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Thread: Tuners for old Gibson A-3

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    Default Tuners for old Gibson A-3

    Tuners on my 1916 Gibson A-3 are hard to turn. I measure peg spacing as 15/16", but I find only 29/32" spacing currently available at reasonable cost. Anyone know of a supplier? Any suggestions regarding possible repair? Thanks.

  2. #2
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuners for old Gibson A-3

    Have you removed the tuners you have and cleaned and lubricated them already ?

    FAQ, there seems to be a recurrent topic in which cleaning is often the solution.

    but if you still feel a need to replace the hardware , another practical solution previously offered, is to saw across the backing plates at the holes ,
    that gives you 4 pieces and the saw kerf cuts away enough metal to
    let the individual piece adapt to the peg head spacing, the mounting screws will keep the pieces down and from rotating.

    that should get the desired shiny new machines on there, without resorting to custom parts at premium prices ..

    But removing , cleaning and lubricating and re installing the ones on there, should be the first thing to do.
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  3. #3
    Horton River NWT Rob Gerety's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuners for old Gibson A-3

    This comes up a lot. The general feeling is that they can almost always be cleaned and adjusted so that they work well. Rare that you need to replace them. Do a search - there is a tutorial on how to clean and adjust them around here somewhere.
    Rob G.
    Vermont

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    Default Re: Tuners for old Gibson A-3

    I usually replace them with new ones and keep the old ones, I cut the new ones as mentioned and get the benefit of better gear ratio, keeping the original ones from any more wear.
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  5. #5
    Confused... or?
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    Default Re: Tuners for old Gibson A-3

    Paul Hostetter's excellent write-up saved me from replacing the strip tuners on my slot-head '68 Martin 12-string. (They look fairly plain & ordinary - didn't realize that they were Waverly's!)

    http://www.lutherie.net/tuner.maintenance.html
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    I'll take it! JGWoods's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuners for old Gibson A-3

    I sent my A4 to Peter Landell the fine luther and founder of Rigel mandolins. For very short money he removed the old tuners, pegged the holes and redrilled for modern string post spacing and installed Stew Mac Elites. The repair is invisible from the front. The back side of the headstock shows the outline of the old set of tuners.
    He also made invisible repairs where there was a chunk out of the neck and a few other spots.
    My A4 is a player, not a collectors instrument, and its a much better player now as it stays in tune forever.
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    Horton River NWT Rob Gerety's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuners for old Gibson A-3

    Goodness, if you possibly can try not to permanently change your vintage mandolin. I know sometimes there is no choice - but old tuners can almost always be made to work well.
    Rob G.
    Vermont

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    Canescent Curmudgeon Miko's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuners for old Gibson A-3

    A 1916 A3 would have had Handels on it. If those are the tuners you are talking about you would be crazy to replace them because they are A gorgeous and B quite valuable. Get them cleaned and oiled and they'll work fine. I have four instruments with Handel tuners on them and they never give me any trouble. If the tuners you're talking about aren't the inlaid Handels then they're replacements and, depending on what they are and when the replacement was done it might be worth putiing new ones on.
    There is life beyond pentatonic scales.
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    Default Re: Tuners for old Gibson A-3

    Paul Hostetter's previously referenced article (see link above) was what saved the Handel tuners on my 1914 A4.
    After taking taking measurements & surfing till I was frustrated & bug-eyed from looking at the schematics on Stew-Mac's site, I posted the same question as you here & was directed to the above article.
    I was somewhat daunted at the prospect of dis-assembling the tuners, but all went well & now I can turn them easily (though some laxity in the worn gears makes tuning a bit longer process than on my other machines) I also took the opportunity, while the gears were off the headstock to clean off the 95 years of accumulated grime from the finish with some Ronsonol & it now looks great & is even shiny in places! & Mojo intact!
    Good luck,
    Dave

  10. #10
    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuners for old Gibson A-3

    Quote Originally Posted by Miko View Post
    A 1916 A3 would have had Handels on it. If those are the tuners you are talking about you would be crazy to replace them because they are A gorgeous and B quite valuable...If the tuners you're talking about aren't the inlaid Handels then they're replacements...
    I don't think so. A-4s in this period routinely came with Handels, but as a rule, A-3s did not.





    These were the same Waverly machines but with simple ivoroid buttons. It's possible that some A-3s came out of Parsons Street with Handels (with Gibson, anything is possible), but it was not the norm. The above photos are of 1916 A-3s.
    Last edited by Paul Hostetter; Nov-30-2009 at 11:04pm.
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