What are the symptoms of low quality guitar machine heads? I know it can be the nut that's causing the problem, but besides that, how can I know whether changing the machine heads will help my guitar stay in tune longer?

In my particular case, they seem to be O.K. but I am not sure. They feel just a little bit loose while tuning the guitar (compared to the other more expensive guitar I have), but I am unsure if something changes while playing or is it just the nut. Btw., the nut was changed once already some time ago because I wanted to put thicker strings and it did make a huge difference.

  • Suppose you tuned the guitar, left it alone for a day or two, and then picked it up again---is it still in tune? If not, that can't be the nut's fault, because you haven't played it. This isn't a definitive test, of course, but it might be suggestive. Jan 25, 2012 at 11:42
  • @AlexBasson it usually stays in tune after that. one or two strings maybe go just a tiny little bit out of tune, but I consider that to be normal.
    – tkit
    Jan 25, 2012 at 12:05

2 Answers 2


It's unlikely that all your machine heads would fail at exactly the same time.

So, if you think there's a problem with a particular string, you could try swapping the machine heads for the "bad" string with the machine head for a "good" string.

If the problem moves with the machine head, you've got some evidence that it's worth buying a new set of machine heads.


I would suggest partially removing the strings. See how they are functioning on their own.

  • what do you mean by partially removing the strings?
    – tkit
    Jan 25, 2012 at 21:14
  • I think he means only remove one or two of the strings; to see how those machine heads are functioning while not under a load.
    – NReilingh
    Jan 26, 2012 at 3:13

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