LMI Help Center

Tuner No-Nos

Your body is built, the neck is on and now it’s time to install your tuners. Beginners beware! What should be an easy enough procedure can turn into a nightmare if you don’t take steps to make sure things go well. Here are a few tips to guarantee success and move you effortlessly towards the finish line—the day when you finally string up your guitar!

  • Headstock thickness. On the Luthiers Mercantile site, you will find detailed technical drawings posted for all the tuners we sell. Please look them over as not all tuners are created equal when it comes to the headstock thickness they require. If you don’t rely on these drawings you should have your chosen tuning machines in hand before you plan out your headstock thickness, headplate and so on.
  • Put the holes in right! On the paddle-headstock, getting the holes drilled perpendicular to the surface is critical for smooth action and the longevity of the machines. It’s a good idea to clamp some scrap wood to the backside of the headstock before drilling to prevent any tear out as the drill exits the wood. Many builders choose to drill the hole a tiny bit undersized and then carefully ream it out by hand to the final diameter.
  • You should pilot drill your tuner screw holes. The screws used on tuners are very small and you don’t want one to break off in your headstock so predrilling is important. Many builders like to coat the tips with wax to aid in installation, and later on, removal of the screws. Try O’Brien’s Lutherie Wax.
  • Slotting and routing for a slotted headstock is another whole song and dance with many important considerations involved. That’s why our Headstock Slotting and Drilling jig is such a popular, and for many, indispensable tool.
  • Be careful not to bear down too hard when you are tightening the main hold-down nut, as you don’t need the washer pressing into the finish and causing little cracks to appear around the perimeter.