A Tuning Machine for Each String (or Each Type)

author: Steven Bayes date: 10/08/2013 category: gear maintenance
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A Tuning Machine for Each String (or Each Type)

Abstract

The tuning of different strings has a different sensitivity: in case one was to rotate the tuning machine of the first (thin) E string by one revolution, one would move the string by, say, a half of a tone. However, in case one was to rotate the tuning machine of the thick E string by one revolution, one would readjust this string by a much greater interval, say, one tone and a half. Most of the guitars sold around come with the same ratio of the gear mechanism of each string. This, of course, makes them less expensive. However, a good idea may be to manufacture tuning machines for each string (or each type of strings) with a different gear ratio.

Description

The gear ratio in simple mechanics is the ratio between the diameters of each of the wheels with the same spacing between the teeth, obviously. The tinier the rotating wheel and the bigger the rotated wheel, the easier to turn but also the slowest to turn. This is the torque speed compromise. The tuning machines of a guitar have a stable (grounded) bolt with a spiral. When rotated, the bolt spiral rotates and because the lever is hard attached to the head and the wheel is capable of the rotations, the bolt spiral rotates the wheel. The higher the density of the bolt spiral with a corresponding higher density of wheel teeth, the easier to rotate and the less the wheel rotates with each full rotation of the bolt. The bigger the wheel with teeth corresponding to the bolt spiral, the easier to rotate and the less the wheel rotates with each full rotation of the bolt. Thus, by varying the teeth density and the size, one can achieve very similar change of the tone with the same angle of rotation of every tuning machine. Of course, the change of the tone depends on the thickness of the string and everyone uses a different thickness strings, but this dependence is not as strong. Thus, in case the manufacturers were to manufacture a different machine for each string; or one type of a machine for strings 1 and 2, another for strings 3 and 4 and another for strings 5 and 6; or one type for strings 1, 2 and 3 and another type for strings 4, 5 and 6; or one type for strings 1, 2, 3 and 4 and another type for strings 5 and 6, a musician would need to rotate the bolts of the tuning machines by pretty much similar amounts of revolutions to adjust each string by a pretty much similar tonal amount: for example, in case all of the strings are half a tone up, one would need to rotate each bolt of each string by a pretty much similar amount in order to tune the strings.

Summary

The problem with tuning strings with a different thickness has been explained. A suggestion has been made to manufacturers to manufacture tuning machines with a different ratio for each string in a set which is considered to be used the most (as for example 12 gauge first string and the rest with a similar tension). Another, more difficult and less necessary proposal may be to manufacture a different tuning machine for a different string at a different string tension. About the Author: By Steven Stanley Bayes
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