or body will affect the way the guitar vibrates and that will be audible through the speakers.

It's not a question of whether or not changes in mass loading affect the tonal balance. It's only a question of how much.

But "Tone" is a catch all term. Besides tonal balance, there are other characteristics that a material has, such as damping. A solid steel guitar will sustain longer than a wooden guitar. That is because wood is less elastic than steel and wood will absorb more of the vibrational energy than steel. Joints that are not firmly bonded will tend to absorb energy.

It's my personal believe that a rotomatic style tuner that is clamped to the headstock will absorb less energy than the old Kluson style tuners. So besides the difference in mass loading that will mainly affect tonal balance, the sustain and perhaps the attack will be affected by the old style Kluson tuners. These effects can not only be measured, but it should also be relatively simple to do a before and after recording of the guitar to demonstrate amount of effect that the different tuners have.

There may also be differences in hysteresis that can blur the details of the tone. Here is a link to a technical description of hysterisis.

Scott Novak
 

ErictheRed

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Scott, let's just assume that you're 100% correct about mass affecting tone. You've got a video where Johann clamps 10 pounds of wood to a guitar's body (about 4.5 kilograms of mass); approximately what do you think the difference in mass is between a Grover and Kluson tuner?
 
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Side Burns

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Scott, let's just assume that you're 100% correct about mass affecting tone. You've got a video where Johann clamps 10 pounds of wood to a guitar's body (about 4.5 kilograms of mass); approximately what do you think the difference in mass is between a Grover and Kluson tuner?

i think his 2 detailed posts was the answer.

the answer to your question “the difference in mass is between a Grover and Kluson tuner?”

Answer: Is plausible or likely exists on some scale.

my ears have been abused by loud cars and live music so don’t look at me for a blind test lol :)
 

Scott A Novak

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...approximately what do you think the difference in mass is between a Grover and Kluson tuner?
It's not so much about the mass difference between a Kluson and a Grover, as it is WHERE that mass is located. If you add an ounce of weight to the body I seriously doubt that most people could hear the difference. But add that mass to the end of a long lever, say a guitar neck at the headstock, and suddenly that once of weight difference will have a substantially greater affect.

In practical terms, I'll guess that any change in tonal balance caused by additional mass on the headstock will be relatively subtle on an electric guitar, given the huge mass of the body, and that any tonal balance change could probably be compensated for by adjusting a tone control from 7 to 8.

But what you CANNOT compensate for is a loss of physical energy. So if a Kluson loses more energy than a Rotomatic, because it's not as well clamped to the headstock, the tone will probably suffer. Granted, I suspect that this is also a subtle amount of difference. What we need is for someone to actually record the difference between the tuners using a fresh set of strings each time, playing the same musical piece through a clean amp, and making sure to pick at the same position on the string each time.

But a lot of subtle improvements can result in a substantial improvement. That's why attention to small details is important.

Many people are tone deaf and lack any sense of rhythm and are unable to process complex rhythms or complex chord progressions. That's why Pop music exists. But many of those same people are unable to detect subtle changes in sound.

Another huge problem is that there are sooooooo many weak links in the amplification system that it's difficult for people to hear subtle differences. But I'll spare you all and rant about that another time. I just got a shipment of 6 different types ALNICO magnets that I need to grind to shape before I can test them in my pickups. I suspect that those will have a much greater effect than tuning key replacement.

Scott Novak
 

northernguitarguy

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Band decided to cover The Real Me by The Who, so I had to capo up. Clamped the capo to my headstock and was blown away by the added mass' effect on my tone. It was especially noticeable with gobs of distortion and modulation. ;)
 
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AJK1

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So I installed some Grovers on my ol’ beater of a Les Paul and I have to say the tonal improvement with regard to response, sustain and note to note balance across the fretboard is not subtle. The guitar as a whole feels more alive and vibrant.

I know there is a simplistic view that added weight at the end of the headstock deadens the response but this is completely contrary to basic physics. Even acoustic guitar makers know that proper bracing is crucial to enhancing and tuning tonal response.

Prior to the Grovers, The guitar was tonally a bit “unfocused”. The lighter kluson tuners allowed the resonances to either cancel out or dissipate creating a somewhat muddled response plugged in despite the guitar being acoustically quite loud. The Grovers have not lessened the resonances as the guitar still rings out loudly acoustically. However that muddledness when plugged in is gone. Now the guitar has greater definition and punch with plenty of sweet overtones and harmonics that a great Les Paul is able to deliver.

I do think to Grover or not to Grover maybe guitar dependent. Some guitars have a compact and very strong fundamental tone that would be better served with klusons. But acoustically loud Les Pauls especially those that seem to have a tonal response that a little more prominent in the lower mids might very well benefit from them.





I also like the looks, has that old school rock n roll vibe




Have you read the article by Page on why he changed his tuners on his LP ?
 

Pageburst

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I take this as a joke .. so you say the new tuners changed the tone ,,, of your LP?!

That's a good one.
Yeah, a lot of guys way way back in the day thought the idea that the world was round was a joke. It’s amazing how being completely unfamiliar with just some basic principles of physics can make reasonable statements seem like utter hilarity.

it’s been shown via a spectrum analyzer that tuners affect tone. There’s even video rolling around YouTube which demonstrates this. ABR-1 bridges affect tone too. Johan Segeborn , a Youtube treasure for gear lovers, has done various tests on bridges and saddles and the differences are significant, despite the fact that all the ABR bridges and saddles tested look almost identical.

Even lacking a primariy grasp of science, logic would dictate that since tuners couple the strings to the headstock, that tuners of a different size weight and type will affect coupling, and mass thereby affecting vibration and resonance.

Bottom line, I have no agenda other than sharing my honest observations with the forum because that’s what were here for. Feel free to offer a counterpoint, but I don’t think snarky, condescending, incredulity that adds nothing to the topic is particularly called for.
 

Scott A Novak

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It’s amazing how being completely unfamiliar with just some basic principles of physics can make reasonable statements seem like utter hilarity.
Even worse are those that THINK that they understand basic physics, but are unwilling to perform a test to prove out their ridiculous theories. They try to debunk real world tests with theory. Theory needs to conform to the data, not the other way around, otherwise your theory is bogus.

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Pageburst

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Have you read the article by Page on why he changed his tuners on his LP ?
I was always under the oppression that most of the great Les Paul playing guitar icons changed their Klusons to Grovers for alleged superior tuning stability. I guess the minutiae we discuss chasing tone here was less important to the those rock pioneers who created the tone are chasing.

But the why to me, the reasoning is irrelevant. I currently have one Les Paul with Grovers, my other Les Pauls have klusons which I find are reasonably good tuners. I have no agenda here other than sharing my experience with the forum members. Grovers are an inexpensive mod anyone can do. I liked the look and wanted to see if there would be any difference, I never expected the level of improvement I noticed. While tone is subjective, I can say without equivocation that note to note balance, sustain, and overall playability improved significantly. ymmv.
 
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Pageburst

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Even worse are those that THINK that they understand basic physics, but are unwilling to perform a test to prove out their ridiculous theories. They try to debunk real world tests with theory. Theory needs to conform to the data, not the other way around, otherwise your theory is bogus.

Scott Novak
I‘m not sure I understand what you are suggesting here. And while I understand some basic principles of physics I never purported to be a physicist. I shared my genuine observations on this forum after installing Grovers on a Les Paul and offered some possible and plausible explanations as to what I experienced. There is nothing to prove even if I had the time and inclination to do so.

Anyone finding my observations subjectively erroneous can offer their own experiences and observations as a counterpoint. That‘s called engaging in a constructive discussion. Funny, I thought our experience with Govers was more in alignment than not.
 

Dave Makowski

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Yes, I had a 1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom which was 100% factory original except the original owner changed the Kluson Waffle Back Tuning Machines to Grover "Milk Bottles". This necessitated the tuning peg holes to be widened which I wasn't thrilled about. The original owner got the enlarged holes correct however he torked the hex bushings so tight the hex bushing washers left indentations around each hole. The upshot or good news is those old Grover Milk Bottle Tuning Machines keep that LP Custom in near perfect tune. I could pick up that guitar at anytime and the tuning would be spot on. I suppose the Grovers added to the sustain and solid tuning stability. In the end it made for a better guitar.
 

Duane.S

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As we know headstocks are a weak area of electric guitar, the weakest? The greater the headstock angle, the more break angle over the nut, the more angular tension on the on the headstock. Gibsons with a 17 deg. headstock angle have a lot of tension, and if they have a 1 piece neck you will have end grain runout making them even weaker.

With a light set of strings you have over 100 pounds of tension so a vibrating set of strings will have a substantial effect on the headstock. If you add mass to the headstock it will effectively dampening the headstock, and will change its resonant frequency. Also, no 2 pieces of wood have the same strength characteristics, even 2 pieces from the same tree can have a measurable difference. So adding mass to one guitar's headstock will have a large effect and virtually no effect to another.
 
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Dblgun

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This is good alternative if you're after a tuner with Kluson bolt pattern. They're available in both threaded and unthreaded and several finishes and "button" types. They don't seem to be advertised too much by Sperzel but are a pretty cool option.
 

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Jon Petter Westerlund

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I read this with interest, because I have done the opposite - put Kluson (Tone Pros version) on LPs that had either Schallers or Grovers. (though many years ago I would fit Grovers as an improvement, but then that was mainly due to the fact they were better, smoother tuners with a better gear ratio)
Never thought much of the sound difference since in recent years I did it mainly for cosmetic reasons. But I do recall reading an article in TQR (Tone Quest Report) that said the best examples of vintage LPs they had tried (57, 58, 59) all weighed between 8,5 and 9 lbs AND they all had Grovers on them. So there seems to be some consensus about your observations being correct.

Hmmm - now I'm wondering if I should order some Grover sets again. The quest never ends :)
 




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