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Jun 17, 2022 - 2:19:22 PM
135 posts since 4/25/2007

I just started looking for a light open back banjo. I see all these geared tuners. What's the deal?

Jun 17, 2022 - 2:32:11 PM
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jduke

USA

1165 posts since 1/15/2009

I'm guessing you are talking about geared guitar tuners v. banjo planetary tuners. I suspect, the banjos you speak of are ones selling at lower price points and to save costs, a inexpensive geared guitar tuner is cheaper than a planetary tuner, but generally eliminates the frustrations with violin pegs or friction tuners, especially for beginners.

Jun 17, 2022 - 2:44:41 PM
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135 posts since 4/25/2007

Yes, your right. It just doesn't seem right.

Jun 17, 2022 - 2:49:05 PM
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5507 posts since 5/9/2007

People do lots of different things to get themselves a banjer to play.

Resonators on banjos just don’t seem right to me but …

Jun 17, 2022 - 4:16:41 PM
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beegee

USA

23022 posts since 7/6/2005

quote:
Originally posted by canister

Yes, your right. It just doesn't seem right.


There is much in the world that doesn't seem right

Jun 17, 2022 - 6:35:01 PM

79 posts since 1/7/2021

quote:
Originally posted by canister

Yes, your right. It just doesn't seem right.


It's generally easy to replace the tuners with quality banjo-style planetaries.  Smakula has Gotoh tuner sets starting at $65 USD.

It's debatable whether it's a worthwhile upgrade, or an upgrade at all, assuming the guitar-style tuners work ok.  But it's up to the user to determine what makes them happy.

I did the swap on one of my banjos, and don't regret it.

Jun 17, 2022 - 7:01:46 PM
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692 posts since 6/6/2007

Well, Pete Seeger’s most famous long neck banjo had guitar-style tuners on it. That was the hybrid (lignum vitae neck, Tubaphone pot), not the Vega Seeger model they gave him. I guess they were OK for him.

Edited by - DH#52 on 06/17/2022 19:17:58

Jun 17, 2022 - 9:58:25 PM

4506 posts since 5/29/2011

Guitar style tuners are usually used on cheaper banjos but, as was the case with Pete Seeger's banjo, not always. Anyway, if you want a lightweight banjo, planetary pegs are typically heavier than guitar tuners and may throw the neck off balance.

Jun 17, 2022 - 10:05:28 PM
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242 posts since 5/13/2009

Be aware that standard banjo tuners are 4:1 tuning ratio, whereas a typical guitar tuner is 10:1 or greater. So, the guitar tuners, though not traditional, are actually more precise. With some effort Bill Rickard has designed traditional-looking banjo tuners that are 10:1 tuning ratio, providing more precise tuning, but they are more expensive.

Jun 18, 2022 - 4:29:19 AM

36 posts since 4/19/2014

Guitars are produced in much greater numbers than banjos. Usually, when it comes to a small mechanical part like a tuner, the greater the number produced, the lower the cost. That is why they're on less expensive banjos, they can be purchased for less money.
As another poster mentioned, guitar tuners have a much higher gear ratio. As someone who plays both bass and banjo, I am considering changing my tuners from planetary to "cheap guitar tuners" because they're more precise and hold tune better. I don't care if they stick out the side or the back. I just want something that functions well.

Edited by - paulhealey on 06/18/2022 04:29:46

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Jun 18, 2022 - 11:07:28 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

15724 posts since 8/30/2006

Unless they are silky Grovers


 

Jun 20, 2022 - 4:54:52 PM

12265 posts since 10/27/2006

Pete Seeger was using guitar tuners long before the lignum vitae neck. This was his Whyte Laydie, stolen before he went to the Tubaphone with the stretched Orpheum neck and replaced by the lignum vitae neck after the Orpheum was broken at a party. Yes, neither of his Vega PS-5s had guitar tuners.


 

Edited by - mikehalloran on 06/20/2022 16:56:38

Jun 20, 2022 - 5:12:29 PM

12265 posts since 10/27/2006

Dave Guard, more than Pete, is probably responsible for the widespread use of guitar tuners on open backed banjos. The Kingston Trio was beyong Huge before The Beatles. Here are pictures of both his PS-5s. One had multiple sets before he settled on Grover Rotomatics and the other had Kluson Deluxe (nearly impossible to see in the picture of both).




 

Edited by - mikehalloran on 06/20/2022 17:13:52

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