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Apr 7, 2020 - 1:28:56 PM
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29 posts since 3/4/2017

Hi All:

Looking for recommendations for a new set of D-Tuners. I've had a set of Keith Tuners before and I like them...actually my only complaint is the default button shape and color that they come with (I wish they were customizable or someone made custom buttons that fit the tuner).

But I digress, what are the favorite D-Tuners out there??? Are the Keith Tuners the "Mercedes" of the options out there? What about Schaller? Looking for reviews and recommendations. Obviously, function is my number one priority!

Jeff

Apr 7, 2020 - 1:49:38 PM

641 posts since 11/7/2003

General consensus is gonna be that Keith tuners are better than Schaller.   Greg Boyd used to make custom buttons for Keith tuners.  https://gregboyd.com/ 

Search keith vs schaller and you'll get lots of opinions.

Apr 7, 2020 - 2:01:36 PM

10742 posts since 2/12/2011

Keith - cosmetics are overrated

Apr 7, 2020 - 2:08:18 PM
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2048 posts since 1/16/2010

Hoppers Cam D-tuners!

Apr 7, 2020 - 2:40:54 PM
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319 posts since 11/17/2015

Mighty D Tuners

Apr 7, 2020 - 4:22:11 PM
Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

5181 posts since 10/12/2009

There are sources for different knobs for Keith D-tuners.....here's one, I can't recall the others at this moment......

https://gregboyd.com/product/amber-fly-cut/

Apr 7, 2020 - 8:57:57 PM

3884 posts since 9/21/2009
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Keith's are the best D-tuners I've used.

Apr 8, 2020 - 6:26:21 AM

3012 posts since 5/29/2011

If function is more important than cosmetics then Cheat-a-Keys are great D tuners. Some people don't like the clunky looking design but they are built to use, not look at. The D tuner mechanisms are seperate from the tuning pegs so you can change to tunings outside the perameters of G and D tunings without having to unlock anything. You can change strings without having to reset them. They both turn the same direction and the knobs are preset at an easy angle to turn.
My one dislike is that they use the same pearloid plastic knobs that Stewart MacDonald used for years. I changed the knobs on the first two sets but my newest set won't take standard knobs because the shafts are too big.

Apr 8, 2020 - 9:04:35 AM
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1955 posts since 1/10/2004

Cheat-a-Keys have the easiest and smoothest function in my experience, and feel more like cam tuners. But not really an option (or full option) if you want four tuners. And many people think they're ugly. Many pros use them for function however. They only work in the all-turn-the-same-way fashion though, which I prefer.

Keiths are the traditional choice for the past 50 years and deserve their high regard. They are as good as that particular design can get, and I enjoy using them.

Apr 8, 2020 - 9:24:56 AM

29 posts since 3/4/2017

I appreciate all the excellent feedback!

Apr 8, 2020 - 12:20:22 PM

GStump

USA

359 posts since 9/12/2006

The Keith tuners probably are the best made tuner available. Yep, finding buttons to match your other 2 or 3 can sometimes be frustrating. They do NOT require any extra holes in the peghead, a must for keeping a banjo original. Once drilled, those extra holes in the peghead sure are unsightly. AND they have a lifetime warranty - if anything goes wrong with them, send them back to beacon banjo co. and they will be fixed up good as new, and all you pay is the shipping I think.
The "add on" type, such as cheata' - keys, Ugly tuners, Apollo tuners, also all work very well. It has been my experience that no matter how much care you use in mounting them, if ever removed there will be some slight marring to the surface of the peghead overlay. IF you don't mind the extra holes in the peghead, then cam tuners, hopper tuners, or something like that is a good choice, AND if the banjo already has holes in the peghead, of course you should use those, that's a no brainer. It mostly comes down to personal choice. I have used, and have all types on my various banjos!! Schaller D tuners also work very well, and function and look pretty much like the Keith D tuners, BUT - if they ever go bad, you may as well throw them away. Can't be fixed or repaired, I think they come with a 1 year warranty.

Apr 8, 2020 - 1:33:53 PM

4119 posts since 6/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Bradskey

Cheat-a-Keys . . . only work in the all-turn-the-same-way fashion though, which I prefer.
 


Except for Randy Lynn Rag and any other tune where you use them to tune up instead of down.

I've been using Cheat-A-Keys since 2003 and really, really like them. I find them lots of fun to use. Maybe it's because they bend the strings whereas Keiths and Schallers retune them. I can't swear I hear a difference, but I think I do.

This is not at all a knock on Keiths and Schallers. I have them, too, and they work very well. My first set of Keiths, which date back to the late '70s, are still going strong 40+ years later.

Apr 8, 2020 - 1:43:03 PM

Alex Z

USA

3799 posts since 12/7/2006

"Auld Lang Syne" is worth the price of having 4 Keith tuners.  Even if you play it only a few times per year, in late December and early January.  smiley

Apr 8, 2020 - 2:12:48 PM

Mooooo

USA

7816 posts since 8/20/2016

quote:
Originally posted by arnie fleischer
quote:
Originally posted by Bradskey

Cheat-a-Keys . . . only work in the all-turn-the-same-way fashion though, which I prefer.
 


Except for Randy Lynn Rag and any other tune where you use them to tune up instead of down.

I've been using Cheat-A-Keys since 2003 and really, really like them. I find them lots of fun to use. Maybe it's because they bend the strings whereas Keiths and Schallers retune them. I can't swear I hear a difference, but I think I do.

This is not at all a knock on Keiths and Schallers. I have them, too, and they work very well. My first set of Keiths, which date back to the late '70s, are still going strong 40+ years later.

 


Arnie, you have Keith and Schallers. Can you tell any difference between them when you're using them? Aside from warrantee differences, would you say that you get your money's worth out of them? Or are your Keiths that much better? I am interested because I would like to try them out. I have Cheat-a-keys, but I want to try out the Schallers...I don't have the money for the Keith Tuners and they would take me a very long time to save up. Thanks.

Edited by - Mooooo on 04/08/2020 14:14:24

Apr 8, 2020 - 3:36:49 PM
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4119 posts since 6/15/2005

Mike, I think the Schallers work fine. The set I have were on a 1991 Stelling Golden Cross when I acquired it in 1999, and they still function perfectly. They may not be quite as smooth as Keith tuners, but they more than get the job done.

That said, both the Schallers and the Keiths that I have were acquired long before I discovered Cheat-A-Keys. As much as I like them, I don't think I'd use anything other than Cheat-A-Keys now. Since you already have Cheat-A-Keys, you know they are precise, retain their settings through string changes, rarely need adjustment and can easily be moved from one banjo to another. May I ask why you're thinking about trying something else?

Apr 8, 2020 - 10:04:14 PM

Mooooo

USA

7816 posts since 8/20/2016

arnie fleischer, Sorry to take so long to reply.

I've always wanted a set of Keiths but could never afford them, so I'm thinking Schallers would let me see how I like that style of D-Tuners...and to get that huge chunk of Cheat-a-keys off my headstock. Usually I have a Shubb fine tune capo, one of those little planet waves capos for above the 5th fret, Cheat-a-keys and a Planet Waves micro tuner, all camping above the neck. I figure if I like the Schallers and how they work, maybe I can save up for some Keith Tuners down the line and have less clutter on the peghead.

Apr 9, 2020 - 4:25:04 AM

4476 posts since 11/20/2004

I have had two sets of older Schallers that worked fine for me, but not everyone has the same good fortune. I now have only Keith's on banjos. Most of the Keith's were bought used and have never had any issues outside of grease hardening and needing cleaning. I have sent some back to Keith for service and have done some myself.
I have seen used ones here in marketplace recently for @ $125 or less. I would suggest watching for used Keith's. If you find you don't like them, you can get your money right back, and if you like them, you will have better tuners

Apr 9, 2020 - 8:17:53 AM

4119 posts since 6/15/2005

Understood, Mike. However . . .

I hope you don't mind my saying that I think stowing the Planet Waves capo as well as the Shubb above the nut is overkill, especially given how rare it is to capo above the fourth fret (for me, it's never).

True, that little Planet Waves capo is a neat all-purpose device that works well at any fret (so why not use it for the first four frets as well). I had one but lost it. How did I lose it? It was clamped securely (so I thought) above the nut but it fell off at a gig somewhere between the door and the stage and was never found.

And that Planet Waves/D'Addario mini tuner clipped onto the headstock is great too, but it's also available in a version with attached flaps that you mount on the hooks above the resonator, which is even more convenient and unobtrusive. I have one and use it all the time. Around $20.

I'd keep the Cheat-A-Keys, forget about Schallers or Keiths, and declutter in these two other ways.

Edited by - arnie fleischer on 04/09/2020 08:24:10

Apr 9, 2020 - 8:34:08 AM

Mooooo

USA

7816 posts since 8/20/2016

quote:
Originally posted by arnie fleischer

Understood, Mike. However . . .

I'd keep the Cheat-A-Keys, forget about Schallers or Keiths, and declutter in these two other ways.


Well, I'm going to try the Schallers just to see which I prefer. My question was only to find out if I should skip the schallers and just save up for the Keiths. But since they seem to work the same and nearly as well as the Keiths, I will experiment with the cheaper ones and if I like them get some keith tuners and have some on 4 strings when I replace them (I will probably only use them on the lower 3 strings). If I find the Keith tuners very cheap, I will buy them, but it is rare that they are offered at a really low price when I have enough to afford them.

Apr 9, 2020 - 8:59:33 AM
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1955 posts since 1/10/2004

I had some new Schallers a year or two ago, and the shaft for the tuner knob is no longer square, but D shaped. Meaning there is no longer any adjustment of the tuner button rotation once you get the stops set. It's a comfort and accuracy issue when you go to grab that D tuner during a song.

Apr 9, 2020 - 9:13:23 AM

1231 posts since 7/12/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

"Auld Lang Syne" is worth the price of having 4 Keith tuners.  Even if you play it only a few times per year, in late December and early January.  smiley


This. :)

Seriously, I find the 4th string D tuner very useful to go into C tuning for Home Sweet Home and playing classic-style pieces. I also set my 2nd to tune up to C most of the time, which makes double C much more inviting. The only tuner I haven't found a real use for is the first. Except Auld Lang Syne, that is.

Edited by - waystation on 04/09/2020 09:14:54

Apr 9, 2020 - 9:18:42 AM

1231 posts since 7/12/2004

I bought a set of amber buttons from Bill Keith years ago, with splined holes to fit the shafts on his tuners. They use a standard screw instead of the big thumbnut for tensioning. Bill warned me that I'd probably have to send him the buttons and tuners for a precise fit, or else the small amount of play would loosen the screws, which can't be tightened by hand. He said there are slight variations in the shape of the splines and he couldn't guarantee that the buttons he sold me would match the tuners I had. He was right - they didn't. The buttons are in the case now, and the tuners have the buttons they originally came with.

I bought a matching square shaft button for the 5th string tuner, but I don't use that anymore either.

Apr 9, 2020 - 9:25:56 AM

4119 posts since 6/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by waystation
quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

"Auld Lang Syne" is worth the price of having 4 Keith tuners.  Even if you play it only a few times per year, in late December and early January.  smiley


This. :)

Seriously, I find the 4th string D tuner very useful to go into C tuning for Home Sweet Home and playing classic-style pieces. I also set my 2nd to tune up to C most of the time, which makes double C much more inviting. The only tuner I haven't found a real use for is the first. Except Auld Lang Syne, that is.


Bear Tracks?

Apr 10, 2020 - 1:25:22 AM
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maxmax

Sweden

1410 posts since 8/1/2005

The Mighty D-Tuners (formerly Apollo Tuners ) also bend the strings like Cheat-A-Keys do. Once set, they stay in tune and are always ready to use. You get strong tape to attach them to the back of the peghead and apparently you can remove them without scarring the banjo as well.

They have a longer throw than Cheat-A-Keys, which some people like and others don't (I personally prefer it) and are much more discrete looking. Their drawback is that they are limited to only being able to tune the b string a whole step and the g string a half step.

And for what it's worth, they have great customer service as well.

Apr 10, 2020 - 4:41:38 AM

2626 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

I went with Schaller D Tuners early when I was learning Scruggs, I still have them, in two pieces. Both fell off when playing. That is when I went with Keith Tuners.

The archives may show the finish damage caused by Cheat-a-Keys on the peghead. No discussion was offered then as to the type of finish impacted. I do know some plastic rubber buffers can degrade finish. I have stopped using a banjo stand because of the damage it caused.

I have not noticed any current complaints. You are welcomed to try.

Sonny Osborne makes his Ugly Tuners. His are cam type Tuners.

Apr 10, 2020 - 10:41:15 AM
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Alex Z

USA

3799 posts since 12/7/2006

For Auld Lang Syne, I probably could use 4 Keith tuners PLUS one cam tuner to get the C note instead of yanking the second string with your finger.  How's that for potential overkill.  One time I hit the point of a string wrap that was in exactly the wrong place and sticking out about 1/32" too far.  Bled over the remainder of the tune.

A peghead could get very heavy, with all the paraphernalia that can be attached to it.  Keith tuners are about double the weight of a standard tuner, cam tuners, a couple of capos, electronic tuner, and the vacuum cleaner metal cover to hide everything, just like Mr. Earl.

We might need a computer controlled device or a second player to operate the equipment, maybe even voice activated.  "In 6 more beats, turn the 2nd string Keith tuner counter-clockwise. . . . Turn the tuner NOW . . . . recalibrating (you missed it, dummy)."  smiley

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