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View Full Version : Vintage Ukes and Friction Tuners



pdxuke
01-23-2011, 09:11 AM
This seems to be a day for talking about friction tuners!

I've heard, but never inquired so I don't know for certain, that to change vintage friction tuners on a Martin O, for example, one would have to re-drill the uke head stock to fit the modern tuners. Obviously, I don't want to do that, but I do have some vintage ukes with tuners I'd love to change out (temporarily, for ease in playing) for modern friction tuners.

Which leads me to ask...

Is there a company that makes new tuners to fit the holes of these vintage ukes? One would think that if one can by a modern repro light fixture that matches your 30s house, in this day and age there would be a company that does the same for vintage uke parts (he said, hopefully, realizing the demand is probably pretty low...)

RyanMFT
01-23-2011, 04:25 PM
I have had success with Ping brand tuners installed on vintage uke's. I just did some measuring and the shaft of a vintage tuner I have fits in the hole for a 9/64 drill bit. The Ping tuner will slide into an 11/64 hole, and a modern tuner shaft I have fits in at 3/16. So, the Ping shaft is thinner than other modern shafts, and it fits through the stock hole in my 1940's Richter. The bigger tuner shaft at 3/16 does not.

One issue however, is that the Ping's come with a countersink washer for the top of the headstock, and most vintage uke's use a flat washer. Buying a small package of flat, stainless steel washers that fit perfectly over the shaft of the Ping tuners, and rest against the flange makes it so you don't have to alter your uke. Ping tuners can be had for about $10, and the washers (get stainless steel rather than galvanized, stainless matches the Ping shaft perfectly) cost about $1.50 for a package.

PM me if you need any help. I can try the Ping's on my Martin if you want.

Gmoney
01-23-2011, 04:31 PM
Another solution for the flat stainless washer is what some call "dimple washers" - like you see on the side of a hardshell case. These give a more "natural" look - IMO.

RyanMFT
01-23-2011, 04:39 PM
Humm....I like the idea of using one of those dimple washers, but do they make them small? Also, do you think they would leave a little ring on the finish where the outer rim rests against the wood? Great idea, I will have to try it!

Gmoney
01-23-2011, 04:44 PM
Humm....I like the idea of using one of those dimple washers, but do they make them small? Also, do you think they would leave a little ring on the finish where the outer rim rests against the wood? Great idea, I will have to try it!

They make them the same sizes as regular washers - I usually can find them at Ace Hardware or a Home Depot. The washers on my Keiki were similar, but reversed. They were sort of a very shallow "funnel" shape which just fit in the the original hole. So the top was flat & the "cone" portion fit into the hole. Don't know if they would leave a ring on the finish or not. Though I haven't tried, I heard that contacting Martin directly sometimes yields tuners from their own stock.

Look at photo #3 - these are sort of what I'm thinking of.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?41319-Kamaka-Vintage-Pineapple

pdxuke
01-23-2011, 04:46 PM
I have had success with Ping brand tuners installed on vintage uke's. I just did some measuring and the shaft of a vintage tuner I have fits in the hole for a 9/64 drill bit. The Ping tuner will slide into an 11/64 hole, and a modern tuner shaft I have fits in at 3/16. So, the Ping shaft is thinner than other modern shafts, and it fits through the stock hole in my 1940's Richter. The bigger tuner shaft at 3/16 does not.

One issue however, is that the Ping's come with a countersink washer for the top of the headstock, and most vintage uke's use a flat washer. Buying a small package of flat, stainless steel washers that fit perfectly over the shaft of the Ping tuners, and rest against the flange makes it so you don't have to alter your uke. Ping tuners can be had for about $10, and the washers (get stainless steel rather than galvanized, stainless matches the Ping shaft perfectly) cost about $1.50 for a package.

PM me if you need any help. I can try the Ping's on my Martin if you want.

Awesome news. I'm looking at my Gretsch and Gibson tuners now and can see that flat washer you speak of. Let me investigate the Pings; my Gibson would be a lot more pleasant with new tuners. Do you have a source to buy?

Thanks Ryan!

pdxuke
01-23-2011, 04:48 PM
http://elderly.com/accessories/items/UP26.htm

Are these the pegs?

Gmoney
01-23-2011, 04:53 PM
http://elderly.com/accessories/items/UP26.htm

Are these the pegs?

Yep - I got a set of those for a "no-name" vintage uke I got. Those do have kind of a large "cone" washer rather than a thinner one like I think you are looking for... another thing to note is that its hard to match the height of the pegs above the headstock - the Pings are a little taller than the original ones that was on the uke I bought them for... sometimes you can find old tuners on eBay as well or pick up one of the "for parts" vintage ukes to rob the tuners.

EXPENSIVE, but this is what I mean - compare the peg-head to the pings - the string hole is higher off the headstock than these would be.

http://cgi.ebay.com/3-vintage-Waverly-ukulele-tuning-pegs-uke-tuners-old-/290509993514

The Pings are probably the closest you will find though.

pdxuke
01-23-2011, 04:55 PM
Gonna give it a try. As long as I don't have to permanently alter the uke, I'm game.

And although I've never changed out pegs, it looks to be an easy task.

Many thanks.

Gmoney
01-23-2011, 05:00 PM
Gonna give it a try. As long as I don't have to permanently alter the uke, I'm game.

And although I've never changed out pegs, it looks to be an easy task.

Very easy. Just take them off one at a time & make sure that you have a good idea how they go back together! I take the originals off, put them back together the way they should be & put them in a ziplock bag labeled with the uke they came off of...

pdxuke
01-23-2011, 05:01 PM
Very easy. Just take them off one at a time & make sure that you have a good idea how they go back together! I take the originals off, put them back together the way they should be & put them in a ziplock bag labeled with the uke they came off of...

Good tip. Watch me go!

RyanMFT
01-23-2011, 05:17 PM
Yes, those are the ones! It is SUPER easy to change out friction tuners. I looked for the package (so I could give you the size) from the stainless steel washers I bought, but I must have tossed it. Just take Ping tuner to the hardware store with you and try it out.

Also, Gmoney is exactly right (of course) that the height of the shaft that sticks up above the headstock of the uke is a little taller as compared to vintage tuners, but on my uke it was not a problem at all. I just snapped a couple pictures really quickly. The quality of the photos is pretty bad but it might help a bit. One is the Ping tuners installed on my Richter (with flat washers). One is the different shafts in my drill bit guide and the last is a blurry comparison of the three friction tuners. On the left is the Ping tuner set-up (countersink washer is to the side which I don't use), in the middle is the 1940's tuner that I replaced with the Pings, and on the right is a standard modern tuner.

Hope it helps!
http://i827.photobucket.com/albums/zz199/RyanMFT_photos/IMG_2330.jpg
http://i827.photobucket.com/albums/zz199/RyanMFT_photos/IMG_2326.jpg
http://i827.photobucket.com/albums/zz199/RyanMFT_photos/IMG_2316.jpg

pdxuke
01-23-2011, 05:42 PM
Wow Ryan, thanks. I'll live with the higher profile just to have new pegs. I have three sets on order plus Worth BM, which I've heard about but never tried. I'll update you!

Thanks so much!

pdxuke
01-29-2011, 11:50 AM
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=19811

My thanks to Ryan and all for the tip on Ping tuners and giving me the confidence to swap them out. Just installed them on my Gibson Uke1. I was actually able to just reuse the original washers. It is now a pleasure to play without the hassle of the finicky tuners. The original ones are bagged and tagged and in the case.

Next--the Martin!

many thanks!