Clutch Keeps Stringed Instruments in Tune

Clutch Keeps Stringed Instruments in Tune

Two mechanical engineering graduate students have merged their technical and musical know-how to
make a device that keeps stringed instruments in
tune, even if they're knocked around.

Fred Hovermann of Rowan University in Glassboro,
N.J., and Pete Ferrara of Pennsylvania State
University in University Park, engineered a clutch
knob as part of a Rowan-sponsored entrepreneurial
project. Ferrara is a former Rowan student. Clutch
knobs are redesigned tuning knobs for stringed
instruments, such as guitars and basses, which
prevent the instruments from inadvertently going out
of tune.

Musicians have to tune their instruments regularly by
turning the knobs around which the strings are
wound. Turning the knobs changes the tension on
strings, thereby changing the frequency at which
they vibrate. Often, jarring an instrument or playing it
for a long time causes it to fall out of tune. A clutch
knob, according to the inventors, locks into place. A
musician has to press the knob to free it before it
will rotate. This prevents the instrument from falling
out of tune when it's jarred or when the knobs are
accidentally brushed or moved.

"I had this idea a while ago and I thought it would be
really cool to realize it," Hovermann said. He's been
playing the guitar since he was seven and
periodically jams with two Rowan mechanical
engineering professors, Anthony Marchese and Eric
Constans, who advised him during the project.

Hovermann and Ferrara received a $3,500 grant that
is administered by the Rowan College of Engineering
and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators
Alliance in Hadley, Mass. They also received $11,000
in additional funding directly from the alliance.

Hovermann and Ferrara demonstrated the clutch
knob at the National Association of Music Merchants
Winter 2002 trade school in Anaheim, Calif., in
January. Hovermann said the knobs met with interest
and he boasted that the invention helped him and
Ferrara meet members of the bands Barenaked
Ladies, Bon Jovi, and Weezer.

Additional Details:

Date Published: Saturday, June 1, 2002 - 01:00
Source URL: Mech. Engineering Magazine