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Thread: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machine

  1. #1
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    Question How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machine

    Iíve got stock Groverís on a Weber Yellowstone. They turn without much effort. The mando just had a full setup, including nut slot adjustments. Iíve read a bunch and seen people saying their mandos stay in tune and then for others that they drift constantly. I always tune UP to pitch. I am new to mandos but am a life long guitarist. Guitars with very good tuners are easy to tune and stay in decent tune from day to day. Can mandos not do this? For those of you who have changed tuning machines, especially to Rubnerís, has your instrumentís pitch become more stable or is it just mainly ease of turning them that is bettered? I have always been an in tune freak on guitar. My luthier said that having doubled strings increases the awareness that a mando is not in tune because the two strings beating against not only the other strings, but each other. This makes complete sense to me. But since I am, unfortunately, so sensitive to pitch variations I thought Iíd ask. He does not believe changing the tuners to Rubners would be worth it. And while I am happy to NOT spend the money, nonetheless, I am here hoping to get a better result from my instrument. The strings are J74. As a side question, do Tomastik flatwounds stay in tune better?

  2. #2
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machines

    Mandolins are more susceptible to atmospheric changes than guitars, or at least it seems that way to me. I fully expect to retune frequently, which has nothing to do with the tuners.
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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machines

    Also mandolins have strings in pairs which makes any out-of-tuneness of one string stand out.
    I don't think that tuners (unless they are wrecked poor can be source of any "tuning drift"). Other than environmental changes it's mostly problems with slots in nut or bridge or loose windings on tuner posts.
    Adrian

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machines

    If, during set up, the intonation "compensation" of the bridge and nut are fine tuned, the mandolin will seem to stay in tune longer simply because the strings can be tuned closer to exactly equal temperament so they have farther to go before they sound out of tune.
    (Most people can hear 3 cents off as out of tune, many musicians can detect much smaller deviation from "in tune".)
    Many set-up folks do not fine tune the bridge top for optimal intonation, and even if they do, changing string gauges can mostly negate the effort.

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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machines

    I agree with the above comments. I have a mandolin with the Golden Age tuners, which I hold in low regard), but after much work they hold tunings pretty well even if they aren't the smoothest on the market.

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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machines

    The reason stringed instruments (generally) come with adjustable tuners, is that tuning needs adjustment, more or less frequently. Temperature and humidity changes affect string pitches; newer strings stretch for a while after being put on, and require retuning until stable. Pickers with more "heavy hands" can push strings out of tune. Strings can "hang up" in too-tight nut or bridge slots, then slip through when strummed, changing pitch and needing readjustment.

    Possibly a tuner not properly tightened can be "pulled around" by string tension, letting the string go flat when vigorously picked. And there are poorly made cheap tuners where gears don't properly mesh, proper adjustment is difficult, and strings go out of tune when you try to play them. I wouldn't put Grovers in that category.

    When I worked selling stringed instruments with Eldon Stutzman back in the '70's, one of the most frequent questions novice buyers would ask about an instrument is "Will it stay in tune?" Eldon always answered "No." Consistent tuning "drift" (sharp or flat?) -- I wouldn't attribute it to tuners. Some say the excessive string wraps around the tuner posts may create instability -- differences in tension between the wrapped string and the string from nut to bridge -- but that seems far-fetched to me.
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    Question Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machines

    NB: AND, because mandolin scale length is short, a few cents out of tune
    is noticed more than it would be on a guitar, or Bass Viol.

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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machines

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    NB: AND, because mandolin scale length is short, a few cents out of tune
    is noticed more than it would be on a guitar, or Bass Viol.

    [Physics]
    Well, a cent is a cent, regardless of scale length. I think the physics at work here is that the shorter scale length is impacted more (cents!) than a longer scale length instrument by the same top deflection from humidity et al. And the mentioned problem with keeping pairs of strings in tune and the perfect fifth intervals, with frets, make the slightest drift noticeable sooner.
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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machines

    What Bill said in post #2. Mando's do seem to be more sensitive to humidity change to me. I have both Grover 309s and Rubners on my instruments and both hold tune equally well. I will say the TC UniTune has been the most effective tuner for me in getting string pairs in tune with each other.

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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machines

    I have one mando with Waverly's and another one with Rubner's. Both go out of tune at about the same frequency. The tuners are not the problem. Save your money.

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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machines

    Quote Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
    Well, a cent is a cent, regardless of scale length. I think the physics at work here is that the shorter scale length is impacted more (cents!) than a longer scale length instrument by the same top deflection from humidity et al. And the mentioned problem with keeping pairs of strings in tune and the perfect fifth intervals, with frets, make the slightest drift noticeable sooner.
    True a cent is a sent but also true the short scale MUST BE more precise. An extreme example; if discussing the length of a table a table, a foot is ver significant, if discussing the length of road from home to work, not so much. Less drift in a shorter string makes more “cents” deviation.

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    Question Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machine

    How precisely the tuner is fitted to the headstock, and the Nut notching precision,
    is a factor.

    So, just slapping a Wavely or Rubner or Schaller Grand tune tuner set on
    may not be the immediate cure you seek.

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machine

    My Giruoard F-5 (2014) came with Grovers but Max and Lauri switched to Rubners a few years ago. The Grovers work fine but I am considering changing to the Rubners. A lot of reviews consider them in the same class as Waverleys but at half the cost. They also look better than the Grovers IMO.
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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machine

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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machine

    I have a 2011 Yellowstone, which still has whichever unlabeled tuners were standard at the time. The only problem I have had with those tuners is that one of the A strings starts slipping every month or two because the screw in the tuner gets a little loose.

    My 2021 Nyberg mandolinola has Rubners --- which are Nyberg's standard tuners now --- and they're great. They turn incredibly smoothly, and they also seem to have a larger gear ratio, so I can tune strings more accurately with them.
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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machine

    That’s good info. Mine is a 2012. Is the accuracy because they turn so much easier? The current iteration Grovers are 18:1, while Rubners are 16:1. I don’t know what’s on mine. Do you think it possible you have 18:1? Because is so that accuracy is due to how easily they turn. Is the backlash better, too? Must you still tune up to the pitch? Thanks, Marcus.

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    Registered User Kirk Higgins's Avatar
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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machine

    I have Rubner tuners on my 80’s Kentucky F mandolin. They would be a few years old and stay in tune well and turn easy. Usually tuning is required only when the humidity level changes. Otherwise, it remains in tune.

    I have Waverlys on my 2007 Kimble F. They are original to the mandolin and stay in tune well. They are somewhat stiffer to turn than the Rubners which I attribute to age.
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  28. #18
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machine

    Tuning issues are rarely caused by the tuners. In great majority it's problem of nut or bridge.

    you can read about worm gear here: https://www.machinerylubrication.com...080/worm-gears
    A second reason to use a worm gear is the inability to reverse the direction of power. Because of the friction between the worm and the wheel, it is virtually impossible for a wheel with force applied to it to start the worm moving.
    I've only once im my life saw malfunctioning tuners but that was because they were crudely re-assembled from worm over to worm under and tabs holding worms were soldered crooked.
    I've seen ruined expensive tuners because they were installed into badly drilled holes or tilted bushings etc. The tuners might be a bit tighter or smoother from manufacture but they will loosen over time as they wear. But you can judge tightness anly when removed from instrument as often the tightness is caused by improper installation.
    Even the cheapest chinese tuners will work if installed properly and lubricated. And even simple brass will take decades to wear if maintaned properly.
    Adrian

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    Default Re: How is Tuning Drift with Rubner Tuning Machine

    In the "it's almost certainly not the tuning machines" camp: how the strings are installed is also critically important to tuning stability. If you have overlapping wraps, or wraps that aren't fully tight to the post (like the little kink you sometimes get near the hole) you're going to go flat as those issues work themselves out. Fully "stretching in" all the strings after a restring, paying close attention to the results and continuing until you've eliminated these issues, takes some time and perhaps a couple of tricks.

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