Tuning Machines

  • Electric Guitar Tuning Machines are found in four varieties.
  • Open Gearing (Near extinct in use with electrics),
  • Old Style Stamped Gear Housing
  • Cast Housing (Sealed with permanent lubrication)
  • Locking Cast Housing. Within these four catagories you'll find models with different gear ratios, varying weight, and build quality.

The primary manufacturers at present are Grover, Schaller, Gotoh, Sperzel, Kluson, Kulson/Tonepro, and Planet Waves. Guitar manufacturers who have their own names stamped on the tuners on their guitars purchased them from one of these companies.

The first type, Open Gearing, while still commonly found on acoustic guitars and some electric basses, is rarely seen on electric guitars. Some hollow bodies or jazz guitars or guitars built to look especially vintage use them, but, I can't think of a single Dino guitar made today that comes standard with these. They need cleaning and lubricating. Their only good point is their lighter weight addition to the headstock. Overall, forget them.

The second type, Old Style Stamped Gear Housing, are still quite common. Many manufacturers use them. They are tried and true. While needing some minor maintenance / lubrication they seldom are a problem and work quite nicely.

The third type are the more modern Cast Housing which are virtually maintenance free. Other than keeping things tightened up your pretty much good to go. Many of these come with adjustable knob tension so you can choose between easy to turn or tighter for accuracy.

The fourth type is identical to type three except it adds, and this is far more than just a convenience, the ability to lock the string within the tuner's post with no wraps required around the outside of the post. String slippage is reduced to a minimum and the need for retuning is also greatly reduced.

Within these four types you will find multiple gear ratios ranging from 12:1 up to 18:1 with 12:1 offering the fewest turns to achieve the desired pitch and 18:1 offering the most accuracy for fine tuning.

I've listed a few examples of the more common types, two through four, below.

Schaller M-6 guitar tuners. Cast housing. 12:1 gear ratio.

Schaller M-6 Mini guitar tuners. Cast housing. 14:1 gear ratio.

Schaller Locking guitar tuners. Cast housing. 16:1 gear ratio. External thumbscrew for locking.

Grover Rotomatics Full Size. Cast housing. 14:1 or 18:1 gear ratio.

Grover Rotomatics Mid Size. Cast housing. 18:1 gear ratio.

Grover Rotomatics Mini Size. Cast housing. 14:1 gear ratio.

Grover Locking Full Size. Cast housing. 18:1 gear ratio. Auto locking.

Grover Locking Mini Size. Cast housing. 18:1 gear ratio. Auto locking.

Grover Deluxe Keystones. Stamped Gear housing. 14:1 gear ratio.

Sperzel Trim-Lok. Cast housing. 12:1 gear ratio. External thumbscrew for locking.

Planet Waves Auto-Trim. Cast housing. 18:1 gear ratio. Auto trims string and locks

Gotoh 510 Mid Size. Cast housing. 18:1 gear ratio.

Gotoh 510 Mini Size. Cast Housing. 18:1 gear ratio.

Gotoh Vintage. Stamped gear housing. 15:1 gear ratio. Scalloped, Keystone or Oval knobs

Gotoh locking Vintage. Stamped gear housing. 15:1 gear ratio. Auto locking.

Gotoh Schaller Type Large or Mini. Cast housing. 16:1 gear ratio.

Gotoh Keystone. Cast housing. 16:1 gear ratio.