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Encyclopedia > Machine Head
The machine heads on a Squier Stratocaster electric guitar.

A machine head, also called a tuner, tuning peg, or tuning machine, is part of a guitar or similar instrument, an apparatus for tensioning and thereby tuning a string, usually located at the headstock. A headstock has several machine heads, one per string. Download high resolution version (2496x1248, 437 KB)the machine head of a Squier Stratocaster (c) 2004 David Monniaux File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Download high resolution version (2496x1248, 437 KB)the machine head of a Squier Stratocaster (c) 2004 David Monniaux File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Machine head can mean: A type of tuning mechanism used with stringed instruments such as the guitar that uses worm gears to control the string tension. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Typical headstock of an electric guitar This article is about part of a stringed instrument. ...

Contents

Construction and action

Traditionally, a single machine head consists of a pin, mounted at the center of a pinion gear, a knob or "button" and a worm gear that links them. The pin has a hole through the far end from the gear, and the string is made to go through that hole, and is wrapped around the pin. To complete the string installation, the string is tightened by turning the pin using the tuning knob. The worm gear ensures that the pin cannot turn without a movement on the knob; it also allows precise tuning. Illustration of a Gear train with a pinion shown. ... Worm and worm gear A worm gear, or worm wheel, is a type of gear that engages with a worm to greatly reduce rotational speed, or to allow higher torque to be transmitted. ...


The guitarist adjusts the tension of the various strings using the knobs so that they are correctly tuned: a higher tension yields a sharper pitch, a lower tension a flatter pitch. Typical tensions for steel-string acoustic guitars with "light" tension strings are 10.5 kgf (23.3 lbf, 103 N) to 13.8 kgf (30.2 lbf, 135 N). In music, tuning is the process of producing or preparing to produce a certain pitch in relation to another, usually at the unison but often at some other interval. ... KGF is the short form of Kolar Gold Fields in Karnataka. ... The pound-force is a non-SI unit of force or weight (properly abbreviated lbf or lbf). The pound-force is equal to a mass of one pound multiplied by the standard acceleration due to gravity on Earth (which is defined as exactly 9. ... The newton (symbol: N) is the SI unit of force. ...


Varieties

Normally, worm gears provide a gear ratio of 14:1, though versions with 18:1 gear ratio also exist. They provide better accuracy in fine tuning, though are somewhat slower for initial string winding. Gears on a piece of farm equipment, gear ratio 1:1. ...

The machine heads on a classical guitar. Note the exposed gears and the decorations.


Several kinds of machine head apparatus exist: Download high resolution version (2228x1232, 455 KB)Machine head of a classical guitar, with gears apparent (c) 2004 David Monniaux File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Download high resolution version (2228x1232, 455 KB)Machine head of a classical guitar, with gears apparent (c) 2004 David Monniaux File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ...

  • on classical guitars (with nylon strings), the worm gears are generally exposed; the strings are wound on the pins inside grooves in the head;
  • on steel-string guitars, including "folk" acoustic guitars and electric guitars, the worm gears are generally placed in individual sealed enclosures with permanent lubrication, although budget models may have exposed gears fixed on plates housing a row of gears; several machine head placements are possible, depending on the shape of the headstock:
    • rectangular head, 2 rows of 3 pins (or 6 pins for 12-string guitars): found on most "Folk" and "Jazz" guitars and on Gibson Les Paul guitars;
    • a single diagonal row of 6 pins: found on Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster guitars;
    • one diagonal row of four pins and one diagonal row of two pins: found on Music Man guitars;
  • on bass guitars, where string tension is extremely high, larger, heavier-duty machine heads than those used on guitars are used. Bass tuners generally feature larger knobs than guitar tuners as well; often these are distinctively shaped, and known as "elephant ears." Gear ratios of 20:1 are used often. Exposed gears are much more common in premium bass guitars than in six string non-bass instruments.
The reverse of the machine heads on a "folk" steel-string acoustic guitar. Note the enclosed gears.

Since 1950s, guitar performance techniques evolved, and aggressive usage of tremolo arm became widespread. However, the original machine heads couldn't withstand the rigors of constant string tension changing, and strings got out of tune after using tremolo several times. Several manufacturers, including Grover and Floyd Rose, introduced a new design, commonly named locking machine heads nowadays: a machine head with additional mechanism to lock it in place and stabilize tuning while playing and using tremolo. However, such machine heads reached limited success, mostly because of their price: as of 2006, locking ones are about 50% more expensive than original. Many break strings when tension is increased while the mechanism is locked and later unlocked, which frequently happens in music stores. A classical guitar, also called a Spanish guitar, is a musical instrument from the family of musical instruments called chordophones. ... A steel string acoustic guitar is a modern form of guitar descended from the classical guitar, but strung with steel strings for a brighter, louder sound. ... Left: Rosa Hurricane, a heavy metal-style solid body guitar. ... Lubrication occurs when opposing surfaces are completely separated by a lubricant film. ... Typical headstock of an electric guitar This article is about part of a stringed instrument. ... For the jazz guitarist, see Les Paul. ... The Fender Telecaster, also known as a Tele, is a typically dual-pickup, solid-body electric guitar made by Fender. ... “Stratocaster” redirects here. ... The MusicMan logo Music Man is an American guitar, bass guitar and amplifier manufacturer. ... Martin EB18 Bass Guitar in flight case. ... Download high resolution version (2548x1848, 572 KB)reverse of the head of a folk guitar Copyright (c) 2004 David Monniaux File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Download high resolution version (2548x1848, 572 KB)reverse of the head of a folk guitar Copyright (c) 2004 David Monniaux File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... This does not cite its references or sources. ... A tremolo arm, tremolo bar, vibrato bar, whammy bar, or twang bar is a lever attached to the bridge and/or the tailpiece of an electric guitar or archtop guitar to enable the player to quickly vary the tension and sometimes the length of the strings temporarily, changing the pitch... Floyd Rose Original Floyd Rose is the organization that licenses, distributes and manufactures the Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo invented by Floyd D. Rose. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Note that on some guitars, such as those with Floyd Rose bridge, string tuning may be also conducted using microtuning tuners located at guitar bridge. In this case, main machine heads at headstock may be missing entirely, as well as the headstock itself. Floyd Rose Original Floyd Rose is the organization that licenses, distributes and manufactures the Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo invented by Floyd D. Rose. ...


Likewise, 'headless' guitars and basses, notably those designed by Steinberger and their licensed imitations, such as the Hohner Jack Bass, and unlicensed imitations such as the Washburn Bantam, have the machine heads at the body end. Steinbergers and Hohners require specialist double-ball end strings, whereas the Washburn Bantam can take regular strings. Steinberger refers to a series of distinctive electric guitars and bass guitars, designed and originally manufactured by Ned Steinberger. ... Hohner is a company specialising in the manufacture of musical instruments. ... Washburn family coat of arms Washburn (altertately Washbourne, Washburne, Washborn, DeWashborne, etc. ... Steinberger refers to a series of distinctive electric guitars and bass guitars, designed and originally manufactured by Ned Steinberger. ... Hohner is a company specialising in the manufacture of musical instruments. ... Washburn family coat of arms Washburn (altertately Washbourne, Washburne, Washborn, DeWashborne, etc. ...


Notable designs

Several manufacturers established well-known designs of knobs and whole machine heads. These designs are subject to copy and reference:

Martin EB18 Headstock showing Martin open type machine heads
Martin EB18 Headstock showing Martin open type machine heads
  • Rodgers
  • Grover-style
  • Schaller-style
  • Kluson-style
  • Wilkinson-style
  • Fender-style
  • Gibson-style
  • Speedwinder

Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2048x1536, 2133 KB) Licensing File links The following pages link to this file: C.F. Martin & Company Machine head ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2048x1536, 2133 KB) Licensing File links The following pages link to this file: C.F. Martin & Company Machine head ... Aftermarket Schaller machine heads fitted to a 12 string guitar. ... It has been suggested that Fender Amplifier History be merged into this article or section. ... // Gibson may refer to: Gibson Amphitheatre Gibson Appliance Gibson Girl Gibson Guitar Corporation Gibson cocktail Alexander Gibson (conductor) (1926–1995), Scottish composer and music director Alexander Gibson (industrialist) (1819–1913), Canadian industrialist Alfred Gibson (?–1874), Australian explorer Althea Gibson (1927–2003), African-American tennis player Bob Gibson (born 1935), American...

References

There are several US patents on machine heads, mostly covering various aspects of locking:

  • US5285709 (1994-02-15) John D. Grant Machine head for tuning a stringed instrument, especially a guitar or the like 
  • USD388817 (1998-01-06) Han Soo Kang Machine head for a guitar 
  • USD389508 (1998-01-20) Han Soo Kang Machine head for guitar 
  • US6078001 (2000-06-20) Han Soo Kang Machine head for guitars 
  • US6580022 (2003-06-17) Han Soo Kang Machine head for guitar 

  Results from FactBites:
 
Machine Head (band) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (986 words)
Machine Head is a heavy metal band, formed in 1992 in Oakland, California.
It has been said that Machine Head was one of the heaviest metal music bands to rise during the 1990's.
Machine Head released Supercharger in 2001, though the album failed to do well, mostly due to it being released shortly after 9/11.
Machine head - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (638 words)
The machine head is the part of a guitar or similar instrument, an apparatus for tuning strings, usually located at headstock.
However, such machine heads reached limited success, mostly because of their price: as of 2006, locking ones are about 50% more expensive than original.
In this case, main machine heads at headstock may be missing at all, as well as headstock itself.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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