I don't understand the GJ tuner prices - your opinion

I'm trying to figure out which tuners I'll offer on my guitars. I was born & raised a "Grover" man... but it looks like GJ rigs don't favor Grovers so I'm doing some research.

Truthfully... my reaction to the GJ tuner prices is somewhere between shock and (laughing myself silly) and I'm trying to find out whether this particular look of tuners is important to people purchasing guitars in the $2,600 - $4,500 price range.

Below is a picture of the several types of tuners I'm considering. Below the picture is a name/price decoder key. I'm going to try to remain open minded because after all - it's the customer's opinion that counts. But here is my take on this. I have Gotoh's on my Dell Arte and I like them except the knobs come loose and need to be tightened... it's a PITA. I have Schallers on my Park and LOVE them. I have Grovers on my guitar and I like them. I have Millers (one of the highend SB reproductions) on my Busato and I like them a lot - I have also tried SBs / DRs / DMs they look cool and they stay in tune and feel good - but they don't have that silky but solid feel that you get from a true premium handmade tuner. (my humble opinion - your mileage may vary)

When I see that I could get top of the line Waverly tuners or even have tuners made from scratch by Gilbert tuners (or Rogers or other highend hand made tuners) for anywhere from $50 to $100 less than the SB re-issues... I'm just not sure how to interpret that. Seriously - the prices charged for these reproduction tuners is more than the cost of the soundboard! More than the back & sides!! (Holy Cow)

So - please help me understand. Do you folks actually value these tuners that much? Are you willing to pay that kind of premium? If you played two really amazing handmade instruments with great playability and huge voices and you couldn't tell them apart blindfolded ... but one was $2,650 with Schallers and one was $2,900 with DRs... which would you get?
You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.


  • mmaslanmmaslan Santa Barbara, CANew
    Posts: 87
    I have the Waverlies on my Collins and I love them. I consulted Paul Hostetter before choosing and he said about the DRs pretty much what you say. The Eimers tuners had just come out then and I looked at then a long time, but they were twice as much as the Waverlies, and I just couldn't justify it. The Mullers and AJLs weren't around then, but they're in the same price range as the Eimers, no? There's nothing wrong with the Kluson-style Gotohs, either, and they're cheap. But I thought they'd look kind of boxy on a slotted peghead. Until a North American luthier starts making good repro tuners and offering them on his or her guitars at a discount, as some of the Europeans do, I think these things are out of sight. Great looking though!
  • badjazzbadjazz Maui, Hawaii USA✭✭✭ AJL
    Posts: 130
    as long as they stay in tune, feel decent, and don't look completely ridiculous, they are fine with me. I'd rather not pay a bunch more for some name tuners. I prefer closed ones so that they don't get dirt in them. Just my 2 cents.
  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,752
    badjazz wrote:
    as long as they stay in tune, feel decent, and don't look completely ridiculous, they are fine with me. I'd rather not pay a bunch more for some name tuners. I prefer closed ones so that they don't get dirt in them. Just my 2 cents.

    Agreed-keeping the tuning is the most important, and almost the only important thing, to me. I will say, though, that I like the looks of the #4 and 5 tuners, just for the color, but I wouldn't pay the extra bucks, usually. If you're doing handmade guitars, though, couldn't you offer all of these and provide them on a case to case basis?

  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    I read in a Guitar Player magazine that the sealed/enclosed tuners were actually a Maccaferri innovation intended to eliminate the need to lubricate them from time to time.

    Anyway... just for looks my favorites are the AJL.
  • TenorClefTenorClef UKNew
    Posts: 150
    Its hard to justify spending a fortune on tuners unless you have the cash to play with :D For a couple of my Gitanes i bought the Gotohs which did require some filing to fit but looked significantly better than the Frankenstein efforts that came with my D500 & DG255. Also they held the tuning fine with no problems and are very pretty, they have a look of the far more expensive Rodgers Tuner which cost around £300 UK. But lets face it the DR Tuners look way cool 8)
    Currently-Gitane 250M
    Previously-Gitane 255
    Previously- Gitane D500
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,124
    These Schaller knock offs are used on the Gitane DG-300 Jorgenson models. They're really well made and at $40, a great bargain!

  • sockeyesockeye Philadelphie sur SchuylkillNew
    edited May 2007 Posts: 415
    The Miller tuners are "only" $205 from ****.

    I think the covered Selmer-style tuners look so cool, but it's up to you whether they're worth it. I have never used tuners that worked better than Waverlies. But then I've never used Alessi machines, which make all these others look downright cheap. I like the open Schallers on my Park OK, but I don't think they're as good as Waverlies -- they have a bit more "slop" in the gears. I had the Gotohs pictured above on the Gitane DG-330s I owned and they were OK too -- fairly comparable to the Schallers in function.

  • Josh HeggJosh Hegg Tacoma, WAModerator
    Posts: 622
    My deal is that if I build a guitar or own a hand made guitar I feel that putting cheap tuners on it is just not cool. Now I don't think you have to spend $300 on tuners in order for them to be good. As long as they are smooth, stay in tune, don't have play in them, look good with the look of the guitar... then who cares how much they cost. Now I have found that the tuners that I like the most are not cheap. The Dupont tuners are the best I have used in the GJ style hands down. But the tuners in Michael's post are great too. They are smooth, stay in tune and I have used them on my own guitars and many others.

    It's sort of like set up... Every one has their own way they like their guitar. I think tuners, strings, fret gauge, wood used in the bridge, etc. can fall into this too. If you like them then use them. If you don't then change them. My Patenotte came with Grovers and I could not stand them. They felt bad to me and I didn't like them. I'm sure there are other players that like them. Nothing wrong with that.

  • ElliotElliot Madison, WisconsinNew
    Posts: 551
    I'm sure none of them are bad tuners, so I would decide based on the style of the guitar. If you are making an Art Deco Modern looking guitar, I'd use #3 or maybe #5. If it is an Old World vintage look you're after, then #4 or #6 would be appropriate, obviously. The others look a bit chintzy to me, visually speaking, and don't belong on a guitar in the price range you are anticipating.
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    Gents - thank you very much!!

    You're all gear heads and knowledgeable about these guitars. Here's what I'm gathering from your feedback.

    1.) Functionality is THE most important aspect. Are they responsive/smooth/accurate/free of slop - and do they stay in tune. In other words: Above all - can you count on the tuners? Can you confidently gig with the tuners night after night and not worry about them letting you down from any functional performance aspect. There are additional functional aspects such as closed vs. open (perhaps others such as preferred gear ratio? I should have asked that too)
    2.) Look & style are also important, particularly as price and/or stylistic elements of the guitar go up, but "reproduction tuners" are not the only acceptable option. "Look" has a lot do to with quality & fit & finish and appropriateness for the style (IE, aesthetics / size / age / era)
    3.) There is a good deal of respect for traditional highend tuners among Gypsy Jazz handmade guitar enthusiasts (Rogers, Alessi, Gilbert, Waverly etal.) and a realization that the price premium for SB reproductions is perhaps a little unusual.

    So - given your feedback I'm likely going to offer Schallers as "standard" and have two "premium" offerings - one would likely be Waverly and one would likely be Schaller premium closed back. I could jig-up for these and offer them for the upcharge in materials only. It probably also makes sense to basically say: "I'll use any tuners you want - but the upcharge applies to the deposit and there is a nominal fee for installation" (because installing tuners without an install jig made especially for those tuners is a real bear... and sometimes you have to alter the depth / thickness of the rails or even the headstock...) If a preference for one of the reproduction tuners arises - then I'll jig up for it and make it a "premium" offering (Ie., get an install jig machined and charge only for the materials premium) I just don't want to do that at the start because drilling jigs are best made out of metal so they stay accurate - and it takes some time and money to design them and have them made at a machine shop. Some parts of luthiery are art - and some are science. Getting tuners installed right so that they look and work perfectly is a whole lot more about science than art - everything must be dead straight - perfectly aligned and all angles must be exactly 90 degrees every single time.

    Again, Thanks!
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
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