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Replacement tuners for Epiphone Les Paul Special


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A while back, I impulsively pulled the trigger on one of the Epi Les Paul Specials with P-90s.

 

I think it was $119. I really didn't expect much. But surprise, I ended up loving the tone of the guitar, as well as how it plays! Shocking!

 

I'm thinking I should replace the tuners, but I'm unsure which ones will fit without drilling out the peg head.

 

Anyone replace the tuners on one of these?

 

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What is wrong with the tuners that are on it? A nice set of Gotohs or Klusons or Grovers is going to run 40 or 50 bucks, is it worth doing that to a $119 guitar?

 

If it is, take one of your old tuners off and measure the shaft diameter and length. Yours are probably press in bushings, decide if you want to replace the bushings or use the old ones - if you want to replace them press one out and measure the diameter and length - use digital calipers or a micrometer. Go to one of the parts supplier websites (StewMac, LMII, Allparts) and compare your measurements with theirs. Decide what shape body you like (classic waffleback, open, many choices). The new footprint may not cover the old one, you can decide if that bothers you. Most of the time the mounting screws won't line up - fill and redrill.

 

Its probably obvious that I haven't replaced tuners on an Epi Les Paul Special so I can't answer your question directly, but I have replaced a lot of tuners. An hour with a pair of calipers and the spec sheets will tell you what you need to know.

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The only thing replacement tuners might get you is a better gearing ratio. It's a misconception that better tuners have better tuning stability. Tuning stability is usually an issue with the nut, or the bridge.

 

If you really want an improvement, have a new bone or tusq nut fitted. It will bind less than the cheap plastic nuts and will have a better nut action than a factory cut nut.

Edited by mrbrown49
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The only thing replacement tuners might get you is a better gearing ratio. It's a misconception that better tuners have better tuning stability. Tuning stability is usually an issue with the nut, or the bridge.

 

If you really want an improvement, have a new bone or tusq nut fitted. It will bind less than the cheap plastic nuts and will have a better nut action than a factory cut nut.

 

I have to disagree with you here, mrbrown. It's my experience that higher-quality tuners have tighter specs in the fit of the gears that do, indeed, contribute to tuning stability.

 

Yet I agree with you about nut and bridge issues being relevant too.

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I have to disagree with you here, mrbrown. It's my experience that higher-quality tuners have tighter specs in the fit of the gears that do, indeed, contribute to tuning stability.

 

Yet I agree with you about nut and bridge issues being relevant too.

 

That's just simply, impossible. Once backlash is taken out of a worm gear, that's why we always tune up to pitch, the capstan can't rotate.

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9 times out of 10, it's NOT the tuners, but the nut. Try rubbing the graphite of a pencil in the slots, and see if that solves the issue.

 

I think good tuners can make a difference vs cheap ones (especially if they have a higher ratio), but I do agree that more often than not, it's the basic setup (including the nut / slots) that causes the majority of tuning stability issues.

 

I have a tube of PTFE that I purchased from Radio Shack years ago... it does wonders when applied to a nut (and saddles), and any pinging or binding usually goes away with just a tiny drop applied.

 

Obviously you can't run down to the local Radio Shack anymore (at least I can't - all the local ones are gone now), but Amazon has what appears to be the exact same thing, or something really close to it.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Master-Lock-Lubricant-Biodegradable-2300D/dp/B004FV4TNE/ref=sr_1_14

 

That little tube will likely last you for many, many years.

 

 

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Once backlash is taken out of a worm gear, that's why we always tune up to pitch, the capstan can't rotate.

 

A similar thing applies to telescopes with "goto" object location and tracking functions. Before using it, you have to align the scope to a couple / few "known objects" (stars, moon, planets), and when doing so, you have to "approach" those objects from a certain direction, or the telescope will drift off-target due to the backlash issue. Approach from the correct horizontal and vertical directions when aligning it, and it locks on and stays on-target, and subsequent "gotos" of new objects are much more accurate and stay locked in better too, without drift.

 

Gear backlash sux... but once you understand it, it's easy to compensate. As you said, with guitar tuners, it's just a matter of always tuning UP to pitch, and never DOWN. If you go too far, don't try to drop back down to the right pitch - drop BELOW it, and then slowly tune UP again until the note reaches the correct pitch.

 

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9 times out of 10' date=' it's NOT the tuners, but the nut. Try rubbing the graphite of a pencil in the slots, and see if that solves the issue.[/quote']

Several years ago I eliminated G string binding on my "good" acoustic when I accidentally bought 80/20 strings instead of phosphor bronze. (It now has a TUSQ nut, which fixed the problem for good.) I wonder if something similar might be possible on electric, say by switching from nickel to stainless steel?

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I put $40 Gotoh tuners on my Epi LP Special II, as well as an unbleached bone nut, also from Stew-Mac.

 

i also put an Epi LP Special II pickguard from eBay on it, a GFS Top Mount X-Trem, and a Seymour Duncan Super Distortion pickup (also from eBay) in the bridge position.

 

I had to make the tuner holes in the headstock bigger to accommodate the Gotoh tuners, tho.

 

I didn’t do the best job installing the tuners or the x-trem, but it was a fun experience, and I enjoy playing this guitar a lot.

 

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Edited by humbuckerstrat
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I’ve read so many of these things over the years and 

1) NOBODY ever answers a question or knows the answer yet they still reply.  This tells you something about them which is...

2) NOBODY who non-answer answers is EVER correct about even their own unsolicited commentary.

People, if you are not going to answer a question, and you never are, than just go visit some elderly shut ins.  You will get what you need and actually be helpful in the process.

Moderator, why do you allow pages and pages full of nonsensical editorials that do nothing at all to address a question ?  Nobody asked how to measure, what elements contribute to pitch, neato silicone products...on and on.  Why?

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1 hour ago, landyd said:

I’ve read so many of these things over the years and 

1) NOBODY ever answers a question or knows the answer yet they still reply.  This tells you something about them which is...

2) NOBODY who non-answer answers is EVER correct about even their own unsolicited commentary.

 

That's what is known as a logical fallacy. :)  One does not automatically equate with the other; the first statement does not make the second one true.

But you're right - at least in my case. I do NOT know the answer to the specific question erok asked ("which tuners will fit his specific Epi Les Paul Special P90 without drilling the headstock"), and apparently, neither did anyone else.  Part of the reason for that (at least in my case) is that I don't own one of those guitars, and have no way to measure it myself, but from personal experience I can tell you that most high-quality aftermarket tuners are not going to fit without modifying the guitar. 

Pardon me for saying so, but where you take a wrong turn is in assuming no one here offered any useful information, although unless you know some of the people offering erok suggestions here (and erok certainly does), you might fairly assume otherwise. 

In the very first reply to the thread, Freeman Keller asked a reasonable and important question - do you really want to spend $40 or $50 (or potentially more, if you have someone else install the tuners) on a guitar that you paid $119 for? Then he tells erok exactly what he needs to do if he still feels it's worth the price, and exactly how to find tuners that will fit his guitar without modifying it - if in fact there are any higher-quality aftermarket tuners that will, which personally, I am skeptical of.

Yes, you have to measure - the reason for that is because Epiphone has used a variety of different tuners over the years, and some have different shaft diameters. The ONLY way to be sure is to have measured and replaced the tuners on that specific Epiphone model previously, and therefore know the exact tuner shaft diameter used on that model, or to take one off and measure it - which is what a good guitar tech / luthier is going to do anyway, just to be sure they're going to get the right sized replacement. And for your information, Freeman is a VERY good luthier, who not only repairs and modifies guitars regularly, but also hand-builds some exceptionally beautiful ones - again, this is all information that erok is aware of, and like most of us here, when Freeman speaks on the subject of guitar builds, repairs and upgrades, he's probably going to give serious consideration to his opinions. 

But others brought up reasonable points too - one of which is that tuning stability can be impacted by other things besides the quality of the tuning machines themselves. It's a lot easier to apply some graphite from a pencil or a bit of PTFE to the nut slots than it is to replace a set of tuners, and it just might improve the tuning stability without having to resort to replacing the tuning machines. Why NOT try the easiest, least expensive option first and see if it fixes things?  

 

Quote

Moderator, why do you allow pages and pages full of nonsensical editorials that do nothing at all to address a question ?  Nobody asked how to measure, what elements contribute to pitch, neato silicone products...on and on.  Why?

Why do you think erok wants to replace his tuners? It MIGHT be because he likes the looks of some aftermarket tuning machines, but since he isn't asking whether or not a specific brand / model of tuners will fit on his guitar, it's reasonable to assume that's probably not the case. More likely, and I admit that this is an assumption, he wants to improve the tuning stability of the guitar. And the fact is, tuners are not the only thing that might negatively impact that. 

This is a DISCUSSION forum. People offer their opinions and suggestions. Not all of them are always going to be good or accurate, but again, it's a discussion forum, so when people have other suggestions, or see information that they disagree with, they're free to offer corrections or alternative points of view. As always, it's up to the person asking questions (as well as each individual reader) to make their own determinations regarding the accuracy or wisdom of each individual post. One of the best ways to make that determination is to know the people you're getting the advice from, and their history, experience, and skills. Again, that's where Freeman's background comes in - a background that you're probably not familiar with unless you've been reading these forums for a while.

Erok received great advice in the very first reply of the thread, and everyone else pitched in from their experiences and POV and offered other things that are relevant to the thread topic for him to consider / try, and I see no problem with the way this thread went down. 

By the way, welcome to Harmony Central! Thanks for giving your opinions, and for your feedback. :cool2: 

 

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