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Tree Guitarworks

Do I need new tuners? 

I get this question quite often. Really there are two questions; do I need them, and do I want them?
First of all, the need... short answer, probably not. Tuning problems are seldom the caused by the tuners. A poorly cut nut is the usual culprit. The slots may be too narrow, or there may be something in the slot the string is getting caught on. If, while tuning, you turn the button and nothing happens, then you hear a ping, and the tuning changes, ...for sure the nut.

Another common problem is how the string is wound on the post... that might cause it to slip and go flat. So before running out and investing in new tuners, check those areas first. Even very cheap tuners will hold once tuned if everything else is OK.

You can often fix a "sticky" nut yourself by running a very small file, or folded 400 grit sandpaper for the unwound strings, and for the wound strings, just run a length of the string through the slot. Or for a couple bucks you can get a set of torch tip cleaners (tiny wire files of assorted sizes) from your local hardware store. If your tuners feel rough to turn, try working some light household oil (WD-40 works fine too) down along the post into the mechanism. The oil won't hurt your finish, but you'll want to wipe up any excess.

OK, now the "want" question. Better tuners will be smoother and more precise. So while cheap tuners will do the job, nicer tuners will make the job easier to do. If you have crappy tuners, investing in an upgrade is often worthwhile. But even the best tuners won't solve the problems mentioned above.