Mandolin: Tuners

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 How do I choose new tuners?

   Many of the old mandolins I work on, arrive with broken, mismatched or no tuners at all. So after several years of replacing tuners, and searching for replacements, I now have a small stock of new tuners, used period tuners, and unused period tuners With a range available, one is faced with dilemma of..... 'How do you know which one?'  

   It is useful to know a couple of things....... firstly, your mandolin will either need a set to fit a slotted head/side mounted tuners (typical of many German instruments, but also some Italians) with the tuner knobs at the back, or flat head/back mounted tuners, (much more typical of Italian instruments) with the tuner buttons at the side. The latter can be of two kinds, either enclosed or open. The enclosed require a good section of the head to be cut away at the back. 

Enclosed tuners (Calace) Enclosed tuners (de Meglio) Flat head/back mounted tuners Slotted head/side mounted tuners
 When measuring the tuners, to buy new or period replacements, they are generally measured by the distance between the barrels, which as barrels are often bent slightly by string tension, is best done at the cog end.

The crucial measurements are A (the distance between the barrel centres); I (the diameter of the barrels), and B (the depth of the barrels). On back mounted, the string-hole should not be too far above the head, and on side mounted, in the centre of the head-slot. The other measurements are useful, but these are the ones which should tell you if the tuners will fit your tuner-hole set-up or not.

NB. common sizes for A are 23mm, 23.5mm, 24mm, and 25mm so measure accurately. But also beware, the distance between each tuner barrel is not always the same on a given set of tuners.

Tuner repair service

I am happy to try and fix old damaged tuners, especially for old Italian mandolins, and have done so quite a few times. If they are incapable of repair, then at least I have the original set against which to compare when trying to find a replacement set, as similar in size and style as possible. The most problematic to repair are those where elements are missing, or where the cog is worn.

Tuner and tailpiece cleaning and repair