Vintage Gretsch Guitars

What DO we know about tuners?


Some of the knowledge seems to have evaporated. Kind of like what goes on in my mind.

So what tuners are a direct, non-invasive replacement for the Waverly machines used on Gretsches in the '50s and '60s - also commonly erroneously called "Sta-Tites", although they do anything but.


But the 18:1 version is a slightly different hole pattern and shaft size, if I remember correctly.


JB, the knowledge hasn't evaporated - it never existed. The last time the brain trust had this discussion, there still was no drop in replacement. AFAIK, the closest are still the Sta-Tites with the pointy plates (and presumably their modern Waverly equivalents). You can just barely get away with using the original screw holes but they'll be kind of fakakte. The screws will go in at an angle and probably mangle the holes a little, but it beats drilling new holes. But you do have to ream out the shaft holes. Either that or go without bushings.

At one point, somebody (I want to say JBJ or Riz) was talking to somebody (I want to say Gotoh) about manufacturing tuners with the same shaft size and screw hole patterns as the old Waverlys, but evidently that never came to fruition.

All that said, there are more vintage style tuners available at Stewmac than there used to be. It's possible that one of them is a better fit. All the dimensions are shown on their website, so it might be worthwhile to get out the calipers and see if something currently available actually is a drop in replacement.


I sure do like the modern Grover open 18:1 I bet back in the day Gretsch and others all went with whatever they could get a good deal on, getting higher end tuners for their higher end guitars.


When I restored Andy's 1957 Chet-Jet, it had modern Klusons (with the sealed fluted back) on it and the hole pattern was the same. They had the same tips on them, so from the front they were identical. Maybe check the measurements on Klusons to see how they compare to what you have.

I do have a jet here on my bench, maybe I can see if I have any of those Klusons laying around to check



It would be great to know. I did put 18:1 Sta-tites on a 6120 one time, and they kinda fit. But the buttons look weird.


I hate the Grover Imerials on my 6122, but nothing else fits that spacing. Short of turning the posts down on a lathe, I can't think of a solution. Strings always slip on the over-size shafts, and the larger diameter ruins the gear ratio, making them dfficult to tune. Very poor design. They must have been concieved by a salesman rather than a player or engineer.


I have a set of modern Kluson (single ring with lock) turners here that fit really close. I will admit though, there are so many holes in the headstock I am working on that I its hard to tell what is what.

I don't think my response is accurate enough to go have you spend money on a set.


Mr. Z - I know what you mean. I have them on my Gent and it doesn't tune very well.

JD - please share any discoveries you make. In the mean time, I can NOT find a set of V98G anywhere!!


@JBGretschGuy (man I need a cool user name like that….)

Just checked my local shop that I do repair/restoration work for. They show that Harris Teller no longer stocks the V98G models. Only C or N for Chrome or Nickel. The have the 97's in gold but that has that clover leaf looking button.

I'll keel my eyes open.


And while we're on the subject of tuners....LED's SUCK! You need an actual meter with a real needle.


Thank you for checking, Joe!

Agreed, Billy - especially in bright sunlight.


Probably still gonna have to ream out the holes for the bushings a couple mm. But I think the screw holes are right. I think.


Maybe not the best soulution, but you can usually elongate the tuner mounting holes with a small Dremel cutter. The larger diameter screw heads will hide the slots for the most part.


That, to me, is way better than any new holes.


I believe we have a winner, by GOTOH.

– JBGretschGuy

Anything to report?


The Waverly with an oval button are least invasive. You’ll have to worm out the holes for the bushings just a bit, but the mounting holes are close enough.


The more gear reduction they have, the easier they are to tune.


I believe these are 18:1. The original gears are just awful.


The more gear reduction they have, the easier they are to tune.

– Billy Zoom

BZ, did you ever get time to work on your Imperials that you weren't liking?

IIRC, you were talking about getting the string shafts turned down.


Glad to get this update, thanks JB — I may have to try the Waverly solution on the old 6120.

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