General tech questions

Cleaning covered tuners


Last time I had my acoustic (1981 Epiphone flat top) in to the shop, the tech mentioned that the tuners would eventually need a good cleaning. I had noticed that over the years, a few of them had become stiff and hard to turn.

I found this video on the Stew-Mac site, which seems to explain pretty well how to go about it. Couple of questions:

  • I have naptha (lighter fluid). I guess it's all pretty much the same?
  • In the video, he uses Tri-Flow lubricant. Not sure if that's sold here in Canada. Is it like WD-40? Could I use that? I see there are "dry" silicon lubes and "wet". Does it matter?

Anyone have any other advice about tackling this job? Much appreciated.


I believe tri flow is a Teflon bike lube here in the states. I like to use a heavy almost grease like white lightning brand lube. A bike product also. I dont know about dry products. Hope that helps


Take the tuner off the guitar, with that type of tuner the back cover comes off very easily. With the cover off you'll be able to see how much wear is on the internal threads. Personally I'd dismantle the whole tuner, clean it well and use tiny amount of vaseline on a toothpick to grease the gears, then reassemble. Cheers.


Most of the sticking and excessive friction comes over time between the ferrule and the capstan rather than in the gears. Take the tuner off, clean and polish the capstan shaft and cylinder inner walls of the ferrule and prepare to be amazed at the smooth performance.


Don't use WD-40. Tri-Flo is a wet silicon lube and it doesn't last. Grease or vaseline will work better. And do ade said.


Hell, I run bike shops for a living and even I would try to talk you out of using TriFlow!


I use TriFlow a lot working on airplanes, and it does have a place on guitars as well - for lubrication set screws and the like - but I wouldn't use it on tuners myself. The residue tends to attract and retain dust, which would lead to its own problems.

I prefer to use a White Lithium Grease for things like tuners, as a little bit goes a long way and it lasts a very long time.

I think ade had the best idea. I'd sure try that first.


I have used synthetic bearing grease to good effect, mostly out of fear that an oil lubricant would spread over time and attract dirt, or worse, would stain the finish around the tuners.


Thanks everybody. I'll let you know how it goes.

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