What Are The Tuners On A Guitar Called? Even the best musicians cannot make great music from an out-of-tune guitar! The notes are all out of whack, and the strings aren’t as responsive as they should be in your fingers. 

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It is where the tuners come in. Also known as machine heads or gear heads, tuners are geared devices used in tuning the guitar by adjusting the tension on its strings. These are placed on the headstock, the end part of the guitar after the neck.

The Purpose Of Tuners

The tuners, or tuning keys, can be loosed and tightened by a simple turning motion. Each string has a corresponding tuner, so turning the latter will mean either increasing or decreasing the tension on the former. There may be a few turns, either subtle or significant until the strings are in tune.

The rules here are:

  1. The greater the tension, the sharper the pitch
  2. The lower the tension, the flatter the pitch

Keep in mind that the amount of tension that will result in a properly tuned guitar depends on the type of guitar, among other factors. For a steel-string acoustic guitar, for example, the relatively light tension on the strings range from 10.5 kgf to 13.8 kgf.

Tuners are also used in troubleshooting the issues of an out-of-tune guitar. The notes may be flat because the strings aren’t wound tightly enough around their tuning pegs. The gears inside the tuners may also have significant wear and tear, resulting in loose string tension. The machine heads may also be loosely anchored on the back of the headstock resulting in unstable tuning.

If your guitar seems flat or sharp, then the first thing you should do is to check its tuners and strings. The abovementioned issues could be the culprit. 

The Types Of Tuners

These are the five main types of machine heads available:

  • Vintage open-back machine heads – These are the first-ever tuners. These are lighter than the other types resulting in more balanced and less total mass for the headstock area. But these are less likely to withstand years of use due to their exposed internal mechanisms. 
  • Vintage closed-back machine heads – These are similar in function to their open-back counterparts but with a difference. These are covered with housing, also known as a casing around the gears.  The Machine Head – Kluson, 6/line, is a good example.
  • Side-mounted tuners – These have a similar appearance to vintage open-back tuners. But these are slightly different in terms of functionality. These are usually used in classical guitars, including flamenco guitars, and mounted on the side of the headstock.
  • Sealed tuning machines – These are typically made of metal and, thus, these are likely to last longer. There are two types, namely: the sealed tuning nut with a mounted screw and the sealed tuning nut with an indexing pin.
  • Lock-in tuning machine heads – These have their locking screws built into their sealed units. The Fender Locking Tuners Chrome is an example.


To conclude, it is easy to overlook the importance of tuners in your guitar’s overall form and function. But don’t do it because these are among the best tools in your arsenal that can keep your guitar sounding like the harp from heaven. 

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