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Thread: Replacement Tuner Buttons

  1. #1
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Replacement Tuner Buttons

    I have several instruments with various types of tuner machines. Of course none have visible manufacturer info on them. They do have small machine screws in the end of the shaft, so they are replaceable. I'd like to replace the pearloid/ivoroid buttons with dark wood buttons. I know that the various manufacturers (Schaller, Gotoh, Asian made, etc.) all have different dimensions so they're not interchangeable.

    I've searched Google and this forum hoping to find a neat easy table showing the dimensions of all the tuner shafts from the various manufacturers to help me pick replacement knobs that will fit. Does anyone know where such info exists? Thanks.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Hey there--I happen to be an expert on this topic... if you want to post photos of the back of your headstocks I can help you identify them.
    Scott R.
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  4. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Identifying them isn't an issue, many of us can do that. It appears he's looking for the dimensions of the posts. I don't think that exists anywhere yet (all in one place). The problem isn't the square posts. The problem is the two flats posts. The older Gotoh with the square posts are the same as the Waverly and the Golden age. The Gibson Grover's are totally different from normal Grover's and there are years and models there that differ. The newer Gotoh's are in a league of their own. There are sources for some buttons if you know the manufacturer. The screws are also an issue although I think I have the Gotoh dimensions in a thread here as well as the Gibson Grover's and the Waverly. Mandobart, do you know the manufacturer of your tuners?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  5. #4
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    The Waverly, Golden Age, and early Gotoh (with the square shaft) are 2.9mm square shafts.

    The older Schaller's are 4.3mm round shafts. I have no idea about the new Schallers.

    I'll get my calipers out tomorrow and see if I can give you the Gibson Grover and new Gotoh sizes if nobody gets it first. Keep in mind that Saga imported some sets of tuners that look like Gotoh's but have slightly larger shafts.

    And, if you want wood buttons and you don't have square posts you need to become friends with Scott R.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  7. #5

    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Ha, looks like mike beat me to measurements. . Thanks sir!

    The new gotoh shafts are roughly 2.8mm square with 3.2mm rounded ends.

    Mike is right. Unless you want to file down waverly buttons to oval inside nobody has good replacements. Which is why I started working on a process to make some. Will also have round and square hole buttons to match as well soon.
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  9. #6

    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Correction, 2.6mm on the flat side, 3.6mm on the rounded side for the Gotoh buttons.
    Scott R.
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  11. #7
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Thanks everyone for your help. When I get a little more free time after I get home I'll pull a few buttons and measure what I have.

  12. #8
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    OK so I pulled some buttons and took some measurements and pics. I'm not a machinist; I just took several measurements with my old dial micrometer and averaged them.

    First instrument, a hybrid F4 by Sonny Morris. I think he told me he uses Grover tuners. Here are some pics:
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    The shafts are machined square, mic'ed out to an average of 0.124" (~3.17 mm) across both sets of flats.

    The next is an OM by Tom TJ Jessen. He had told me he didn't recall the brand of tuners:
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    The round shafts have two flats. The shaft is about 0.150" (~3.81 mm) and the thickness between the flats is 0.127" (~3.22 mm).

    The 10 string mandocello uses Asian made guitar tuners:
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    These also have round shafts with two flats. The shaft is about 0.156" (~3.96 mm) and the thickness between the flats is 0.135" (~3.43 mm).

    Thanks again for any help in finding suitable replacement buttons. For my other instruments with pressed on buttons I think I'll buy new Rubner's once they're back in production.

  13. #9

    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    P.S. There is a New, New version of the Gotoh's that have a 3.65mm shaft diameter with a 2.6->2.8 tapered square shaft dimension.
    Scott R.
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  15. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    That I have not yet seen. I have a set of the old square shaft models that have a set of pearl buttons on them that fit my Waverly's exactly and I have a set of the two flat version.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  16. #11

    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    I'll have to post some photos, as it is very clear there are now 3 versions of the Gotoh's

    V1, square shaft

    V2, oval/flat shaft, with nice tuning post fit

    V3, oval/flat shaft that is fatter, with lazy loose tuning post fit (wobble side to side freely).

    V3 I just received in an order of test parts this week. Didn't make my day improve any
    Scott R.
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  18. #12

    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Tacoma used Gotoh on all their guitars so I'm presuming ...

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  19. #13
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott R View Post
    I'll have to post some photos, as it is very clear there are now 3 versions of the Gotoh's

    V1, square shaft

    V2, oval/flat shaft, with nice tuning post fit

    V3, oval/flat shaft that is fatter, with lazy loose tuning post fit (wobble side to side freely).

    V3 I just received in an order of test parts this week. Didn't make my day improve any
    Ok, I'm guessing your V3 is really the Saga fake Gotoh's. They look just like Gotoh's but the stem and plate are slightly differently sized.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  20. #14
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg P. Stone View Post
    Tacoma used Gotoh on all their guitars so I'm presuming ...

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    You would most likely be presuming incorrectly. Those could be Ping tuners. There's a strong chance that that mandolin wasn't near a Tacoma guitar until it landed in their warehouse in the states.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  21. #15
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Back to mandobart's dilemma. Your Morris has me confused. They look like newer Grover's but they shouldn't have square stems. The OM looks like an older set of Grover's and the Cello is in Guitar territory. The cello might have more selection of buttons available than the other two if you could find someone that could match it up with a know brand button. Guitar buttons are everywhere (check AllParts) but I don't know if they display the size of the opening. generally they say "These fit Schaller tuners" etc. The Morris F4 set has a larger square than all of the square shaft buttons I'm aware of. The older Grover buttons were hard to come by but you might be able to fi d those at AllParts. In the old days you had to call, there wasn't much info on the website.

    See if Scott R will make you some.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  22. #16

    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Saga fake gotoh? Where do I study up on that one...


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    Scott R.
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  23. #17
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Measure the width of the plate and the diameter of the stem. It will be slightly larger than a real Gotoh. I found this out the hard way. I'll send a picture this evening if I can. The screw sizes are the same. The engraving is the same, the shape is basically the same.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  24. #18

    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Ok, so here are some photos of a real one (black) and a fake one (white).

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    Next to each other.

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    Notice the real ones have bushings at the base of the string post. Hard to tell when they are installed.

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    The real ones have faint lines around the circumference of the string post gear (chrome part right outside the screw)

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    The fake ones have a lot of very sharp lines around the circumference of the string post gear, which is the only way to tell the fake ones from the real ones besides the buttons that are missing the outer nub on the inside side of the button.


    Needless to say I'm going to see if I can send the fake set I bought recently back to the folks who sold them on the Amazon.
    Scott R.
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  26. #19
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    There you go. Thank you Saga for introducing these to the world. They look to be right until you try to put a set of real buttons on them. I bought mine off a seller on Reverb, it included a label off a real set. The gentleman said "He assumed they were Gotoh's" (as I did, they looked right) and that they were part of the estate of a luthier. They were cheap, I bought them. Then another member of the Cafe and I bought some mother-of-pearl buttons for Gotoh tuners off e-Bay. His fit, mine didn't. I wondered if mine were just a bad set. I finally ordered a set of Gotoh's off AllParts. They arrived and the buttons fit like a glove. I started measuring each set and the fakes became very evident.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  27. #20
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    In looking at Mandobart's F4 again, didn't the old old Grover's have square posts at one time? I know that Sunburst talked at one time about filing the new Grover's so they were square.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  28. #21
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    In looking at Mandobart's F4 again, didn't the old old Grover's have square posts at one time? I know that Sunburst talked at one time about filing the new Grover's so they were square.
    Sonny built my F4 in 2010. If they are Grover's they are at least that old.

  29. #22
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Well, I guess they could have been an older set. I don't think Grover made a lot of buttons available over the years for their mandolin tuners.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  30. #23

    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    You would most likely be presuming incorrectly. Those could be Ping tuners. There's a strong chance that that mandolin wasn't near a Tacoma guitar until it landed in their warehouse in the states.
    I know that the Olympic solid wood guitars were made for Tacoma by their former parent company, Young Chang, in South Korea using wood that Tacoma shipped there and Gotoh tuners. I know nothing about the origin of the Olympic solid wood mandolins so Ping tuners is an indication that it may have been outside Young Chang. I do know that when Fender bought Tacoma they kept having these mandolins made, kept the model number, slapped "Orpheum" on the headstock and priced it at about $1300, so I'm surprised that the tuners are of such low quality. For now they work. I'll replace them down the line.

  31. #24
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg P. Stone View Post
    I know that the Olympic solid wood guitars were made for Tacoma by their former parent company, Young Chang, in South Korea using wood that Tacoma shipped there and Gotoh tuners. I know nothing about the origin of the Olympic solid wood mandolins so Ping tuners is an indication that it may have been outside Young Chang. I do know that when Fender bought Tacoma they kept having these mandolins made, kept the model number, slapped "Orpheum" on the headstock and priced it at about $1300, so I'm surprised that the tuners are of such low quality. For now they work. I'll replace them down the line.
    If you do decide to upgrade them you can get the Nickel Gotoh's from the seller below cheap on eBay. They are packaged products from AllParts and they are the real deal.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Gotoh-M...AAAOSw8zNcQxya

    Your tuners are worm over so there's a limited amount of real choices. I have a set of these. This old thread goes through my search for decent worm over f styale tuners.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Mar-09-2019 at 8:15am.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  33. #25

    Default Re: Replacement Tuner Buttons

    Does anyone know about the 1950’s 1960’s kluson gibson tuners
    " Practice every time you get a chance." - Bill Monroe

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