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Thread: less heavy tuners

  1. #1
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    Default less heavy tuners

    Hey all,
    I have a wonderful A style that I love (brand not mentioned intentionally) and it has Waverly tuners. It is a very headstock heavy mandolin. Can anyone recommend some lighter tuners? I have to support the neck with my left hand which is quite uncomfortable to me.
    Thanks!
    Dan

  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    The recorded weight that I have for newer Waverly tuners is 166 grams (it was 169 grams before a slight redesign). That's probably for F-style tuners, but all the same, they are the heaviest I've weighed.
    The lightest I've weighed, @ 138.5 grams, are Gotoh deluxe. It's only a weight saving of 2.75 grams, but every little bit helps... and any other tuner you get will almost surely weigh less than Waverlys.

  3. #3
    harvester of clams Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    If you have a strap wrapped behind the nut, it shifts the balance point and removes much of the weight from your left hand. I like the Henry Heller suede strap from the mandolin store. NFI of course, I just really like them to solve the problem you describe.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    Here's a tip I just learned after 50+ years of playing. My friend and I were doing a live radio podcast, me on guitar, my friend on drums. I had just purchased a new guitar strap for the occasion. My electric guitar has always been quite peghead heavy -- Grover tuners plus the old Fathead bell brass sustain plate from the 70's (remember those?) -- anyway, the new strap had a smooth backside, woven, I believe, which allowed the peghead to dive down while playing causing me to constantly have to "lift" it up. Very annoying. For our next gig I put the old strap back on and had no issues and plenty of grip. Something I had never considered.

    But, the new strap looks prettier....

  5. #5

    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    The only mandolin I have that has a truss rod is uncomfortably heavy at the neck, so these things may also contribute. Even though it’s the best sounding of all, I tend to pick up a lighter one. (Only play seated, no strap).

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    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    For the gram geeks around here, Nicolo Alessi will custom make you any tuner you can dream up, including extremely lightweight milled out aluminum baseplates and aluminum shafts or titanium if your budget is large enough.


    Neck dive and weight is one of the reasons why I make all of my own truss rods out of titanium.

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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    Thanks all. This is why this is the best forum on the internet!
    John, are these the Gotoh's that you mention?
    https://www.lmii.com/gotoh-mandolin-...hoCtuIQAvD_BwE

    And James, any idea what ballpark Nicolo is charging for A-style tuners?

    Dan

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    Dan, yes those look like the tuners, although my weight might have been for F-style, and they've undergone a slight design change at some point before or after my weight recording. Can't be much weight difference from my recorded weight.
    Also, my misplaced decimal was pointed out to me. The actual weight difference is 27.5 grams rather than 2.75 grams. That might be enough to feel the difference.

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  10. #9
    harvester of clams Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    27.5 grams is slightly less than 1 ounce. While some players may detect this difference in weight, many won’t. Having a strap with sufficient friction across the back and shoulder and better positioning as I mentioned before, is a much simpler method of adjusting the balance of the instrument.
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  12. #10
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    27.5 grams is slightly less than 1 ounce. While some players may detect this difference in weight, many won’t. Having a strap with sufficient friction across the back and shoulder and better positioning as I mentioned before, is a much simpler method of adjusting the balance of the instrument.
    We can immobilize the mandolin, use a strap that sticks to our shirt, or otherwise keep the neck from dropping, but that doesn't adjust the balance of the instrument. It only overcomes the tendency for the neck to drop. A better balanced instrument simply feels better in the hand than a neck-heavy instrument, and sometimes an ounce (nearly) is enough to make a difference.

    I used to make mandolins that were very light in weight but the balance did not suit me. Not bad, but slightly neck heavy. I began to use heavier tailblocks to counter the weight toward the neck. That added a little weight to the total but it improved the balance and when people would pick them up they would often say something like "it's a light as a feather!". I believe the improved balanced created a perception of lightness because of a better feel in the hands. Anyway, I think improved balance is a better thing than a friction strap on an unbalanced instrument.

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  14. #11

    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    The [slightly divisive] Tone Gard often serves the purpose of balancing the instrument. Of course, it adds much more overall weight, but it's cheaper than new tuners in some cases, certainly if you're looking at titanium ones! Consider trying one out if you can borrow one for a short time.
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    harvester of clams Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    ……….I think improved balance is a better thing than a friction strap on an unbalanced instrument.
    Well, the OP could check the balance compensation by suspending fishing weights from the end pin to see how much weight it takes to improve the balance. No matter the weight answer, it will take less if one end of the strap arm is moved closer to the end of the neck. suspect the strap pin is in the heel of the neck, if he’s using a strap.

    No strap, disregard my comments.
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    Thanks all! I don't like having the strap up around the headstock and am currently using a strap button. I have tried using a tone-guard which does help, but it still does the neck dive thing and I don't particularly care for the feel (heavy) of having the tone-guard on the instrument. Maybe this just isn't the right instrument for me.
    Dan

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    Quote Originally Posted by danoNC View Post
    ...Maybe this just isn't the right instrument for me...
    Could be.
    It is not easy to build a mandolin with a 15 fret neck and good balance in the hand and on the strap, but some are more balanced than others. If you are open to selling/buying, just wait until you find one that feels and sounds good to you in your price range and see if you can acquire it.

  19. #15

    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    The 27.5g happens to be the lifting power of two ordinary helium balloons.

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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    If you tie to the headstock behind the nut it is a pain and in your way. If you tie after the first tuner you don't notice it at all.

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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    I just weighed a few things to get a sense of what 27 g feels like. Turns out my glasses weigh ~28 g so that is a good reference. I feel link I might notice a difference with that amount of mass removed from the headstock area. I think I will first try swapping out the tuners. It looks like they are both (Waverly A and Gotoh A) 23 mm from post to post.
    Dan

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    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    For the gram geeks around here, Nicolo Alessi will custom make you any tuner you can dream up, including extremely lightweight milled out aluminum baseplates and aluminum shafts or titanium if your budget is large enough.
    Perhaps not quite. Not even Nicolo – no doubt a fine fellow – offers string posts of 23 mm length. All of today's tuners, Alessis included, have string post lengths of about one inch (25.4 mm), whereas historical Waverly tuners (as on Loar-signed F5s) have 23 mm string post, which IMHO looks very elegant. And they are lighter, too.

  25. #19
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    Quote Originally Posted by Hendrik Ahrend View Post
    Perhaps not quite. Not even Nicolo no doubt a fine fellow offers string posts of 23 mm length. All of today's tuners, Alessis included, have string post lengths of about one inch (25.4 mm), whereas historical Waverly tuners (as on Loar-signed F5s) have 23 mm string post, which IMHO looks very elegant. And they are lighter, too.

    Have you ever ordered from or done business with Nicolo Alessi?

    I have, many times over about 15 years. He will build anything I ask of him- anything. I'm extremely detailed in exactly what I'm asking for, so I always make up a full blueprint that covers every aspect of the dimensions for all of the parts, and they arrive perfect. I've literally handled about 100+ different sets for mandolin, steel string, & classical guitar. Every one is custom made. The only thing I've found he won't do is reverse cut the worm gears so they can turn opposite direction.

  26. #20
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    The only thing I've found he won't do is reverse cut the worm gears so they can turn opposite direction.
    I got just one set from him years ago and it was Loar inspired (post lengths and shape included) and reverse geared... (and cost less than Waverlies)
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    Have you ever ordered from or done business with Nicolo Alessi?
    Yessir, I even visited Nicolo at his home. He is a super fine fellow and made several tuners that I custom ordered. They were top quality and modeled after the Loar era Waverlys. However, shorter string posts he wasn't able to supply. Just saying; no problem for me. Alessi tuners are wonderful, no doubt.

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    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    I got just one set from him years ago and it was Loar inspired (post lengths and shape included) and reverse geared... (and cost less than Waverlies)
    Adrian, may I humbly remark that your tuners wouldn't generally be considered "reverse geared" these days, as they have been the rule for a few decades now. Back in the early 80s however, one would have, indeed, referred to them as "reverse geared", because they were the exception. Most any available tuner was worm over back then from the 1930s until the 80s, when the demand for "Loar style" tuners with worm under started growing.
    To make matters complicated, Schaller tuners (at least in the 70s and 80s) could be arranged either way, worm over or worm under, which led to the unusual phenomenon that on worm under tuners one would have to turn the tuner knobs backwards in order to tune up. Only when Gibson started to use Schallers on their F5s, I believe in the mid-80s, Schaller started offering worm under tuners in the current fashion. Hence, the term "reverse geared" is not very specific, I'm afraid.
    Last edited by Hendrik Ahrend; Nov-03-2022 at 5:17pm.

  31. #23
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    I'm aware of the mess in tuners nomenclature. I actually wrote few lengthy postst about that in the past.
    I suposed James (being in US) thinks of reverse as many of US instrument dealers do where guitar style with left hand worm and "worm above" considered "normal" and the right hand worm (these days almost exclusively used on "worm under" F style tuners) is called "reverse". Of course among mandolin specific guys the Loar style is considered normal and the worm over with LH worm is reverse although for modern A styles it is still the "normal" one. :-)
    I checked Alessi web and all of his guitar tuners use LH worm so I guess he's no longer cutting the RH worm grears...
    Those tuners I posted were ordered more than 10 years ago and I remember I sent him drawings of Loar tuners and wanted him to get as close as practical. So baseplates, shape of posts and lengths of shafts were pretty much exact and I asked for slotted screws, just the gears were his design.

    Schaller always had problems with this I never knew what I'd get when I ordered Schalles. WHne I odrderer their reverse once I got RH worm assembled as "worm above" which turns wrong, other time I got LH worm assembled as "worm under"... pretty much a lottery ticket. Luckily I was well aware of these problems so I checked each set and reassembled to correct worm above or under config to be used properly.
    Adrian

  32. #24
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    Those tuners I posted were ordered more than 10 years ago and I remember I sent him drawings of Loar tuners and wanted him to get as close as practical. So baseplates, shape of posts and lengths of shafts were pretty much exact and I asked for slotted screws, just the gears were his design..
    Funny coincidence, I did exactly the same deal with Nicolo around the same time in, I believe, 2012. And I did send him drawings, your drawings, I admit.😌

  33. #25

    Default Re: less heavy tuners

    Tie a helium balloon to the mandolin headstock. Problem solved.

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