Can anyone out there help me with a tuner question?

Alegre1
Alegre1
@alegre1
3 weeks ago
30 posts

Ken Longfield:


I'm coming in late to this discussion Linda, but let me add a thought or two. First, I think the tuners are banjo friction tuners ( probably Champion) and the plastic buttons were replaced by walnut buttons. I don't know if this was done by the manufacturer (Grover) or by McSpadden. Second, wood is subject to changes in humidity and temperature. After taking the dulcimer out of the closet, there may have been some swelling or shrinking of the wood in the peg head. Sometimes when the screw bottoms out another washer, which is thicker than the original, can be used to thicken the side wall of the peg head allowing more space for the screw to tighten. There really isn't anything to malfunction on those pegs as they are a friction fit, but unlike violin pegs where the friction is within the peg hole, the friction on these pegs is against the wall of the peg head.


Ken


"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."


Hi Ken, thank you for sharing this; I hadn't thought of the "why" the disfunction so this helps. However, all of the responses have made me wonder the "how" these tuners actually work. Wish I could see an animation of the interior as they are tightened or loosened.  Thanks again. sun Linda

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
3 weeks ago
1,077 posts

I'm coming in late to this discussion Linda, but let me add a thought or two. First, I think the tuners are banjo friction tuners ( probably Champion) and the plastic buttons were replaced by walnut buttons. I don't know if this was done by the manufacturer (Grover) or by McSpadden. Second, wood is subject to changes in humidity and temperature. After taking the dulcimer out of the closet, there may have been some swelling or shrinking of the wood in the peg head. Sometimes when the screw bottoms out another washer, which is thicker than the original, can be used to thicken the side wall of the peg head allowing more space for the screw to tighten. There really isn't anything to malfunction on those pegs as they are a friction fit, but unlike violin pegs where the friction is within the peg hole, the friction on these pegs is against the wall of the peg head.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Alegre1
Alegre1
@alegre1
3 weeks ago
30 posts

Richard Streib:

There is a small fiber washer in the mechanism if my memory is still good. Sometimes that can be the culprit. I have had some success loosening them a lot and then slowly tightening them back down. If you ever disassemble one all the way take note of the order of the metal and the fiber washers on the shaft. Sometimes just using them will get them holding again. After all no exercise for 40 + years and we all forget how to do things.

Richard Streib:

There is a small fiber washer in the mechanism if my memory is still good. Sometimes that can be the culprit. I have had some success loosening them a lot and then slowly tightening them back down. If you ever disassemble one all the way take note of the order of the metal and the fiber washers on the shaft. Sometimes just using them will get them holding again. After all no exercise for 40 + years and we all forget how to do things.

 

Dear Richard, thank you, thank you! Your suggestion is much appreciated because I finally got the courage to take it apart--your advice to take note of the washer order saved me. As it turns out, they have two metal washers sandwiched between a plastic ring.  By taking them apart, and putting them back together, for some mysterious reason they then worked. I've attached a photo of the innards. I'm very grateful to you! Linda

IMG_7131.jpg
IMG_7131.jpg  •  161KB

Alegre1
Alegre1
@alegre1
3 weeks ago
30 posts

Wally Venable:

Richard said " If you ever disassemble one all the way take note of the order of the metal and the fiber washers on the shaft."

Perhaps at some time in the past someone took one or more of them apart and incorrectly reassembled them. If one is better than another, you might have a model to check against.

 

Hiya again, Wally, see the response I just wrote. Merci, Linda

Alegre1
Alegre1
@alegre1
3 weeks ago
30 posts

Wally Venable:


You asked "what type of tuner?" I just looked at your photo, and you tuners are interesting in their own right due to the way the wood is held between metal fingers. I can't find any match on the Elderly Instrument tuners web page, and there are a lot of designs there.
https://www.elderly.com/pages/search-results?offset=456&q=tuners


Friction pegs (non-violin type) are common on banjos and ukuleles. Looking at the following web pages I identified about five basic types. Some use fiber washers while others use plastic. Yours appear to be fiber since some are more compressed than others.


All About Ukulele Friction Tuners - Got A Ukulele Beginners Tips


Banjo Tuner Tips & Tricks


Some really old high quality instruments used tapered tuning pegs, apparently designed to fit in the holes used for violin pegs. A video dealing with these is:
1920’s Martin Ukulele- What to do about the friction pegs?


One of the videos mentions screws bottoming out. That might be your problem if the wood has shrunk over the past 40 years. That could explain the left-right difference.



 


Dear Wally, and you are a dear!  I am amazed by all the learning I have gotten from your email and those of others who have replied.  I never dreamed I would have the courage to take apart the tuners on a musical instrument because, in the past, I have had a 98% failure rate on putting things together that I have taken apart.winker   I didn't even have the language to describe those pegs because I knew they weren't the violin friction type, nor the geared type. So, thank you. As it turns out, they have two metal washers sandwiched between a plastic ring.  By taking them apart, and putting them back together, voila, now they work--not sure why except maybe the dulcimer was happier that someone was paying attention to it. So again, many thanks. Linda

IMG_7131.jpg
IMG_7131.jpg  •  161KB

Wally Venable
Wally Venable
@wally-venable
3 weeks ago
63 posts

You asked "what type of tuner?" I just looked at your photo, and you tuners are interesting in their own right due to the way the wood is held between metal fingers. I can't find any match on the Elderly Instrument tuners web page, and there are a lot of designs there.
https://www.elderly.com/pages/search-results?offset=456&q=tuners

Friction pegs (non-violin type) are common on banjos and ukuleles. Looking at the following web pages I identified about five basic types. Some use fiber washers while others use plastic. Yours appear to be fiber since some are more compressed than others.

All About Ukulele Friction Tuners - Got A Ukulele Beginners Tips

Banjo Tuner Tips & Tricks

Some really old high quality instruments used tapered tuning pegs, apparently designed to fit in the holes used for violin pegs. A video dealing with these is:
1920’s Martin Ukulele- What to do about the friction pegs?

One of the videos mentions screws bottoming out. That might be your problem if the wood has shrunk over the past 40 years. That could explain the left-right difference.

Wally Venable
Wally Venable
@wally-venable
3 weeks ago
63 posts

Richard said " If you ever disassemble one all the way take note of the order of the metal and the fiber washers on the shaft."

Perhaps at some time in the past someone took one or more of them apart and incorrectly reassembled them. If one is better than another, you might have a model to check against.

Richard Streib
Richard Streib
@richard-streib
3 weeks ago
233 posts

There is a small fiber washer in the mechanism if my memory is still good. Sometimes that can be the culprit. I have had some success loosening them a lot and then slowly tightening them back down. If you ever disassemble one all the way take note of the order of the metal and the fiber washers on the shaft. Sometimes just using them will get them holding again. After all no exercise for 40 + years and we all forget how to do things.

Alegre1
Alegre1
@alegre1
3 weeks ago
30 posts

Ken Hulme:

Those tuners should have a tiny screw in the end of each knob, which adjust how 'firmly' they stay in tune.  Start with a 1/4 turn tighter and see how that works.  Need more turn a little more...  Too tight and they won't adjust.

 

Hi Ken, Thank you so much for the tip. That was the first thing I tried, and they were a little loose, but now the pegs on the right keep slipping. I appreciate the thought, though!

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 weeks ago
2,120 posts

Those tuners should have a tiny screw in the end of each knob, which adjust how 'firmly' they stay in tune.  Start with a 1/4 turn tighter and see how that works.  Need more turn a little more...  Too tight and they won't adjust.

Alegre1
Alegre1
@alegre1
3 weeks ago
30 posts

Greetings!  A friend recently gave me a 1979 McSpadden dulcimer that has been sitting in her closet since 1980, and she is moving so didn't want to take it with her. It's signed by Larry McSpadden! The first couple of days I couldn't get it to stay in tune; one of the tuning pegs kept slipping; I finally got it to stay in CGC, much to my surprise and lots of tries. Then, after playing it a day or two I got it to DAD.  I am ASTONISHED at the resonance and sustain on this instrument, not to mention the drone. Just amazing!  So, I cleaned it up and restrung it, and now both pegs on the left keep slipping. 

Does anyone know what kind of tuners these are and if they are fixable? The two on the right still grab, but neither on the left. Thank you for any suggestions. sun


updated by @alegre1: 03/21/24 06:41:56PM