The Best Acoustic Guitar Tuning Keys

Written by tom becker
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The Best Acoustic Guitar Tuning Keys
Acoustic guitar tuners come in many different styles. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

A guitar's tuning keys keeps the strings at the proper tension, thus ensuring the instrument will play in tune. If the time has come to upgrade your acoustic guitar's existing tuners, you may wish to review some of the finest brands from which to choose from.


German manufacturer Schaller has spent decades producing fine instrument hardware. Most famously contracted by both Fender and Gibson to produce tuning keys, Schaller also sells the keys individually. Schaller keys range in design from gold- and nickel-plated designs with the classic Schaller "S" to distressed machine heads designed to resemble vintage hardware. Many guitarists prize Schaller keys for their sturdiness and ability to hold tension, and some even replace the stock tuners of their finest instruments with Schaller tuners.


Designed with an emphasis on classic elegance and fine materials, Waverly tuning keys command some of the highest prices in the industry. Waverly tuning keys range from fine hardwoods like ebony and snakewood to ivroid and finely engraved metals. The keys feature a simple uniform design with less variety of other manufacturers. What they lack in design variety, they make up for in quality materials and construction.


Producing musical instrument hardware since 1925, Kluson specialises in high-quality tuners with a vintage look. They manufacture both free-standing single tuners and "in-line" tuners that incorporate three or six tuning keys into one piece. They also feature simple oval or keystone-shaped buttons and steel machine parts plated with gold or nickel. Kluson tuning keys have the distinct look of mid-20th century guitar tuners, so they make an excellent choice for replacement in vintage guitars of that era.


Rubner has been making fine tuning machines since 1864. It uses primarily brass and nickel and features ornate engravings that reflect the company's 19th Century origins. Most Rubner tuners feature pearloid or mother-of-pearl buttons and finely-engraved metal machine parts. The tuning keys generally come in "three-in-line" formation, with three machine heads per row. Even with the fine materials and craftsmanship, Rubner tuners still have a reasonable price tag compared to tuning keys of lesser quality.

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