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Thread: 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

  1. #1

    Default 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

    I was setting up this '57 Gibson to make ready for sale and the old Kluson tuner buttons started crumbling in my fingers. What should I do? If I replace the buttons will this degrade the value of the instrument?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

    When those Kluson buttons go, they go. There's no way to stop it.
    Your choices are to either replace the buttons or replace the tuners.

    It won't sell if a buyer can't tune it. If you're worried about the effect on the value, you can sell it with the original non-functional tuners in the case pocket for a trophy, and re-drill the screw holes on the new tuner plates so the new tuners can be mounted without putting any new holes into the peghead.

    Me, I'd just replace the buttons and be done with it. I suppose you could save the bits and pieces of the old buttons in a plastic bag.
    If a buyer is that picky about the originality of the mandolin, he'll probably find something else that doesn't suit him.

  3. #3

    Default Re: 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

    I replaced the originals on my '59 Gibson EM200 with Kluson Supreme F Type Gold tuners (purchased on Reverb). Fit perfectly and work great (no need to drill new holes). Keep the originals in the case as rcc56 recommends.Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

    Yes, that's the best solution. I'm glad a drop-in replacement set is available now. A few years ago no one was making them.
    And when you consider the cost of 8 replacement buttons and the time it would take to install them, spending $63 for the new tuners makes more sense.

  5. #5
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

    $3 for a new button from Stew Mac:

    https://www.stewmac.com/parts-and-ha...SABEgKn-fD_BwE

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    Default Re: 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

    If the originals don't work well(are not smooth turning: have excessive gear lash), I'm all for replacing them. However, if they do work well, then replace the buttons(as I did on a '57 Fender mandocaster). But, simple as that task can be, I wouldn't recommend DIY, unless one is good with tools, techniques, etc., especially on a vintage instrument.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

    The Stew-mac buttons are guitar sized, and are different in size, shape, and color from the originals. 8 of them will cost $27+ by the time you pay for shipping, and take around 3/4 of an hour to install. I'd rather pay for the new ones, which can be installed quickly, and will work better and look more "correct."

    I've rarely run across a 50+ year old set of covered Kluson DeLuxe tuners that work very well. They were cheap tuners when they were made.

  8. #8
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

    I don't know about the '57 EM-200 but I have an early 1960s (I think '63) EM-200/Florentine electric and the buttons are Klusons and made with a rather unique-looking greenish plastic which is close to snot-colored (see photo below). As you see, the same thing happened to two of the buttons. I actually found a gold replacement set that matched the color but this was a few years ago and I don't know if you can even find anything like this now. I don't know of any Gibson instrument that used that color button. And I don't think they just oxidized to that shade of snot from the original. Well, maybe possible.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    On the other hand, as long as you do have a means to tune the instrument, you are doing well. My big problem with that mandolin is that the saddle is a brass rod and the tone was ringing in my ears. I still have the original saddle but replaced it with a standard ebony compensated bridge saddle and it sounds a lot better.
    Jim

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  9. #9
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

    Kluson cancer; very common from '50s era instruments:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  10. #10
    Registered User keme's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

    A philosophical view:
    Your mandolin was made primarily as a tool to make music. When parts are worn, they are meant to be replaced. It is part of the design.

    The mandolin will also be a product of the maker's care and attention to detail. As such it is sensible to view it as a work of art.

    A "purist" buyer may frown at anything deviating from original product. That is, in my view, ignorant towards the design. Some parts are expected to wear or otherwise deteriorate, and a replacement part is not detracting from the maker's effort.

    For other art forms, restoration of defects (introduced by incidents or environmental effects) is common, and whether it impacts value depends on how it affects "originality".

    The original design anticipates changing of hardware. Fitting the same or equivalent make of tuners should not detract from collectors' value assessment. The mandolin will be a better representation of the maker's intention than with tuners where buttons crumble and gears are worn. The luthier will in most cases not have made the hardware. Do you want to depict the maker's intention, or the effects of time passed?

    Collectors often do not recognize this.

    So, to a player the value (practical usability value) will increase with new tuners. To a collector with genuine interest in the instrument, the value assessment may turn either way. To a collector mostly interested in the museal application and resale value, the monetary value will most likely drop.

    With a premium price instrument, even a player must consider resale value with the "collectibility implications" mentioned above. This world is not, and will never be, an entirely logical one.

    I am sure that this does not help your decision much. Just to ensure you that there is reason behind the confusion, albeit perhaps not a reasonable one.

    Good luck!

  11. #11
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

    Of all the various repair/restoration tasks, I've always enjoyed pressing on replacement buttons (using method as outlined by Frank Ford). If replacing just one, it may be possible to age the button to get closer in appearance to the other buttons (stains, etc.).
    Cabin Fever String Band, Bill Gorby and the Musical Mercenaries

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

    They are selling replacement sets of Kluson tuners, replace them and keep the originals with the instrument. The button rot is common on these tuners from the very late 40's up into the 60's. I'm guessing Kluson bought a whole slew of bad buttons.

    https://www.kluson.com/

    A and F style Kluson tuners:

    https://www.kluson.com/kluson-4-on-a...s-details.html

    Generally they shrink as well as crumble.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  14. #13

    Default Re: 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

    FWIW, putting on the replacement buttons is harder than it looks -- that is, to get them all straight and perfect. If you use the heat method it is easy to partially melt or distort them. I don't heat them and put them on at room temperature using a small table vice to slowly press them on, that I have adapted with soft leather jaws and a "V" cut to keep the button from going on crooked. Even then, it is easy to get one started crooked. If you catch it in time, you can straighten it and start over.

    Just some friendly advice. I'm guessing your first attempt will not be perfect, appearance-wise.

    I think I would just buy the replacement tuners and save the originals as "case candy."

  15. #14

    Default Re: 1957 EM200 disintegration of tuner buttons

    Jeff, I haven’t done it, but from other experience with similar, would suggest that the first third or so of the button’s hole (buttonhole?) can be enlarged to guide the installation, since that part probably isn’t contributing to the connection. This would also allow reduction in the time at temperature needed. Also, if the worm shafts are steel, the conductivity isn’t good (if stainless, almost zero!) so heating the shaft at the inboard part means overheating the part nearby. This would also contribute to bad alignment. The only way around that is to preheat the end. Brass shafts should be much less of a problem.

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