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LSR Tuners

Price - $ 125 (Satin chrome, 6 in line)

Available from -

LSR Tuners / Intertune Inc.

http://members.aol.com/intertunei/LSR.tuners/index.html

Pros - Lightweight locking tuners with excellent tuning stability and great tuning precision and finesse.

Cons - Limited to a max. string gauge of 0.06. Strings must be fitted with some care because of the tuners finite tuning range

Verdict - Very stable high precision tuners.

Pictures of guitars fitted with LSR's © T. Relph-Knight 2003/4    

LSR Locking Guitar Tuners reviewed

Traditional stringed instrument tuners wind the string around a rotating post to control string tension. The introduction of headless instrument designs spawned a different approach, where tension is applied through the linear, in-and-out motion of a threaded rod. The LSR tuner is a clever adaptation of this principle of linear thread tuning to a design that can be mounted on conventional headstocks.

Advantages of the LSR design

The great advantages of the LSR design are that the strings are locked to the tuner and there are no extra loops of string to shift and cause tuning drift during vibrato. Because of the locking design, the string starts at minimum length so only a few turns of the tuner are required to bring it up to pitch and the fine thread pitch of the tuner screw results in a tuning ratio of 40 to 1 (conventional tuners are 18 to 1 at best and often less) so tuning is very fine and precise. Compared to many other tuners the LSR’s are also light in weight, so they don’t throw off the instruments balance by making it neck heavy and the tuners low profile means that string trees may not be needed. In use the LSR’s are extremely stable and they cannot be knocked out of tune like conventional buttoned tuners.

Disadvantages of the LSR design

The disadvantages are that the string hole in the tuner post is smaller than often found on conventional tuners so the maximum string gauge is limited to 0.06 inches. Also the top E string often needs more stretching to get up to pitch, so much more of the tuners limited travel is used when tuning the top E. This makes it essential that the top E is held as tight as possible when locking the string to the tuner, otherwise it won’t tune all the way up to pitch. This is complicated by the fact that the string lock mechanism often seems to have problems securely gripping the smallest diameter strings. When installing a fresh set of LSR's it may be necessary to swap around tuners for the top string, from others in the set, to find a tuner that grips well on the top E.
The finite travel of the tuner post does mean that, with tremolo guitars set up with a floating trem, it is necessary to temporarily shim up the tremolo plate to its desired rest position, whenever all six strings are removed, before fitting a new set. If this isn’t done the tuners may not have sufficient range to tension all the strings to pitch.

Fitting and use

Unlike conventional tuners, all the mechanism of the LSR tuner is mounted on the front of the headstock, an integral bolt passes through the headstock and engages with a keyed plate and a nut, to hold each tuner in place.

Early versions of the LSR design used a central hex screw, which had to be tightened using a separate wrench, to lock the strings in place. The current design has a built-in clutch that allows the tuner barrel to do double duty, first to tighten the string lock and then to tension the string to pitch.

Strings are fitted by first rotating each tuner barrel clockwise until the string post or hub decouples and pops out of its housing by about 2mm. At this point the built in clutch engages the tuner barrel with the locking screw. A further two turns will back out the locking screw and allow the string end to be passed through the hole in the tuner post. With the string pulled taught, turning the tuner barrel anticlockwise will tighten the locking screw and lock the string to the post. With the string tightly locked, the locking clutch is disengaged by simultaneously pushing the string post back into its housing, while turning the tuner barrel in an anticlockwise direction. Once the tuning thread has engaged, the tuner barrel is turned until the string is up to pitch. A grooved channel in the body of the tuner guides the string around a 90 degree turn, after it emerges from the locking point on the end of the tuner post. This allows the tuner barrel, threaded post and housing to protrude at right angles from the guitar headstock, in the fashion of normal tuner buttons.

Conclusion

Once a set of strings has been installed and tuned to pitch the LSR tuners perform very well indeed. Tuning is extremely stable, they are unaffected by the sort of occasional tap that would throw conventional tuners out and tuning adjustment, when required, is free of backlash and very fine and precise.

Copyright 2006 Terry Relph-Knight

 

Locking guitar machine heads (or tuners)

A successful design for a stringed instrument tuner must allow for the string to be easily and securely attached to the tuner mechanism. If the strings slips or moves on the tuner, the instruments tuning won't be stable.

Traditional tuners rely on wrap friction, which is adequate if string tension, once brought up to pitch, remains constant, but isn't reliable for modern guitar technique that involves a lot of extreme string bending and tremolo (vibrato) arm use.

Locking tuners, designed for these modern playing styles, incorporate some form of clamping mechanism to positively secure the end of the string to the tuner, before any tuning tension is applied.

This clamping mechanism usually involves tightening a screw, that bears against the string and holds it in place against a surface inside the tuner. For early designs, string locking was a separate action from tuning the string. A common drawback of these designs was that they were unnecessarily complex and heavy. The extra weight in the tuners tended to make instruments more neck heavy, so they didn't balance as well for playing. Early designs also had parts which tended to unscrew, fall off and get lost.

Recent locking tuner designs like those from Gotoh and Grover are lighter, simpler and use the action of tensioning the string to pitch to automatically tighten the locking mechanism. These locking tuners look almost indistinguishable from non-locking designs. Since the locking mechanism is hidden the designers have been able to produce a range of retro styles that can be fitted to older instruments without changing their appearance.