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Thread: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

  1. #1
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Lots of tuner threads, but I don't see where anyone has mentioned a tuner damaging his/her mandolin or how to keep it from happening. Thoughts?

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    If you are worried about the finish or bumping the tuner into the wood of the mandolin then just clip the tuner onto the mandolin as needed. No need to keep it on the instrument permanently. Store it in the case, tune up as needed and put it away from the instrument. Generally modern tuners won't harm the instrument but if you are worried, then...
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    FWIW, I've had Planet Waves (and predecessor D'Addario) NS-Micro and NS-Mini tuners clipped onto various Gibson, Flatiron, & Rover mandolins, as well as Martin & Fender guitars, for months and/or years since they first came out 10 or more years ago, with no signs of damage. My '72 Martin D-35 (nitrocellulose finish) is probably the star, with even earlier Stew-Mac sourced clip-ons continuously since '08, with still no sign of damage.

    The trick, if any, is probably to stick with recognized brand names that use chemically-inert (my own terminology!) cushioning material. Do note that THE long-time recognized finish destroyer is a cheapo vinyl strap pressed against the instrument for months or years inside a case, but it seems they've become pretty rare.
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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    I've had a D'Addario micro tuner on my Alvarez for ages. Not too concerned about that one (no damage, BTW), but my new baby Weber . . . .

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Quite a few discussions about it can be found here. The applicable threads should jump out at you. Jim's advice is best, use it when you need it. I have been using clip on tuners on my Gibson for years. No marks but I generally don't have it on for more than about 4 or 5 hours at a time.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    I leave them on...I think the on and off constantly is what can cause wear.
    I’m about to demo Scott Ruttencutter’s stuck on adaptation for my Peterson Stroboclip.
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    I got along for decades before the electronic tuner was invented. If you’re paranoid about damage, buy a tuning fork!

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  11. #8

    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Put it on tune it, take it off, and rely on your ears as to if you need to put it back on.

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Quite a few discussions about it can be found here. The applicable threads should jump out at you. Jim's advice is best, use it when you need it. I have been using clip on tuners on my Gibson for years. No marks but I generally don't have it on for more than about 4 or 5 hours at a time.
    Thanks for the link, Mike. I see now I should have narrowed down my search.

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    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    I think I posted this somewhere years ago. The second mandolin I built has a well-known violin spirit varnish french polish finish that is famous for taking forever to cure. Well over a year after the finish hardened, I put a new snark tuner on the head stock for about 3 hours at a jam. The rubber pads pressed into the finish. Totally unexpected. I think Snark changed their pads since then. I could repair the finish on the head stock, but I haven't. It is a reminder to put the tuner on only while tuning. It's a good habit that is not difficult. I've never had another problem with that.
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    It does not (because) I don't leave it On
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  16. #12

    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMatt View Post
    I leave them on...I think the on and off constantly is what can cause wear.
    I’m about to demo Scott Ruttencutter’s stuck on adaptation for my Peterson Stroboclip.
    What is that all about? I've been eyeing the peterson as the Snark SuperTight super sucks.

  17. #13
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    The finish damage caused by something small, like a D'Addario Micro tuner, is truly inconsequential. The tuner jaw pads they're using these days are designed to minimize any damage. If you are really THAT worried about it (and I wouldn't be, myself), then you have these options to consider:

    1) Only place the tuner on the headstock when you're actively using it. The downside here is that attaching and detaching the tuner always takes time, and the tuner is not instantly available when you may want or need it.

    2) Place some kind of soft, inert material between the tuner jaws and the headstock, and leave it on the headstock -- use something that you trust not to mar the finish. For example, you could cut out and use a small piece of real chamois (or very soft leather), or a thin segment of microfiber cloth, or a fine strip of silicone rubber (this is NOT a true rubber; it's inert, and similar material to what's used in many cell phone cases).

    3) Just decide to LIVE WITH IT! Any finish damage is likely to be pretty inconsequential. Unless your mandolin has a soft (and not quite hardened) varnish finish on it, most modern poly or nitro lacquers will tolerate with tuner without much trouble, regardless. At worst, you might mind up with some minor scuff marks. These marks are certain not to change the sound of your mandolin. Unless it's a valuable collector's instrument -- and yours isn't! -- like a Lloyd Loar-signed Gibson F5, it won't affect the resale value. And you can always have such marks buffed out, if you feel it necessary, prior to a sale.

    Tiny wear marks are an inevitable consequence of use. Mandolins are made to be played and enjoyed. Don't fret the little stuff. Heck, some folks even pay extra to get their new-looking mandolins "distressed." I've never quite understood the logic or the aesthetic behind that, though!

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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    “I've never quite understood the logic or the aesthetic behind that, though!”
    Flawless fake history - it’s American preference, since few of us are living anything but migratory lives shorn of long histories and objects. We have it in furniture, architecture, even instruments. Hereabouts, the new McMansions often come decorator-supplied with bookcases filled with old books that will never be opened.
    String instruments, patterned with wear, like violin shadings, sunbursts, and matte seem to connect us with a personal or genre history - a harmless conceit.
    So I’ll buy that faux-Tudor house, with spray gun distressed furniture, rough plaster walls, daguerrotypes of imaginary ancestors, and a mandolin strangely patterned on a late Art Nouveau novelty.
    But I want all my new stuff to be flawless; no edge tears on those old books, no spliced leg on the sideboard, no pick strikes or, heaven forbid, a tuner smudge, a mismatched button, or an old cable jack on that mandolin. Simply not acceptable.

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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Well, I can see your point about American culture and emphasis on perfection. Interesting point. When it comes to expensive instruments though, I am with Sherry, if I can take good care of my nice mandolins, I am going to do my best.
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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    My motivation for starting this thread was my teacher who insisted I not leave my micro-tuner on 24/7. (She is a professional violinist with a $30K violin.) I have more concern about taking the tuner on and off, as some have said, than leaving it on. I believe sblock's #2 suggestion will make both my teacher and me happy. She even made a similar suggestion.

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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Simple answer: it will damage the finish and leave a mark. If that is important to you, just use another type of tuner. Here's proof: go to any well-stocked used guitar shop (or pawn shop) and just glance at the pegheads, regardless of model and price -- allowing the light to reflect and you will see many odd, rectangular marks that are confusing, at first, then it dawns on you -- tuner and capo marks. It has become somewhat accepted, like door dings on cars, in the used instrument market, FWIW. I own a used USA Martin guitar with an ugly capo mark on the peghead, but I bought it knowing it was there and given the price I paid I still thought it was a good deal -- but, in this case, it wasn't a mint or near mint guitar, so it wasn't a dealbreaker for me.

    I think people see pros with peghead tuners left on during performances and think that is how it is done. Pros have different concerns and needs and they can "write-off" wear and tear on their taxes, so...

    To be safe, don't put an $8 peghead tuner anywhere near a nice mandolin, IMHO....

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    ...To be safe, don't put an $8 peghead tuner anywhere near a nice mandolin, IMHO....
    I agree. It must cost at least $15.00 before you are allowed to leave it on your headstock. Words to live by.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I agree. It must cost at least $15.00 before you are allowed to leave it on your headstock. Words to live by.
    Ha ha, language is funny. Word choice can be everything.
    Here's one I heard yesterday:

    A woman asked her husband to go to the store. She said, "Get a carton of milk, and if they have avocados get six."
    The man returned home with six cartons of milk and no avocados.
    His wife asked, "Why did you get six cartons of milk?"
    The man replied, "They had avocados."

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    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    The issue with a tuner that is not already attached is that it takes as much as a half minute to figure out where it is, go get it, fumble with picking it up and attaching it, turn it on, be sure it's on the right setting, and another 5 seconds to take it off and decide where to put it this time so you can find it quicker. More often closer to 15 seconds total if the player has created a disciplined habit about tuning. I clip my tuner to the edge of a pocket or belt loop after the initial tune up. It takes almost 2 seconds to have it on the instrument and ready to go, and another second to take it off. How do you decide that certain pads and materials are trustworthy to leave on all the time? How do you know how the materials interfere with the signal vibration? Do you trust what a marketer tells you? Do you see pros using additional materials? Part of the bottom line to me is that the clips-ons add weight at one end of the mandolin and make it more unbalanced. Also, I like for folks to send me photos of me playing a nice mandolin. The clip-on tuner on the headstock looks like I might as well have rabbit ears on my head too.
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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    As well as not leaving the tuner on I would just add that you make your adjustment for the display ect. before clipping it on. This should help any prevent rubbing from constant adjustments, open your clip wide and just be careful.

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    Registered User Bill Bradshaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    I put a strip of sticky sided felt on the inside of the tuner jaws. It doesn't seem to affect the accuracy of the tuner and prevents marring by the hard rubber pads.

    Cheers,

    Bill

  35. #23
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Bradshaw View Post
    I put a strip of sticky sided felt on the inside of the tuner jaws. It doesn't seem to affect the accuracy of the tuner and prevents marring by the hard rubber pads.

    Cheers,

    Bill
    My favorite suggestion yet! I've not heard of felt with a sticky side. I presume it's available at most any store that carries craft items?

  36. #24

    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Sherry, now that you've got a high dollar mandolin, I recommend you spend a little more and get a TC Electronics unitune clip-on. A vastly superior tuner IMO and an easy one hand off and on (no, I don't leave it clipped on)

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    I belong to the use-it-and-lose-it school. I put it on only if I need to tune; the rest of the time while playing it sits on the stool, counter, or whatever surface is also providing easy access for accessories like harmonicas. Or in the case. I don't see any good reason to leave it on for the entire length of a gig, or even a set. And I sure don't see the point in leaving it on 24/7. That's begging for damage.

    What really kills me is seeing someone on TV, playing one song on a talk show or whatever, with a tuner or capo on the headstock. Are you really unable to get through a whole song without it there? Are you going to use it during your four minutes on that stage?

    Then again, I much prefer my Boss tuner pedal plugged inline. Better response, hands-free, and mutes while tuning.
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