More about fine tuners

All about fine tuners, including whether to include or add them.

More about fine tuners

Postby Bob Lewis » Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:23 am

The original fine tuners were designed for the Oscar Schmidt model B and were installed on autoharps in 1982-83 until the US factory closed. Those were aluminum. All the imports thereafter were solid brass and twice as heavy.

Any fine tuners available for an older model A or one of that design would need to be a specially machined version. The common part fits only the model B.

Precision and then quality of these parts is quite variable. Without precision one is better off without them. It is good advice to get them installed professionally by someone who will take responsibility for everything being right, who knows intimately how they should operate, and who knows how to correct things.

Fine tuners included on a model right from the factory are notoriously faulty, often counterproductive. It is really a better plan to have them installed or to have a factory installation torn down and corrected (by someone who knows how). That will also yield a better quality set of strings, replaced as part of the project.

There are other versions of fine tuners as follows:

1) George Orthey had a set developed for a 37 string, model A type instrument, principally that he could use on his Orthey Dulciharps. George has a special version available for a model B that uses a taller cam and is for 36 strings. Note that aluminum cams may groove under the steel strings, possibly causing buzzing. Discuss that with George.

2) Pete Daigle developed a fine tuner assembly but it only serves a model A style instrument, i.e. one with a bridge that sits in front of the tuners. A model B installation is possible, but it includes installation of a bridge, changing the character and basic design concept of the instrument.

3) Bob Lewis developed an all aluminum fine tuner assembly that was easily adaptable to either model A or model B. A hard anodized version of the aluminum cam is used for the model B. The design is just a refinement of the concept used in the Oscar Schmidt tuners. It is also a hybrid that includes all the mounting screw holes needed for a model A installation using the base common to either model A or B. Bases are available for 36 or 37 strings. Bob and other luthiers are using it on hand made model A style instruments. At half the weight of Oscar Schmidt tuners, they also have served well on collector grade US vintage model B instruments such as the OS100 Centurion and OS200 or 210 Festival models, models on which too much weight noticeably reduces the tone and volume of the instrument. Since the tuners are made in USA and in low volume quantities, they are expensive, so the more prized model B instruments are the ones that justify the expense of the enhancement.
Bob Lewis
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