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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Scruggs tuners?

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Bufo Bill - Posted - 09/05/2011:  06:27:26

What are Scruggs tuners? I ask because I was thinking of buying a custom fit banjo case ( a sort of weird "pride and Joy" anxiety thing ), and the order form asks if they are fitted to the banjo. I looked at a Google image search and all I could see were geared violin style tuners ( have I even got that term right? Where the tuners are aligned from front to back in the headstock, not at the sides of the headstock? ).

As you can see, I need help on this matter.

If it helps to say what doesn't constitute Scruggs pegs, the banjo in question  is old (1880s), and has front to back Friction pegs. I know Scruggs isn't that old so I am guessing that these differ in some way, I'm just checking though because of the picture search I mentioned.

Many thanks from Bill.

Woolpersteve - Posted - 09/05/2011:  06:41:22

The Scruggs tuner name sort of replaced the original name as built by Bill Keith . I'd search for his Keith Tuners although I am not sure why they would alter a case design. The only other possibility could be using the term "Scruggs tuners " to mean the old cam style ones he made and covered with a small metal box to hide their workings. I dont even think they should alter the case though. Confused the more I think about it.

coelhoe - Posted - 09/05/2011:  06:44:49

Hard to imagine that someone doesn't know this reference, but perhaps the popularity of these things has begun to wane.

Scruggs initially composed a few instrumentals that used a change of pitch on the G and B strings during the performance. While he was usually able to correctly make the change from G to F#, and B to A, and back again, he devised devices that allowed him to make this change consistently. These devices eventually became additional pegs drilled into the peghead and extending some greater distance out the back so as to be easily found while playing on stage. However, the use of these required damaging an often valuable instrument, something that may players resisted doing. In the early 60's, Bill Keith and Dan Bump designed a tuning peg with an internal mechanism that would replace the existing pegs without making any alteration to the instrument. At first, these were just for the G and B pegs, but later these "Keith-Scruggs" or just "Keith" pegs were also developed for the two D strings, and are even used now on electric guitars.

While many people have these "Keith" type pegs, not many actually play the tunes that use them.

I expect that your reference is to the earlier Scruggs type that extended through the back of the peghead. As you say, not likely an issue on an 1880's instrument.

Bufo Bill - Posted - 09/05/2011:  06:48:48

No, it's very weird, I wondered if they had extra large "grip" sections or something . . .

Thanks for the help and quick response .

All the best from Bill.

peewee - Posted - 09/05/2011:  07:08:11

Yes the Scruggs tuner / Keith D tuners are longer than a normal geared tuner.  In fact there about twice as long.  Most likely this would cause your custom case to be deeper in the peg head area to accommodate the Scruggs tuners normally found on the 2nd and 3rd string position.

5-stringreiny - Posted - 09/05/2011:  07:54:43

Although longer than standard tuners, I would submit that they're not that much longer, and certainly wouldn't require any special case...


kmwaters - Posted - 09/05/2011:  08:25:53

Here's the Bob Kerr interview with Bill all about his tuners and the history.

Scruggs Keith Tuners


Bufo Bill - Posted - 09/05/2011:  13:21:21

Wow, thanks for all the information which without exception is completely new to me, I especially enjoyed the PDF article , very informative  so thanks very much to you all.

Many thanks from Bill.

AKUSfan2 - Posted - 09/05/2011:  13:46:17

Here is a pair of Scruggs tuners that date back to around 1964.



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