Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Gibson Deluxe Tuners (part two)
Please note that this post is part two of four posts. I highly recommend reading all four posts in order before acting on any of the information.
The other parts are located here:
Part 1: http://diystrat.blogspot.com/2009/01/gibson-deluxe-tuners-and-why-they-suck.html
Part 3: http://diystrat.blogspot.com/2009/02/gibson-deluxe-tuners-fix.html
Part 4: http://diystrat.blogspot.com/2010/01/gibson-deluxe-tuners-revisit.html
Well, the Gibson Deluxe Tuners post certainly attracted some attention. Seems there are plenty of people out there with the same problem.
Before I talk about my repair options, I’d like to discuss a little further the design limitations of the Gibson Deluxe Tuners. I previously mentioned that the little tabs that attach the back cover to the main plate do not fold over once they go through the main plate, which I found strange. While exploring solutions over the past few days I noticed that a lot of replacement tuners from other (often cheaper) brands had tabs which DO fold over, keeping them very firmly attached to the main plate. I really do have to scratch my head at why the Gibson Deluxe Tuner designers decided not to do this.
Non-Gibson Deluxe Tuners with tabs that fold over:
Secondly, I have noticed that there is one more problem with these tuners, which is that the worm gear wobbles quite a bit, even when the tuner is working perfectly, with the back cover attached. It doesn’t wobble from side to side, but rather away from and towards the guitar head. I hope that makes sense. This is caused by the claws not gripping around the worm gear, but rather, just stopping it from moving from side to side. The alternative solution offered by the Gibson Deluxe Tuners is to make the cutouts on the back cover (which let the worm gear pass through the sides of it) limit the movement of the worm gear away from the guitar head. Unfortunately, these are quite imprecisely cut, so sometimes allow for far too much movement.
So given that second note, I have decided that I need to tackle the wobble problem before attaching the back cover, since once I attach it I don’t want to have to take it apart again.
What I will do is file a little bit off the bottom surface of the back cover (leaving the tabs intact), so as to move the cutouts closer to the worm gear and hold it in place better. This has the added benefit of effectively extending the length of the tabs (not enough to fold over, unfortunately, but maybe just enough for a little bit of extra purchase)
[Edit: In the end I found the reason for, and the solution to, the wobble problem, which I've documented at the end of part four. Please check it out before you start any work.]
So after a bit of thought, I figure I have maybe three realistic options:
1. Make a type of metal strap, which would hold the back cover on. It would be held down by the two screws that would hold the main plate to the guitar. The disadvantages of this are that the strap would be visible and the screws might need to be swapped for longer ones. The advantage would be that it would require no irreversible modification to the guitar or the tuner, and it might actually look quite cool.
2. Solder the back plate to the main plate. Advantages would be that it would be a quick and easy repair that should be quite strong and fairly reversible. Unfortunately I’m not convinced the metal used on the tuners would accept solder readily. Really, I should be looking at brazing, but unfortunately that's just not an option for me.
3. Similar to 2, but use glue, most likely 2-part epoxy. Quick and dirty solution, but may work well.
Whichever method I choose, I will still file a thin layer off the bottom first.
I’m off work all next week (for Chinese New Year), so I’ll decide what I want to do then.