Do-It-Yourself Workshop: How To Repair Your Les Paul Mechanics | Guitar.com

One historical and common complaint of guitarists lucky enough to own a Gibson Les Paul is that of the Kluson tuners. This divisive topic still floods the forums, with many asking which tuners to choose: Gibson’s Klusons or a competitor. Many believe the Kluson to be the best tuner and have had no problems with them. I, on the other hand, have it.

Gamers have long searched for other brands like Schaller and Grover to help with tuning issues. The big debate over whether or not swapping tuners devalue your instrument is something I have no problem with: I like guitars to stay in tune and a faulty set of tuners is absolutely impossible for me. It would appear that Peter Green, Eric Clapton, Paul Kossoff and many others also had reason to replace their tuners.

In this article, I’ll show you how to change these standard tuners yourself. The job requires a small amount of tools and, as always, some patience.

You will need:

  • Flat surface with a towel or foam mat
  • Conical portable reamer
  • 7mm Allen key or similar
  • Hand-held countersink
  • Small plastic tray
  • Small screwdriver set
  • Soft cloth and adhesive tape
  • Small adjustable wrench or MusicNomad wrench

Since Kluson machine heads have a slightly different shape to those of other brands, the holes for each tuner will need to be widened on the back of the headstock, which means you will need a tapered reamer to carefully remove the wood.

I’m using my Gibson R9 for this job and bought a legitimate set of Grover Rotomatics to make it slightly more like Mike Bloomfield’s (hence the truss-rod cover) and obviously allow for better tuning and string pivot. winds.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

Many Gibson guitars come with Grover as standard these days, but the Klusons are the most iconic tuners for Fender and Gibson guitars. I’ve struggled with Klusons on Gibson guitars, with a number of them failing.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

Another thing about Klusons is that the poles don’t allow for more than a comfortable string wind on the low E for my favorite gauge, which inherently causes tuning problems.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

Before we go any further, don’t get the drill on this one – leave it in its case. First, make sure you have a good flat surface with a towel or mat to work on and keep your neck supported.

Remove all strings and safely store any loose hardware such as the bridge. Unscrew all the small screws securing the back of the tuner to the headstock and store them in a safe place away from the guitar. Use a clean take-out tray to hold these parts together.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

Once all the hardware is out of the headstock, remove the ferrules on the front of the guitar headstock. The safest method of removing them is by hand, with a little pressure, making sure not to damage the finish of the guitar.

For this guide, I used a 7mm Allen wrench with a small amount of tape on the end to press the ferrule through the back of the headstock. Don’t be tempted to hammer the headstock on the back, as you could cause cracking and severely damage your guitar.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

Spread a cloth or duct tape over the front of the headstock ferrules to make sure they come out safely once you apply force to the back with the Allen key. Make sure you push the ferrule out with a little force and check each time you go.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

Once all the ferrules have been taken out and the hardware has been put away, turn the guitar over and inspect the holes in the back.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

Using a portable countersink tool, carefully cut the thin finishing layer around the hole. Be gentle to avoid splitting the wood or finish and use very little pressure on the back of the headstock.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

Once the hole enlargement process has begun, take the tapered reamer and slowly rotate it clockwise. Pay attention to how much wood is removed and take your time with each. Patience will pay off.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

After you’ve removed quite a bit of wood from the back, periodically check it with a machine head to see if the hole has become large enough to insert.

In that case, the tuner should be placed flat on the back of the headstock. If not, bore a little more wood and it will soon fit snugly. Once again, patience.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

Once all the holes are large enough to accommodate the new machine heads, use manual countersink to reorder the holes. This is not essential but will ensure a neater finish.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

Mount the machine heads in their new positions. If you’ve used Grovers, secure the washer and lock nut to the front of the headstock by finger-tightening them so you can position them correctly on the back.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

On the back of the headstock, in most cases, you can use the existing hole, as shown here. You may need to get a small hand drill with small bits to match the screws. It’s not the end of the world. Don’t worry, they’re pretty cheap.

If you need to redo the holes, don’t use a power drill. Do this by hand and measure the screw thread against the drill bit and add some masking tape as a marker to make sure you don’t pierce the vane. Believe me, it’s the worst.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

Position the new tuner so that it is parallel to the edge of the headstock. This can be problematic if the headstock is curved. In these cases, position all the tuners so that they appear directly to your eyes, then mark where the screw will go, then gently drill with the newly purchased drill bit set.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

Once all screws are inserted, carefully tighten the nuts on the front of the vane. Do not use pliers. I recommend using the MusicNomad key for this part as it has a soft back which should ensure your beautiful headstock stays intact from any slippage.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

Reach out and reconnect the hardware you removed earlier and hook up the guitar. Now you can enjoy the fruits of your labor by being in tune and letting your guitar sing again.

DIY Workshop - Replacing Les Paul Tuners

Remember, patience is the key.

Also, for those who feel the guitar is devalued by the addition of Grovers, I have saved a lot of shavings to sell with the guitar if we ever break up …

For other guides, click here.

Leave a Comment