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Publication numberUS3407696 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 29, 1968
Filing dateSep 14, 1967
Priority dateSep 14, 1967
Publication numberUS 3407696 A, US 3407696A, US-A-3407696, US3407696 A, US3407696A
InventorsRhodes Orville J, Smith Jimmy G
Original AssigneeJimmy G. Smith, Orville J. Rhodes
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Stringed musical instrument stable, harmonic-free tuning
US 3407696 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Oct. 29, 1968 J. G SMITVH ETAL 3,407,696



Oct. 29, 1968 J. G. SMI'FH EfAL STRI NGED MUSICAL INSTRUMENT STABLE, HARMONIC-FREE TUNING 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 7 Filed Sept. 14, 1967 h i s i i F 7 iilllij:

mm .l S Mwm 5 7 G N Y W MEN ML Mk United States Patent 3,407,696 STRINGED MUSICAL INSTRUMENT STABLE,

HARMONIC-FREE TUNING Jimmy G. Smith, 7709 Lankershim Blvd., Apt. 125, and Orville J. Rhodes, 11826 Blythe St., both of North Hollywood, Calif. 91605 Filed Sept. 14, 1967, Ser. No. 667,842 7 Claims. (Cl. 84-297) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE The tension of each of the strings in a stringed musical instrument is established for tuning by a lever arm pivoted at one end and pressed against a tuning adjustment screw at the other end. One end of the string is attached to the pivoted end of the lever arm replacing the conventional bridge. The other end of the string is anchored to the far end of the fret bar or neck. The string thus has no extensions beyond the termination points to produce unwanted harmonics.

Background of the invention Since the earliest times (in fact, going back to the ancient Egyptians), stringed musical instruments have used pegs about which each string was wound. The pegs were rotated for tuning of the instrument. Each string passed over a guide strip on the tuning peg end of the neck of fret bar and over a bridge at the anchor end. Short lengths of the string, respectively, extended from bridge to anchor and from guide strip to tuning peg. These short lengths of string also vibrated when the string was plucked as in the either or guitar, or in the case of the viol family of instruments when the string was bowed. The vibration of the short lengths of string is harmonically related to the natural frequency of the section of string between the bridge and guide strip resulting in a characteristic tonality of the stringed instrument. The harmonies tend to reduce the sustained vibration period of the string, as well as to detune the string.

With the advent of electrical or electronic stringed instruments where the entire output of the vibrating strings is picked up by electrical transducers and amplified, the usual bridge of the prior instruments is not necessary. In these prior instruments the bridge transmitted the vibration of the strings to the sounding box in the guitar or violin types of instruments, or gourd as in the mandolin. Therefore, a new type of anchoring means is possible in which a bridge as such is not used. There is no such instrument of the stringed type available today. All still employ the bridge as in the ancient instruments. The present invention uses what may be called a tuningbridge.

The present invention The present invention contemplates new means for anchoring and tuning the strings of a musical instrument both to facilitate the use of such instruments with electrical pickup devices and to create a more stable tuning of the strings. An additional advantage of the new means for anchoring, mounting, and tuning the strings according to this invention is the production of cleaner tones, free from the unwanted harmonics generated in the prior art instruments by the extra section of string appearing from the prior art bridge to anchor and from guide bar to tuning peg. In the new arrangement of stringed instrument strings according to this invention there is no bridge and the string has a continuous open length between the "ice anchor bar and the tuning-bridge mechanism of the invention which in itself incorporates novel features.

The new tuning mechanism according to the invention is unlike anything in the prior art. It employs a ring-like structure mounted on an axis or pivot rod with a lever arm extending from the ring. A diagonal bore is made through the lever arm at an angle. The string is essentially drawn over the periphery of the ring-like structure tangent to the circle formed by the ring and through the bore. There is a locking screw through the bore to hold the string tightly therein. A tuning screw in a fixed assembly presses downward on the lever arm placing tension on the string. Adjustment of the tuning screw increases or relaxes the tension on the string to set the tuning of the string. It has been found that the tuning when adjusted according to the invention remains stable so that a performer does not have to constantly readjust the tuning after each number as has been the case heretofore.

The extension of the neck of the musical instrument necessary in prior art instruments to accommodate the tuning pegs does not appear in stringed instruments according to this invention. In fact, the tuning bridge mechanism described above is preferably arranged to appear on the portion of the instrument, such as a guitar, where the players hand is used to pluck the-strings. It is possible to arrange an extension device on the tuning screw mount as described above so that the extension device may be vibrated over small increments of angle to produce a vibrato action. The vibrato action arm may even be motorized for automatic vibrator. The tuning-bridge may be attached at bridge or nut end of the guitar, as in the steel guitar.

Accordingly, it is an object of the invention to provide a novel tuning means for strings on a stringed musical instrument which is more stable, more reliable, and produces a more readily sustained tone without harmonics.

The drawings show a preferred embodiment of the invention which should not be construed as limiting the invention thereto because those skilled in the arts appertaining to this invention may conceive other embodiments in the light of the teachings herein within the ambit of the appended claims.

In the drawings FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of a stringed musical instrument incorporating an embodiment of the new tuning means of this invention;

FIGURE 2 is a partial detail in cross-section of the clamping of a string of a musical instrument according to the invention;

FIGURE 3 is another detail showing the opposite anchoring end of the stringed instrument according to the invention;

FIGURE 4 is an alternative arrangement of the invention for vibrator production;

FIGURE 5 is a detail of an initial tension setting mechanism for assembly of strings on the instrument according to the invention; and

FIGURE 6 is a partially broken diagram of another embodiment of the invention showing how it may be applied to a twelve-string guitar.

Description of the invention In FIGURE 1 a guitar 10 is shown as a representative example of the type of stringed instrument to which the novel tuning means 11 of this invention can be applied.

The guitar 10 dilfers from conventional guitars in that its fret bar or neck 12 has no tuning key plate or peg box extending therefrom, and there is no bridge on the sounding board. Instead, an anchor and guide termination 13 appears at the end 14 of the neck 12. In prior art instruments the guide was called a nut.

Where in the prior art a bridge would be located, in the present invention (as maybe seen in FIGURE 1) there is positioned the novel, .stable tuning mechanism 11, the heart of the invention. It may be calleda tuningbridge.

Between thetuning mechanism 11 andthe anchor, guide and termination or nut 13,,strings 15, 16, 17, 18 are stretched-As may be seen in FIGURE 3, there is a knot 21 at the end of string to anchor it as it passes through guide grooves 33 and bore 39. 1

. The tuningmechanism 11 and anchor 13 are shown in:

afore-shortenedv cross-sectional view in FIGURE 2. The anchor 13has a rounded edge.

The string 15-is shown in FIGURES 1 and 2 asassem-- bled. in the tuning mechanism 11. The tuning mechanism 11.(FIGURE 1) includes a pretensioning assembly22 for assembling each string prior to locking it in plac as hereinafter described. I

In the mounting assembly 25. of the tuning mechanism 11 an axle 26 is positioned in a yoke 23 to receive the tuning ring 27 and lever 28. The lever 28 extends tangentia'lly from the ring 27 and has a bore 29 therethrough extending downward and rearward at an angle of 45 degrees between the top and bottom 19 surfaces of the bar. A vertical threaded bore 30 is made just above bore 29 so that when string 15 is pulled tautly through slot 29 a screw 31 may be set against string 15 in bore 29 to hold it fixedly in place.

Referring again to FIGURE 1, the mounting assembly 25 is attached to the equivalent of a sounding board 32, so identified because it is not, in fact, a sounding board, or chamber, in the conventional sense, but merely a supporting base upon which to assemble the various components of the new tuning mechanism 11, the neck 12, and the strings 15-18.

- On mounting assembly 25, spaced from yoke 23 and clearing the rearward end of lever arms 27, is a bracket 34 including threaded bores 35 to receive screws 36. Although only four screws 36 and strings 15-18 are shown for convenience of illustration, it should be obvious that for a six-stringed guitar there would be six screws 36 into six threaded bores 35. A cup-shaped dimple 37 in the top surface 20 of lever arm 28 near the rearmost end thereof received the rounded end 38 of screw 36 so that as screw 36 is adjusted againstthe tension of string 15 (or any other) lever arm 28 is moved with ring 27 rotating on axle 26. If screw 36 is threaded further into bore 35 arm 28 assumes a lower position, as shown ,at 28a in FIGURE 5 in dashed line, to increase the tension on the exemplary string 15 so as to raise its pitch or resonant frequency. Rotation of screw 36 further out of its. bore 35 results in an opposite rotation of lever arm 28 so that the tension on string 15 is relaxed, thus lowering the pitch or frequency of the string.

The number of strings is not critical. Any number of them may be used, with the new tuning-bridge requiring only that the appropriate number of ring and lever units be provided.

' In this manner, each of the strings 15, 16, 17, 18 can be tuned to its respective proper pitch and remain so without variation as will be further explained below.

When astring like 15 is to be installed in an instrument incorporating the new tuning mechanism, such as 11 of FIGURE 1 (and FIGURE 5), it is knotted on one end as at 21 (FIGURES 2 and 3), threaded through the bore 39, and wrapped about nut 13 through the guide groove 33 in the terminal end 14 of neck 12 and above and along the fret bar or finger board 40 on neck 12, over ring 27, and through bore 29 in 1ever arm 28. It is then brought through the slot 41 in pretensioning mechanism22 and while being held as tightly manuallynas possible the knob 42 is rotated to wind string 15 up tightly, stretching it close to the desired pitch. At this point screw 31 in bore 30 is tightened against string 15 in bore 29 of lever arm 28, thereby cinching it down tightly and fixedlyin the bore 29 from which it cannot slide. At this point the excess 44 of string 15 wound inseat 41of tensioner. 22 is cut off and discarded. The screw 36 maybe adjusted in its bore 35 in bracket 34 so as to move lever arm 28 up and down until exact pitch is achieved forthat string, as at 28a.

The location of pitch adjusting screws 36 on bracket 34 makes it possible for the instrumentalist to tune his instrument while actually holdingthe fingers of his left hand on the frets in a chord, or any other playing technique, because the rig-ht hand can strike the strings and while the strings sound he can easily adjust screws 36 for tuning the strings to their proper pitch.

This is more readily accomplished in a stringed instrument .equipped as hereinabove described because the sustain or sustained tone lasts longer than it does in conventional stringed instruments. The increased sustain duration is due to the fact that the entire length of the string between anchor points (groove 33 of nut 13 and ring 27) can vibrate freely. It is unencumbered by counter-vibrations whichin the conventional prior art stringed instrument would be set up by the section of string from the nut to the tuning peg and the section of string from the bridge to the tail piece.

Furthermore, once a string has been tuned in the manner described above using the tuning bridge mechanism of this invention it remains stable. This is due to the fact that there is no excess string as in conventional stringed instruments to slip over the nut or bridge due to plucking or bowing. In the prior art instruments there is more tension between the bridge and tail piece, for example, than from the bridge to the nut over the finger board. After each bowing or plucking action on the string tends to create a slippage action, the greater tension in the excess string sections becomes relieved tending to stretch the string making it go flat. In the violin, for example, the pegs are held only by friction which under the constant vibration of the string tends to give way resulting in fiatting of the pitch.

These sharp-going or fiatting conditions cannot occur when the system of this invention is used since there are no slippage points nor harmonic-vibration-generating excess strings to interfere with free-vibration of the string at the proper pitch.

In FIGURE 4 a lever arm 45 is shown attached to axle 26 so as to be positioned with respect to its spatulashaped end 47 below the level of string 18, etc. along fret board 12. The lever arm 45 may be pressed upon by the instrumentalists palm heel in a rocking motion when he wishes to produce a pitch vibrato tone. The movement of lever 45 ever so slightly produces the small increments of tension shift on the strings to produce the vibrato by causing axle 26 to rotate slightly lever arms 28, raising the pitch slightly and when released the normal tension on the string will return the string 'to its original pitch. If a spring 48 is placed under arm 45 with its normal resilient urge pushing arm 45 upward, the pitch waver vibrato can be made to vary through a normal center frequency or pitch with the waver of the vibrato going both above and below the central pitch.

It should be clear that other resilient means can be applied like those of spring 48 and lever 45 for producing vibrato effects by a periodic lengthening and shortening of the strings over small increments.

If a guitar with 12 strings is to be equipped with the tuning mechanism such as shown at in FIGURE 6, it would be more practical to arrange two six-strings sections as shown in FIGURE 6 with one assembly such as shown at the sounding board 32 while another six-string section is arranged with the strings thereof interleaved with the first group of six strings and positioned at the opposite (nut) end of the neck. The numbers used in FIGURE 6 correspond to those in FIGURES 1-5. However, for the duplicated set of strings the character references are primed, as 26 and 26.

Alternatively, two six-string sections, similar to the four-string sections shown in FIGURES 1 and 3, with the strings interleaved may be used and the two sections staggered on the same end of the sounding board so that individual screws 36 for individual strings are not too close together for convenient adjustment.

It should be obvious from the descriptions preceding 1 that for more than four strings than shown in FIGURES l and 3 a wider neck, similar to neck 12, would be used to accommodate the larger number of strings.

What is claimed as new is:

1. A tuning mechanism for the strings of a stringed musical instrument having a sounding board and a neck extending and rigidly attached by one end thereof to said sounding board, said neck having an anchor guide at one end to receive and hold one end of the strings of the musical instrument, said tuning mechanism comprismg:

a mounting and support means attached to the sounding board in line with the neck and spaced therefrom;

an axle fixedly disposed in said mounting and support means perpendicularly to the line of said neck;

a plurality of rings rotatably mounted side by side on said axle each in a line with the anchoring point of attachment of said strings to said neck;

each of said plurality of rings having a lever arm extending tangentially therefrom;

a first bore in each lever arm oriented 45 degrees with respect to the upper and lower surfaces of said arm to receive the remaining end of a respective one of the strings of said instrument;

a second bore perpendicularly in each of said lever arms extending to said first bore therein and being threaded to receive a clamping screw therein, said clamping screw being adjustable in said second bore to hold said string tightly in said first bore; and

a bracket disposed over said mounting and support means and having a plurality of threaded bores therein to receive adjustment screws positioned over respective ones of said lever arms and being in contact with said lever arms, the tension of said strings causing said lever arms to press against said adjustment screws,

whereby said adjustment screws may be rotated in said threaded bores in said bracket to relieve or increase the pressure on said lever arms and thereby increase or relax the tension on said strings to change their resonant pitch, thus permitting the strings on the instrument to be tuned by the setting of said adjustment screws.

2. A tuning mechanism for stringed musical instru ments having a base and a neck extending from said base and attached thereto, said mechanism comprising:

a guide nut on the end of said neck remote from the base, said guide nut being grooved and bored to receive strings knotted at one end to hold them in the bores;

an assembly of rockable lever arms rotatably mounted on said base and including adjustment means operatively connected with said lever arms to permit rockable adjustment of said lever arms; and

a plurality of musical strings stretched taut between said guide nut through the respective bores and grooves therein and respective ones of said rockable lever arms and being clamped to said respective lever arms,

whereby each of said strings may be tuned by operatiOn of said rockable lever arms by said adjustment means to stretch or slacken the tension on the strings clamped thereto, to raise or lower the pitch thereof.

3. In a stringed musical instrument:


a neck having a string guide and an anchoring nut on one end thereof, said neck being attached by the other end thereof to said base;

a unitary tuning bridge mounted on said base and comprising a plurality of lever arms articulatingly mounted in said bridge and screw adjustment means disposed vertically throughsaid bridge operatively in engagement with one end of said lever arms in said bridge to raise and lower said lever arms; and

strings each being stretched tightly along said neck only between said anchoring nut and the other end of respective ones of said lever arms in said tuning bridge, said strings being clamped to said other end of said lever arms and anchored to said anchoring nut;

whereby, said screw adjustment means in engagement with said one ends of said lever arms may be ad justed to increase or relax the tension of said strings stretched as described to raise or lower the pitch thereof for tuning and as a result of which there is an increased duration of sustained tone period for any string when plucked.

4. In a stringed musical instrument as defined in claim 3:

said lever arms including an axle;

a vibrato lever arm attached to said axle and a resilient element under said vibrato lever arm to urge said vibrato lever arm upward,

whereby an instrumentalist may rock the vibrato lever arm against said resilient element with his palm during a performance to create small increments of variation in tension to achieve pitch wavers.

5. In a stringed musical instrument as defined in claim 3:

an initial tension winding mechanism on said base and adapted to receive the excess length of said strings during the installation thereof between said nut and said lever arms,

whereby each string may be wound tightly to an initial tension before being clamped to its respective associated lever arm.

6. In a stringed musical instrument having a base with a fret board extending from the base, a tuning bridge mechanism comprising:

rockable lever arm means articulatingly disposed on an axle on said base;

means in each lever arm in said lever arm means for clamping one end of a string thereto;

an anchor at the end of said fret board remote from said base;

respective strings stretched only between respective ones of said clamping means on respective ones of said rockable lever arms in said lever arm means and said anchor, said strings being free of any other contact with parts of said musical instrument over the entire length thereof between said clamping means and said anchor;

adjustment means disposed in operative relation to said rockable lever arm means for rocking said lever arms thereof to tune the strings by varying the tension thereof between said anchor and said clamping means; and

manually operable adjustment means in a bracket on said base positioned over said rockable lever arm means and in operative engagement with said arm means, said arm being pressed against said manually operable adjustment means by the pull of said strings thereon;

whereby said manually operable adjustment means may be adjusted against said arm means to vary the tension on said strings by countering or relieving the pressure of said arm means thereagainst to tune References Cited tllie :grfings to raise and lower the pitch of vibration UNITED STATES PATENTS er 7. In a tuning bridge mechanism for a string in a 28281660 4/1958 Paulsen 84 297 stringed musical instrument as defined in claim 8: 5 3,252,368 5/1966 Jeffery a pretensioning device comprising manual means for FOREIGN PATENTS receiving sa1d other end of the string and for wmd- 73,593 6/1916 Switzerland.

ing said other end until a preliminary tension has been achieved whereupon said means for clamping RICHARD WILKINSON Primary Examiner. the string is engaged and the excess string wound on 10 said tensioning device is cut fl", G. M. POLUMBUS, Assistant Examiner.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
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US3596552 *Feb 13, 1970Aug 3, 1971Nordiska Piano AbDevices for securing strings in musical instruments
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US4241637 *Jul 3, 1979Dec 30, 1980Brent Rachael EStringed musical instruments of guitar type
US4497236 *Mar 15, 1982Feb 5, 1985Rose Floyd DApparatus for restraining and fine tuning the strings of a musical instrument, particularly guitars
US4562766 *Jun 6, 1983Jan 7, 1986Scholz Donald TString tuning and fastening arrangement
US4572049 *Mar 21, 1983Feb 25, 1986Tokai Gakki Co., Ltd.Electric guitar provided with tremolo unit
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US4608905 *Feb 13, 1985Sep 2, 1986Nippon Gakki Co., Ltd.Tremolo apparatus for an electric guitar with tuning function
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US5684256 *Jun 7, 1995Nov 4, 1997Rose; Floyd D.Tuning systems for stringed instruments
US5689075 *Jun 7, 1995Nov 18, 1997Rose; Floyd D.Tuning systems for stringed instruments
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US5700965 *Jun 7, 1995Dec 23, 1997Rose; Floyd D.Tuning systems for stringed instruments
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US7045693Jan 13, 2003May 16, 2006Floyd D. RoseTuning systems for stringed musical instruments
US7227068 *May 17, 2004Jun 5, 2007Clayton Lee Van DorenString-mounted conditioner for stringed musical instruments
US7358428 *Feb 9, 2005Apr 15, 2008David BellDual saddle bridge
US7709713 *Jun 27, 2007May 4, 2010Pearce Fred LMounting plate and vibrato assembly for vibrato system on a guitar
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US8536430Jan 13, 2010Sep 17, 2013Geoffrey McCabeFine tuning means for fulcrum tremolo
US8952231 *Aug 15, 2012Feb 10, 2015Eduardo Edison GonzalezCompact gearless tuning mechanism for stringed instruments
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U.S. Classification84/297.00R, 84/311, 84/267, 984/119
International ClassificationG10D3/14, G10D3/00
Cooperative ClassificationG10D3/14
European ClassificationG10D3/14