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Thread: Waverly tuners

  1. #1
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Waverly tuners

    A few years ago I bought a fairly nice F style mandola (the story is here someplace) that I have thus far enjoyed. Being an equipment geek I always wanted to upgrade the tuners and tailpiece. The problem was that the tuners installed were worm over tuners and there hasn't been a whole lot available in the last few years. Yes, you can get Rubner's when they are available. I did but couldn't get past the black stems. I have managed to hoard a set of worm over Gold Schallers with real MOP buttons, a set of nickel Schallers, and a set of Gotoh nickel tuners. I even managed to get pearl buttons for the Gotoh's and changed out the Phillips head screws for slot head screws. All good fun but I was always looking for a set of Worm over Waverly tuners. I could never bring myself to take off the no-name brand tuners that were on the mandola so they've never been changed and I'll note I never had any tuning problems caused by the tuners. My ears are another story.

    Worm over Waverly tuners are something that Stewmac (the manufacturer) won't even admit to being available. I seem to recall that they were available years ago but maybe that's just my old mind playing tricks on me. Sam Bush has a set on his Gibson. Sam Bush is even one of the players Stewmac quotes as using them and loving them. In the past few months we've had a set that showed up here and I learned of another set for sale elsewhere. I managed to buy one of the two, fulfilling my illogical desire to own a pair.

    I say illogical because to be quite honest I'm not sure why I want to own Waverly tuners. I have them on my F5G. I installed them a while back after buying that set used as well. They are great tuners but I'm not sure if they are 6 times more expensive than most tuners better. It doesn't matter I have always wanted them and now I have a set for both of my F style instruments. Conspicuous consumption.

    I've just started cleaning up the new set and thought I'd compare them physically to some of the other tuners over the next few days. If you've ever wondered what they looked like up close here it is.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  3. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    The first thing that is obvious when comparing the worm over to the worm under is that the engraving on the worm under is a bit more complex. As I don't know the age of either set I can't call one new and one old. The picture of both sets side by side gives you an idea of the difference between the stem placement of the worm over vs worm under.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    The plates on the Waverly tuners appear to be machined out of some sort of billet. I don't think they are cast. I'm not an expert on that sort of thing but I suspect that is what I'm looking at. Your typical Gotoh tuners have a stamped steel plate. In the past thre has been talk by some that the Gotoh's have the same screw spacing on the plates as the Waverly tuners making them a candidate for drop in replacement. They're close but the top screw, at least on these two examples, is slightly higher on the Gotoh. Either way the plate should cover the hole in either case. I should note that I'm a fan of Gotoh tuners. They are well built, smooth and inexpensive and I appreciate the fact that they don't simply put the worm under gear in a worm over position. I know they offer it as an option but they are aware that there is a difference.

    Again, the screws on the Gotoh's have been swapped out to replace the Phillips head with slot head for a more traditional appearance.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    Very Cool.

    Please excuse me while I make note (for future reference) that for the tuners to turn in the "correct" direction, the worm grooves must point:

    to the North East for worm over tuners and

    to the North West for worm under tuners.

    Carry on.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” ≠ “Accidentals”

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    Very Cool.

    Please excuse me while I make note (for future reference) that for the tuners to turn in the "correct" direction, the worm grooves must point:

    to the North East for worm over tuners and

    to the North West for worm under tuners.

    Carry on.
    Yup, that is correct. Here they are with the buttons on them. The stems on the worm gear are much shorter than the Gotoh's and I'm assuming will be about the same next to the older Schaller tuners.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  8. #6

    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    There’s really nothing in between. I have some mandolins with Golden Age, some with Gotoh, some with Rubners. The Rubners are good. But I’ve not seen many F style sets for sale. I like the Alessi tuners but haven’t seen any available here in the States.

    My Duff has an older set of Schallers, which are quite nice, but these are not the same quality as the new ones. So, after spending $5k to $10k on a mandolin, I think $500 on tuners is reasonable. There’s nothing worse than fighting both the humidity and your tuners at a session or a gig. Playing fiddle also adds perspective because the first time you plunk down $90 for a set of strings, and $1k on a bow, reality sets in.
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    This shows the Waverly tuners next to the older Schaller worm over tuners. Note again that even though the post spacing is the same the mounting holes are not and the difference in the length of the stem attached to the worm gear. The Schaller tuners were/are closer to the Gotoh's in that department. I don't have a regular set of Grover's here but I suspect the length is probably closer to the Waverly tuners. I also have no idea how they compare to the new Schaller tuners. I have yet to see a set of new Schaller worm over tuners. By the way, the older Schaller plates appear to be cast in some fashion.
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    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Jul-17-2019 at 9:41pm.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post

    I say illogical because to be quite honest I'm not sure why I want to own Waverly tuners. I have them on my F5G. I installed them a while back after buying that set used as well. They are great tuners but I'm not sure if they are 6 times more expensive than most tuners better. It doesn't matter I have always wanted them and now I have a set for both of my F style instruments.
    The heart wants what the heart wants, no need to understand why. Congratulations on getting them. I hope they give you pleasure. Thanks for the useful information!
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    There’s really nothing in between. I have some mandolins with Golden Age, some with Gotoh, some with Rubners. The Rubners are good. But I’ve not seen many F style sets for sale. I like the Alessi tuners but haven’t seen any available here in the States.

    My Duff has an older set of Schallers, which are quite nice, but these are not the same quality as the new ones. So, after spending $5k to $10k on a mandolin, I think $500 on tuners is reasonable. There’s nothing worse than fighting both the humidity and your tuners at a session or a gig. Playing fiddle also adds perspective because the first time you plunk down $90 for a set of strings, and $1k on a bow, reality sets in.
    I had a set of Rubners and they looked great with the exception of all the black finish. I just couldn't get past that on a personal level. They actually looked right for a late 20's through 30's F style tuner. Well, that and the fastener they used to hold the button. I now know you can replace that with an available screw.

    Yeah, I never realized what fiddle players go through until recently. I thought the mandolin players were the only crazies.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    OK, here we have the Rubners I no longer own next to a set of circa 1930's Gibson tuners, not going to guess at the make as I don't have a good track record today. Obviously they aren't exactly the same. Both Worm over.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    I'll note that if you're willing to put up with the tuners tightening the opposite way of what I consider normal you have other options. The gold set of Schallers started life as a set that turned the wrong way in Worm under configuration. The Gibson Grovers could be turned around and if you have the right tools I'm assuming you could turn a set of Waverly tuners around as well. Some people don't have a problem with that. I do. I'm not very good at change I guess.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  16. #12

    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    Thanks for sharing Mike! I’ll tuck this away in my bible of amazing mandolin tuner facts

  17. #13

    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    Nicolo Alessi can also make you a nice set of tuning machines in any configuration you can dream up, like the snakewood buttons and hand engraved plates for this 1927....
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  18. #14
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    I remember you posting something about these sometime in the past. I can't tell from the picture, does turning the button counter clockwise turn the post counter clockwise? They definitely look good.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    If anyone wants to see some comparisons of the Gibson Grover tuners with Waverly tuners I posted this thread back when I switched the tuners on my F5G.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  20. #16
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    I've started the switch over on my Mandola. The top buttons are closer than I'd like them to be but they turn unhindered. I decided to see how the worm under tuners were positioned on the early 20's H5's. It looks like the bottom button got a little close in the worm under configuration. It works and they fit.

    I will have to heal a few screw holes and redrill.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    Hey Mike your worm under are hand engraved older Waverly-the back plates are narrower, the worm over are newer post 2010 and CNC'd engraving-not by hand, the back plates are wider. I had an engraved older set around 2004 that wore out I sent them back and got a CNC'd set and was a bit upset as the hand engraved were obviously nicer quality but the cnc set was more precision and worked better I found?

  22. #18
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    OK, so the worm over are newer. I did notice the difference, I'll have to do some measuring. So far the only thing I've had to swap out on this install was one bushing. It had been a little chewed up by I had an extra set of Waverly bushings so that's good.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    The CNC's are still nice with more precision but nothing like those older hand engraved plates! But they sure weren't built as well in the late 90's early 2000's with the hand engraving but heck mine on my two 20's F-5's are still going strong! So back in the 20's like about everything else American made was built with some serious pride!

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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    Well pretty soon as I was told by a very reliable/trustworthy/honest luthier friend on the phone a few days ago that Stew-Mac will be within the year be making "Not sure if its Waverly or the Golden Age brand-nothing wrong with Golden Age, mighty fine tuners!" The late 20's-30's bump end worm over gear plain and engraved pearl button for period F4's-through the F-5's! I guess mine and a bunch of peoples constant nagging will pay off!" I email them every month about this and probably have for well over a year! FUNNY!

    They have the same plates "Waverly-Golden Age", bump end, plain and engraved for guitars of that pre-war period! As I've said and others have said there is nothing period correct for the old Gibson's that looks authentic-and good luck finding a used-spare set that someone will part with! I'm very excited about this as many upon many Gibson's I've seen need the original type tuning machines!

    It was also mentioned to me that the Kluson brand will be doing this as well, because again certain Gibson's had those in the pre-war years, and say on a 30's early 40's F-5, Gibson used the gold plated pearl buttoned sets on a few F-5's-My mid 30's Fern F-5 has a set and it seems that they are even rarer on a 5 than the engraved worm over gear pearl button Waverly's! So that's exciting as well to this mando geek! Finally perfect repro sets are in the works-I just hope they all follow through with this talk!

    I've seen so many old Gibson's be it 30's F-2's, 4's, 7's, up to the F-5 that are missing their original tuners-this will no doubt to me be great repro products, I've mentioned to David Harvey at Gibson wouldn't it be nice if they had these for all their 30's remake F-5's and he agrees! It sure would be more "authentic" looking instead of the Grover tuners or whatever Gibson uses for all those F-5's that aren't the MM's-as they use Waverly for those! It also would be nice if they went back with the hand engraved plates but the precision of the CNC done plates! So maybe this here message will make another or multiple mando geeks morning? I've been thrilled since I heard the word and conformation on all this-now I'll pray they will follow through!

  25. #21
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Exclamation Re: Waverly tuners

    One issue I found (had Ebony knob A type) peghead hole drilling has to be spot on.

    Force fitting them in a miss spaced head stock damaged the tuners. *

    Reverting to a lesser precision machined tuner tolerated the situation better,

    and for years, has proven quite adequate..


    *Stewmac repair-replaced them..





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  26. #22
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    These tuner holes were spot on (I was actually a little surprised). The tuner bushings that were there fit like a glove and I considered leaving them but figured that I had paid the money for the Stewmac reamer for my last set, I might as well use it. I do need to call Stewmac tomorrow to see if I can buy a bushing as I had to pull one of them out of an extra set I had laying around.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  27. #23
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    Today I had a nice conversation with Stewmac's customer service people showing the worm over Waverly tuners and asking that if they decide to make them again I would like the top worm gear shafts to be about 1/4 inch longer. If that ever does happen I intend to take credit for it.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  28. #24
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    Default Re: Waverly tuners

    I have Waverly's on several mandolins but I'm a Rubner fan now ! Great tuners !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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