Grover vs Gotoh: What’s the Difference & Which Is Better? (2023 Edition)

Table of Contents

If you’re curious about Grover vs Gotoh tuning machines and which is better, you’ve come to the right post!

Grover Background

Grover Musical Products, or simply Grover, is a guitar hardware brand. More specifically, they focus on tuning machines for guitars, bass guitars, and plenty of other instruments.

It’s a US company and they’ve been around for quite a while now. At this point, they own a few other brands. And they went with this name when they acquired A. D. Grover & Son back in the early 1950s. 

This was a crucial time for the development of electric and acoustic guitars. To this day, Grover tuners appear on various guitar brands including Gibson.

Tuning Machines

Grover offers a pretty wide choice of guitar tuning machines. But most of their stuff is somewhat vintage-oriented. Nonetheless, these tuners find their way onto some high-end, modern instruments.

They’re usually pretty common on 3 + 3 headstocks just like the ones you find on Gibson or Gibson-style guitars. However, you can also find guitars with 6-in-line headstocks rocking these.

You’ll often find their so-called Rotomatics tuners around. These are closed-back tuning machines. They also have other variants, like open-gear, Vintage Deluxe, Vintage, Vintage Locking, and others.

For the most part, their tuners have a ratio of 18:1. If you’re not familiar with the ratio, it refers to how many times you have to turn the peg to do one full circle of the string post.

However, some Grover tuners also come with 16:1 or even 14:1 ratios. But these aren’t as common as 18:1 ones.

Grover’s 502 tuners are pretty popular for 3 + 3 headstocks. These come with the now-standard kidney-shaped buttons. They also come in chrome or gold finishes. The 406 are pretty neat and popular as well. These are so-called mini-locking tuning machines that keep things super-tight.

Grover is also famous for vintage-style tuning machines. They have their 133 and super interesting 103 variants with Pearloid buttons. Then they also have 150 with those unusual retro-style 3-step buttons.

Though there’s a lot to say about these tuners, there are two main conclusions with them. First, they’re pretty reliable, you can’t go wrong with them. And secondly, they usually go great with vintage-style guitars especially if we’re talking about 3+3 headstock configurations.

Gotoh Background

Gotoh is a Japanese-based instrument hardware company. They’ve been around since 1960. However, Gotoh traces its roots back to 1950 when Masao Gotoh started making violin strings. Eventually, the company focused on guitar hardware. But they also make some stuff for bass guitars, banjos, mandolins, and ukuleles as well. 

Contrary to Grover, they don’t focus solely on tuning machines. They also have incredible bridges, tailpieces, and saddles. Regardless, tuning machines remain their most popular products.

Tuning Machines

And when it comes to their tuning machines, Gotoh has a lot of stuff to offer. It’s not just the number of models that they offer. It’s also the fact that they have all sorts of styles here. This goes for both practical and visual traits.

In addition to this, they have high-quality products. But that’s something that we can say about pretty much all Gotoh’s hardware, not just the tuners.

Their tuner line has four main categories. These are sealed gear, open gear, vintage, and so-called Luxury. The ratios for these are pretty diverse and are usually related to the particular series. For instance, they have 21:1, 18:1, 16:1, 15:1, and 14:1 ratios.

The sealed ones are pretty interesting. There’s the 510 series which has this more modern-oriented aesthetic to them. Additionally, they’re very reliable. The regular ones are the SG variant.

And the open gear design has two series. These are SX and SE and they come with a 15:1 ratio.

Vintage ones have SD and SD510 variants. They come with those square-shaped casings. And there are also those with the so-called relic treatment, making them look genuinely old. These all have a 15:1 gear ratio.

The Luxury series includes visually upgraded variants of sealed and vintage series. You can recognize them by their engravings on buttons and on their casing.

Overall, Gotoh is one of the most reliable guitar hardware brands out there. Their stuff finds its way on high-end guitars. It’s one of the best choices for pro-level players. However, their products can get a bit pricy. And they aren’t always that easy to find.

Grover Vs Gotoh

It isn’t exactly easy to say which of these is better especially because each brand has such a wide variety of tuners. That said, I think that I believe Gotohs almost always outperform anything by Grover.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Grover tuners are bad or that they’re not worth it. In fact, I like seeing them on some classic Gibson or Gibson-style guitars. They’re pretty reliable and the brand stays true to their old-school aesthetic vibes.

Gotoh, on the other hand, steps up the game. They have both vintage and modern-oriented stuff. There’s also a wider choice of gear ratio variants. Grover usually comes with an 18:1 ratio and some with 16:1 or 14:1. Meanwhile, Gotoh offers several more ratio variants.

There’s also a wider choice in terms of visual traits. Gotoh has both vintage-oriented stuff and modern options. I’m also impressed at how great their relic tuning machines are. They can make a Les Paul or an SG look like it came straight from the 1960s.

Overall, if you like to keep things simple, I believe Grover is a better choice. They’re fairly reliable and they’ll serve you well. Additionally, they’re more affordable on average. So they’re easily a better option if you want something reliable and not very expensive.

However, Gotoh is a better choice if you have a workhorse guitar that you’ll use most of the time. Sure, everything wears out over time, but I think Gotoh tuners will last longer in most cases. Just bear in mind that they’re not the cheapest option.

Grover Vs Gotoh: Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you think through Grover vs Gotoh tuning machines and which is better for you.

And if you want to read more about gear comparisons on this blog, check out:

Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related topic!

3 Responses

  1. Dan Simcoe says:

    Superb article, Sir. I am a guitar enthusiast since a child but, more of a noodler than expert. I have had lessons for a few years and own 4 guitars. My favourite of which is a 1970’s Eko M-20. It was purchased a couple of years ago and had Grover tuners fitted (possibly not original). I wanted to add locking tuners like my D’Addario auto trim locking tuners. Your article has helped me massively.

    1. Hi Dan,

      Glad we could be of service! Comment here or in the forum if you have any further questions!

  2. I met Gotoh tuners and hardware when I bought a LTD Volsung guitar. I feel the same, I like Grover but Gotoh just has it all. Ratios, color combinations, locking and non- locking. I just replaced Grover tuners on two of my guitars and added Gotoh locking tuners. Go GOTOH!

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