Up-sizing tuning peg hole

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Jscriv, Nov 27, 2022.

  1. Jscriv


    Feb 3, 2017
    Tonawanda NY
    Attempting to swap my stock tuners in my squier bronco for hipshot 3/8 clovers. I read in a thread they are a direct replacement but alas, that is not the case. But it is rather close. I dont have a drill press and before going out getting a correct sized bit and just trying to steady hand a wider hole, I'm wondering if theres a tool I dont know about to ream this thing out. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Cheers!
  2. rudy4444


    Mar 13, 2012
    Central Illinois
    For a one off project many people wrap sandpaper around a section of dowel and use it to enlarge the hole until the larger tuners fit.
    Qlanq, RSBBass, Aqualung60 and 6 others like this.
  3. DrBnz


    Apr 4, 2021
    There's a few.... depends on how far ya need to go.
    Wooden dowel wrapped in sandpaper for finite work
    Rat-tail file .... just kidding
    I believe, what you're referring to is called a Step-reamer. You'd still "want" a drill press for that.
  4. DrBnz


    Apr 4, 2021
    Worthless trivia:
    Here are "piloted-reamer" - that has a nose that fits the original hole and keeps everything "true"
    There are step reamers
    And there are multi-step reamers
    Like these
  5. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    If you're worried about boogering it up with sandpaper on a dowel, you can use a hand reamer like this:

    These are 20 bucks at my local tool shop, and probably cheaper for you in the US. :thumbsup:
    Lownote38, byacey, MonetBass and 7 others like this.
  6. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    The best tool for the job is a custom piloted reamer. It will enlarge the hole to the right size, without any danger of damaging or cracking the headstock. I machine them up here in my shop. For 3/8" post Hipshots, you should need a 9/16" reamer with a 14mm pilot.

    It's best used in a drill press, but you can use a hand electric drill, or even turn it by hand.

    Here's an example:


    Last edited: Nov 27, 2022
  7. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Huh? That's not going to work. It'll cut a tapered hole. Unless the max diameter is right on 9/16", and I've never seen a tapered reamer in that size. The one you've shown, which is commonly in hardware stores, is usually tapered 1/8" to 1/2". They make larger ones, like 1/4" to 1 1/2", but they are even steeper angle. And a lot more expensive.

    Also, a tapered reamer pushes outward as it cuts, with a lot of force. Much more likely to split the headstock. I don't recommend them for this job.
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  8. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    It will cut a tapered hole if you drive it straight in, but that's not the only application. :) A smaller-than-the hole sized reamer can be held at an angle so one side is flush against the side of the hole, then turned and pushed downward (as you ride around the hole) to scrape smooth shavings off the side of the hole. It's the same effect as sandpaper on a dowel but gives you more control, leaves a cleaner lip at the top, and removes more material as you scrape out the hole. I should have explained it better in my post. :thumbsup:
    TFM94 likes this.
  9. Interesting! I always wondered how a tapered reamer could cut straight edges.
  10. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Hmmm....Okay. I don't think I've ever tried that, but I guess it would work. Using it like a radial file. I suppose you could do the same thing with a 1/2" drill bit? Hand turn it in the hole, using it like a rotary file.

    I have several taper reamers here, but I mostly use them in the metal shop. They are great for quickly enlarging holes in sheet metal.
    Lownote38 likes this.
  11. I did a similar swap. You must determine the diameter of the hole to fit the tuning peg, I Used a drill press after removing the neck and supporting it for stability. Put a piece of waste wood on the side of headstock away from the drill to avoid tear out. Go slowwwwwww! It will go perfectly.
  12. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    The price is right.
    Can’t get any better than this.
    A drill bit would be too aggressive, causing serious damage.
  13. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    I wondering if the holes are a metric dimension. if so, you could get tuners made somewhere other than the United States that will fit and save you a lot of work.
    Flamingo21 likes this.
  14. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Dremel. Put a sanding wheel on it, and slowly open it up. You can pick up a Dremel for about 15 bucks, with everything you need, from harbor freight.
  15. shodan


    Mar 23, 2005
    Central Midwest
    tchristian likes this.
  16. Code Brown

    Code Brown

    Apr 9, 2022
    I'm a woodworker - hold your applause :p First, I'd return the tuners and get proper sized ones. If that won't work then I'd get a piece of scrap wood and a proper sized, sharp drill bit. Drill a hole in the scrap and verify the tuners fit nice and snug. If so, clamp a piece of scrap wood behind the headstock to prevent tear out. Be careful not to let the clamps mar the surface of the headstock. Use a hand drill to carefully drill out the holes from front to back. Keep the drill at medium speed and drill straight - it should work fine.
    The piloted reamer seems like a really good tool for the job, but personally I don't think I would spend money for one when a standard drill bit should work fine. In my experience sandpaper around a dowel would take a long time, unless you just need the hole a tiny but larger. I've had a difficult time making holes with my dremel, the holes always come out oval - maybe it's just me. Any sort of reaming just seems like a lot more work and much more difficult than a drill bit. Good luck!
    bobcruz likes this.
  17. Jscriv, is the new piece really, really close to the right size?

    I bought Hipshot Xtender keys for my Carvin and Kiesel basses. They were the recommended replacements, but still were a tiny bit too big. Just a couple of swipes with sandpaper did the trick.
  18. jthisdell


    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    I replaced the tuners on my NXT upright with hipshots. A dowel with some sandpaper enlarged the holes in just a few minutes with no risk of damage.
  19. TyBo


    Dec 12, 2014
    :) Rat tail file actually works, I've done it, though a slightly finer grade is preferable. :) Just proceed carefully, don't over do it, keep it even. Several options, as we see.

    I've actually had the opposite issue, where the present holes would be too big for the Hipshots. They sell metal adapter rings, which did the trick. Nice tuners! :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2022
  20. DrBnz


    Apr 4, 2021
    True .... I've had some holes that were elongated. Once I sanded the holes back to being round, now the bushing fit loose. Couple wraps around the bushing with pipe thread tape and walla... Nice and tight. But I woulda preferred the rings. I didn't know they existed.