A Tuning Machine for Each String (or Each Type)

The tuning of different strings has a different sensitivity.

A Tuning Machine for Each String (or Each Type)
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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

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    bonobosmarcos
    I agree with the previous comment that it wouldn't make too much sense to adjust each tuning mechanism different. However if that was the last thing that needed to be improved it could make a nice feature to have each gear feel the exact same for each string. Also to have it move the tune of each string the same for the same degree of rotation. http://www.hoffmanguitars.com/
    fintroller
    Perhaps another way to accomplish a similar outcome would be to manufacture each tuner with a fine tuning adjustment. Turn your regular machine key to get close, then flip a switch or press a button on the back of the machine to engage another, finer toothed gear for precision tuning. Not that any of that is necessary. But similar to the fine tuning on a Floyd Rose.
    Steven Bayes
    I agree. The question is how much more expensive and what is the price increase as a percentage of the overall price of the guitar?
    Arby911
    Waste of time and money, manufacturers simply make all the tuning heads the same ratio, just making sure that ratio is adequate for the finest adjustment necessary. It may be 'overkill' for the strings not requiring that fine of an adjustment, but the manufacturing simplicity more than makes up for it in cost savings. A different ratio for each string adds complexity and cost while providing no additional material value.