Guitar - General/gear ratio of tuners


hi! I plan to buy a locking tuner for my fender-style guitar so I did some research. I came across a sperzel locking tuner with 12:1 gear ratio and a grover locking tuner with 18:1. I know that sperzel is one (if not one of the best) of the best (i think) locking tuners around but some people told me that a higher gear ratio (that is, a 18:1 one) is better. I'm not really sure if they are entirely corect. So I'm finding it difficult to choose between the grover and the sperzel. Please "enlighten" me.

My second question is my dad has a 10 mm drill bit that I can use to make the pegholes in my guitar larger to accomodate the new tuners but I'm not sure if it's ok for me to do it by myself or let a professional (a guitar technician or a mechanic?) do the drilling. Does it require anything aside from drilling when installing the new tuners?

thanks for the time!

Dear Lanz,

An 18:1 gear ratio allows more fine precision in tuning than a 12:1 ratio, although 12:1 is fine enough for most players.

A 10 mm drill is probably WAY too large to drill out the tuner post holes.  Depending on the tuners presently installed, you might not have to alter the post holes at all.  If you do have to enlarge the holes, they need to be precisely sized to properly accommodate the new tuner posts and to allow for a proper pressed fit for the bushings.

If the post holes need to be drilled out, they need to be drilled perpendicular to the mounting surface of the tuner body at the back of the peghead.  

Removing the old bushings and inserting the new ones also must be done carefully to avoid marring the finish on the headstock, especially if the headstock has a painted finish.
(The same is true about redrilling).  The old bushings should be gently tapped out, little by little, from the back of the headstock.

Then there is the issue of the screw holes for mounting the tuner bodies.  If the new tuner bodies don't cover up the old screw holes, the exposed holes should be filled in for a proper job.  The filler can be simply fine sawdust mixed with a water-based glue, and stained if necessary to match the finish.   

You also need to determine if the new tuner bodies will fit side-by-side on the same centers as the existing holes, whether they need to be drilled out or not.  If the bodies of the new tuners are bigger than the old ones, you could have a serious problem of having to relocate and redrill all or most of the post holes.  Fortunately, most Strat' type guitars have similar dimensions from copying the original Fender models, but you need to check this before you start.

For these reasons, I strongly suggest that you have the job done by a competent professional guitar technician or luthier, who can also help you select a replacement set of tuners that will meet your needs and require the least surgery to your guitar.  Spending for a professional job will save you the frustration and possible damage that can result from a botched do-it-yourself job.

The 18:1 Grovers are excellent, and you'd have no problems with them.  The Sperzels are also very good.

Good Luck, and have fun with it!


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Bill Ruxton


What kind of old guitar do I have? Is it valuable? How old is it? Where was it made? Is it worth repairing? Advice on buying new or used guitars, accessories, etc. [Note: While I can give some general info on approximate values of types of instruments, neither I nor anyone else can do an "appraisal" without actually seeing and handling the instrument] I have almost 40 years` experience as a player and afficianado. If I don`t have an answer myself, I can often refer people to other authoritative sources.

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