Installing tuners

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Minimalist, Dec 1, 2004.

  1. What is the best way to install tuners correctly? Do they have to be 100% in line or will they work fine as long as I can turn them? Do I have to pre-drill the holes for the screws? Thanks.
  2. I like to keep my key posts perpendicular to the edge of the headstock. With open gear tuners this is easy if you use a small machinists square laid against the edge of the headstock and the edge of the tuner chassis plate. Use the post bushing to keep the post centered in the hole and mark the screw locations. You can't install them as you go, because they get in the way of aligning the next tuner but you can mark all of the holes then come back for the drilling and tappng.

    BTW, here's as good a place as any to tell about one of my favorite tools I use regularly in my shop. It's a hand cranked drill - the original portable drill driver! I use it when drilling holes like these for tuners or pickguards. I can totally control the depth like I would with a pin vise and bit but I've got more leverage. It lets you go slow and that's better for some of the small bits these screws require. Certainly old school but I swear, those old-timers were always doing things that amaze me. I'm not to proud to steal a tip from them.
  3. Hambone, you are too late. ;) I admit that I sometimes post before I think. I did it alomost as you describe with the exception that I used pencil marks (no I only have to find my eraser :D) to insall one at a time. They are a tiny bit off but they work.

    The handrill is a great tip. Another tip from me is, make sure you drill the pilot holes deep enough (but not too deep). The screws are very soft and maple is very hard. I sheared one screw off and that didn't take much force. :oops:
  4. I wasn't too late! You were...uh...premature!;)

    Don't get me started on the quality of tuner screws. They rank up there with pickup screws and we've trashed them thoroughly
    :rolleyes: I really like the way Sperzel does theirs - no screws and with only a single small hole for a locating pin swedged in the body of the tuner. That's the ticket!
  5. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Ham, would it be doable with conventional tuners, to get a steel dowel sized to fit the tuner screw hole, then mark and drill the headstock for a light press fit and use a dowel instead of a screw? You could even do a non-press fit if you used a bit of epoxy, although I would think a press fit in maple would be fine.
  6. Scott French

    Scott French Dude Supporting Member

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    Just like the pickup screw topic, I don't know what's up with the tuner screws you guys are getting. Are you using a drill index so you can actually drill the correct size hole?! I've not had problems with either and believe me, I've had many a full day of doing nothing but install cheap chinese hardware (probably a lower grade metal than we're talking about on a topic like this).

    Sperzel tuners: for guitars I love them, my first choice... but the mounting is not my favorite. More work to get them aligned right than other types.
  7. What about replacing tuners? I'd like to replace my Gotoh lookalikes with the real thing to make tuning smoother/make the bass hold tune better. It looks like they will screw in fine, should I worry about filling the existing holes, or will they hold the new screws just fine?
  8. I do believe that I didn't drill the pilot hole deep enough, so that was my mistake. But I didn't use much force. The head came right off on the last turn. Using steel screws can't increase the cost that much. And I'm sure many people would gladly pay $1 more per tuner if it came with quality screws.
  9. I've resorted to hardware store steel screws. The screws are a little larger overall including the head, but it's worth it. Problem is the lack of pretty shiny chrome. I've had some luck with nickle screws over chrome steel, again, not as shiny, but more durable.


  10. The thing is that when we really pour over another builders work, we tend to notice ALL of the little flaws. I bet that some of this is subconcious as a way of easing our own insecurities with our work. That's why little things like bunged up screw heads are to be avoided - to avoid the ridicule of others in the know. With my basses, there can be dozens of these tiny imperfections. Most are too small to notice but when they are all taken as a whole, they grate on me as bad as if a woodpecker had come in my shop and searched for worms in the top of a burl walnut bass. If I can consistently correct just one of these problems, I'll do it and then move on to one of the more difficult flaws like those that come up in the paint/finish department.

    An example of how far this can be taken comes from my Dad who, after retiring from the FAA, became a gunsmith. He was a real stickler for the details to the point that when he would do a restoration or custom alteration, he would go so far as to have ALL of the slots in the screwheads line up in the same direction at the same angle. I saw it as sort of nuts at the time but I understand it now.
  11. That's a good story Hambone. I feel the same way, little tiny things that don't matter much do just stare you in the face and kind of drive you crazy. I have used the hardware store screws but I alwasy know it's not quite right and it is a grating reminder. For basses that I know i'm just making for myself I can live with an odd screw here and there, but thinking about selling anything makes me worry about the really most insignificant things.
  12. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    So let's say that you're really anal about getting the tuner in centred perfectly through the post hole. When the tuner is in and your ready to locate the mounting holes, is the bushing snug enough to prevent the post from wandering off the hole centre? I can still envision this happening even when using my machinist square.