Discussion:
What's the Best Lube for Machine Heads?
(too old to reply)
Matt Faunce
2019-10-15 18:29:54 UTC
Permalink
What's the best lubricant for machine heads? I've always had a can of WD-40
for household and auto needs, so out of convenience I've always also used
that for my machine heads. But, I always think, "there's got to be
something better than this."

I just searched the web and I see Stew-Mac* uses petroleum jelly. But
lutherie.net** says, "Whatever you do, do not use any common lubricants
like WD-40, Three-In-One, sewing machine oil, 30-WT or any automotive oils,
Caramba, or anything like them. Not Vaseline, nor rank-and-file greases,
nor Mazola." They endorse a product called Tri-Flow.

*
https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Guitar_Tuning_Machine_Installation_and_Repair_Inform/Lubricating_guitar_tuners.html

** http://www.lutherie.net/tuner.maintenance.html
--
Matt
Gerry
2019-10-15 18:44:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matt Faunce
What's the best lubricant for machine heads? I've always had a can of WD-40
for household and auto needs, so out of convenience I've always also used
that for my machine heads. But, I always think, "there's got to be
something better than this."
I just searched the web and I see Stew-Mac* uses petroleum jelly. But
lutherie.net** says, "Whatever you do, do not use any common lubricants
like WD-40, Three-In-One, sewing machine oil, 30-WT or any automotive oils,
Caramba, or anything like them. Not Vaseline, nor rank-and-file greases,
nor Mazola." They endorse a product called Tri-Flow.
*
https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Guitar_Tuning_Machine_Installation_and_Repair_Inform/Lubricating_guitar_tuners.html
** http://www.lutherie.net/tuner.maintenance.html
What sort of damage to these common lubricants do? I've owned and
played many stringed instruments (maybe 40-ish) over the past 56 years.
I've never lubricated a machine head once nor had them groomed by
others. I've only had one machine head lock up, and it was locked when
I bought a very old cuatro.
Matt Faunce
2019-10-15 19:05:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Gerry
Post by Matt Faunce
What's the best lubricant for machine heads? I've always had a can of WD-40
for household and auto needs, so out of convenience I've always also used
that for my machine heads. But, I always think, "there's got to be
something better than this."
I just searched the web and I see Stew-Mac* uses petroleum jelly. But
lutherie.net** says, "Whatever you do, do not use any common lubricants
like WD-40, Three-In-One, sewing machine oil, 30-WT or any automotive oils,
Caramba, or anything like them. Not Vaseline, nor rank-and-file greases,
nor Mazola." They endorse a product called Tri-Flow.
*
https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Guitar_Tuning_Machine_Installation_and_Repair_Inform/Lubricating_guitar_tuners.html
** http://www.lutherie.net/tuner.maintenance.html
What sort of damage to these common lubricants do? I've owned and
played many stringed instruments (maybe 40-ish) over the past 56 years.
I've never lubricated a machine head once nor had them groomed by
others. I've only had one machine head lock up, and it was locked when
I bought a very old cuatro.
I don't know the answer to your question. On my guitar, I hear squeaking,
so I figure it should be lubed. WD-40 is messy, and I wonder if it's
short-lived compared to other products.
--
Matt
John Nguyen
2019-10-15 19:46:40 UTC
Permalink
I used sewing machine lubricant once a year, very lightly on the worm gear. Not messy at all. A cotton swap dappled with a little lubricant goes a long way, enough to serve two guitars in my case.
Matt Faunce
2019-10-15 23:36:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by John Nguyen
I used sewing machine lubricant once a year, very lightly on the worm
gear. Not messy at all. A cotton swap dappled with a little lubricant
goes a long way, enough to serve two guitars in my case.
I was just reading about AmsOil gear-lubricants--I put their motor oil in
my car and I thought that next time I change my oil I'd save a couple dabs
of it for my guitar. On their website, AmsOil writes about how their lubes
perform under high-stress environments, like extremes in velocity, torque,
and temperatures, and they use words like "thermal runaway." I thought,
"yeah, I'm pretty fast at tuning and changing strings; I'm definitely gonna
need the best lube to make sure there's no thermal runaway!"
--
Matt
John
2019-10-16 04:13:31 UTC
Permalink
I've heard that graphite, as from a soft pencil lead, is best for this purpose.

John R.
Matt Faunce
2019-10-16 20:56:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by John
I've heard that graphite, as from a soft pencil lead, is best for this purpose.
John R.
I can imagine a graphite-coated gear not getting gunked up over time like
an oiled gear does.
--
Matt
Gerry
2019-10-16 23:42:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matt Faunce
What's the best lubricant for machine heads? I've always had a can of WD-40
for household and auto needs, so out of convenience I've always also used
that for my machine heads. But, I always think, "there's got to be
something better than this."
I just searched the web and I see Stew-Mac* uses petroleum jelly. But
lutherie.net** says, "Whatever you do, do not use any common lubricants
like WD-40, Three-In-One, sewing machine oil, 30-WT or any automotive oils,
Caramba, or anything like them. Not Vaseline, nor rank-and-file greases,
nor Mazola." They endorse a product called Tri-Flow.
*
https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Guitar_Tuning_Machine_Installation_and_Repair_Inform/Lubricating_guitar_tuners.html
** http://www.lutherie.net/tuner.maintenance.html
Do you take your main guitar(s) to a local luthier from time to time
for a check-up? It just occured to me that if this was an issue for me,
I would ask him for a recommendation.
Matt Faunce
2019-10-18 17:42:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Gerry
Post by Matt Faunce
What's the best lubricant for machine heads? I've always had a can of WD-40
for household and auto needs, so out of convenience I've always also used
that for my machine heads. But, I always think, "there's got to be
something better than this."
I just searched the web and I see Stew-Mac* uses petroleum jelly. But
lutherie.net** says, "Whatever you do, do not use any common lubricants
like WD-40, Three-In-One, sewing machine oil, 30-WT or any automotive oils,
Caramba, or anything like them. Not Vaseline, nor rank-and-file greases,
nor Mazola." They endorse a product called Tri-Flow.
*
https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Guitar_Tuning_Machine_Installation_and_Repair_Inform/Lubricating_guitar_tuners.html
** http://www.lutherie.net/tuner.maintenance.html
Do you take your main guitar(s) to a local luthier from time to time
for a check-up? It just occured to me that if this was an issue for me,
I would ask him for a recommendation.
I've never taken my guitar in for only a check-up.

I've used WD-40 in the past and have had no problems with it other than it
being messy and my wondering if there's something that would last longer.

However, I now think the squeaking is coming from the plastic cylinder,
around which the strings are wound, rubbing against the wood, rather than
the gears. Next time I change my strings I'll lube that area in some way.
--
Matt
wizeazz
2019-10-18 22:18:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matt Faunce
Post by Gerry
Post by Matt Faunce
What's the best lubricant for machine heads? I've always had a can of WD-40
for household and auto needs, so out of convenience I've always also used
that for my machine heads. But, I always think, "there's got to be
something better than this."
I just searched the web and I see Stew-Mac* uses petroleum jelly. But
lutherie.net** says, "Whatever you do, do not use any common lubricants
like WD-40, Three-In-One, sewing machine oil, 30-WT or any automotive oils,
Caramba, or anything like them. Not Vaseline, nor rank-and-file greases,
nor Mazola." They endorse a product called Tri-Flow.
*
https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Guitar_Tuning_Machine_Installation_and_Repair_Inform/Lubricating_guitar_tuners.html
** http://www.lutherie.net/tuner.maintenance.html
Do you take your main guitar(s) to a local luthier from time to time
for a check-up? It just occured to me that if this was an issue for me,
I would ask him for a recommendation.
I've never taken my guitar in for only a check-up.
I've used WD-40 in the past and have had no problems with it other than it
being messy and my wondering if there's something that would last longer.
However, I now think the squeaking is coming from the plastic cylinder,
around which the strings are wound, rubbing against the wood, rather than
the gears. Next time I change my strings I'll lube that area in some way.
--
Matt
you could disassemble and rub the roller ends that articulate with the wood in paraffin. Machine oil on the screws, very light, vaseline, light on the gear teeth
dsi1
2019-10-19 21:10:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matt Faunce
Post by Gerry
Post by Matt Faunce
What's the best lubricant for machine heads? I've always had a can of WD-40
for household and auto needs, so out of convenience I've always also used
that for my machine heads. But, I always think, "there's got to be
something better than this."
I just searched the web and I see Stew-Mac* uses petroleum jelly. But
lutherie.net** says, "Whatever you do, do not use any common lubricants
like WD-40, Three-In-One, sewing machine oil, 30-WT or any automotive oils,
Caramba, or anything like them. Not Vaseline, nor rank-and-file greases,
nor Mazola." They endorse a product called Tri-Flow.
*
https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Guitar_Tuning_Machine_Installation_and_Repair_Inform/Lubricating_guitar_tuners.html
** http://www.lutherie.net/tuner.maintenance.html
Do you take your main guitar(s) to a local luthier from time to time
for a check-up? It just occured to me that if this was an issue for me,
I would ask him for a recommendation.
I've never taken my guitar in for only a check-up.
I've used WD-40 in the past and have had no problems with it other than it
being messy and my wondering if there's something that would last longer.
However, I now think the squeaking is coming from the plastic cylinder,
around which the strings are wound, rubbing against the wood, rather than
the gears. Next time I change my strings I'll lube that area in some way.
--
Matt
As was previously mentioned, take the machine off and rub some paraffin on the tip. I don't typically have paraffin so I use a bar of soap.

If you're not already doing it, keep the windings close to the gears when you string the guitar up. This reduces the string loading on the wood to plastic side and the tuners will work smoother that way. Why that works is a mystery to me.

https://www.amazon.com/photos/shared/jgh9ovtGTMOvb9jT0QCRmQ.Hf8Ex8X5dwJ0aBUtMYwv5W
Matt Faunce
2019-10-19 22:55:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by dsi1
Post by Matt Faunce
Post by Gerry
Post by Matt Faunce
What's the best lubricant for machine heads? I've always had a can of WD-40
for household and auto needs, so out of convenience I've always also used
that for my machine heads. But, I always think, "there's got to be
something better than this."
I just searched the web and I see Stew-Mac* uses petroleum jelly. But
lutherie.net** says, "Whatever you do, do not use any common lubricants
like WD-40, Three-In-One, sewing machine oil, 30-WT or any automotive oils,
Caramba, or anything like them. Not Vaseline, nor rank-and-file greases,
nor Mazola." They endorse a product called Tri-Flow.
*
https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Guitar_Tuning_Machine_Installation_and_Repair_Inform/Lubricating_guitar_tuners.html
** http://www.lutherie.net/tuner.maintenance.html
Do you take your main guitar(s) to a local luthier from time to time
for a check-up? It just occured to me that if this was an issue for me,
I would ask him for a recommendation.
I've never taken my guitar in for only a check-up.
I've used WD-40 in the past and have had no problems with it other than it
being messy and my wondering if there's something that would last longer.
However, I now think the squeaking is coming from the plastic cylinder,
around which the strings are wound, rubbing against the wood, rather than
the gears. Next time I change my strings I'll lube that area in some way.
--
Matt
As was previously mentioned, take the machine off and rub some paraffin
on the tip. I don't typically have paraffin so I use a bar of soap.
If you're not already doing it, keep the windings close to the gears when
you string the guitar up. This reduces the string loading on the wood to
plastic side and the tuners will work smoother that way. Why that works is a mystery to me.
https://www.amazon.com/photos/shared/jgh9ovtGTMOvb9jT0QCRmQ.Hf8Ex8X5dwJ0aBUtMYwv5W
Yeah, paraffin sounds like a good idea. (Thanks, Wolly) And I don't see why
soap would not be a good idea.

I wind my 1st and 6th strings like you, but I wind the other ones toward
the inside so there's less friction at the nut when I'm tuning. You can't
fully please both the god of string-loading and the god of nut-friction at
the same time. This is proof that we live in a pluralistic universe.
--
Matt
wizeazz
2019-10-19 23:51:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matt Faunce
Post by dsi1
Post by Matt Faunce
Post by Gerry
Post by Matt Faunce
What's the best lubricant for machine heads? I've always had a can of WD-40
for household and auto needs, so out of convenience I've always also used
that for my machine heads. But, I always think, "there's got to be
something better than this."
I just searched the web and I see Stew-Mac* uses petroleum jelly. But
lutherie.net** says, "Whatever you do, do not use any common lubricants
like WD-40, Three-In-One, sewing machine oil, 30-WT or any automotive oils,
Caramba, or anything like them. Not Vaseline, nor rank-and-file greases,
nor Mazola." They endorse a product called Tri-Flow.
*
https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Guitar_Tuning_Machine_Installation_and_Repair_Inform/Lubricating_guitar_tuners.html
** http://www.lutherie.net/tuner.maintenance.html
Do you take your main guitar(s) to a local luthier from time to time
for a check-up? It just occured to me that if this was an issue for me,
I would ask him for a recommendation.
I've never taken my guitar in for only a check-up.
I've used WD-40 in the past and have had no problems with it other than it
being messy and my wondering if there's something that would last longer.
However, I now think the squeaking is coming from the plastic cylinder,
around which the strings are wound, rubbing against the wood, rather than
the gears. Next time I change my strings I'll lube that area in some way.
--
Matt
As was previously mentioned, take the machine off and rub some paraffin
on the tip. I don't typically have paraffin so I use a bar of soap.
If you're not already doing it, keep the windings close to the gears when
you string the guitar up. This reduces the string loading on the wood to
plastic side and the tuners will work smoother that way. Why that works is a mystery to me.
https://www.amazon.com/photos/shared/jgh9ovtGTMOvb9jT0QCRmQ.Hf8Ex8X5dwJ0aBUtMYwv5W
Yeah, paraffin sounds like a good idea. (Thanks, Wolly) And I don't see why
soap would not be a good idea.
I wind my 1st and 6th strings like you, but I wind the other ones toward
the inside so there's less friction at the nut when I'm tuning. You can't
fully please both the god of string-loading and the god of nut-friction at
the same time. This is proof that we live in a pluralistic universe.
--
Matt
soap might work, but it's softer,and maybe more prone to collect dirt. a lot of things have paraffin... a candle? crayon it on. I had the same issue 30 years ago. I don't remember where I picked this tidbit up, but it worked for me
Matt Faunce
2019-10-23 06:06:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by wizeazz
Post by Matt Faunce
Post by dsi1
Post by Matt Faunce
Post by Gerry
Post by Matt Faunce
What's the best lubricant for machine heads? I've always had a can of WD-40
for household and auto needs, so out of convenience I've always also used
that for my machine heads. But, I always think, "there's got to be
something better than this."
I just searched the web and I see Stew-Mac* uses petroleum jelly. But
lutherie.net** says, "Whatever you do, do not use any common lubricants
like WD-40, Three-In-One, sewing machine oil, 30-WT or any automotive oils,
Caramba, or anything like them. Not Vaseline, nor rank-and-file greases,
nor Mazola." They endorse a product called Tri-Flow.
*
https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Guitar_Tuning_Machine_Installation_and_Repair_Inform/Lubricating_guitar_tuners.html
** http://www.lutherie.net/tuner.maintenance.html
Do you take your main guitar(s) to a local luthier from time to time
for a check-up? It just occured to me that if this was an issue for me,
I would ask him for a recommendation.
I've never taken my guitar in for only a check-up.
I've used WD-40 in the past and have had no problems with it other than it
being messy and my wondering if there's something that would last longer.
However, I now think the squeaking is coming from the plastic cylinder,
around which the strings are wound, rubbing against the wood, rather than
the gears. Next time I change my strings I'll lube that area in some way.
--
Matt
As was previously mentioned, take the machine off and rub some paraffin
on the tip. I don't typically have paraffin so I use a bar of soap.
If you're not already doing it, keep the windings close to the gears when
you string the guitar up. This reduces the string loading on the wood to
plastic side and the tuners will work smoother that way. Why that works
is a mystery to me.
https://www.amazon.com/photos/shared/jgh9ovtGTMOvb9jT0QCRmQ.Hf8Ex8X5dwJ0aBUtMYwv5W
Yeah, paraffin sounds like a good idea. (Thanks, Wolly) And I don't see why
soap would not be a good idea.
I wind my 1st and 6th strings like you, but I wind the other ones toward
the inside so there's less friction at the nut when I'm tuning. You can't
fully please both the god of string-loading and the god of nut-friction at
the same time. This is proof that we live in a pluralistic universe.
--
Matt
soap might work, but it's softer,and maybe more prone to collect dirt. a
lot of things have paraffin... a candle? crayon it on. I had the same
issue 30 years ago. I don't remember where I picked this tidbit up, but it worked for me
I changed my strings today. I didn't have any paraffin lying around so I
left the tuning post unlubed. I cleaned the gears with naphtha, not
perfectly but I spent some time on them so hopefully they're good enough.
Then, instead of WD-40 I put on some bicycle-chain lube that I had lying
around called Rock n Roll Gold. I'll see how that works.
--
Matt
dsi1
2019-10-20 04:26:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matt Faunce
Post by dsi1
Post by Matt Faunce
Post by Gerry
Post by Matt Faunce
What's the best lubricant for machine heads? I've always had a can of WD-40
for household and auto needs, so out of convenience I've always also used
that for my machine heads. But, I always think, "there's got to be
something better than this."
I just searched the web and I see Stew-Mac* uses petroleum jelly. But
lutherie.net** says, "Whatever you do, do not use any common lubricants
like WD-40, Three-In-One, sewing machine oil, 30-WT or any automotive oils,
Caramba, or anything like them. Not Vaseline, nor rank-and-file greases,
nor Mazola." They endorse a product called Tri-Flow.
*
https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Guitar_Tuning_Machine_Installation_and_Repair_Inform/Lubricating_guitar_tuners.html
** http://www.lutherie.net/tuner.maintenance.html
Do you take your main guitar(s) to a local luthier from time to time
for a check-up? It just occured to me that if this was an issue for me,
I would ask him for a recommendation.
I've never taken my guitar in for only a check-up.
I've used WD-40 in the past and have had no problems with it other than it
being messy and my wondering if there's something that would last longer.
However, I now think the squeaking is coming from the plastic cylinder,
around which the strings are wound, rubbing against the wood, rather than
the gears. Next time I change my strings I'll lube that area in some way.
--
Matt
As was previously mentioned, take the machine off and rub some paraffin
on the tip. I don't typically have paraffin so I use a bar of soap.
If you're not already doing it, keep the windings close to the gears when
you string the guitar up. This reduces the string loading on the wood to
plastic side and the tuners will work smoother that way. Why that works is a mystery to me.
https://www.amazon.com/photos/shared/jgh9ovtGTMOvb9jT0QCRmQ.Hf8Ex8X5dwJ0aBUtMYwv5W
Yeah, paraffin sounds like a good idea. (Thanks, Wolly) And I don't see why
soap would not be a good idea.
I wind my 1st and 6th strings like you, but I wind the other ones toward
the inside so there's less friction at the nut when I'm tuning. You can't
fully please both the god of string-loading and the god of nut-friction at
the same time. This is proof that we live in a pluralistic universe.
--
Matt
The string break on the nut is an important detail. The nut slot on that guitar has been widened on the back end to give the G and the D strings a smooth, gentle, transition. I'm working on an electric guitar that has dead straight angles at the nut with a metal zero fret. It's a wonderful thing. :)
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