HOW TO: Sta-Tite to locking tuner conversion
I've been promising to write this up for months, and I'm finally getting the chance. My G6118 double anniversary came with the stock Sta-Tite tuners. These tuners look great (IMO) but they weren't staying in tune very well with Bigsby usage. I also wanted the easy re-stringing that comes with locking tuners. I did not want to make any permanent mods to my guitar. I came up with a way to modify the stock Sta-Tite tuners to use the locking shafts from some replacement locking Klusons for a Les Paul. The result looks great and works great. The only negative is the price: the locking Klusons are about $80, which is more expensive than the Sperzel or Gotoh locking tuners.
OK, the locking Klusons can be obtained from Allparts, the part number is TK_0735-001. You can order them here.
Here is a pic of one of the locking Klusons:
You can see the locking shaft that we will be removing. These are closed back tuners, so we will have to remove the back to get at the gear and shaft.
Here is a pic so you can see the locking mechanism:
As you can see, the shaft is two parts that are threaded together like a nut and bolt. The string goes through the female section at the end, and the tension from the string keeps this part from turning. As the tuning key is tightened, the male part of the shaft is tightened against the string. Once the pieces are screwed together tightly the whole assembly will turn to bring the string up to pitch. The slot in the top of the female section is so you can unscrew the parts if you break a string. You can use a guitar pick, coin, or screwdriver.
I removed the back of the case using pliers, a hammer and a small chisel. This is actually pretty difficult. You have to get aggressive with this part to get it off. I have a vice, which makes the job easier. We're only using the shaft and gear from the tuner, so you can destroy the casing and the tuner plate. Here is a pic with the back of the casing removed:
The next step is to remove the small screw that holds the gear on. This is the trickiest part of the whole operation. The screw strips very easily, and its so small that once it's stripped you can't find a screw extractor small enough to get it out. I learned this the hard way after stripping two screws and then ruining the shafts trying to extract the stripped screws. So use the proper sized screwdriver and go slow. Luckily, Allparts let me order two replacement tuners instead of having to order the whole set.
Here is a comparison pic with the locking shaft and the stock shaft. Note that the gears mate to the shafts differently. The gears are NOT interchangeable.
The next step is to remove the screw holding the existing Sta-Tite's gear on. You do not have to remove the tuner from the guitar to do this. Just unscrew the screw, slide the shaft out towards the front of the guitar, then take the gear off. These screws don't strip out near as easily as the ones in the locking shafts, but you still might want to be careful.
To put the locking shaft in place, first put the gear in place, then insert the shaft from the front. Replace the screw and you're all finished. I actually bought some upgraded little screws from the local hardware store that shouldn't strip out as easily. Here are 2 last pics showing the front and back of the headstock. Five of the tuners in the pics have been replaced with the locking shafts, and the high E tuner is still the stock Sta-Tite. Notice that the appearance is very close to stock.
I actually did this mod about 6 months ago, so I've put the locking tuners through their paces. They really work great. To me this mod was totally worth it, and it was worth the extra money so I didn't have to modify my guitar and I keep the stock look.
Very nice. Thanks for posting this. I have a green annie and i think i'll do the same.
Now that's kentucky fried cool.
Thanks for that!:cool:
Thanks, Flaco. I had wanted to try this; you saved me some bucks that might've been wasted on the will-it-work phase. :grin:
One of the best mods going.
Bumping a ghost town because this thread has been the answer to my prayers! Definitely doing this on my 6119-1959. Thanks Flaco!
Anybody else done this recently? Would these work they look identical to the Gotoh Kluson. http://www.ebay.com/itm/120...
This mod appealed to me because I wouldn't have to drill and fill any extra holes in my Jet and I could keep the stock look. [B]DON'T DO IT IS MY ADVICE[/B] I'm pretty handy and it was easy I didn't have to cut the back of the Gotoh Kluson Locking tuners tuners. I was able to remove the back of the tuner and able to put them back together so I could get my money back. No evidence I was ever there. Anyway they do work but not perfectly like they should. The shaft is a little shorter than the Sta Tites. In my opinion definately not worth doing as they aren't as smooth operating as they should be. It could just be the design of the vintage kluson style. I'm used to the smoothness and stability of Sperzels and Schallers. These aren't even close. DANG The pic is the Locking Gotoh Kluson with back pulled up to get to the shaft.
This is an awesome (and by that I mean plain) looking mod.
rcboals, too bad the Gotohs didn't work for you. I'm wondering if Flaco had any issues with smoothness with the Gibsons?
Flaco still around?
I emailed him before I decided to go ahead and try the mod. He said they worked fine for him but he sold the guitar and has another one that the stock tuners work fine for him. The Gotohs are identical to the All Parts tuners. Just posting my personal experience.
After I did the mod the smoothness was the same as the stock sta-tites. I've never owned a guitar with Sperzels or Schallers so I can't compare those. You are right about the shafts being a little shorter than the sta-tites - I think you'll be able to see that in the pic above of just the tuner posts.
As I told rcboals I foolishly sold the guitar that I did the conversion on, instantly regretted it, and ultimately bought another G6118T. I haven't done the mod on the newer guitar as I'm playing acoustic 99% of the time now and not gigging on electric anymore.
I'm glad you were able to return the tuners and not lose any money on the deal!