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New tuners for my '65 J-50 ADJ


Boyd

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Spent about 3 hours yesterday cleaning/flushing//lubricating/exercising the original tuners on the J-50. They were all working when I got the guitar, but there were some really stiff spots on a few of them. They look really good now, and the rough spots have improved but are still there. I don't think I am ever going to be happy with them unfortunately, just too hard to make fine tuning adjustments. Here are the originals - note the serial number (part number?) scratched onto the plate on the top left. The same number is also on the right strip. Haven't seen that before.

 

orig_tuners.jpg

 

Kluson still makes these but I think they are just too bright and shiny for a 50 year old guitar, and I would probably also want to change the knobs to off-white, which is a pain.

 

http://elderly.com/accessories/names/kluson-deluxe-tuning-machines--WD90NPP.htm

 

These would look better, but are open back. I put Golden Age tuners on my 2008 J-50 and like the way they look, but the action is not all that great.

 

http://elderly.com/accessories/names/golden-age-bent-tab-guitar-tuners-for-solid-peghea--GART253R.htm

 

I could only find one type of 3-strip Waverly tuner but they are open back and I don't like the shiny gold, plus the price is a little hard to handle…

 

http://www.stewmac.com/Hardware_and_Parts/Tuning_Machines/Guitar_and_Solid_Peghead/Waverly_Guitar_Tuners/3-on-Plate_Waverly_Machines_for_Solid_Pegheads.html

 

Have seen positive comments about the Antique Acoustic tuners in the forum, but the only ones I found are also open back and very shiny (plus expensive).

 

http://elderly.com/accessories/names/antique-acoustics-replica-tuners_-_solid-head-6-st--AART3.htm

 

So the best match I could come up with are these aged nickel tuners from Allparts. From the picture, they really look like the originals although the buttons seem a bit white (guess I could replace those later if they bother me). I see that they are 15:1 - aren't the original Klusons 13:1? 15:1 seems like it would be an improvement.

 

http://www.allparts.com/TK-0700-007-Vintage-Style-Aged-Nickel-3x3-Keys_p_4778.html

 

TK-0700-007-w.jpg

 

Has anyone used these? Is there another option I'm missing?

 

I'm wondering if the manufacturing tolerances just weren't that good on those old Kluson deluxe tuners? I remember my 1974 J-50 when it was new, it had the individual Kluson deluxe tuners. They never worked very smoothly from day one.

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Keep the originals somewhere. White buttons can be replaced - StewMac sells cream buttons. Many J-50s I see have white buttons - probably all replacement tuners (including mine). Never looked inside a tuner before - they must have a broken seal or something and dry out, or the plastic buttons turn into dust over time. Woodsong Lutherie in Boulder Colorado has a process they use to knock down the shiny look off new tuners - might be worth a shout, maybe they'd share their method with you. http://lutherie.com I have no idea what it might be. I am not a giant fan of shiny chrome either.

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Thanks guys. [thumbup]

 

Dan, you reminded me about this article I had forgotten. http://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Trade_Secrets/Making_new_tuners_look_vintage.html

 

ts0017-intro.jpg

 

Bayou - thanks for that link, had not seen these before. They look good except for the shiny metal, and the etchant trick in the Stewmac article could fix that. I have read about the shoe polish trick before too. Anyone here ever try that? Does it really hold up to the oils/sweat from your fingers over time? Tuner buttons get a lot of use!

 

Naturally I will keep all the original parts. I have seen the Stewmac replacement buttons before, and figured that was an option, but it sounds a little tricky - they suggest that you get extras. :)

 

So those Klusons from "fenderama" on eBay look like a nice option. Strange that Elderly and other places I've looked only seem to have the ones with white knobs. I was looking on Kluson's website earlier today and it is strange. If you click on "classic on-a-plate" on this page, it takes you to a broken link at WD music products. Are Kluson and WD the same? http://www.kluson.com/tuning_machines.html

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Thanks guys. [thumbup]

 

Dan, you reminded me about this article I had forgotten. http://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Trade_Secrets/Making_new_tuners_look_vintage.html

 

ts0017-intro.jpg

 

Bayou - thanks for that link, had not seen these before. They look good except for the shiny metal, and the etchant trick in the Stewmac article could fix that. I have read about the shoe polish trick before too. Anyone here ever try that? Does it really hold up to the oils/sweat from your fingers over time? Tuner buttons get a lot of use!

 

Naturally I will keep all the original parts. I have seen the Stewmac replacement buttons before, and figured that was an option, but it sounds a little tricky - they suggest that you get extras. :)

 

So those Klusons from "fenderama" on eBay look like a nice option. Strange that Elderly and other places I've looked only seem to have the ones with white knobs. I was looking on Kluson's website earlier today and it is strange. If you click on "classic on-a-plate" on this page, it takes you to a broken link at WD music products. Are Kluson and WD the same? http://www.kluson.com/tuning_machines.html

 

Boyd--I did not get good results using the shoe polish on the white tuner buttons, so I bought the cream buttons from Stew Mac to use on the Gotoh 3+3 tuners I bought. The one thing you have to determine is whether you need the buttons with the rectangular hole or the round hole. The Gotohs required the rectangular. Elderly does sell some cream buttons with the round hole. If you need those, I actually have some I would sell you below the Elderly cost since I bought those first by mistake. [wink] Here is a thread I started about getting the final results I wanted:http://forum.gibson.com/index.php?/topic/119430-finally-got-the-cream-butterbean-tuner-buttons-i-wanted-on-my-southern-jumbo-tv/page__p__1625354__fromsearch__1&do=findComment&comment=1625354

 

I don't have any experience with trying to dull the shiny metal. Let us know how things go!

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I don't want to make the metal look too old, just don't want it to look brand new. I will do some experimenting with other shiny metal objects for starters, perhaps some sanding with very fine finishing paper would do the trick without using chemicals?

 

I was also wondering about Radio Shack. Found these - looks like there should still be some stores in my area but I wonder if they still stock this kind of thing?

 

http://money.cnn.com/interactive/technology/radio-shack-closings-map/

http://www.businessinsider.com/radioshack-store-closure-list-2015-2

 

Bayou, did you replace the tuner buttons yourself? How difficult was it?

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I don't want to make the metal look too old, just don't want it to look brand new. I will do some experimenting with other shiny metal objects for starters, perhaps some sanding with very fine finishing paper would do the trick without using chemicals?

 

I was also wondering about Radio Shack. Found these - looks like there should still be some stores in my area but I wonder if they still stock this kind of thing?

 

http://money.cnn.com/interactive/technology/radio-shack-closings-map/

http://www.businessinsider.com/radioshack-store-closure-list-2015-2

 

Bayou, did you replace the tuner buttons yourself? How difficult was it?

 

Boyd--I didn't do it myself because I'm not very handy and I was afraid I would mess it up. [biggrin]

 

My guitar tech used the heat from a soldering iron to slip off the old white ones and attach the new creams. He did say the holes in the creams were a little larger than the whites so he used super glue to fill in the gap and then popped them on and let it cool and set. He charged me $25 here in New Orleans. Maybe he gave me a deal because I've spent a lot of money with him on my other guitars. I don't know. He said it wasn't very hard for him to do it, but I'm sure it would have been difficult for me. [wink] I think there are some videos somewhere using this method.

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Thanks. I would just do it myself, I have tools and mechanical skills. But these kinds of things always seem to take longer than they should, so if I can avoid changing the buttons that would be best. Stewmac has some pretty good instructions:

 

http://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Tuning_Machines/Vintage_Tuner_Knobs.html

http://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Hardware_Installation/Replacing_damaged_tuner_knobs.html

 

Pretty sure I will go with those ebay tuners, since I think it will be easier to do something about the shinyness (is that a word?) than change the knobs. And that part is on the back of the guitar anyway. :)

 

If I wanted to nitpick though, the ebay tuners don't quite match the style of my originals. From the seller's description: "These are called "Double Line" type because they have "Kluson Deluxe" Stamped on the rear housing in a two line configuration. These also come in "Single-Line" and "Plain Back""

 

My original tuners are the "single line" variety, with "Deluxe" in the center of the tuner. The Klusons from Elderly are the single-line type and so are the aged ones from Allparts. But really, I don't think that matters a whole lot because I'm not trying to fool someone into thinking they are the originals.

 

BTW, the originals seemed to be coated with varnish that had yellowed. I see a similar effect in photos of other guitars. Some may like that, but I thought they just looked dirty. I wiped them with lacquer thinner on a rag and they looked much better (see photo in my OP).

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Kluson actually does not make anything any longer as they closed their doors decades ago. The name is owned by WD Music.

 

Those mid-1960s Kluson strip tuners do suck though. While on older guitars I tend to replace originals with originals (I have a box full and they work fine with a bit of cleaning and lubing) but with those Klusons I would be heading for a repro set in a New York minute.

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Just pulled the trigger on the ebay tuners since there were only 3 left. Will follow up after I get them installed. Thanks everyone.

 

 

Issues to be aware of:

 

Do not replace the original string post ferrules (bushings) if they are the correct inside diameter for the stringposts of the new tuners. Just put the bushings that come with the new tuners in your spare parts box. The original bushings are probably thin-walled pressed nickel, and the holes in the headstock may not be exactly the right diameter for the new bushings.

 

With the tun4ers removed, I clean the inside of the ferrules (in place in the headstock) with naphtha on a cotton swab. If you want, you can put a little dry lube inside the ferrules after cleaning them, once again using a cotton swab. There is sometimes a bit of corrosion inside the original ferrules, as nickel oxidizes pretty quickly. In that case, I use a bit of metal polish on a cotton swab to remove the internal oxidation before lubing.

 

The stringposts of the new tuners may or may not be the exact diameter of the existing ferrules. They should be a close fit in the ferrules, but certainly not a press fit. The stringposts should slide in and out without binding.

 

The stringposts of the new tuners may well be slightly shorter than those of the original tuners. This isn't usually a problem, but you do need to watch the number of windings on the posts of the new tuners, particularly on the heavy strings.

 

The original tuners (and presumably the new ones) are made of nickel-plated steel. The old ones clean up quite nicely with a little Flitz polish, as you often get a small amount of surface rust coming through the nickel plating.

 

I've rarely met an old tuner I couldn't return to good working order.

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Those double line Klusons were just not that good when fresh out of the factory.

 

I think you're right. As mentioned above, I got my other J-50 new in 1974. It also has the closed back Kluson tuners (although the individual ones). I remember that the tuners were sticky the day I brought that guitar home from the store and I tried various lubricants with no help.

 

Also, aren't the originals 13:1? The new ones are 15:1, so the extra mechanical advantage should make for a little smoother operation, right?

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WD doesn't show them on their website anymore either, some of the links seem to lead you in circles. You can download a 2015 Kluson catalog from WD here (really slow to download for me) http://www.wdmusic.com/Catalog_Download/Kluson_Catalog_2015.pdf

 

This is from the first page

 

Founded in 1925 by John Edward Kluson, the Kluson® Manufacturing Company expanded from a small machine shop by building its reputation as the music industry’s premier supplier of tuning machines, tailpieces, brackets, bushings, and other stringed instrument parts during the golden age of guitar manufacturing from the 1940s through the 1960s. After the original Kluson® Manufacturing Company closed its doors sometime in the early 1980’s the Kluson® brand was acquired by WD® Music Products’ VP, Larry Davis, in 1994.

 

With very little historic information, other than a few old catalogs to work from, Larry Davis made a commitment to rebuild the Kluson® brand, with respect to its historical legacy. He began with the reengineering of Kluson®’s Vintage Stamped Steel Tuning Machines. These new Kluson® tuning machines were historically accurate, technologically improved versions of the venerated stamped steel tuning machines of old, upgraded with higher gear ratios and the finest materials available.

 

The tuner product listing are rather cryptic though, with no pictures. However they still do list those ebay tuners, according to the part number

 

WD90NPP DR NICKEL/PLASTIC BTN/STD POST/DOUBLE LINE

 

The catalog doesn't seem to offer any clue of how to order them though. So I guess "fenderama" on ebay must have bought a bunch when they were in stock and is reselling them. The whole thing is rather confusing. Elderly has them on their site but they are the version with "deluxe" in the center of the tuner (like my originals). Note that their image is upside down, LOL

 

http://elderly.com/accessories/names/kluson-deluxe-tuning-machines--WD90NPP.htm

 

But the buttons really look white in their photo, not cream colored like the ebay version. Maybe it is just the photography? Here are the Elderley ones

 

WD90NPP.jpg

 

 

And these are the ebay ones. The color sure looks different. I hope so, because I could have gotten them from Elderly for $10 less. [wink]

 

 

$(KGrHqR,!roF!9ZGzDN8BQT2Zr(4Qw~~60_57.JPG

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WD doesn't show them on their website anymore either, some of the links seem to lead you in circles. You can download a 2015 Kluson catalog from WD here (really slow to download for me) http://www.wdmusic.com/Catalog_Download/Kluson_Catalog_2015.pdf

 

This is from the first page

 

 

 

The tuner product listing are rather cryptic though, with no pictures. However they still do list those ebay tuners, according to the part number

 

WD90NPP DR NICKEL/PLASTIC BTN/STD POST/DOUBLE LINE

 

The catalog doesn't seem to offer any clue of how to order them though. So I guess "fenderama" on ebay must have bought a bunch when they were in stock and is reselling them. The whole thing is rather confusing. Elderly has them on their site but they are the version with "deluxe" in the center of the tuner (like my originals)

 

http://elderly.com/accessories/names/kluson-deluxe-tuning-machines--WD90NPP.htm

 

But the buttons really look white in their photo, not cream colored like the ebay version. Maybe it is just the photography? Here are the Elderley ones

 

WD90NPP.jpg

 

 

And these are the ebay ones. The color sure looks different. I hope so, because I could have gotten them from Elderly for $10 less. [wink]

 

 

$(KGrHqR,!roF!9ZGzDN8BQT2Zr(4Qw~~60_57.JPG

 

Also the ebay ad says "cream", so if they are white I would think you would have grounds for a return and full refund. Hope all goes well!

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WD doesn't show them on their website anymore either, some of the links seem to lead you in circles. You can download a 2015 Kluson catalog from WD here (really slow to download for me) http://www.wdmusic.com/Catalog_Download/Kluson_Catalog_2015.pdf

 

This is from the first page

 

 

 

The tuner product listing are rather cryptic though, with no pictures. However they still do list those ebay tuners, according to the part number

 

WD90NPP DR NICKEL/PLASTIC BTN/STD POST/DOUBLE LINE

 

The catalog doesn't seem to offer any clue of how to order them though. So I guess "fenderama" on ebay must have bought a bunch when they were in stock and is reselling them. The whole thing is rather confusing. Elderly has them on their site but they are the version with "deluxe" in the center of the tuner (like my originals). Note that their image is upside down, LOL

 

http://elderly.com/accessories/names/kluson-deluxe-tuning-machines--WD90NPP.htm

 

But the buttons really look white in their photo, not cream colored like the ebay version. Maybe it is just the photography? Here are the Elderley ones

 

WD90NPP.jpg

 

 

And these are the ebay ones. The color sure looks different. I hope so, because I could have gotten them from Elderly for $10 less. [wink]

 

 

$(KGrHqR,!roF!9ZGzDN8BQT2Zr(4Qw~~60_57.JPG

 

Boyd--For my own enlightenment, I sent this question to fenderama:

 

"Just wanted to make sure that the buttons were definitely cream colored and not white. There are a number of sellers that have the white and I want the cream and you are the only seller I've seen that lists yours as cream. Just wanted there to be no misunderstanding. Thanks!"

 

Here is his answer:

 

"Hi - Yes, definitely cream, not bright white. The main photo in the listing is pretty accurate color-wise. The 2nd photo is hot with flash and make the buttons appear brighter than they really are - Thanks, Garner"

 

So it looks as though you should be okay.

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Here's something interesting, if anyone else is interested in these. Paste the following into a Google search:

 

kluson WD90NPP DR

 

Brings up several hits. Turns out that WD still lists 10 of them in stock via Amazon, but the ebay ones are a bit cheaper.

 

http://www.amazon.com/KLUSON®-PLATE-MOUNTED-OFF-WHITE-PLASTIC/dp/B006X0VC30

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No, I was curious and I was also worried I had steered you into a problem!

 

Oh, no problem! In fact, I really appreciate your pointing me in the right direction. I never would have found them on my own! I saw that they were returnable and felt the risk was minimal.

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