Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

534
Banjo Lovers Online


Apr 18, 2021 - 12:46:31 PM
39 posts since 2/18/2021

A couple of weeks ago I put a set of $20 Chinese planetary tuning machines on an old Kay banjo, and was disappointed that none of them would hold tension. Fair enough, you get what you pay for, I figured.

Having learned my lesson, last night I replaced the guitar style tuners on my Gold Tone with a set of Gotoh planetary tuners and got the exact same result. Knowing the Gotohs are good quality tuning machines made me suspect that the button screw had to be tightened (it's the only thing you *can* tighten after all and the Gotoh button screws are suspiciously beefy), and that was, in fact, the case.

So now even the cheap Chinese tuners are working.. yay! I had no idea that the button screw served a purpose other than keeping the button from falling off! In all the YouTube videos I watched on how to install planetary tuning machines, I never heard mention of any adjustment being required.

So here's my question: how do you set the right amount of force/tension on the screw?

Obviously, you want exactly as much as is needed and no more, but I'm wondering if the pros out there have any advice on how to achieve this? Thanks!

Apr 18, 2021 - 12:54:50 PM
likes this

banjonz

New Zealand

11132 posts since 6/29/2003

This is a subjective area. For me, the screw is tightened just enough to give a smooth turning action but not too loose for the tuner to back turn against the tension of the strings. Tighten the screw in small increments until you find a tension you are happy with so that the tuner can turn smoothly in both directions.

Apr 18, 2021 - 1:14:02 PM

39 posts since 2/18/2021

quote:
Originally posted by banjonz

This is a subjective area. For me, the screw is tightened just enough to give a smooth turning action but not too loose for the tuner to back turn against the tension of the strings. Tighten the screw in small increments until you find a tension you are happy with so that the tuner can turn smoothly in both directions.


OK, that's pretty much what I tried to do, was just wondering if there was some other trick I wasn't aware of, thanks.

Apr 18, 2021 - 1:20:36 PM
likes this

Alex Z

USA

4214 posts since 12/7/2006

Trial and error, as Mr. Wayne explains.

Under tightened, tuner doesn't hold where you set it, but slips back a little bit.  Overtightened, the tuner "jumps" as you start to  turn it because too much force is needed to overcome the static friction -- making tiny adjustments difficult.

Plenty of room in between for individual feel.

Apr 18, 2021 - 1:32:25 PM

13527 posts since 6/29/2005

I have had that happen on  two occasions—once with some older 5-Star planetary tuners that wouldn't stay tuned, and once with some of the cheap eBay ones I bought "experimentally" to see how they would work, and they didn't work very well.

Having said that, I think there are varying expectations in terms of these things and you learn to fiddle with the tightening screws.

In terms of the worm-and-screw guitar type ones, I have never seen one of those fail.

Apr 18, 2021 - 3:44:37 PM

banjonz

New Zealand

11132 posts since 6/29/2003

The generic Chinese made cheapy tuners are a bit of a lottery. These are mainly on most Asian made instruments. I had some fail on a Recording King Californian banjo. There is one make of Chinese tuners which to my mind, seem to be better. These are the ones from Tony Tsai. He has a presence on Ebay. Here is the listing 380936561534. I don't think they are on par with the Gotohs but they do seem to work ok. I have installed a number of these sets and they appear to work nice and smoothly.

Apr 18, 2021 - 4:48:48 PM
like this

13896 posts since 10/30/2008

O Lord, I'm sure someone is going to come up with a tuning peg screw tension torque meter now.

Apr 18, 2021 - 6:52:55 PM

39 posts since 2/18/2021

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

O Lord, I'm sure someone is going to come up with a tuning peg screw tension torque meter now.


Ha ha, maybe so. Since guitar type tuners with a worm gear can't be back-driven from the the tuning post, I assumed (incorrectly) that planetary tuners would act the same way. So I was surprised to find out that friction actually does play a part in keeping the tuning post in place.

Now that I think about how planetary gears work, it makes sense though and just hope that the planetary tuning machines aren't as touchy as friction pegs over their lifetime.

Apr 18, 2021 - 7:30:50 PM

8447 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I have had that happen on  two occasions—once with some older 5-Star planetary tuners that wouldn't stay tuned, and once with some of the cheap eBay ones I bought "experimentally" to see how they would work, and they didn't work very well.

Having said that, I think there are varying expectations in terms of these things and you learn to fiddle with the tightening screws.

In terms of the worm-and-screw guitar type ones, I have never seen one of those fail.


Believe it or not, I have seen a guitar type tuner fail. It was very old, very cheap, and had probably been mistreated for a century or so. If I recall, the tabs holding the worm gear had loosened from the backing plate so the worm gear no longer properly engaged the gear on the tuner post. 

Apr 19, 2021 - 4:09:29 AM
like this

hbick2

USA

338 posts since 6/26/2004

One other thing. Carry a small screwdriver in you case. As you tune, and retune, sometimes the tuners become loose again. I tighten mine to a point just before they become difficult to turn. They should not be difficult.

Some tuners have oversized screws that have a wide slot. You can take a dime and tighten them. This, of course, assumes that a banjo player has a dime.

Apr 19, 2021 - 4:47:09 AM

2772 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

Resistance is good at preventing unwarranted tuning. Resistance is bad when tuning is nearly impossible. The correct tension is where unwarranted is prevented and tuning is possible.

With Keith Tuners, tension has to be sufficient to prevent unwarranted detuning. Yet, Keith Tuners are for warranted D-tuning. A leather washer allows the operation to happen.

I wonder if compressible washers could be used to prevent pegs buttons from being cracked. I have a package of 5th tuning buttons just in case I get over zealous at tightening the screw tension.

I have cracked one before. They were Schallers. That set fell apart. Yes. Being cheap has its down sides.

Apr 19, 2021 - 5:18:08 AM

13527 posts since 6/29/2005

Some guitar tuners have metal buttons, like the Grover Rotomatics, for example.  You only very rarely see electric bass tuners (or string bass tuners, for that matter) with anything but metal "buttons", for good reason, I'm sure.

In terms of the worm-and-gear arrangement, most likely invented by Archimedes, it works most smoothly if the worm is made from a softer material than the gear, usually brass vs steel, and I have seen very old ones of the open kind where the worm gets worn down, but they still work unless actually broken, as G Edward Porgie said.

I have never understood why the worm/gear arrangement isn't used on banjos, having been popular briefly during the great folk scare—it has to be some aesthetic or path dependent thing, but I don't get it.

Apr 19, 2021 - 8:37:15 AM

2561 posts since 6/19/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

Some guitar tuners have metal buttons, like the Grover Rotomatics, for example.  You only very rarely see electric bass tuners (or string bass tuners, for that matter) with anything but metal "buttons", for good reason, I'm sure.

In terms of the worm-and-gear arrangement, most likely invented by Archimedes, it works most smoothly if the worm is made from a softer material than the gear, usually brass vs steel, and I have seen very old ones of the open kind where the worm gets worn down, but they still work unless actually broken, as G Edward Porgie said.

I have never understood why the worm/gear arrangement isn't used on banjos, having been popular briefly during the great folk scare—it has to be some aesthetic or path dependent thing, but I don't get it.

 


Are you sure you don't have that backwards?  Almost all the ones I've seen have a brass gear and a steel worm. 

As far as why the worm/gear tuners aren't popular on banjos, I think it is because they look hideous on a traditional banjo peg head.  Just my opinion of course.  I always use planetaries (or better, Rickard Cyclone) tuners on tradition peg heads, and always use worm/gear on straight sided peg heads, including slotted.  

Apr 19, 2021 - 2:11:27 PM

39 posts since 2/18/2021

Jon, I believe you're right, the gear is usually brass and the worm gear is steel (but I bet someone has made one the other way around).

One of the disadvantages of the worm gear mechanism is backlash, which gets worse over time with wear. With backlash in your tuners, you have to get into the habit of carefully approaching the correct pitch from the flat side (increasing tension toward sharp) so that the backlash doesn't come into play.

IIRC, planetary gears have little backlash (certainly a lot less than worm gears), so that's one advantage at least (besides looking better).

waverly

Edited by - Clutch Cargo on 04/19/2021 14:16:23

Apr 19, 2021 - 5:23:08 PM

13527 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Jonnycake White
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

Some guitar tuners have metal buttons, like the Grover Rotomatics, for example.  You only very rarely see electric bass tuners (or string bass tuners, for that matter) with anything but metal "buttons", for good reason, I'm sure.

In terms of the worm-and-gear arrangement, most likely invented by Archimedes, it works most smoothly if the worm is made from a softer material than the gear, usually brass vs steel, and I have seen very old ones of the open kind where the worm gets worn down, but they still work unless actually broken, as G Edward Porgie said.

I have never understood why the worm/gear arrangement isn't used on banjos, having been popular briefly during the great folk scare—it has to be some aesthetic or path dependent thing, but I don't get it.

 


Are you sure you don't have that backwards?  Almost all the ones I've seen have a brass gear and a steel worm. 

As far as why the worm/gear tuners aren't popular on banjos, I think it is because they look hideous on a traditional banjo peg head.  Just my opinion of course.  I always use planetaries (or better, Rickard Cyclone) tuners on tradition peg heads, and always use worm/gear on straight sided peg heads, including slotted.  


You could be right, but I think I've seen some very worn old brass worm gears.

Back in the 60s all the folk singers used worm gear tuners on Vega Seegers, and the original ODES had them, too.

Apr 19, 2021 - 6:11:59 PM

8447 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Clutch Cargo

Jon, I believe you're right, the gear is usually brass and the worm gear is steel (but I bet someone has made one the other way around).

One of the disadvantages of the worm gear mechanism is backlash, which gets worse over time with wear. With backlash in your tuners, you have to get into the habit of carefully approaching the correct pitch from the flat side (increasing tension toward sharp) so that the backlash doesn't come into play.

IIRC, planetary gears have little backlash (certainly a lot less than worm gears), so that's one advantage at least (besides looking better).

waverly


All gear systems are subject to backlash. I've had more trouble with planetaries than guitar tuners. I have yet to try the Rickards, though.

There are tricks to tuning using any tuner and one has to get used to them.  

Apr 20, 2021 - 6:37:10 AM

hbick2

USA

338 posts since 6/26/2004

Regardless of the type of tuner, always tune up to the note rather than down. If you tune down to the note, sometimes the string hangs up a little on the nut. When you begin playing, it slips on through, lowering the pitch. This is especially true with wound strings. If, after tuning, your note is a little sharp, give a tug on it and often it will lower its pitch slightly.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.171875