|Grover’s headquarters in Cleveland, OH.|
|Grover Musical Products
Leading guitar brands and after-market tinkerers both find
solutions in Grover tuners and accessories
The word “Groverize” is a term that may only exist on guitar forums, but everyone there seems to know what it means. Among gearheads looking to tweak, upgrade, or restore their guitars, the option of installing Grover tuners is a staple of many conversations, and the answer to many quandaries. In production for more than a hundred years, they might be the perfect upgrade for a new guitar or the period-correct part to complete a vintage find. Either way, they’re one of the true mainstays of the guitar segment. Besides being a popular option for restorers and after-market tinkerers, they’re the longtime standard equipment of Gibson, Epiphone, and Martin, among other brands. And as the nuts and bolts of the fretted instruments world, they’re always in demand: When new guitar sales are up, Grover can expect more purchases from manufacturers looking to fill orders. When they’re down, the business shifts to the distributors who supply repair shops and retailers, as players fix up existing guitars or shop used and vintage. Between its varied selection of tuners and a range of other accessories, says Grover President and CEO Richard Berger, the company has yet to see its products go out of style. “While instrument sales go up and down,” he says, “accessory sales are almost always stable.”
A full-time member of the Grover team since 1972, Richard represents the third generation of his family to head up Grover Musical Products, Inc. The company’s roots, however, go back even further. A forerunner of the business, called A.D. Grover & Son, was established in the late 1800s by Albert Deane Grover, who earned more than 50 patents for musical instrument parts. Among its first products were guitar and banjo machine heads, followed by tuners for other fretted instruments along with violin. Meanwhile, a music products salesman named Henry Grossman—Richard Berger’s great-uncle—set up a wholesale business called Grossman Music Products in Cleveland in 1922. (Grossman, who worked into his nineties, was a leader in music industry associations for decades.) In 1952, Grossman acquired A.D. Grover & Son, subsequently taking on the Grover name and shifting its focus from wholesale to manufacturing. Henry was eventually succeeded by his nephew, Joseph Berger, and then by Joseph’s son—current CEO Richard Berger. Richard has since been joined in the business by his elder son Cory, now vice president, and younger son Cole.
Today Grover is best known for its full selection of tuning machine heads, including the famed Rotomatic range, for guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo, and ukulele. That includes a variety of “vintage” tuners, replicating originals such as the Imperial and Sta-Tite ranges, made to bring authentic looks and functionality to classic instruments. Within the Rotomatic range, Grover has reintroduced the original “milk bottle-style” tuners found on instruments of the ’60s and ’70s—reflecting the company’s role in both after-market guitar restorations and vintage re-creations at the manufacturer level. Besides machine heads, though, the Grover range extends to cables, capos, digital tuners, and a number of other stringed instrument accessories. Its more recent innovations include the Grover Ultra Capo, whose unique offset design allows more room for the guitarist’s thumb on the back of the neck and features a slightly wider top bar that helps to keep the guitar in tune by distributing the spring pressure over a wider area. Celebrated as a “world’s first,” it’s bolstered Grover’s reputation as a go-to source for more than just machine heads. (The Ultra Capo was the creation of then-Executive Vice President Dann Skutt, a longtime member of the Grover team who passed away in August of this year.) As Richard notes, “A vast variety of accessories makes us a convenient vendor for wholesale distributors and manufacturers. Our product line involves items for many instruments.”
Beyond the flagship Grover brand, Grover Musical Products commands a portfolio of brands including Trophy Music Co., FirstNote, Clevelander, Bandstand, Tudor, Cambridge, and Flutophone—spanning categories from musical toys to educational products to percussion. The scope of the operation means Grover leadership is constantly tracking big-picture factors such as rising production costs and the uncertain effects of new tariffs. In other ways, however, the company is finding new ways to control its own destiny. Advances in 3D printing have speeded and refined prototyping for numerous Grover products, while ecommerce, digital advertising, and a variety of B2B technologies have streamlined sales and ordering. The upshot, says Richard, is that Grover is using the many tools at its disposal to grow in categories where it’s already successful—and expand into segments where it’s never been before. In sum, he adds: “We have several new items in the works.”