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Kenray

Viola Fine Tuners on a Guitar?

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Kenray    0

Long time lurker, first time poster, forgive me if this is a silly question:

Has anyone considered using viola fine tuners on a guitar bridge?

I somewhat accidentally ran across these on a related web search, and am wondering why not install them on a guitar?

I've never seen such a thing, but can't think of why it could not be possible...

Thanks for your thoughts.

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curtisa    465

The gearing ratio on most guitar tuners makes fine tuners on the bridge somewhat redundant. There's plenty of fine tuning ability on a standard worm-driven guitar tuner with a 14:1 to 18:1 reduction ratio.

The only exception I can think of is the fine tuners fitted to Floyd Rose double locking bridges. In that instance the fine tuner is provided because the nut has to lock the strings down, and once done the standard tuners at the headstock will no longer have any effect.

Perhaps ukulele's may have a need for fine tuners at the bridge? 

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Kenray    0

someone at the Gibson corporation thinks there is a market for fine tuning tailpiece action, to the tune of $140 USD.

 

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Andyjr1515    528

I think it's horses for courses.  

The violin / viola fine tuners were developed because the traditional wooden peg system at the head is very difficult to adjust finely enough for the upper strings.

Because of the leverage of holding the violin in place with your chin at the other end of the headstock, it seems to make design sense that the 'mechanical aid', when it became available, would be put at the tailstock end so you could rough tune with the pegs, then fine tune with the metal tuners.

Traditional guitars also started with wooden pegs (many flamenco guitars still do) but here the leverage isn't usually as much of an issue.  Hence the machine heads, when they became available, followed the standard configuration and just replaced the pegs.

With a locking nut tremolo system, you still need machine heads to get the strings basically to pitch but then the strings are clamped down at the nut to minimise tuning issues with major string bending from the trem.  But with the strings locked down at the nut (which itself affects the tuning slightly) there needed to be a simple fine adjustment somewhere else - hence the screw fine tuners on the trem.

The Gibson bridge above is similar - but to improve tuning stability not, this time, caused by major whammy bar use but by significant string bending.  The strings will be clamped at the nut, just like on a Floyd Rose, and there will be conventional tuners used, with the nut clamps loosened, to put the initial stretch on the strings.

There is, of course, no reason why you couldn't fix the ball ends of the strings at the headstock and have the tuning mechanism at the bridge - especially if you are trying to eliminate neck dive from heavy hardware on a long neck - which is exactly what 'headless' tuning systems such as Steinberger do.

 

So broadly, it's all about 'what problem needs solving and what is the most practical way of solving that'

Don't know if any of that makes any sense :)

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GregP    8

That stop tailpiece is pretty neat. Even with normal tuners, there are times I wish I had finer control, and these would fit the bill. Also, a quick twist with the strumming hand would be a lot more convenient mid-song (and mid-chord) than trying to reach for the headstock tuners with your strumming hand.

One of those things I don't see as being "necessary" (unless the guitar has a locking nut) but which could be a handy added convenience. Apparently a decent number of guitars use(d) these without a locking nut, so somebody out there valued that extra convenience. :)

 

 

 

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Kenray    0

Yes Greg, yes Norris, and YES Andy - the reason this comes up for me is that my go to is to bend the living crap out of g and b. I have a floyd rose and love being able to make that micro adjustment with my right hand. Not a big fan of the floyd, tho. Don't use the guitar that much. I would find it interesting to put fine tuners on a Les Paul or similar. 

And tru on you Norris, it would look boss as heck.

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GregP    8

That would be pretty badass.

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GregP    8

Certainly the more challenging part is going to be the design and crafting of the tailpiece itself. A somewhat ugly proof-of-concept wouldn't be too hard (the tailpiece could be a flat hunk of hardwood with a loop to go around the strap button) but invoking the aesthetic of the viola tailpiece while deciding on tuner placement (3 forward and 3 back, staggered should work!) would be an interesting project.

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GregP    8

I am a numpty... my veteran status and huge number of posts are from an earlier time when I was all talk and no action. ;)

I couldn't pretend to know what I would be doing and design such a thing. I have vague general ideas of how it might look, but in terms of actual execution, I am a worthless source of knowledge! Haha. In other words, don't hold your breath for anything worthwhile to come out of me. Since it's a pretty great idea, I suggest you go ahead and come up with some sketches!

At the end of the day, what it boils down to in guitar-land is that it is a "trapeze tailpiece" made of wood and with viola-type aesthetic choices.... fitted with viola-style fine tuners. You would probably want to do the same thing as trapeze tailpieces and have the "loop" go not around the strap button itself, but "between" the button and the guitar, In other words, the same way trapeze tailpieces work.

If I do find myself doodling around, though, I will be sure to share it.

 

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mattharris75    164

Conceptually it seems fine, it's a bit like a headless tuner system, really. However, viola hardware is probably not designed for the strings and tension of a guitar. So, a redesign would likely be in order.

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GregP    8

I can't see why it would be a problem. All the viola tuners do is add more tension to the string after the bridge. If they weren't called "viola fine tuners" you would just see a simple levering device with fine-threaded screws. Although it did make me wonder for the first time if the ball ends of the guitar strings would be compatible with the viola tuners.

 

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curtisa    465

One thing you may have to watch out for if you go ahead with this is that the fine tuners appear to raise the strings quite high off the guitar body. This could have an impact on the amount of downforce that each string can exert on the bridge as they pass over each saddle. At best it will change the tone, as less pressure on the bridge translates to less transfer of the strings' vibration energy onto the body. Worst case it may make the strings easy to dislodge from each saddle as the downforce isn't sufficient to retain the string on the saddle, An overly vigorous strum may make the strings roll right off the saddles.

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