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

  1. #76
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    It's been my observation that many of the older clip-on tuners were more prone to mark the finish on the headstock than the latest generation of tuners. Partly, this is due to the use of less finish-hostile materials on the newest tuners, like silicone pads, instead of butyl rubber ones. And partly, this is due to less pressure from the mounting clips.

    As for leaving the tuner on, even during public performance, all I can say (quoting Dylan) is that "the times, they are a-changin'!" It is no longer considered a faux pas to leave your tuner on the instrument while playing or performing. The etiquette has changed. In fact, it is taken to be a sign of respect to the music, and to your audience, to keep as well-tuned as possible! This is not just true of modern folk performances: it is increasingly common to see tuners on the headstocks of classical guitars in concert, for example. I attended a performance, before the pandemic, at the Aspen Music Festival, where a classical guitarist performed with a flautist, and the guitarist had a tuner mounted to his headstock -- unapologetically. In fact, it was a popular Snark brand tuner.

    There are countless examples of this now (check out YoutTube if you don't believe me). Electronic tuners are here to stay, and not in case compartments. They are getting smaller and smaller, and therefore less intrusive visually, and also less "finish-hostile," as mentioned earlier. So, it's now easier then ever to mount a tuner on an acoustic instrument during live performance. As for electric (and electrified) instruments, these have had tuners available in the electronic-effects chains for a very long time. No one, to my knowledge, has ever complained about the use of these in performances.

    No two ways about it: tuners are a fixture of modern acoustic music. There is no real need to constantly mount and dismount these. I realize that some self-described "old folks" here in the Mandolin Cafe are bothered by the aesthetics of tuners clipped to headstocks. I'd urge them to try to get over it! They're not that ugly, after all, and they are incredibly useful. And in the future, ever-smaller electronic tuners may become permanently mounted to the backs of headstocks, or discreetly placed in other places -- perhaps they'll even be incorporated permanently into the next generation of tuning machines. And no one, to my knowledge, has ever complained about an instrument being too well tuned!

    Meanwhile, check out this four classical guitar concert on NPR, and every single guitar has a tuner mounted:

    Last edited by sblock; Apr-16-2021 at 4:28pm.

  2. #77

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

    Sorry, doesn't do "it" for me, FWIW. Granted, tuning is nice. I think tuning before each song is overkill. I think having it "on demand" is beyond ridiculous, IMHO.

    And, again, it's an "add-on" -- not part of the instruments design.

    Reminds me of the early Bluetooth rigs with the earphones and large mic -- some people think (and still do) it was the greatest thing ever invented -- I think it looks like you just got off work as an air traffic controller and forgot to take it off. On a brighter note, the weird guy in the next aisle over at the grocery store who is talking to himself is a little less scary if he is wearing one...........I said a "little" less scary!

  3. #78
    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Well I guess I'm one of the old timers who still believes that even if you have a million people doing some thing "wrong", it doesn't make it right. But times have changed, I'll give you that!

  4. #79
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Who knew this thread would generate such controversy? Kinda sorry I started it. On the other hand, I'm glad to know about that tuner that screws onto the back. Haven't decided about trying it, though.

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

    Yeah, right? The question was pretty much settled long ago. Judging by responses, a majority of members aver tuners do cause some damage, and advise use only as needed. The news about that tuner is the most useful information provided here. They are small, hidden, and non-invasive. Plus an irresponsible friend or band member can't borrow it and not return it.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  7. #81
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    I've always been firmly against leaving a tuner on the headstock because of the look, but the little D'Addarios are a genuine nightmare to remove so I've caved in at last. I leave mine turned around backwards and the clip barely showing: but it covers up the "part" in the Collings "haircut" headstock design, which does bother me (a lot). But the D'Addario is the best tuner I've found so it's staying on.
    ...

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  9. #82

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

    Like Pops, I use a Polytune (actually the Unitune is less expensive and performs the same). It's the easiest one handed off-and-on there is. It also blows all other tuners (cept maybe the Petersen strobo) out of the water for speed, accuracy, and visibility.
    Last edited by Rob Roy; Apr-17-2021 at 10:36am.

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  11. #83
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    Who knew this thread would generate such controversy? Kinda sorry I started it. On the other hand, I'm glad to know about that tuner that screws onto the back. Haven't decided about trying it, though.
    No reason to be sorry. You asked a simple question that needed a simple answer. But you got a bonus 4 pages of fun!

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankdolin View Post
    No reason to be sorry. You asked a simple question that needed a simple answer. But you got a bonus 4 pages of fun!
    Yup, that happens a lot around here.
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  14. #85
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    Yup, that happens a lot around here.
    But why? I personally don't see the need for judgment or sarcasm.

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

    Yes there seems sometimes to include sarcasm and judgment, but usually it is a light hearted discussion, giving opinions, which there seem to be a lot of. It's seems harder to gauge how something is meant in type as opposed to in person. A little grain of salt is usually called for here.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  17. #87
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Sherry -- pops1 is absolutely right. This thread has never been about judgement, and you should not take things that way. Instead, you need to take things with that grain of salt that he mentions. No one whom I know will "judge" you -- one way or another -- if you decide to leave your own tuner on your headstock, or to keep putting it on and taking it off. After all, it's your mandolin, it's your tuner, and it's your call! That said, we do have opinions about what's advisable, and under what circumstances. In fact, there are lots of trade-offs involved in this decision, as this thread has brought up. We should all be free to discuss and debate these. Sometimes, that discussion does involve some parody or sarcasm. It's usually light-hearted, and even humorous, and there's nothing wrong with that!

    Journeybear's comments, for example, although they ran entirely contrary to mine, were pretty darn funny (if a bit sarcastic), and if you look carefully at the thread, you'll even see that I thanked him for his posts. My thanks do not constitute an endorsement of his opinions: rather, it's my way of indicating that I acknowledge and appreciate his input. It's all part of the dialectic here on the MC. We discuss and debate stuff. We agree to disagree. Musicians are a rather opinionated group, in general.

    Importantly, you should not be so quick to experience disagreement with your own positions as "judgment," nor even as "sarcasm." Since you've personally started quite a large number of threads here in recent months, asking all manner of questions about mandolins, and especially about your own struggles with the learning process, you should not be surprised to discover that you're provoking discussion, and occasionally debate, particularly about controversial issues. You ask lots of questions. We answer them. You are by no means required to endorse the answers to the questions you pose, but then again, you ought not complain about them, either!

    Part of the problem may be an unfortunate characteristic of the internet and forums such as this. Some folks, and I would be inclined to include yourself, may tend to read hostile emotions into comments (particularly negative comments that may refute your position) that are simply not there. If you are going to continue to post a large number of questions here on the MC, as you have, then you might want to grow a thicker skin, and be less quick to assume someone is "judging" anyone else.

    It's been my experience that the vast majority of people who post comments on the MC do so in earnest, and they're simply providing their own perspectives. These perspectives may disagree, and you are certainly not required to concur with them. They may contain humor. They may even contain sarcasm. There is nothing wrong with any of that! Thankfully, there aren't many trolls to be found here on the MC, and I have not encountered a single one in this thread. Just folks expressing their heartfelt opinions.

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  19. #88
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    sblock, I appreciate the time you, and others, have taken to post in this and other threads I've started. Lots of good info, for sure. I haven't felt anyone had expressed judgment of me, but, rather, others that leave their tuners on or take them off and on, for example. Who cares and who are we to judge others in a public forum? And what's the big deal anyway? Just my opinion.
    Last edited by Sherry Cadenhead; Apr-17-2021 at 3:30pm. Reason: My typical afterthought

  20. #89
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    sblock, I appreciate the time you, and others, have taken to post in this and other threads I've started. Lots of good info, for sure. I haven't felt anyone had expressed judgment of me, but, rather, others that leave their tuners on or take them off and on, for example. Who cares and who are we to judge others in a public forum? Just my opinion.
    Thanks. I understand what you're saying, Sherry, but with all respect, it seems to me that your opinion is that others shouldn't be entitled to express their opinions! In most matters of etiquette, there's some "social norm" that we're all expected to follow. If anyone acts outside the social norm, some folks may tend judge them harshly. This should not come as a surprise.

    For example, if you show up at a formal wedding dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, you may earn the disdain of the wedding party. And if you show up dressed that same way in a courtroom, as a plaintiff or defendant, the judge might sanction you. In either case, you're violating the accepted etiquette. However, no one will blink if you dress that way for a trip to the beach. The point, however, is that people DO tend to judge in matters of social etiquette. They always have.

    An etiquette being discussed here is whether it's considered "professional" to keep a tuner on your instrument's headstock during performances before an audience, or even during friendly jams, for that matter. Some folks believe that the tuner is somehow "ugly," and that it has no place remaining on your headstock while playing with others, in any context. Others think it might be perfectly OK for a jam setting, but not for live performance. And still others, like myself, think it's OK to have a tuner on your headstock at all times.

    Like language itself, what is considered socially acceptable is subject to continuous change. Earlier in my lifetime, it was not considered acceptable for a musician to perform onstage wearing a T-shirt and jeans. Today, that happens all the time. But it happens in folk and rock music, and not in classical music. The social norms are different.

    No doubt about it: the norms about keeping a tuner on the instrument are changing. Back when these tuners were bulky items, most folks frowned upon keeping them on the headstock, where they were judged to be obtrusive and distracting. Also, they could damage the headstock if left on for long periods (but this is no longer true, for the most part). These days, tuners have gotten progressively smaller (and faster, more accurate) and less obtrusive. And their utility, which should be obvious to any serious performer, now outweighs any former concerns about aesthetics and distractions to many (but not all) musicians. So, the etiquette is slowly changing. I have posted video examples of some of the best performers -- in both folk and classical music! -- who now perform routinely with a tuner on their headstock.

    Of course, performing with a tuner is a violation of etiquette to some people, and they will judge this harshly, as being "unprofessional." You should not express such surprise at this reaction. It's human nature. And by the same token, you should not express surprise that still others think someone is pretty foolish to keep mounting and dismounting their tuner all evening long at a jam, because they're concerned about having an "ugly" tuner present.

    Etiquette is something of a fluid, and even controversial, thing, I'm afraid. And folks do seem to care about it; often, a lot. Writing for myself, I would much rather have folks get this stuff off their chest here, in a public forum, than complain about presumed breaches of etiquette from an audience, or in a jam situation! Wouldn't you?!

    Peace and love.

  21. #90
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    ... we do have opinions about what's advisable, and under what circumstances. In fact, there are lots of trade-offs involved in this decision, as this thread has brought up. We should all be free to discuss and debate these. Sometimes, that discussion does involve some parody or sarcasm. It's usually light-hearted, and even humorous, and there's nothing wrong with that!
    Indeed, sometimes humor is a very useful device, a means of making a point while embracing the absurdity of making the point, inasmuch as a lot of the time we're talking about the minutiae of a minuscule matter, especially compared to the world at large and whatever may be going on out there. In our mandolin universe, we may be trying to sort out this or that which may have meaning to us'ns here, but as far as the general scheme of things goes, they don't add up of hill of beans, as the poet said. That doesn't mean we should diminish how passionately we pursue our passions, but a bit of perspective helps.

    Journeybear's comments, for example, although they ran entirely contrary to mine, were pretty darn funny (if a bit sarcastic), and if you look carefully at the thread, you'll even see that I thanked him for his posts. My thanks do not constitute an endorsement of his opinions: rather, it's my way of indicating that I acknowledge and appreciate his input.
    And you'll see I did the same, for much the same reasons. Even though we disagreed on the subject, we agreed on the way we discussed it. It was a good interchange. And even though I still believe he's dead wrong about this we conducted ourselves admirably during the process. The "Thanks" feature is relatively new, and much appreciated. It's very convenient, and saves a good amount of time and visual space in threads.

    Another instance here, earlier, when pops1 made a comment about hair being out of place - I knew he was being funny to make a point, but I thought he might have been just a smidge over the line, and said so, and why, though I made a point of being courteous and respectful in the words I chose. His response was to move back on topic, without belaboring the matter, which was fine with me, and I thanked him for it. We don't really need to discuss every bloody little thing in detail in order to reach some sort of understanding.

    Like when sblock offered another example of tuners on headstocks, with the classical quartet. You may have noticed I didn't engage him on this. Fact is, I'd already said all I had to say about this, and don't like to repeat myself. I'll say it one more time, I don't like to repeat myself. We've agreed to disagree, and that's fine. We're not solving world hunger here, just sorting out little things about our beloved little instruments. Less is more, sometimes. Indeed, quite often.

    That said, this here - "And their utility, which should be obvious to any serious performer, now outweighs any former concerns about aesthetics and distractions to many (but not all) musicians" - is a pretty broad statement. I'll agree to seeing them used this way much more than I used to, and that's probably because they've gotten so inexpensive over the last several years. But I think that's more of an opinion than a verifiable fact. Of course, that, too, is just my opinion. I could be wrong.

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  23. #91
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    I have trouble seeing why anyone is apologizing for leaving a tuner on their mandolin. Whether it's a 1924 Loar or whatever else you happen to own, if you can afford it then it's yours to do with as you please. A question asking for people's advice and experience about whether or not to do something will expose many different opinions and some strong feelings based on a multitude of experiences (not to mention misinterpretations of what people say). My experience, expressed early on, is that some finishes can be marred by some clip-on tuners, and I don't like the look in photographs of my mandolins with tuners clipped on. I've enjoyed reading all the other opinions and debates, and, yes, I've never seen any damage done to a lacquer, polyurethane, polyester, or modern plastic finish. What I worry about is the HABIT of leaving a tuner clipped on. It will likely never be a problem - until the day you pick up a mandolin with a softer finish and leave that tuner on the headstock out of habit. If it mars, well I hope it's your mandolin. I play a lot of different mandolins (most of them aren't mine) and I know that it's very difficult to know for sure what finish is on a particular one, so I prefer the safer habit of taking the tuner off right away.

    I'll go ahead and say what bugs me, since that is part of the thread now. 1) Folks who leave their tuner attached and tune between every song. Please, give me a break. I see a number of professionals doing this with their mandolins and banjos. I understand wanting to play in tune as much as possible, and I will agree that nothing sounds worse than a mandolin that is out of tune. But as a Nashville producer told me years ago, people don't want to pay good money to watch you tune. I think this applies to jam sessions too. Leaving the tuner off makes you think about whether you really need to take the time to tune. 2) People who leave the tuner attached for the whole gig or jam session and still have to be asked to tune their mandolin. For those folks, the tuner is not helping them develop their ears so they can hear when they are out of tune. Better to have to put it on when somebody asks.
    Tom

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  25. #92
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    I use Korg Sledgehammer Pros on several mandolins. I never take them off (they fit in the cases) and they leave no marks on the headstocks, at least over the five+ years I've used them.

    I also don't care who they offend visually, they are supposed to be listening
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Sounds like we need a Tonegard for the headstock. Tune it, remove it, and use your ears to keep it in tune. Eventually you might find you are less dependent on the electronic tuner. End of rant, over and out!
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Error. See next post
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by DCHammers View Post
    Get this clip-free D'Addario tuner and your damage worries are over. Just about invisible too.

    https://www.daddario.com/products/ac...ip-free-tuner/
    Yes, I have two of them. Been very pleased. They are invisible from the front as well.
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Gnann View Post
    Sounds like we need a Tonegard for the headstock. Tune it, remove it, and use your ears to keep it in tune.
    Hmmm ... I wonder, did you mean to say a Tunegard?
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Click image for larger version. 

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  31. #98
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by mandolinstew View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Great pics. Can any idiot (e.g., me) install one of those?

  32. #99
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    Default Re: How to Keep a Headstock Tuner from Damaging Your Instrument

    I don’t see how it won’t interfere with your left hand. Maybe it’s just me.

    Or maybe mount it to the back by the heel.
    Play it like you mean it

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    Great pics. Can any idiot install one of those?
    I sure hope so because they’re supposed to deliver a couple this afternoon. I figured for $11.79 apiece I couldn’t go wrong.

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