While every part of the guitar is vital, one of the most important parts of the guitar is the tuning machine. The tuning machine affects how you sound. You may end up producing flat music or off pitch music. No one wants that. The problem is, whenever any part of the tuning machine cracks or is need of repair, it always costs a hefty sum to take the guitar to a repair shop to get the tuners replaced. Fortunately, here at Reverb Pedal Guide we know a way you could replace your own tuners comfortably and at a less costly rate from home.
Understanding the Reasons Why You Need To Replace Your Guitar Tuners
- To do so, you have to understand what it is that causes the need for the replacement of the tuners. There are two main causes to this:
- Worn out gears that wear out due to immense string tension. The gears may be skipping teeth or fail to grip one another properly. In this case, the tuners have to be replaced entirely.
The other reason is the tuning buttons. The tuning buttons may be cracked. This may be caused by high humidity that makes the particular material of the tuning keys shrink. Materials such as celluloid and plastic tend to do that. The strings may not be tightly wound around the post of the tuning peg. Another reason may be that the tuning pegs are not properly attached to the headstock.
Replacing machine heads is a much easier process than one may think. It involves a few simple steps that will barely cost you.
Step 1: Unstringing the strings
You cannot begin any work on the tuners before completely unstringing the strings of your guitar. This involves loosening the tension on the strings until you can pull them out or even nip them.
Step 2: Unscrewing the machine heads
While unscrewing the machine heads, it is very important that the screwdriver you use coincides with the screws you are unscrewing. But even after this step, the machine head will still not come out.
Step 3: Removing the bushing
The challenge with removing the bushing is that they come in various types. A bushing with a nut and a washer would require that you remove both before removing the machine head. Tuners with such bushings are referred to as sealed tuners.
Then there are press fit bushings that are pressed into the peghead using a hydraulic press. Some people call them vintage tuners. They are held in place by friction. For this reason, they have to be removed safely or they might ruin the varnish of the headstock.
The safest method of removing them is to press them out. A simple wood block that has been drilled to have the same diameter as the bushing is used. It is placed over the bushing and a dowel is used to press it up and out. If the bushings are too tight using a C-clamp is advisable.
Step 4: Buying new machine heads
It is of the utmost importance that you buy machine heads that are exactly the same as the ones you previously had. Any modifications will only devalue your guitar especially the older models. Remember, the devil is in the details. You might find machine heads that look exactly the same but the post height, which is a crucial part of the tuning peg is different.
Step 5: Installing the new machine heads
As long as the new machine heads are the exact replica of the previous ones, then this step is the easiest to follow. Literally, do the opposite of all the steps that you just followed.
What Do You Do If You Cannot Find Identical Tuners To The Previous Ones?
This may very well happen or you would simply want to upgrade your guitar. There are a few considerations that should be made before taking these steps. These include the following:
- How accessible will the string hole be?
It is very important that the string hole to be above the face of the peghead and the top of the nut. It should stick out.
- Will you have to enlarge the size of the peghead holes?
It may be necessary to do so, especially if the diameter of the new string post is larger than the previous one.
- Where the holes for the mounting screw holes will be placed
The old holes for the mounting screws may have to be filled and new ones drilled.
- What will be the distance between each tuning peg?
This will be determined by measuring the length of the peghead and calculating at what distance each tuning peg would need to be from the other, so as not to hit each other when adjusted.
- Gear ratio
This is the number of times the tuning knob will make a rotation of 360° to one turn of the string post. For example with a ratio of 15:1, the tuning knob will rotate fifteen times to each rotation of the string post. The higher the ratio, the more precisely strings can be tuned but too high a ratio is not necessarily a good thing.
How Do You Tune Your Guitar?
Now that your guitar’s tuner is fixed, it’s now time to get on to the next step and this is tuning your own guitar. If your tuners are in tip-top condition, your guitar may still be out of tune. How then do you tune your guitar?
Step 1: Have a tuning instrument. This can be an app that can easily be found online, a pitch pipe, pitch fork or even the piano. Use whichever instruments suit you to tune the lower E string.
Step 2: Go to the fifth fret of the lower E string, which is an A note. Your fifth string is an open A string and so it should sound exactly like the note on the fifth fret of the E string. Adjust your tuner pegs accordingly, loosening it means the pitch goes lower while tightening it means the pitch goes higher.
Step 3: The fifth fret of the A string is the D note. The open D string should sound exactly the same as the D note on the A string.
Step 4: The fifth string of the D string is a G note. The open G string should sound exactly like the fifth fret of the D string.
Step 5: The fourth fret of the G string is where the B note is. The fourth fret of the G string should match with the open B string.
Step 6: Finally, you can tune the thickest E string by matching the fifth fret of the B string which is the E note with the open E string.
After you are done, it is important to try and tune again. This will help you fine tune.
At the end of it, your tuners will be in good shape and so will be your pitch. Whether you produce good music or not is up to you.