Improving the guitar playing experience
Talk about turning lemons into lemonade. Back in the late ’80s Graph Tech founder Dave Dunwoodie transformed annoyances he shared with millions of guitarists into one of the guitar sector’s most respected and successful manufacturers. Frustrated by strings that bind, go out of tune, and break far too often, Dunwoodie began working at his kitchen table “shop,” experimenting with a variety of composite materials to eliminate guitar nut string binding. After engineering the world’s first self-lubricating nut with a formula that is five times slipperier than graphite, he launched Graph Tech Guitar Labs. Since then Graph Tech has produced some of the most innovative and reliable nuts, saddles, bridge pins, and pickup systems on the market. Ever the inventor, Dunwoodie more recently trained his sights on another area where he could improve the guitar playing experience, and his inspiration is already proving equally groundbreaking.
With traditional tuning machines, tuning higher strings requires significantly more turns than tuning lower strings: Higher strings seem to “take forever,” while it’s very easy to “overshoot” the correct pitch on lower strings. Graph Tech’s patented Ratio Multi-Geared Precision Tuners feature a distinct tuning ratio for each string, from 12:1 to 39:1. With this ingenious system, a full turn on any string changes the pitch approximately one full tone, making all guitar string changes and tuning—especially open and altered variations such as “drop D”—faster, easier, and more intuitive, regardless of string gauge.
In addition to their simplification of the tuning process, consumer testimonials cite Ratios’ smooth feel and tuning stability. Manufacturers that make them standard equipment on their guitars include Martin, Godin, Framus, Boucher, Hagstrom, and Italia. Despite their dramatic advantages, Ratio Multi-Geared Machine Heads are priced comparably to other fine tuners. They’re available in Locking, Non-Locking, and Open-Back styles with four finish options—gold, chrome, nickel and black—and four button designs. Ratio Locking Machine Heads now also include Graph Tech’s patented InvisoMatch Mounting Plates, which eliminate the need to drill holes in the headstock, making installation quick and clean for guitar players looking to upgrade their existing tuners.
Excitement over the Ratio line, which was introduced in 2013, has drawn new attention to Graph Tech’s more established brands and products. TUSQ Man-Made Ivory nuts, saddles, and bridge pins are designed to transfer the full spectrum of frequencies from the strings to the top of the guitar better than plastic, micarta, or bone. Benefits include improved sustain and more balanced tone with crisp highs and rich, open lows. TUSQ parts are found on instruments made by Taylor, Gibson, Godin, Martin, Ibanez, Tom Anderson, and Schecter. Self-lubricating TUSQ XL and String Saver nuts and saddles are impregnated with PTFE, a permanent, synthetic fluoropolymer lubricant that dramatically reduces string friction, binding, and breakage while enhancing tuning stability. This technology is trusted by Carvin, Yamaha, and Fender to reduce string breakage by up to 90%.
In 2003, the same year Graph Tech introduced “the world’s first picks with built-in tone,” Dunwoodie and company ventured into very new territory with the launch of the Ghost Modular Pickup System. Made for electric guitar and bass, the Ghost System renders a warm, realistic, studio-quality acoustic sound. The complementary Hexpander MIDI adapter with 13-pin output turns any guitar into an excellent MIDI controller. The Ghost System’s Acousti-Phonic preamp and the Hexpander MIDI adapter can be used alone or together.
Graph Tech’s ResoMax Harmonic Bridge System with String Saver Saddles is a unique combination of materials engineered to optimize guitar tone and dramatically reduce string breakage. The bridge base is made from a high-strength, lightweight alloy designed to maximize harmonic content for enhanced tonal richness and “sizzle.” All ResoMax bridges come with the company’s patented AutoLock system, which magnetically locks the bridge or tailpiece to the bridge posts, eliminating the bridge drop experienced by many during string changes.
Expanding its ResoMax line of bridges, Graph Tech recently introduced the Sonic 1 one-piece wraparound model. Made of the company’s patented lightweight, high-strength ResoMax Alloy, the Sonic 1 was specially designed with a new QuickString mounting system, making stringing and restringing faster and easier than any other one-piece wraparound on the market.
Graph Tech distributes to more than 42 countries and ships more than $3.5 million worth of parts annually. Dunwoodie and the Graph Tech team, although well known for their innovative products, pride themselves on the family-like relationships they build between their team and their industry partners. The company’s current distributors include Harris Teller, All Parts, St. Louis Music, Stewart MacDonald, WD Music, JHS (UK), IVAN Music (China), Warwick (Germany), Fred’s Guitar Parts (France), Moridaira (Japan), Coast Music (Canada), Goris Group (South America), and many others.
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