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I just got a used Fender Starcaster S1 to compliment my existing Behringer strat. Upon inspecting it, I noticed that it has different backs on it's tuning machines. What are the differences between these besides appearance?

enter image description here

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The quality of the Fender tuning machines is quite a bit better than the behringers. Other than that, there's probably not much difference. Beware of very cheap tuners. – JimR May 29 '13 at 9:28
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Inside them both you have a cog and a worm gear, which works as per this gif from Wikipedia:

enter image description here

Worm gears have a very useful property - they can cope with high tension without slipping.

The casing differences are purely cosmetic.

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Fantastic image, sir =) – jadarnel27 Apr 9 '12 at 15:14
Yes, nice image, but how exactly does this address the question? – morten Apr 10 '12 at 20:19

There are some easily noticeable differences:

  1. Tuners on Behringers are attached with screws on the back side, while the ones on Fenders have a nut on the front.
  2. There might be differences in the string attachment itself (not pictured here).

Some differences are not as easily spotted, but are a huge deciding factor:

  1. For example, differences in gear ratio. Generally, higher-end tuning machines have a high ratio for easy, minute adjustments in pitch.
  2. In addition, differences in build quality. Lower-end tuners are less likely to hold their pitch, and may be more susceptible to damage from use.
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