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Thread: Replacing Tuners on 1930's Mandos

  1. #1
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Replacing Tuners on 1930's Mandos

    I have a 1930's Stahl banjolin and the same age Regal resonator mandolin. The tuners on these old instruments are not so good - no bushings, posts are very short, not very precise, don't hold very well, etc. Stew-Mac and others offer replacements. I play both of these frequently and have already done some mods to them (added pickups, new bridge and tailpiece, reset dowel neck, adjusted spider and plate for intonation) so they're far from mint vintage condition. I've replaced tuners on a few of my modern instruments made with standard dimensions.

    Any advice on brand, cautions, experience, etc. before I embark on tuner upgrades for these old guys? Thanks!

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing Tuners on 1930's Mandos

    The good news is that these should be standard (.906 post center to post center) spacing so the modern tuners should fit. I'm assuming they are A style tuners in a worm over configuration. You've got choices depending on your budget. There really aren't any reproduction tuners that look like the originals but it doesn't sound like you are trying to keep it original. With that said, the budget is everything. Make sure the holes are drilled correctly as that was always a problem with instruments from that era. Wavery, Rubner, Gotoh, Grover and a few others make tuners in this configuration.
    "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: Replacing Tuners on 1930's Mandos

    For modern tuners you'll have to drill out as the new posts are wider than the ones you currently have and I'd recommend that on the top you drill down for the thickness and depth of the peg head bushings! This will give more stability. I know what tuners/posts you have as I've had many so this recommendation of mine will help big time!

    Or if your tuners aren't shot, replace the posts with period correct and do the drilling I mentioned-if you want to keep it all more original?

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing Tuners on 1930's Mandos

    Still considering replacing these old tuners. They are both A style, worm under with standard 29/32" post spacing. The Stew-Mac Golden Age tuners (with 29/32" spacing, NOT the Golden Age Restoration tuners with .931" spacing - too much) will likely fit, though they are worm over design.

    Both old mando existing tuner posts are less than the .236" of the Golden Age. Also both currently don't use bushings where the Golden Age do.

    I've replaced tuners before on modern instruments that just drop in with the only drilling required for new mounting screw locations. I've not reamed out for larger posts or counterbored for bushings before. I've done lots of pickup installations and converted a standard viola to a 5-string fiddle, so I'm fairly competent with basic instrument mods.

    Has anyone else done this that could offer advice, tips, gotchas, etc.? Thanks!

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing Tuners on 1930's Mandos

    Received the Stew-Mac Golden age tuners today. I like the look and feel. II appears they will fit fine just requiring new mounting holes (old ones should be covered up) and of course drill out for larger diameter shafts (rollers) and bushings. I'm working 12 hour shifts the next 2 nights, so I won't put them on until Friday.

    On the original tuners with no bushings, the post (roller) barely protrudes from the headstock face maybe 1/8", with the string hole in the the tuner roller maybe 1/32" or so below the top of the roller. So at the rollers the string windings are almost buried. One thing I didn't like about changing strings on these old instruments was how hard it was to wrap the strings AND get the wild end through the hole.

    The new tuners have longer rollers, which I like. The string hole sits maybe up to 1/8" higher. My question is this:
    The strings will sit higher on the rollers, which will reduce the break angle across the nut. For those who have done this before, did that cause problems or changes in action, intonation, volume, etc.? Once I drill for the larger rollers and counterbore for the bushings I'll be committed to the new tuners. I may need a new nut on each instrument too I guess.

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    Default Re: Replacing Tuners on 1930's Mandos

    Simply wind the string down on the post to keep your break angle close to the same.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing Tuners on 1930's Mandos

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    Simply wind the string down on the post to keep your break angle close to the same.
    Yes it occurs to me just to have more windings between the first wrap and the roller hole. I've always used 3 wraps from bottom up (for wound strings; 5 for plain) then wild end through the hole, tune and snip off the extra. Those windings above the first wrap lock the string in place, and a lot less bleeding when changing strings later than if you use the knots/back-wrap crazy methods. Also less chance of breaking a string as you don't introduce kinks, crimps or other stress risers.

    So yes, just using as many wraps as needed to keep the first wrap lower to maintain the original break angle at the nut is the ticket.

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing Tuners on 1930's Mandos

    Here’s the old Regal with the StewMac “Golden Age” tuners. I like the look and they work much better than the original ones.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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