Monday, February 2, 2009

Gibson Deluxe Tuners (part three - the fix)

Please note that this post is part three 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:
Part 2:
Part 4:

OK! Done!

I tried various different options and finally settled on one that I was very happy with. Ironically, it was the one I thought wouldn’t work – the solder fix.

I had already tried the glue repair in the past, but it eventually broke again, so I didn’t even bother trying this time. However, it was going to be my last-resort fix if necessary.

Before I show you the solder fix, I should mention that I did try the metal strap solution first. I cut out a little paper template to fit over the tuner and then went hunting for a suitable piece of metal.

(paper template)

I really wanted to find a nice little piece of brass, but I found a piece of scrap sprung steel that was just the right size, so I thought I’d try that.

(piece of metal before I bent it to shape)

However, when I tried to bend it to a 90-degree angle, it snapped. I tried again with a different piece of metal, but the same thing happened. It’s still a possible solution, but you would need to find metal that wasn’t so prone to snapping, or know how to properly heat-treat it.

So I ditched the metal strap idea and tried solder instead. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it stuck to the tuner casing EXTREMELY well. So well, in fact, that the test blob I tried on the inside first was a pain to file off.

I assembled the tuner and held the back cover in a vice, then heated the join with a soldering iron, as shown here.

Now here it is with some solder added.

The whole tuner (and vice) acts as a heat sink, so you need to have a powerful enough soldering iron to heat up the area around the join before all the heat gets sucked away (be careful that you don’t accidentally lean the soldering iron against the tuner button, by the way - I nearly did that a couple of times). I used a 40 watt soldering iron, but I’d recommend you use at least 60 watts, if not substantially more. I’d also recommend that you don’t touch the tuner button with your finger (or anything else) until the metal has cooled down again, just in case it has softened up at all. And since I’ve already mentioned waiting, just wait until the whole tuner has cooled down before you touch it. Mine got VERY hot. And don’t blow on the tuner to cool it down quicker either - this is bad for solder joints.

Finally, a clean up with a file and we're done!

The tuner is now back on the guitar and the fix is completely hidden. A very satisfactory result indeed.

EDIT: I've since found out that there is another (known) trick to repairing these tuners, which is to attach the back cover, turn the tuner over and hit the middle of each tab with a punch. This distorts the tab just enough to give it some grip. More information here:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had to use a combination of methods to ensure a durable repair. I used a pair of very small C-clamps on the corners of the housing to make sure the cover didn't shift during subsequent steps. I then "staked" the tabs by driving a pointed punch between the tangs, spreading them and locking them into their slots. I finished up by soldering as you described. The repair was so good, I am tempted to do the other five tuners before they loosen any further!