Grover is well-known for the manufacture of parts for stringed musical instruments. Especially for their machine heads, or tuners as some call them, for guitars and bass guitars. But they also provide these fittings for banjos, ukuleles, mandolins, and dulcimers.
They also import tuning pegs for violins. Some are designed in-house, and some are imported from overseas, usually China.
A long heritage of quality instrument manufacture…
They were formally founded as Grover in 1952 in Cleveland, Ohio, where they are still based. But originally, they made machine heads for banjos in the late 1800s.
They belong to a select group of manufacturers who supply quality machine heads. As a result, these machine heads are frequently found on a variety of guitars made by the largest guitar companies.
So let’s take a look at what they offer and find the Best Grover Tuner for your guitar…
Top 9 Best Grover Tuner In 2021 Reviews & Buying Guide
1 Grover 135N Guitar Tuner – Best Budget Grover Tuners
As soon as you see these machine heads, you think ‘Vintage.’ That is what they look like. It is what they are made to look like even though they have some modern mechanical additions.
Take a look at some of the more expensive instruments around, and you may well see a set of these. They come in a set of six and have a very reasonable price point.
The gearing ratio is 14 to 1, and they feature housing that provides a great base for the worm and the string posts. The gear and worm are precision cut. As a result, this reduces any chance of the string slipping or any backlash. They are made from nickel in a closed-back design.
Very popular, and here’s why…
These are made in the ‘green key’ design, which was Gibson’s original look and tuning operation. They are made for a three-plus-three configuration. Additionally, they have a chrome finish with green polymer tips. However, if you are looking for plain, Pearloid tips, these are probably not for you.
They come with all the screws, washers, and bushings that you need and are easy to install. However, note that these machine heads are not locking. When changing tuners, you should always check the fitting sizes first. Especially the length of the posts to ensure they will fit.
- Good quality with a vintage look.
- A very attractive price point.
- They are not locking tuners.
2 Grover 406C Rotomatic Mini 3 per Side Self Locking Machine Heads – Best Premium Grover Tuners
The Grover 406C Rotomatic Mini machine heads come in a set of six. These are mini-locking machine heads that have a closed back and sealed design. They have a gearing ratio of 18 to 1.
A popular set of machine heads because they are easy to tune. They also make it easy to change the strings when necessary. Rotomatics are a fairly standard Grover machine design. These tuners offer all the benefits of Rotomatics, but they also give you a locking facility on the internal cam post.
How can you use this?
The design idea is quite simple but very effective. You put the string through the hole, tighten it with your hand, and then start to turn the tuner.
Initially, only the locking cam will move in the string post. The post itself will begin to move only when the string has been locked.
Always in tune…
The guitar will be in tune with about one complete revolution of the string post. And it will stay there. This internal cam post design ensures you get good string locking and makes tuning easy.
They are set up for a three by three configuration. Finished in chrome, they are an attractive addition to your instrument.
What’s in the box?
The package includes wood screws, bushings, and ⅝ inch size washers. They are quite plain in the design. But a decent price point makes this a good option for those wanting to upgrade their guitar hardware.
- A well-designed locking system.
- Reasonable price point.
3 Grover 102-18C Rotomatic – Best Value For Your Money Grover Tuners
This is a set of six Rotomatic tuners. A popular set of machine heads that are perfect for replacing or upgrading your current hardware. Most of the Rotomatics will fit the Gibson and Epiphone range. But it is always advisable to check first.
No squeaky bits here…
These are a set of machine heads that have closed backs and are permanently lubricated. The gear ratio is 14 to 1, and they are set up for a three-by-three configuration. They have a standard design, which is a bit uninspiring, and a chrome finish.
There is little to no slippage with these machine heads because the worm and the gearing are precision cut. They also let you set the tension to a level you prefer using the countersunk tension screw.
They do lock, but the manufacturer does suggest wrapping the new string around the post before applying any tension.
Hard to beat…
As a basic replacement or upgrade to your guitars hardware, these may be the Best Value Grover Tuner you can buy. Additionally, the package includes wood screws, bushings, and ⅝ inch washers. However, these are made in China, which may give some a little pause for thought.
Another good replacement set of tuners at a reasonable price.
- Very little slippage or backlash.
- Reasonable price point.
- The design is a bit ordinary.
4 Grover Roto-Grip Tuners (502G) – Best Grover Tuners for Les Paul
These Roto-Grip Machine heads from Grover are an ideal replacement if you have non-locking tuners on your guitar. Often, the hardware on guitars is an area that gets cut back on to save manufacturing costs. And that applies to ALL manufacturers.
This means an upgrade to replace your tuners is going to give you better tuning stability.
Why does that matter?
Because if you can’t keep your guitar in tune, then you have a problem. A big one. Likewise, it often makes changing the strings a lot quicker and easier.
If you want strings that stay in tune for longer, then locking machine heads are one answer.
Manual locking with precision…
These Rotomatics come in a set of six and have a precise 18 to 1 ratio. They have a gold color design that some will like and others not.
Furthermore, these are manual locking and not automatic locking tuners. Changing strings is a simple and precise function. Just thread it through the post hole and then wrap it around the post once. Tightening the thumb screw locks the string in place.
These are a good replacement for any three-by-three configuration, but they do not come cheap.
Give them a little TLC…
As they are gold plated, after a period of time, there is going to be a certain amount of wear visible. It will really depend on the amount of use they get. And of course, how they are cared for.
They might not look so nice with some scratches and material peeling off.
- They have an effective locking action.
- Will fit most three-by-three configuration guitars, but check first.
5 Grover 502BC Rotogrips Machine Heads – Most Precise Grover Tuners
These are the same design as the gold-plated Grover 502 we already looked at. But these tuners are given a black finish for a bit of attitude. All the 502 series are manual locking machine heads.
Nimble fingers needed…
These require a little extra work when stringing. You need to open up the thumbscrew, push the string through, and then tighten down onto the string. This locks it and keeps the string in place. Not really that much of a hardship, but slightly more effort than automatic locking tuners.
Something else to consider is that a lot of people think manual locks provide more stability. Meaning that they hold the strings in tune for a longer duration.
A different kind of look…
With a useful 18 to 1 ratio, these are ideal for replacing poor quality tuners. The black finish gives them an edge and makes them a little different, especially if you’re into heavier or darker styles of music.
We like things that are a little different, and therefore for us, these could be the Best Metal Grover Tuner. You will need to take care not to remove the black finish. That will not look so impressive.
And once again, they are not cheap.
- Black finish gives them an alternative style.
- Manual locking procedure.
6 Grover 106BC Locking Rotomatic Guitar Tuner – Best Live Performance Grover Tuners
Back to the 106 series again for another set of six machine heads, but these are all in black. These are locking tuners that make changing your strings and tuning quick and easy.
They have all the usual features you will get from Grover Rotomatics but with the automated locking system built-in.
Why is that important?
Because it makes tuning and changing strings easier. It is as simple as putting your string through the hole in the post. Setting the tension with your hand and then turning the tuner. It automatically locks on to the string.
As you are turning it, only the locking cam that is inside the post is actually turning. Once the string is locked, then the string post will start to turn. An efficient and very quick system. Perfect if you happen to be on stage without a spare guitar, and you need to change a string quickly.
Stylish, simple, and serviceable…
These have a gear ratio of 18 to 1. They come in a set of six black machine heads that are closed backs and permanently lubricated. They are designed for a standard three-by-three configuration.
Additionally, the package includes the wood screws, brushings, and ⅝ inch washers needed to fit them.
A nice option for a change with the black finish. They aren’t the cheapest but still machine heads that might be worth considering.
- Nice black finish.
- Quick and easy tuning and stringing system.
- Some may not like the black finish.
7 Grover 102NV Rotomatic – Best Manual Locking Grover Tuners
This set of six closed-back Rotomatic machine heads have all the features of similar tuners in the same range. There is a unique design feature with these tuners, though. More on this later.
Set it and forget it…
The housing encloses a gearing that provides a perfect meshing action. They are designed that way to avoid any string slippage and backlash.
The countersunk screw built-in for tension allows you to set your own preferences. Like other machine heads in their class, they are permanently lubricated. They have a standard gear ratio of 18 to 1 and are designed for a three-plus-three configuration. Everything you need for fitting – wood screws, washers, and bushings – are included.
We mentioned there was a unique design feature. These machine heads are known as the ‘milk bottle’ design. Very much a vintage 60s design, and these have the same shape. In fact, people call them ‘milk bottles’ because the gear housing is in the shape of a milk bottle.
A nice vintage-like set of machine heads at a very attractive price.
- Non-automatic locking system, which some prefer.
- The ‘Milk bottle’ vintage design at an attractive price.
8 Grover 133N Deluxe 3 Per Side Machine Heads – Best Vintage Grover Tuners
These are an excellent set of replacement machine heads and will fit most guitars that have a three by three configuration.
Just to explain what that is, it is three tuners on each side of the headstock, as per Epiphone and Gibson and others. The alternative arrangement is the six in a line design used by Fender and especially visible on the Strat and the Telecaster.
These are a great set of machine heads for more than just the quality of the build. That is something you always get from a set of Grovers. But that’s not all. The price tag on these tuners is very cost-effective.
Why does that matter?
It means that you can get rid of those factory-supplied machine heads that came with your instrument. And replace them with a set of these.
And these will last a lifetime. Plus, having a closed-back design and looking the part with their nickel-plated finish makes them a great option.
Wait, there’s more…
They have an old-fashioned design that allows you to stick the string in the hole at the top of the post. The end of the string can go in the top hole. After laying the top of the string in the groove at the top of each post, then you can wind the string around the post.
Very old school. In some ways, inconvenient and time-consuming. But we can see why this design is still appreciated.
A nice set of machine heads made in China. All that is necessary for fitting is included.
- Very cost-effective set of replacement tuners.
- Well-made with an old-fashioned design on the top of the string post.
- At this price point, nothing.
9 Grover V97N Sta-Tite Vintage Guitar Tuners – Best Acoustic Guitar Grover Tuners
To finish our look at some Grover machine heads, we change tack completely. What were we saying in the last review about ‘old-school’? It doesn’t get much more old school than this. But more on this in a minute.
Before we go too far into it, let us just make the point that these machine heads are for acoustic guitars. They are not for the electric variety.
These are our first look at some good old-fashioned open back winders. They come in packs of six for use in a three-by-three configuration. Not surprising as most acoustics use that configuration.
They really do look like they have come out of the museum, but that is half the appeal. That, plus a very attractive price point. They feature the traditional ‘butter bean’ button and nickel-plating. And they have a 14 to 1 gear ratio.
Beauty in the basics…
Being such a basic set of machine heads, they are very easy to fit. It is likely they will neatly replace what you already have.
A very nice throwback to days gone past at a great price. These demonstrate the depth of the range of machine heads that Grover produces.
- A nice vintage style and easy to fit.
- Open back design with a 14 to 1 ratio.
Best Grover Tuner Buying Guide
Whether you need to replace a broken tuner or replace the machine heads that came with your guitar, there is a Grover set for you. Unless you bought a very high-end instrument, then it is likely the tuners on your guitar are not that good. But what to replace them with? That is the question.
We will not go down the road of discussing what color you might like. That is a very personal issue. And it will also depend on what guitar you have. But there are some things to consider.
They are usually either 14 to 1 or 18 to 1. The difference is that the higher the ratio (such as 18 to 1), means smaller turns and adjustments. For many people, that is preferable.
Furthermore, one important thing is the smoothness of the gearing. With Grover, you don’t have that problem. Precision defines every machine head they make.
These days most machine heads are locking. There are two different types; Automatic and Manual locking. Many players prefer the manual locking design as they are very stable.
What matters most is their ability to remain in tune. A tuner that won’t keep your guitar in tune is a problem. And it doesn’t matter how expensive or otherwise your guitar is. It does need to be in tune.
Other issues can and do affect the tuning. It isn’t all about the machine heads. The nut and the bridge can have an impact. But investing in an upgrade of your tuners will improve the performance of your guitar very quickly. And noticeably.
Grover most likely has the solution for your tuning issues, and there is a range to choose from.
Looking for Something Else?
If you are interested in tuners, you might need some strings to go with them. So check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Acoustic Guitar Strings, the Best Nylon Strings, the Best Electric Guitar Strings, or even the Best Violin Strings you can buy.
But don’t forget about accessories. Therefore, also take a look at our reviews for the Best Guitar Stand, the Best Guitar Wall Hangers, and the Best Guitar Humidifiers currently on the market in 2021.
What is the Best Grover Tuner?
For us, we like the vintage look as against the more modern designs. Maybe we are a bit old-fashioned that way.
But we would pick up the old ‘milk bottle.’ Designs from a bygone age at a great price…
Therefore, we chose the…
An 18 to 1 gearing ratio with a nickel-plated finish that always gets the job done. They look good to us.
Until next time, may your music making always be merry (and in tune).