It happened. My Takamine TF740FS steel string guitar fell off the chair on the stage after the concert, hit the corner of the sound monitor and got a tuning key broken. I needed either to replace just one knob, all the knobs, or replace the entire set of tuners. In this post I describe these options, review their pros and cons, and provide the list of tuner resources I used in my research.
Here is what happened
Takamine’s stock tuners are good – they are actually Japanese Gotoh SEP700 with 1:15 ratio. Here is how they looked like before the accident:
And this is what happened – the broken knob side-by-side with its potential replacement:
Knob replacement option
A Gotoh dealer said that they don’t sell the spare buttons for SEP 700 because they are not removable. Due to that, I ordered a few cheap generic tuning buttons (see above) and tried to replace just one button. There is a good StewMac’s video on YouTube about how to do that. However, it didn’t work for me. The replacement button didn’t have the right hole to fit the Gotoh’s plastic insert. Gotoh’s way to affix knobs to the tuners is quite special and probably none of the generic buttons from eBay or from the guitar part dealers would fit it.
My attempt to widening the hole with the Dremel tool and then gluing it to the tuner with super glue was partially successful. The knob was sitting on the shaft quite firmly, but not the same way as the old tuners – it wasn’t visually attractive at all. Moreover, I wasn’t sure whether it will survive the tension of the tuning operations.
Tuning Machines Replacement
I decided to replace all tuning machines. New Gotoh 700 would cost me about $80 with 3-4 weeks delivery time (the best what I found). However, I wanted to try tuners with the bigger ratio – something like 1:18 or even 1:21. I’ve scanned web sites of many well-known guitar tuners manufacturers and dealers. Unfortunately, I haven’t found such tuners for the slotted headstock, but found excellent 1:16 premium Waverly Tuners from StewMac.com. They were expensive, but looked gorgeous! I read all the reviews (all positive) and decided to buy the 4098-G set with very nice Snakewood knobs.
Gotoh SEP700 have 6mm shaft diameter, but majority of the tuners on the US market have 1/4″ (6.32 mm) shafts. Waverly tuners also have it at 1/4″. Due to that, in addition to the tuners I needed six 1/4″ gold bushings. After doing my research (frets.com, stewmac, youtube), reviewing all the specs, removing the old tuners, measuring everything with digital caliper many times, and looking how the old bushings were sitting in the slotted head, I decided to ask a guitar tech to do the replacement. I am able to replace the tuners myself, but I didn’t have the proper tools for removing the old bushings and installing the new ones, so I didn’t want to take the risk of breaking my guitar again.
Waverly tuners are one of the best, and they are not cheap. But my priority was on quality (and pleasure), so I am pretty happy with the results. Big boys – big toys 🙂 Here is what I’ve got. Isn’t it nice?
Specs Collection: Gotoh SEP 700 vs. Waverly + Bushings
Click on the picture to see the full size spec (the specs and pictures are properties of Gotoh and StewMac official sites):
- Frets.com, Installing a new plastic tuner button
- Frets.com, How to remove the old tuner bushings
- Stewmac.com video on Youtube, Installing Guitar Tuner Knobs
- Gotoh, official web site, SEP 700 tuners for headstock guitars
- Grover, official web site, Vintage tuner series
- Schaller Electronics, Guitar Machine Heads
- Stewmac.com, Waverly tuners for slotted head (aka peghead) guitars
- Stewmac.com, bushings for tuners with 1/4″ shaft diameter
- lmii.com, Luthiers Mercantile International, Inc., slot-head tuners
- Allparts.com, guitar tuners
There is a great The Guitar Player Repair Guide book at Amazon (affiliate link) with Chapter 6 devoted to the tuning machines, their installation and repair. I also found that the Chapter 11, “Tuning Keys”, from the Mel Bay Guitar Setup, Maintenance & Repair book has a reasonable overview of the tuner replacement process. (affiliate link at Amazon). And the most useful tool was a digital caliper!