Balanced Action Pedals are the most widely used pedal styles. Balanced action systems run like a teeter totter or balance scale- the head tension on one side and a spring tension on the other. The pedal moves the counterhoop up and down, while the spring balances the tension from the head to hold the pedal in place. Balanced action pedals are intuitive as well- toe down to raise the pitch, heel down to lower the pitch. The down side to this style is that notes are mechanically close together, and the mechanical balance of the head against the spring is constantly adjusting as the head stretches.
Ratchet or clutch release style pedals are the oldest foot activated tuning systems and provide the widest range of mechanical motion giving the player greater distance between notes and subsequently better tuning accuracy. The negative to this system is that this requires an additional motion to release the clutch with your heel before changing notes – for younger and less experienced players this can be very problematic especially when fast note changes are required.
Toe-block (sometimes called European-block or just “block”) systems are variations on the Ratchet systems. Instead of a heel clutch release, the Toe-Block system requires the player to press the toe down to release the clutch. In addition, these systems are always leg-motion or Berlin style actions – requiring the player to lift the leg to go lower in pitch. This can be very difficult again for certain players because to lower the note you have to press down with the toe, and lift the leg.
Hand Tuned systems utilize a hand operated tuning method without a pedal. Sometimes a chain or cable is wrapped around sprockets on the tuning rod in order to move all the tuning screws at one time.