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Tuning head machine conversion...

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by toogoodd, Sep 5, 2017.

  1. toogoodd

    toogoodd Tele-Meister

    152
    Jul 14, 2007
    korea
    Hello. I recently got a hold of a Fender Special Edition Koa Telecaster which is made in Korea. No dents, rarely played, needs a bit of cleaning, overall in good shape. The sound is pretty good for its price. Anyways, my only concern with this guitar is the hardware. It just doesn't want to stay in tune. I haven't switched out the strings yet, so maybe that could be why it the tuning keeps slipping. But the head machines just feel cheap. Also, the bridge looks to be just a generic tele style 3 brass saddle bridge. So I plan on upgrading to a fender or a gotoh bridge. But at the moment, my main problem is switching the head machines. I am looking at Gotoh vintage style locking tuners (yes, I am a sucker for the vintage style tuners :) ) But the tuning machines on this guitar look to be generic. I assume they are similar to the Fender standard tuners?? Not sure. Now, what I want to know is will I have to buy the Stewmac conversion bushings? Or are there other Gotoh vintage style tuner alternatives? Also, looks like I will need to drill some holes on the back of the headstock, but is there also an alternative for this? Sorry, I don't know much about head machines. Any suggestions and recommendations are welcome. Thanks!!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     

  2. Mimmo_CVC

    Mimmo_CVC TDPRI Member

    62
    Oct 26, 2014
    Italy
    Yes! go for vintage tuners! I agree with you that they are the best looking (and working) on a Tele, especially a Spaghetti logo one.
    Just a drawback: conversion bushes, with their larger flange, slightly diminish their essential beauty.
     
    Minimalist518 likes this.

  3. toogoodd

    toogoodd Tele-Meister

    152
    Jul 14, 2007
    korea
    Thanks for the words, Mimmo. Appreciate it :)
    But I was just wondering as to what do you mean that they slightly diminish their essential beauty. Will the conversion bushes show?? I don't really like those big washers on the front of the head machines of the standard style head machines. I prefer the simple and less of the front view of the vintage style. But will the bushings appear in the front of the head stock?
     

  4. Mimmo_CVC

    Mimmo_CVC TDPRI Member

    62
    Oct 26, 2014
    Italy
    yes: the pin diameter of a Kluson type tuner is 6mm. the diameter of a vintage bushing (for a 8mm. hole) is about 10mm. since you have 10mm holes the diameter will be around 12,5mm.
    This means that the visible flange around the pin in the first case is about 2mm while it's almost 3,5mm in the second case (your case)
     
    Minimalist518 likes this.

  5. Minimalist518

    Minimalist518 Tele-Holic

    Age:
    55
    630
    Mar 5, 2017
    Albany
    I agree with Mimi_CVC in part. A year ago I would have starkly disagreed, but my sole experience with vintage style tuners was restricted to the CBS era "F" tuners.
    In my experience they slipped easily, felt cheap and I couldn't understand why everyone didn't upgrade to Schallers which were such an obvious step forward. They work great, the gears are sealed and they don't look like toys like the flimsy "F" tuners -- they're serious looking machines!
    However, I recently acquired a beautiful partscaster with proper vintage style tuners. They look and feel so much more solid than the old F tuners. Even the quality of the metal and the chrome plating is better. I am properly chastened! If tuners like these were on old pre-CBS Fenders, I see what the fuss is about. Classy and they work great!
    That said, since your headstock is already drilled out for modern style tuners, I would go with modern upgrades. I agree that the conversion bushings you'd need to retrofit vintage style would look weird proportionately. A big shiny metal washer spoiling the elegance of the old style. Modern Schaller type tuners would look right proportionally if not "vintage correct."
     
    Mimmo_CVC likes this.

  6. toogoodd

    toogoodd Tele-Meister

    152
    Jul 14, 2007
    korea
    Thanks again for the input, Mimmo. I really appreciate it. I'm looking to buy Gotoh rather than a Kluson. I've heard just too many positive things about Gotoh and most people around me use them. But any other recommendations will be nice :)

    If it isn't too much to ask, may I ask for a picture of what you mean about the visible flange??
     

  7. toogoodd

    toogoodd Tele-Meister

    152
    Jul 14, 2007
    korea
    Thanks for your input too, Minimalist. I've had some bad experience with the F tuners like an old vintage 70s Telecaster I had. Didn't like all the screws on the back of the head stock and they just felt cheap. But like you mentioned, the vintage style that you see in the 50,60s, I think you said it best... They are classy :) Honestly, I'm just not satisfied with the modern look of the head machines. Even though they function well, that aesthetic need of the vintage style will just haunt me forever haha. Are there any modern head machines that have a vintage look to it??
     

  8. Mimmo_CVC

    Mimmo_CVC TDPRI Member

    62
    Oct 26, 2014
    Italy
    this will be the difference: you'll get the second one
    MIJ Tele.jpg 1999-fender-telecaster-headstock-made-in-the-usa.gif
     

    Attached Files:


  9. jimbo735

    jimbo735 Tele-Holic

    626
    Sep 19, 2011
    michigan
    I just did a conversion on a American standard and I am very happy.
    I used the StewMac vintage tuners and their inserts, measure correctly if your going to do the conversion or have a good tech help you.
     

  10. Minimalist518

    Minimalist518 Tele-Holic

    Age:
    55
    630
    Mar 5, 2017
    Albany
    Klusson (sp?) makes a hybrid vintage/modern. From the front they're split-shaft with a press-in rather than threaded bushing while the backs are sealed-gear.
    The ones I had were billed as a drop-in replacement for F tuners, but I found the press-in bushings, even though vintage style, were a fraction of a mm too wide to be drop-in as advertised.
    It would bear some online research.
     

  11. Minimalist518

    Minimalist518 Tele-Holic

    Age:
    55
    630
    Mar 5, 2017
    Albany
    I did a little poking around. One site had this to say:
    "Original vintage type Kluson tuners use an 11/32″ hole while the upgrade tuners use a 10mm hole. If you want to return the guitar to it’s original state the Kluson bushings are too small for the 10mm hole and fit very sloppily at best. This sloppy fit can cause all kinds of tuning problems and cosmetic damage to the headstock from the bushing leaning and digging into the wood. The common repair is to dowel the tuner holes and re-drill them. A skilled tech can do it but without the proper tools you may have a nightmare on your hands trying to drill the dowels perfectly centered and perpindicular to the headstock."
    The article linked to an "adapter bushing" at Allparts. Unfortunately, the link was inactive so I haven't included it here.
     

  12. Dacious

    Dacious Friend of Leo's

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone
    Vintage F-tuners were Schallers. Under the pressed steel cover is a cast aluminium chassis with a spring clip retaining the hardened gear drive and reducing play. Gotoh 'Klusons' (I have a set in my AVRI '62) are fine tuners but not as solid as genuine Schallers. Ping tuners which include the 'Klusons' sold as vintage are cheapish and quite ordinary I understand Fender has muddied the waters by fitting Asian made 'F-tuners' to newer guitars which are poorer quality. But if you string the guitar properly it still shouldn't be an issue.

    But before you spend dollars fruitlessly you may not need to, have you set the guitar up properly?

    If you fret the strings at the third fret there should be no more than a sheet of paper clearance at the first fret.

    If there's a mm or more your guitar isn't going out of tune, it's never going in tune and you're stretching the strings to fret it and pulling them sharp. They'll always be 'out'. You're interpretation is the guitar is going out of tune.

    If your strings go 'ping-ping-ping' when tuning or on bends they're sticking in the slots.

    Changing tuners won't fix setup issues which virtually every guitar has. I bought a 20 year old Gretsch which had horrible setup problems but now plays superbly and holds tune even on massive dive-bombs on the Bigsby. Nut cut, neck relief, pinned bridge (which cured a misalignment fretting out/buzz issue).

     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
    Minimalist518 likes this.

  13. Ira7

    Ira7 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    61
    Jan 8, 2008
    Coral Springs, FL
    The nut slots could be filthy, causing your tuning problems, even though you want to change the tuners anyway.

    You said the guitar needs a cleanup anyway, so when you have a string off, or even just loosen your strings, clean out the slots with a toothpick and some alcohol. The crap/gunk in the slots can make the strings stick.

    Also, for your first set of new strings, make sure you get close to the gauge that's on it now. Those slots are originally cut for a certain gauge, probably 9s, and if you do something nutty like putting 11s on there, all bets are off.
     

  14. jackinjax

    jackinjax Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Sep 11, 2016
    Jacksonville
    If you're not comfortable trying to match the existing holes or drilling new ones take a look at Hipshot's tuners. They have various styles you'd like and with their "universal mounting plate" (UMP), there's no drilling required.


    "Upgrade your tuners and improve the tuning accuracy and stability of your guitar with Hipshot's Tuner Upgrade Kit. With the patented UMP™(Universal Mount Plate) included free in this kit, tuners will retrofit without drilling or screwing. "

    6k1covershotsmall_800x.jpg
     

  15. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    Toogoodd, you can convert your Special Edition over to those Gotoh rectangular splits, and IMO Mimmo is mistaken and that you WILL be able to find and use "conversion" bushings that are, when installed, basically indistinguishable from the bushing with the smaller OD on the bore portion.

    I THINK you will need the 10.5 conversion, as opposed to the 10.0 conversion, because of the Korean origin of your Telecaster. Make sure the conversion is nickel plated, to match the Gotoh splits.

    You'll need some very small twist bits to drill the 7 mount holes, and almost I recommend a Reamer to custom fit the conversion bushing to your existing holes in the headstock. Just a tiny bit of material removed, so the new bushing can be pressed in with your thumb (cover the bush with a flatpick and just press).

    The only "danger" when doing this conversion, is a circle of pale maple around each bush that's not ambered by the sun - but your headstock is still quite pale. Should not be too noticeable.
     

  16. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    The stock tuners might not feel as luxurious as some other brands, but it's highly unlikely that they're slipping. Try fresh strings and lube the nut slots before you worry about assessing tuning stability. But then by all means, proceed with the modification if you have a preference, for instance for vintage style split-post tuners.

    Another option for conversion, i.e. when you've already got larger 10mm sized holes, are Tone Pros 6-in-line tuners with "threaded bushings" presently on closeout from StewMac. They don't need conversion bushings; instead they have the threaded bolt bushing in the front but a vintage style tuner in the rear.
     
    Minimalist518 likes this.

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