Kluson tuners for 1939 Kay Orchestra

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by biobass, Sep 3, 2009.


  1. biobass

    biobass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Location:
    Princeton NJ area
    Hi all,

    Long time lurker here - first post (on the dark side).

    I have a 1939 Kay Orchestra model with Kluson tuners. I just broke the D string tuner worm gear stem. One of the slots which the tuner key (head, paddle) sits in broke off. Does anyone (Molly Kay, perhaps) know whether or not current Englehart replacement parts or even a complete tuner machine would be a direct match/fit? If not can anyone point me in the direction of where I might get used parts? My excellent luthier and teacher, Jack Hill, is also looking into replaement/repair options, but I thought I'd ask here as well.

    Thanks in advance,
    Dennis
  2. MollyKay

    MollyKay Gold Supporting Member

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    Southern PA
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    Dennis…based on what I know…the Engelhardt tuners will not be a direct replacement for the Kluson tuners. Best I can offer is watch eBay for replacement tuners or find a person that is a good metal worker or fabricator and have them work something out.

    We to need to make some repairs to a vintage set of Kluson tuners too. My husband has to fabricate the tuner key, is has been snapped off at the gear. I don’t know how he is going to do it…but I am sure he will fix it real nice. :D
  3. Gearhead43

    Gearhead43

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    NorCal
    Molly, can you elaborate on why the Engel tuners won't work? Thanks.
  4. biobass

    biobass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
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    Princeton NJ area
    Thanks, MollyKay. That is what Jack thought as well, but he wasn't sure. He didn't think the string pegs would line up exactly. I'll keep my eye out on ebay, etc. We may have to end up going with a new set of individual tuners. We'll see.

    Thanks,
    Dennis
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  6. MollyKay

    MollyKay Gold Supporting Member

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    Well Gearhead my WAG is…Riverbum over at BGBP put a new Engel neck on a 1939 Kay Bass and the old Kluson tuners did not match up to the new Engel neck. The hole pattern on the pre-drilled Engel neck did not match. Riverbum cut the vintage Kluson tuners into individual tuners to accommodate the pre-drill holes. My logic in reverse would be new Engel tuners would not fit the old hole pattern in a 1939 Kay neck. That is my logic. :D
  7. Gearhead43

    Gearhead43

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    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    NorCal
    Gotcha, thanks!
  8. forester

    forester

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2007
    Location:
    emmitsburg, maryland
    seems even englehardt to englehardt isn't direct match/fit...
    you can find a Matching stem for your tuner if you can locate a boneyard..just be sure the twist on the worm is correct. should set you back about $5. ;)
  9. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member

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    Madison WI
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    HPF Technology: Protecting the Pocket since 2007
    Is this something that could be repaired with a discreet silver-solder job? The primary hassle would be discoloring the surrounding metal, which can be limited to some extent by how you aim the torch, and covering the big plate with a wet rag.
  10. MollyKay

    MollyKay Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
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    Several of our miss-fit basses have had silver-solder repairs done to the tuners by other previous owners. Some look real good, some not so good. It takes a knack to discreetly repair the metal parts without affecting the surrounding metal especially if the tuners are chromed.

    Hubby has 30 years of welding, fabrication, woodworking and painting skills so I trust what ever he wants to do when it comes to bass repairs. He has not disappointed me yet, to me, he does an outstanding job. :D
  11. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member

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    Mar 20, 2004
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    HPF Technology: Protecting the Pocket since 2007
    Agreed. Silver soldering is definitely a matter of practice and knack. I learned it from my dad, then got a lot of practice in school, assembling high-vacuum systems.
  12. riverbum

    riverbum

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2008
    Location:
    tallassee, al
    my solution was to either buy the individual peg style tuners or modify the existing tuners. i chose to modify. finding a correct match for my replacment neck would have been a hit or miss venture. i was ready to play and i am pretty handy working with metal. i wouldn't recommend doing this on an original instrument but my bass is far from original. no regrets but it sure is unique lol. kinda fits my personality.

    hey molly, i finally got to play it a couple weeks ago and it played well. it is not the loudest bass in the world but it has great tone, for a kay, and sustain. no dead spots anywhere. looking forward to fine tuning it for a little more volume :)
  13. biobass

    biobass Supporting Member

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    Sep 16, 2007
    Location:
    Princeton NJ area
    Thanks, everyone for the replies. I was away for the weekend, just getting back to this now. This bass is a player far more than a museum piece! My luthier 's thought was to go with new individual tuners. He says that the remaining piece of the slot also shows stress, so the whole stem might not be strong enough to braize or solder the paddle. I'll talk to him this week to see if he has found any thing else out. I'll also keep checking ebay etc.

    Thanks again,
    Dennis

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