The Banjo Glossary Project 2019  
Tuesday, January 22, 2019

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Tuners  tu·ners noun \ˈtü-nərs\  Change text size for readability...  Print This Page

02:04The part of the banjo that adjust string tension. There are many different kinds of tuners from simple violin type tuners that are made from wood, ivory, cellulose or plastic and rely on the friction of a slightly tapered shaft fitting tightly in a correspondingly tapered hole to maintain string tension, to complicated locking mechanical tuners.

The violin type tuners work very well for gut or nylon strings as long as they fit properly into their holes. Steel strings are much more difficult to tune without some kind of mechanical advantage.

Planetary tuners or planets are mechanical tuners that use a system called planetary gears to produce (usually) a four to one (4:1) gear ratio, meaning you turn the tuner button all the way around four times for the post, where the string attaches, to turn around once. This gives you mechanical advantage and enables precise tuning. Unlike other mechanical tuners, such as Pancake tuners on which the shaft that the button is mounted on is offset from the post that the string attaches to, planets have the button shaft and string post in a straight line. Prewar Planets are very desirable and with pearl buttons can sell for as much as $500.00 per set. Modern reproductions are available from Stewart MacDonald (Five Star Brand) and other manufacturers.

Pancake tuners take their name from the low profile round gear housing seen from the back of the peghead (flat like a pancake). As mentioned above, the button shaft is offset from the string post.

Grover Two band tuners are high end mechanical tuners produced by Grover that had two grooves around the gear housing. Grover is currently making reproductions of these.

D tuners: Also called Scruggs, Keith or Scruggs-Keith tuners, these have two locking screws protruding from the side of the gear housing. They allow you to lock a bottom and top note and turn the tuner rapidly from one to the other.
LAST UPDATED 10-18-2014 05:17