Finish damage by headstock tuners?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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Finish damage by headstock tuners?

Post by joachim33 » Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:22 pm


There are a few posts here about finish damage on the headstock due to the use of clamp on tuners. I am wondering whether this is urban myth or whether members have suffered/repaired such damage.

Background: I just got a D'Addario/Planet Wave NS Micro tuner and its clamp is tight. I have to slide it on with the clamp in it's pressurised position. To avoid to much scratching, I'd like to not remove it very often. I now read advise that leaving it on might lead to finish damage. The guitar in question is a 500$/€ factory affair - most likely nitro lacquer for a finish.

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Re: Finish damage by headstock tuners?

Post by SteveL123 » Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:32 pm

I think if you leave a clip on tuner permanently on the head stock or sound hole, it will eventually mar the finish. I have a clip on elec. tuner but never use it and prefer the gStrings app on Android. It is accurate, and easy to use, more so than my clip on.

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Re: Finish damage by headstock tuners?

Post by Annette » Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:16 pm

I don't think that's a urban myth...
My teacher knows about guitars with such kind of damage, he said there is a risk because of the softener in the material of the clamp.
So when I got my micro tuner, he gave me the advice just to put little pieces of paper or very thin (black) cardboard between clamp and guitar, the tuner would work as well as without this interlayer.
So it is, and now I can leave the tuner permanently on the guitar without any sorrows.
Yours Annette

Paul Micheletti
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Re: Finish damage by headstock tuners?

Post by Paul Micheletti » Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:10 pm

I have a few different brands of clip-on tuners, and have never had any issues with the french polish on the headstock. But I only put the tuner on when I start to play and generally take the tuner off when tuning is complete. Some of them produce an annoying rattle in response to some resonant frequencies, so I prefer to take the tuner off the guitar.

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Re: Finish damage by headstock tuners?

Post by adamjohnson » Tue Sep 26, 2017 8:33 pm

Anything left attached to the guitar for long periods will cause some fun, that could be called damage.

UV exposure darkens wood with time, so if you keep it on your guitar all the time, when removed there will likely be a light spot where the wood was sheilded from the UV. If you keep your guitar in a sunny room this can happen fairly quick depending on the wood and if the finish on the guitar has any sort of UV sheilding in it.

The one iffy area is if you use a cleaner containing any solvants on your guitar then stick the tuner on it before the solvant has fulley evaporated off, it will affect the foam padding and could make it go gooey then harden and sick, perhaps pulling finish off when removed. You see this on old old foams. with time they turn gooey from all the random things they slowly absorb. But it can happen quite quickly with they right solvant

Just take it off right when you are done tuning and you will most likely be safe,


P.S. Tuning fork.

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Re: Finish damage by headstock tuners?

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:22 am

The rubber part of the clamp on most tuners can cause problems if left on, the same goes for leaving your guitar in a stand. The rubber part that cradles the neck near the headstock on my Hercules stand has caused a discoloration on my Rickenbacker bass, and I will have to buff it out, if able.

I've had no issues though with my Snark. But then again, I tune, then take it off.

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Re: Finish damage by headstock tuners?

Post by Marshall Dixon » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:21 pm

Latex will damage nitrocellulose lacquer by some sort of chemical reaction.

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