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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 10:24 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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A few years ago I made a flat-top mandolin/mandolinito one of the challenges here. It was my first (and only) mando and was kind of designed on the fly. It seems to generate interest when people play it and I’m considering doing another prototype to try and address some things I didn’t quite like on the first. I’d like to do this as inexpensively as possible in case it is a bust. I can put together a nice mando with what I have lying around and not be out much money except for the tuners. I saw, and was about to buy some Chinese tuners on ebay for next to nothing with the idea that I would upgrade them if the instrument was a success. Then I noticed that all the inexpensive Chinese tuners I see on ebay are listed as 25 mm (or they say approx. 25 mm) between tuner post centers. Most of the StewMac tuners are listed as 23.01 mm. That would be a 5.97 mm difference (just shy of ¼”).

I wouldn’t expect there to be so many junk tuners available that would not fit most mandolins in circulation nor would I expect a whole sub-industry devoted to creating cheap tuners for one off mandolins. What am I missing here? I don’t want end up having it turn out really nice and have to plug and predrill the peghead. . .

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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 12:12 pm 
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Cocobolo
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I have never tried the Chinese tuners so I can't say if they work or not. The mandolin has a reputation for being hard to tune up. This is in large part due to high tension strings and double courses of strings that must match up to be in tune. A single G string has 25 lbs. of tension. For these reasons, I recommend using better tuners than these probably are. What you save on wood may have to be spent on good tuners. I always use Grover but I have heard that Stew Mac Golden Age tuners are also very good. If you do try the Chinese tuners be sure to tell us how they work. It seems weird that they are spaced so far apart. Why would they do that?

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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 12:53 pm 
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Cocobolo
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I would use the better tuners. If the mandolin is a bust, save the tuners and make a better mandolin. :lol:


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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 1:06 pm 
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I wouldn't use the non-standard tuners if for no other reason then you wouldn't be able to upgrade if you didn't like them.

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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 1:11 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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I'll probably end up using the StewMac economy tuners, they are still inexpensive and have the correct spacing. I'm mostly curious about why there are so many with larger spacing. Not being a mandolin person, I thought there might be two different standards or something. Obviously, someone is mass producing these so there has to be a market for this size. Or, it could be that the 25 mm is an error (and really 23) that keeps getting copied and pasted when the translated descriptions are put in the ebay ads. I'm almost temped to buy a set and measure them. . .

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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 1:31 pm 
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I don't know. I was out there trolling for mandolin parts today so looked at some of the tuners. There are a lot of low-cost options at 23 mm so it would make sense to go with that. No telling where the 25mm versions are coming from, maybe someone has some left-over guitar tooling they wanted to use idunno

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These users thanked the author SteveSmith for the post: Bryan Bear (Mon May 18, 2015 1:43 pm)
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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 5:09 pm 
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Koa
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Bryan Bear wrote:
. I'm almost temped to buy a set and measure them. . .

While it's not my nature to buy Chinese, I would bet a couple of beers that their actual spacing is virtually identical to standard US spec, which you have to admit is already pretty oddball. Not like the Chinese to invent a spec when they copy stuff. "Approx 25 mm" sounds pretty close to an honest description of a copy.


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These users thanked the author Tim Mullin for the post: Bryan Bear (Mon May 18, 2015 6:39 pm)
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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 10:18 pm 
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Cocobolo
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Some of the Chinese mandolins (Rogue) have 25mm post spacing rather than the 23mm found on most mandolins. So 25mm is probably accurate as these do fit some of the mandolins out there.

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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 2:56 am 
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As has been said, it is a good idea to use standard spacing in case you decide to change tuners later. I also recommend Stewmac's tuner drill jig, if you are not set up to make one accurately, as even the smallest misalignment of the holes will cause the tuner posts to bind, the gears will wear faster etc. The tuners will simply not work optimally, and since tuning is sort of finicky with mandolins anyways, it can be a real PIA. This tool takes care of this issue, one less thing to worry about.

Don't buy cheap tuners, they are nothing but trouble. For some reason, the quality of mandolin tuners is generally not as good as you might expect, and there are not nearly as many quality brands to chose from as for guitar tuners. IMO: For a hand made mandolin the holes should be drilled accurately and the tuners should be at least decent, why else bother?

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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 7:20 am 
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Cocobolo
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I have a set of cheap Chinese tuners, intended for an experimental taro patch ukulele (sort of - will post pics if it works). Am busy today and this evening, but will try to remember to measure the post centres spacing tomorrow and report back.


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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 7:34 am 
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Koa
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Cush wrote:
Some of the Chinese mandolins (Rogue) have 25mm post spacing rather than the 23mm found on most mandolins. So 25mm is probably accurate as these do fit some of the mandolins out there.

Oops, well I might be owing a couple of beers!


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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 8:59 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Thanks for all the input gang! Learning that there are indeed low end mandos with 25 mm spacing is what I was wondering about. I'll be going with regular spacing when this project gets going.

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Bryan Bear PMoMC

Take care of your feet, and your feet will take care of you.


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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 12:58 pm 
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Cocobolo
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Measured - definitely 25mm on my set. A bit creaky, but should be fine for nylon strings.


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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 1:28 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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See, I learned something from this thread :) I'm surprised that there are two common sizes but you don't hear about it too much. I would think there would be a bunch of people complaining about replacement tuners not fitting. I suppose the lower end mandos with 15 mm spacing don't often get upgraded to better tuners. they likely get upgraded to better mandos. . .

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Bryan Bear PMoMC

Take care of your feet, and your feet will take care of you.


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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 7:45 pm 
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Cocobolo
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Just to add confusion to the mix, some vintage mandolins apparently had wider post spacing (23.6mm) than todays tuners (23.01mm) as referenced in StewMac's catalog.


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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 9:04 pm 
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Koa
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I just checked my cheap Chinese mando tuners and they are 23.8 mm using a dial-micrometer and eye-balling the centers.

Bob :ugeek:


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