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The Schaller Machine Heads were a snap to install and had a huge effect on how my guitar tuned and then held that tune.
Click image to enlarge

Schaller Machine Heads

Stepping up tuning precision and stability

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted – 9-19-2012

One of the first things that aggravate people who bought or built a “bargain” guitar is the tuning keys, often called “tuning or machine heads”. While the tuners that came with one of my kit guitars did work, I felt that they were causing some of my fine-tuning issues. The Schaller Machine Heads (#M6CH A) reviewed here were my choice to alleviate those woes.

The Problem

While this guitar was reasonably playable I was noticing that I had to tweak the tuning almost every time I picked it up. Then after playing it a while it often needed a second or third tweaking of the tuning to get it right again. Not a big issue for my decidedly non-pro playing but it was frustrating. My Fender Telecaster never needed re tuning after the strings had stretched in and that made me wonder about the tuning machines on my cheaper guitar. So, off to my local Guitar Center store for the Schaller Machine Heads shown here.

The Basics

The Schaller Machine Heads are precision-made replacements for what we have to understand are cheap look-a likes found on bargain guitars and guitar kits. The makers of those bargain guitars and kits just are not going to include $79 worth of tuning machines in a $200 item. However when we spend that $79 on the Schaller Machine Heads we can realize a marked improvement in the instrument.

The cheaper versions (left) look very much like the true Schallers (on the right in that photo) but the difference in performance is huge. Because the cheap ones were a copy the true Schallers dropped right in (right) needing only to move the retaining screw hole, making installation dead simple.
Click images to enlarge

The Schaller Machine Heads are remarkably smooth turning because of the quality gearing within their brightly polished case. I also noted that there are no “hard spots” as with the cheap tuners. The Schaller Machine Heads turn consistently and easily throughout the tuning process. And, as I would find out later they stay where you left them once the guitar is tuned.

Plugged In

The Schaller Machine Heads are often copied so they are usually a direct replacement for the cheap imitators. That was the case with my installation. I simply removed the original tuners and installed the Schaller Machine Heads and only had to reposition the retaining screws on the back of the head. I did have to make sure that I had the left and right versions in the right place but after that the installation was very simple.

As soon as I started putting on the strings I knew this upgrade was going to be worth the cash. The Schaller Machine Heads are super smooth turning and the 1:12 ratio means that turning them is nearly effortless even after the string reaches full tension. That ratio also gives you some “wiggle room” around the perfect tuning position so tuning your guitar just right is easier.

It also became apparent soon after installing the Schaller Machine Heads that they were holding the tune very well. The guitar that needed to be re tuned every time I picked it up started acting a lot like my Fender Telecaster. Once the strings stretched out the tuning stayed put.

Conclusions

Video Tour

Making the tuning of your guitar easier in terms of accuracy and then holding that setting securely benefits anyone who plays. The Schaller Machine Heads do just that along with bringing the peace of mind that comes with using quality parts on our instruments. Best of all the Schaller Machine Heads have a street price of $79.99 (8-08-2012). That makes them every bit as good of a value as they are an improvement to your guitar.

If you are fighting cheap tuning machines or just want to step up your guitar, the Schaller Machine Heads should be a must see. Schaller is a well-known name in the guitar world with good reason. They have lots of experience making top-level parts that help us play better.

Visit the Schaller Machine Heads web page – Click Here

Have a comment on this review? –Email Me

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