Tuners and older Ukuleles Why keep fussy originals ?

Jag-Stang

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Apr 9, 2022
Messages
154
Reaction score
289
Location
PA/NJ USA
Just had a chat with another member who did the same as I did changed out fussy old Grover tuners on a vintage Martin Soprano and now has Gotoh UPTs I changed mine out as it’s my daily player and I love having functional intelligent tuners that aren’t fussy. I grew tired of keeping a small screwdriver in the case What is the point of original tuners that do not function well and what is the big deal of routing out a hole to accommodate them. Violinists do this all the time and use larger pegs To stop the old pegs from slipping. I see tuners just as I see strings nuts and saddles They are hardware and an unimportant part of a build that often benefits by replacement. To me just like old strings tuners that wear and become problematic need to be replaced. Why are there so many purists that see tuners as some Holy Grail that one must suffer to use just because they are original to an instrument?
 
I agree with you 100%. I've changed tuners on most of mine, also added two strap buttons, even added preamp/pickups. And resale really means nothing to me, If I sell, I drop the price low to move it on and let someone else enjoy it.
 
Resale value?
I don’t throw away anything so if I replace something I put the old parts in the case I don’t buy for resale I don’t know many musicians that do. Are you suggesting that many buy for investment and not for playing the instrument? I suppose there are a world of dealers that might not even play ukulele but price them as “original”
I just don’t get that concept. I take function over original every time.
 
I don’t have to tune my ukuleles that often and it does not take long. I would not do the work myself, either. So I would likely not switch them IF I had a vintage one unless it required it due to it not working.
 
Why are there so many purists that see tuners as some Holy Grail that one must suffer to use just because they are original to an instrument?
🤷 I'm not seeing this... but those purists that are out there can do whatever they want, as far as I'm concerned (which I'm not). Perhaps it's related to value...in the antique world original condition is always more valuable, or at least that is what they say on Antiques roadshow 😆. Yes, you can change 'em back but the extra/larger holes of the newer tuners will reduce the value. It might be different if the mods didn't require alterations like that.
 
Last edited:
My vintage Gibson and Martin sopranos both have their original tuners. I have given them a thorough cleaning and light lubrication. They are not difficult to use and certainly do not cause me any "suffering". It pleases me to keep these ukes as original as possible.
 
Just had a chat with another member who did the same as I did changed out fussy old Grover tuners on a vintage Martin Soprano and now has Gotoh UPTs I changed mine out as it’s my daily player and I love having functional intelligent tuners that aren’t fussy. I grew tired of keeping a small screwdriver in the case What is the point of original tuners that do not function well and what is the big deal of routing out a hole to accommodate them. Violinists do this all the time and use larger pegs To stop the old pegs from slipping. I see tuners just as I see strings nuts and saddles They are hardware and an unimportant part of a build that often benefits by replacement. To me just like old strings tuners that wear and become problematic need to be replaced. Why are there so many purists that see tuners as some Holy Grail that one must suffer to use just because they are original to an instrument?
To each her own.
 
I think it’s a ukulele and it’s made to make music. The owner should do whatever they want with it to make that more enjoyable. If that’s UPTs to upgrade functionality, great! If it’s keeping the originals to maintain originality or just because you like them, that’s great too!

Outside of a vintage Martin 5k, it’s not like these are particularly rare or hard to come by.
 
Last edited:
I agree with you 100%. I've changed tuners on most of mine, also added two strap buttons, even added preamp/pickups. And resale really means nothing to me, If I sell, I drop the price low to move it on and let someone else enjoy it.
So, if you won the Power Ball and could buy the Martin tenor 5KT for $30K, would you ream it out and put UPT's on it? :unsure:
 
...Are you suggesting that many buy for investment and not for playing the instrument? I suppose there are a world of dealers that might not even play ukulele but price them as “original”
I just don’t get that concept. I take function over original every time.
As an example, I've bought and sold many used motorcycles. While I owned them they were modified for my "look" and driving style. No mods were irreversible. I always put them back to stock to get the highest resale value, then sold off or gave away the extra parts. When I buy one, I look for bone stock or find the parts necessary to make them original. In many cases, they actually turned out to be an investment.

Personally, I never even consider resale value when purchasing a ukulele but do believe that changes from the original will devalue it. In every case, I never purchased one with the intention of selling it.

If I determine that the original probably won't function as-is (I have my likes and dislikes), I don't buy it. Now if I were in possession of a true vintage that was otherwise playable but the tuners/mounting holes were trashed, of course I would do the necessary repairs to make it playable. Would I then expect it be "worth" the same as the original? No.
 
Last edited:
So, if you won the Power Ball and could buy the Martin tenor 5KT for $30K, would you ream it out and put UPT's on it? :unsure:
No disrespect, but why would anyone pay $30k for an old tenor?

For $30k one could probably buy more than a couple of custom ukuleles made specifically for you from the best luthiers on the planet and you might even have money left over.

John
 
I have old Kamaka with corroded friction tuners and they are not great but I figured out how to operate them. I like current string configuration and don't want to disturb it with tuner change. Likely I will get the tuners changed if or when we have a new luthier in town as I am not that handy myself.
 
There's a strong parallel with cars here. On one hand we have the perfect vintage Model T and on the other hand the chopped and channeled hot rod Model T. Should we make a hot rod out of the vintage Model T or restore the hot rod?

Probably not because each serves a distinct purpose. The vintage car preserves the intent of the builder and the hot rod is the same car modified to maximize performance.
 
All depends on if you are a collector or a player. I have a Grandson who is a pure collector and everything must be perfect in the box with an eye to sell down the road. (Not that any of his collectibles have been sold). Then I have a Granddaughter for whom everything is to be used or played with (including boyfriends). They receive equal enjoyment just in different ways.

If I ever buy a true vintage uke then it will be to play and modify if need be.
 
I made this choice a few years ago. I wasn't fond of the original friction tuners on my 2006 KoAloha. I found them to be very fussy to deal with. I changed to Gotoh UPTs and also added a MiSi pick-up. I had the work done by my local acoustic guitar and ukulele shop, and they did a great job. I chose Gotoh tuners with buttons that were similar in color to the original amber/orange ones. While the ukulele is not really "vintage" it will be 20 years old in three years, and it has some design features that are no longer around. I pondered my decision to make these changes for awhile, but finally decided that I wanted better functionality and enjoyment of the ukulele.
 
I’ve got one vintage uke, and it’s condition and the fact that it is not a rare model mean that resale value isn’t something I’m concerned with. It was missing one of the original tuners when I bought it, so leaving “as is” was not an option. I didn’t want to buy a whole New tool to ream the holes out, though, so I looked around and found some Ping branded friction tuners on eBay that fit the original holes. At first I just replaced the missing one, but after using the original awhile i found them unreliable, and changed them all over to the Ping tuners. They were cheap, around $13 if I remember, but they’re an improvement over the originals and work smoothly.
 
Last edited:
The perception of what has collectible value in maintaining originality is so baffling to me.

People will treasure old items, and I do the same, but will take their largest life investment, their house, and completely destroy functioning kitchens and baths, to update them.

John
 
I don't find the old frictions to be particularly fussy.........or perhaps I just like fussing around! The best option is do what works for you and will make you more likely to play and enjoy the uke. If down the road you decide to sell it, the change in value will not be much, unless it is a really rare instrument. For some, the change will be a plus. Overall, it is not worth worrying about.
 
Top Bottom