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Tuning Machine Ratios and Gotoh’s Innovations

Until recently, the tuners for steel string guitars came with only a narrow range of options with regard to the gear ratios. Typically, you would find them somewhere between 12:1 and 16:1. This meant you had to turn the button 12 times (or 16, as the case may be) to get the post to rotate all the way around once. This was the standard until Gotoh introduced their 510 series, sometime around 2000. Not only did the machines feature an elegant, contoured style on the housing and buttons, but they also provided an 18:1 tuning ratio, which was a somewhat dramatic increase. On guitars with a modern, handcrafted aesthetic, these tuners quickly became ubiquitous. Aside from the high ratio and unique appearance, they were solidly made. A new standard was set.

Shortly thereafter, Gotoh upped the bar by introducing the Delta series. They only came in a standard size housing (the 510s could be purchased as standard or mini), but they had the same cool, curvy shape, and a staggering 21:1 ratio! A variety of new finishes followed and Gotoh took a seat as the world leader in tuning machine manufacturing.

Were these tuners for everyone? Well, not everyone felt they needed a high ration to assist them in properly tuning their guitars. On the other hand, many people appreciate a greater sensation of ‘detail’ when tuning up. And of course, cosmetically the 510 series was not a good fit for traditional, Martin-based acoustics. For these folks, Gotoh continued to make tuners with a standard style housing, but with an evolved mechanical excellence and competitive pricing.