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Thread: Installing Grover 309N Tuners on an Eastman 305......It was easy

  1. #1
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    Default Installing Grover 309N Tuners on an Eastman 305......It was easy

    This morning I decided to install the Grover tuners I purchased a couple of weeks ago along with trying a set of Elixir lights on my Eastman 305. I like most everything about the Eastman, except the tuners. They were very inconsistent from one to the other tension wise, and a couple were very stiff. I had already tried lubrication, and some other minor adjustments to no avail. So I decided to change them out for the Grovers.

    I just thought I would document the process as this seems to be a frequent subject here on the Cafe.

    The process was fairly simple. The Grovers came with new bushings and screws, but after reading a previous post here on the Cafe, I decided to stay with the original bushings. The previous post indicated that the Grovers would fit nicely in the bushings, but that only 3 of the 5 mounting holes on each strip would match the holes in the Eastman. This was correct, too. The good news was that none of the old holes are visible with the Grovers in place. I didn't have the correct size drill to make the pilot holes, so I simply took a very thin nail and used it to make them. Worked fine. I used the original screws in the three holes that lined-up, because they were the correct fit for the existing holes. I used the screws that came with the Grovers in the new holes because they were shorter, and would have less of a chance of splitting. Before final installation, I lubed the tunes with a very light silicone grease that I already had, and spun each one a couple of hundred times. They seemed to smooth out some as a result. I did like that the tension from one to the other was very consistent. I lube the inside of the bushings with the same lube.

    I have had the mando for about a year now, ever since I started playing mandolin, and have changed strings a few times, but always just changed them one at a time to avoid messing with the set-up. Today, I decided to take advantage of having them all off, and polished the frets with very light steel wool, cleaned and oiled the fret board with mineral oil, and did a minor refit on the bridge. I could just see a sliver of light under one side. A little sanding took care of it.

    So, this Eastman just got a good annual service, and a minor upgrade.

    I like the Grovers much better than the Eastman tuners (I have no idea what brand they are). The Grovers are more consistent, have less gear lash (play), and with the increased ratio of 18:1, as opposed to the original ratio of 14:1, offer finer tuning adjustments more easily.

    I have added two photos showing before and after. The after picture (on the right) with the Grovers installed has slightly larger base strips, and if you look closely you can see the mismatched screw heads on the end holes. Otherwise, it is hard to tell the difference visually, but mechanically, they are much better.

    I also like the Elixir strings. I play mostly old time tunes, so I am not looking for the heavy chop sound that a lot of Bluegrass players want. I play mostly melody and like a brighter tone. The Elixirs seem to provide this.
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    Richard

    Eastman 305 mandolin
    Martin D16 guitar
    OME 11" banjo
    Pisgah 12" banjo

  2. The following members say thank you to Pappyrich for this post:


  3. #2

    Default Re: Installing Grover 309N Tuners on an Eastman 305......It was e

    Good work Pappy. The tuners have usually been the only complaint I've ever heard about the Eastman 300 series mandos. As a builder, I've used Grover 309s on several builds. They work very smoothly and stay smooth in the long run. My last build came out beautifully enough that I decided to splurge on a set of Rubners for it. They are very nice machines and a joy to look at, but the Grovers actually tune just as smoothly. I've worked on several mandolins with vintage style tuners and even Schallers that were a real wrestling match to turn, even after lubricating them. Considering how reasonable your Eastman was, a $65 set of tuners was definitely worth it.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Installing Grover 309N Tuners on an Eastman 305......It was e

    Rob Roy,

    Thanks for the kind words I posted the experience hoping that it would give some others the confidence to tackle the job themselves. As I said, it was easy.
    Richard

    Eastman 305 mandolin
    Martin D16 guitar
    OME 11" banjo
    Pisgah 12" banjo

  5. #4
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    Dec 2008
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Installing Grover 309N Tuners on an Eastman 305......It was e

    Great job making the change and for documenting it. As Rob Roy mentioned many people mention the 305's tuner has a being a weak point and was one of the reasons that I decided to get the 505 instead when I was in the market for an Eastman. Others have mentioned upgrading to Grover 309s and now they have a roadmap. Well done.

    Rob
    2020 Sawchyn Beavertail
    1950's Stradolin

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