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Review: Graph Tech Ratio Multi-Geared Machine Heads

(Image credit: Graph Tech)

Forget that you have a precisely cut nut and a perfectly intonated bridge strung with premium strings. If you have janky tuners, you can count on being out of tune. Every time.

Guitarists tend to overlook how much tuners contribute to keeping your instrument firmly in tune. Graph Tech has been addressing this issue for quite some time, and their new Ratio Multi-Geared Machine Heads are one of the best and easiest upgrades you can make for your electric and acoustic guitars. Ratio are high-performance tuners that feature uniquely calibrated gear ratios on each tuner that will ensure accurate tuning on every string with a predictable response as you turn the gear.

Because every string has its own distinct core diameter, tension is inherently different for every string. What Ratio does is precisely match the rate and sensitivity of the tuner’s rotation on each of its tuners, allowing for smooth tuning adjustments. How this works is each cog on the tuner has a defined ratio to achieve its uncannily accurate tuning.

After installing locking sets on two guitars (done in 20 minutes using Invisomatch mounting plates and no drilling), I was able to quickly change between alternate and standard tunings with polished ease. The tuners have a refined feel as you turn the gears to lock onto the note. Tuning is super-smooth and precise without the gear slipping or being fidgety. And after properly stretching the strings, the guitars never went out of tune.

Graph Tech Ratio Multi-Geared Machine Heads are available in non-locking, staggered locking and open-back designs with classic, contemporary, contemporary mini and vintage button options. Ratio machine heads come in 6-in-line or 3+3 headstock configurations and feature triple-plated chrome, gold, nickel or black finishes.

STREET PRICE: $99.99 (non-locking); $139.95 (locking)

Paul Riario

Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.