A client wants to use my tuners for a nylon string project. This is very exciting, and I think it will work extremely well considering the low weight and the resonance of the material.
The problem: the action of the tuner is not enough to pull the string to the required tension. Finger tightening the nylon string and then locking it with the standard string lock leaves the string almost an octave low when the full action of the tuner has been used.
The solution: a “coarse tuner”. All we need is a quick way of bringing the string up to a reasonable pitch and then fine tune it the normal way. I went through a lot of deliberations before coming up with a design that fits into the elegant, pared down approach of the EGS system. One challenge was coming up with a way to fasten the tuner in the instrument in a non-obtrusive way. Another was achieving a one-hand action (which I only partially arrived at a solution for…). The final challenge was coming up with a good, easy to manufacture, way to allow turning the tuner to sufficient tension – with an allen key, a screw drive, a coin or fingers. The chosen solution uses an allen key since this is part of most guitarists’ cases anyway.
The prototype uses a regular screw as the basis, and the housing that can be seen to the left is threaded on to it. A real implementation would likely be cut from a single piece of aluminium.
The assembled tuner. The post turns freely when it is pressed down. It locks into the grooves when released. As you can see, it has four positions. This is more than enough to achieve the action that is required.
So – how do to fasten it onto the guitar? The prototype has a regular M8 thread. The production version would have a self-cutting thread more suitable for wood. My lab plate, I drilled a 6.5 mm hole into and then used a tap to actually cut M8 threads into the wood. It is very easy to fasten it, by turning clock-wise. The “ledge” stops it from digging into the wood too much.
Thread the string through the post, just like a normal tuner. Then _press_ down on the allen key and turn counter-clock-wise to tighten the string. The direction is important – this will make the tuner lock itself even tighter into the wood. If you were to tighten the string by a clock-wise motion, the tension would un-wind it…
The tightened string. The way it turned out, the spring is not powerful enough to let the lock “pop” into place. This is an effect of using a screw as the basis, and the friction it causes against the housing. The final version should be smoother and when lubricated, it should slide up and down more easily. Now, I had to pull on the housing with one hand to make it lock while the other hand held it tightened.
I could very quickly pull this B string up to a G# and then fine-tune using the regular tuner up to B. I also tried an A string that I pulled up to F# and tuned to A. Now – off to beta test with the client and hope it falls out well!
Today, Rick Toone and Robert Irizarry (of buildingtheergonomicguitar.com) launched a new site called eLUTHERIE.org, which is a community for exchanging designs and ideas related to improving string instruments. I am thrilled to be one of their featured guests and part of the Marketplace.
I am very excited about this new development. I myself decided early to make my works public and try to engage my visitors in my design process, and also place trust in the global community that my thoughts will not be misused. eLUTHERIE.org is a step in the same direction, fostering collaboration and sharing, and ultimately better stringed instruments. I look forward to being part of it.
I have shipped a couple of orders of fixed bridges lately, causing me to think a little more about packaging. I want to be able to easily cater to orders of varying sizes in line with my individual tuner concept. So, here is what I came up with.
This is a package for a single tuner. The tuner and string lock are mounted in line with each other and the nylon string illustrates how it is used. The outer shell is held together with rubber bands.
Above is a 6-pack of tuners. Here, the outer shell is “sewn” together with a piece of string. I will try to come up with a way to print on the paper before folding it. If I succeed, it will open up some nice possibilities. The paper is quite heavy though, but my printer has a slider for putting CDs on and maybe that can be used.
Those of you that have been with this blog for a while might recall one of the design issues I originally identified, namely that the height of the individual saddles were higher than an original Floyd-Rose. A while back, I made some prototypes to take care of this.
This first version has a “V” shaped groove in which the string runs.
The second version has been “flattened”:
Both versions work well and have their own distinct aesthetics. Let me know what you think!
The winner of the black fixed 6-string bridge is José Paulo Brito, who correctly matched the tremolo spring blocks to the sound samples! Here is José’s plan for using it:
At this moment, the only headless project I’m considering for using a fixed bridge, is a 30″ baritone guitar.
Due to the heavy gauge of the strings this guitar gonna have, using a tremolo is not much wise, also because such tremolo action would result too stiff anyway.
I already have two Bartolini soapbars (P90 dims) for it, also a Headless Research combo headpiece.
No body or neck until now but it will be something ergo-shaped somewhere between a Steinberger/Klein although having my own contour of course.
I hope to be able to post a picture of the winning contribution in action soon.
Thanks again to those who entered, and especially the runner-up Roman.
Thanks once more to those who voted in the spring block contest. Two people provided a correct answer and are competing for the complimentary fixed 6-string bridge. I had announced previously that the “coolest” application of the bridge would win in the case of a tie and I am still waiting for a description of the build from one of the potential builders.
The block materials are, in the order they placed in the vote:
Obviously, there is something about density and sound. See José Paolo Brito’s response to the previous post for a partial explanation. Taking this into consideration, I will be offering the EGS tremolo with aluminium and brass blocks. Many people preferred the aluminium block sound and the weight difference is remarkable, so there is definitely an application for it.