• The Gear Page Apparel & Merch Shop is Open!

    Based on member demand, The Gear Page is pleased to announce that our Apparel Merch Shop is now open. The shop’s link is in the blue Navigation bar (on the right side), “Shop,” with t-shirts, hats, neck buffs, and stickers to start. Here’s the direct link: www.thegearpageshop.com

    You’ll find exclusive high-quality apparel and merchandise; all items are ethical, sustainably produced, and we will be continuously sourcing and adding new choices. 

    We can ship internationally. All shipping is at cost.


Help needed: Which stuck first, the tuner or the nut?

Low Power Twin

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
59
Yes, in many threads like this someone blames the tuning machines when the nut may be causing the issue. But what do you think in this case? I have two odd symptoms that seem related, but I can't figure out how.

Details: my new Gibson '1963 reissue' ES335 has Kluson-style Gibson Deluxe tuners. Three of these seem balky, the D, G, and B, though far the worst on G. *And* the way they're sticky is odd: they don't like to back up more than a few turns. You can loosen them easily enough through 1-2 half-turns, then they start to feel stiff. (They tighten up OK, a bit stiffly, maybe, but consistently, and not bad for 14:1 ratio.) Not sure how this can be blamed on the nut, but wait, there's more...

These same strings (especially G) do not release tension (i.e., detune) easily when you first loosen the key. The knob turns very easily for at least 1/8 to 1/4 turn, but the string barely drops in pitch until you go further. It clearly acts as if the string was hung up in the nut slot, even with a good dab of vaseline-graphite grease in there.

I suppose the other reason to suspect the nut is that D, G, and B are the higher-angle, lower-tension slots, right? But could a sticky slot make it hard to 'back off' the tuning knobs in some way? Or are the symptoms somehow unrelated though on the same strings?
 

Low Power Twin

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
59
Good idea, I'll try flossing the nut slots first. If not helpful, I can maybe borrow a minute's use of a gauged nut file from my buddy at the guitar shop... Any tips here? I assume I don't want to deepen the slot, just clean it up laterally?
 

swiveltung

Senior Member
Messages
14,486
Well... nutz are tough. The short version of what I do:
-I file the slot slightly bigger than the string. For instance, on the .010 E string I use the .013 file.
-The slot depth is determined by fretting the string at the 3rd fret, the clearance I want at the first fret is maybe about .005". A bit more on the bigger strings.
-I make the slot portion where the string rests very short. maybe 1/32 of an inch. (see next step)
-I taper the slot from where the string rests to create a funnel shape so the string doesn't contact the nut in that area. The big end of the funnel towards the tuners.
 

Low Power Twin

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
59
Excellent ideas. Thanks very much! I'm now thinking I can also unstring the tuner and test it in isolation. I also suspect careful flossing might show me if the nut 'feels' sticky at various angles. Does that make sense in your experience?
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,562
You will find play in it, whether it's good or bad, but it should rotate smoothly either way.
yep, which is why you always go below the note and bring it up to pitch, so you end up with the tuner gears resting tight against each other.
 

Low Power Twin

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
59
Flossing the G slot didn't 'feel' sticky, and it didn't do much to the 'non-releasing' down-tune thing. I'll try to unstring it today and see what that tuner feels like.
 

Low Power Twin

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
59
In case you were wondering -- it seemed to me it didn't make sense, but it did. After step-by-step disassembly, the answer is a sticky tuning peg in its collar or bushing. Nut flossing no change. Unstrung, the tuner is still sticky but -- wait a minute -- only every 14 turns, and then mostly for a turn or two. Gears? No, when unmounted from the headstock, it spins easily. Inserted loosely in place, still turns fine, but when the two little fixing screws fasten it down in place, the stickiness returns. Clearly the peg is slightly crooked or off-center, and maybe the collar is tilted to the shaft when the tuner is tightly mounted.

Cleaned things up, greased the peg -- and the gears, why not? -- and tightened it down. Better. Loosened the fixing screws just a fraction so the tuner can 'float' a tad, and, wow, no binding, no hesitation in backing it off.

So the laws of physics still work!!! The failure to back off and the tightness on backing off even more were symptoms of a) some play in the tuner mechanism and b) a sticky peg -- in a small part of its total rotation.

Thanks to everyone for their help!
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,562
After step-by-step disassembly, the answer is a sticky tuning peg in its collar or bushing.
nice catch!

the fix might be to fill and re-drill the little screw holes in back so that the key can be properly lined up and tightened down without binding against the bushing. fill the holes, insert the key and then re-drill to put the new holes where they belong.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
33,441
nice catch!

the fix might be to fill and re-drill the little screw holes in back so that the key can be properly lined up and tightened down without binding against the bushing. fill the holes, insert the key and then re-drill to put the new holes where they belong.
Or ream the bushing holes slightly to relieve tension.
A good reaming does that.:facepalm
 

Quarter

Member
Messages
1,594
I'd be curious if it is misaligned screw holes or possibly the bushing holes are off and not drilled square with the headstock. I guess a real possibility is that it could be a combination of a little of both.
 

Low Power Twin

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
59
Tone -- good one! Quarter, agree, but not quite sure how to test for *exact* right angle on the bushings. Backing off the mounting screws a really small amount solves the problem, and the tuner now works great. I'm thinking of just dipping each screw in a tiny drop of titebond, getting them just right, and calling it a victory...
 

Eagle1

Senior Member
Messages
8,655
Good stringing up and tuning up to pitch never down and this is not an issue even on the worst quality tuners with huge backlash and a wobley capstan.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,562
Good stringing up and tuning up to pitch never down and this is not an issue even on the worst quality tuners with huge backlash and a wobley capstan.
true, following this tuning protocol overcomes even the worst mechanical issues, but a tuner post dragging on the bushing to the point it has to be pushed to downtune by the gear is something that needs to be corrected.
Backing off the mounting screws a really small amount solves the problem, and the tuner now works great. I'm thinking of just dipping each screw in a tiny drop of titebond, getting them just right, and calling it a victory...
no good, the key itself would still be loose to move around relative to the headstock.

if you're just gonna "rig" it, maybe a shim is the answer, like a layer of thick paper or thin wood veneer under the key in just the right spot to leave the key housing at the needed orientation even when it's tightened all the way down.
 




Trending Topics

Top