Friction tuner replacement

collarbone

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I posted this in the Uke Tech support section but someone suggested I ask a luthier, so I thought I would wander on over into the luthier's lounge and pose my question here.

I have a vintage ukulele whose tuners have seen their last days. The holes are small and after doing some research I have figured out that modern tuners are quite a bit bigger. I have no problems with drilling out the holes to make the new ones fit but I was wondering about the hole I will need. The ones I want to use have a toothed bushing which is wider than the shaft of the tuner. Does the new hole have to be a straight hole right through the headstck the size of the bushing, or is the bushing part countersunk into a hole the size of the shaft? I hope that is clear but maybe not.

The tuners I was thinking about are the Gotoh deluxe or something similar.

thanks
 

Rick Turner

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What's wrong with the original tuners?

They CAN be made to work well. I've restored function by adding small leather or felt friction washers between the back of the peghead and either the bushing or tuning button.
 

collarbone

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There are two problems with the originals. One is that the screws are almost completely stripped and cannot be tightened anymore. The screws are really small. The smallest thing I can find at the hardware store is a 4/40 but it is way too big. I have no idea what type of screws I would have to order to replace them. The other problem is that the plastic of the knobs is chipping and in one case starting to split because of over tightening I am guessing.

I think I could make them work with just some new screws. I could sort out the tuner button problem much easier I believe. The uke is a 1930's (I am told) style 0 Martin. The tuners are not like anything I have seen in any pictures of martin Ukes so they might not be original. I'm not sure how many different types of tuners Martin used back then. I have found a picture of a similar style tuner here: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_mkIZ-9UWx1s/TU0HDPGBgAI/AAAAAAAAAEk/7H_DgglPgG0/s1600/vintage-uke-tuners.jpg They look like the one second from the left only with black knobs.
 

Rick Turner

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It is worth trying to restore those tuners. Perhaps the threads in the metal posts could be repaired or tapped to the next larger size. The friction washer trick would work very well on those if you can get the screws sorted out. The plastic might be repairable with white superglue with a tiny bit of yellow dye added. I would not want to put large modern tuners on a vintage Martin if you can possibly avoid it.
 

BlackBearUkes

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There are two problems with the originals. One is that the screws are almost completely stripped and cannot be tightened anymore. The screws are really small. The smallest thing I can find at the hardware store is a 4/40 but it is way too big. I have no idea what type of screws I would have to order to replace them. The other problem is that the plastic of the knobs is chipping and in one case starting to split because of over tightening I am guessing.

I think I could make them work with just some new screws. I could sort out the tuner button problem much easier I believe. The uke is a 1930's (I am told) style 0 Martin. The tuners are not like anything I have seen in any pictures of martin Ukes so they might not be original. I'm not sure how many different types of tuners Martin used back then. I have found a picture of a similar style tuner here: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_mkIZ-9UWx1s/TU0HDPGBgAI/AAAAAAAAAEk/7H_DgglPgG0/s1600/vintage-uke-tuners.jpg They look like the one second from the left only with black knobs.

I know what you are talking about with this tyle of tuning knob. I have seen many cheaper ukes come in with this knob style but never on a Martin, perhaps they were switched out. These knobs are made of some kind of fiber/plastic combination and in my opinion are not repairable, glued or otherwise. I have tried and they just fall apart. If you could find a set of vintage tuners like the center one in your photo, that would be more in keeping with what Martin used. Good luck.
 

collarbone

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I found some screws at a local hobby shop which fit the tuners. I'm going to try to make them work for now and keep an eye out for an eventual replacement. Maybe something vintage.

Thanks for all the advice!