Setup of a National EN Continued

  • Install deluxe tuning machines upgrade

Below: New tuners. The deluxe 70.00 set National sells as an upgrade. The big difference I see is an alloy gear which should be smoother, white buttons, pewter type finish and some engraving. I can already tell you the holes don't line up for the mounting screws but otherwise these will work fine. Let me show you exactly how to do this in a way the tuners will be secure and tune smoothly.

Tip: Waverly 3 on a plate tuners will also fit this standard 3 post spacing. They are more expensive but much better tuners.

Below: Remove the old tuners and save the screws. These are still good tuners I can use on an old Stella or some other slothead the 3 shafts are standard 1-3/8" spacing.,

Insert the new tuner so we can fit them and evaluate the situation before jumping in like a fool. I want to see how the holes line up etc.

Turn the button counter clockwise like you normally do when tightening a string and make sure the tuner shaft rotates the right direction toward the logo. Otherwise you have the WRONG tuner and need to grab the other one. Failure to pay attention here can make you drill wrong holes and have to start over. The tuners for left and right side are NOT identical and the screw spacing would be wrong if you drill on the wrong side. Start on one side with the correct tuner plate and sit the other tuner off to the side some place so they don't get mixed up.


Below: The four original mounting holes are not even close to the new tuner plate sold by National. Since they are so close to each other those holes need to be filled with wood and new holes drilled. Failure to make these perfect can mess with the smoothness of the tuning. I plan on marking 4 new spots with a pencil then tapping the new screw holes after I fill these old ones below. 

Below: Snip of about 1/8" from the sharp end of a typical round wooden toothpick so the hole gets filled tightly.

Put some wood glue in the hole and push the toothpick tightly into the hole and use cutters of some kind to snip off the excess wood flush with the surface. In my case I repeated this for all 8 holes until they were filled and waited an hour for the glue to set.

Below: The holes are nicely filled and I can count on my installation being very solid.

Below: I previously removed all that orange peel like blobbed finish all over the neck and headstock with this ultra fine 0000 buffing steel wool pad. Now I am taking this opportunity while the truss rod cover was off and these tuners and buffing those areas smooth also. No more orange peel!

Old trick I learned is to rub a bar of beez wax around the end of the shaft to make them turn ultra smooth where they seat into the wood of the headstock. Learned this from and older luthier and it works without harming wood.

Below: I don't like whacking a center punch into a headstock so I grabbed this bit from the garage with a sharp tip and using it to turn it by hand into the dead center of the new pencil marks I made.

Reinstall the correct tuner for a moment and make 100% sure the new holes you are about to commit are going to be perfectly aligned. Make sure the tuners are perfectly aligned in the peg head and the shaft rest more on the side of the holes toward the nut. Then when string pull is applied in the order of 150+ pounds the shaft ends wont move far before landing on wood and that will prevent bending of the shaft and subsequent tight and sticky tuning.

Put some tape on the drill bit so it wont go too deep. We just want to help it get started. The screw still needs to bite into the wood and get a tight grip. You may not even need to drill after using the tool I showed above to hand tap the starter hole shown above. Compensate too for the plate thickness. 

I barely drill into the wood about 1/8". This is a time to be careful. Do all 8 holes. Don't let the drill go in at an angle or get loose. 

Below: Install the mounting screws and tighten them carefully so they get a good bite in the wood and the plate is flush without stripping them out. Use a very good #1 size phillips screwdriver so you don't wallow out the screw heads. The kit comes with 2 extra screws.

I've been lubing tuners for 25 years and this wont hurt a thing. Now if these were waverlies you would NEVER have to lube them but in this case I can feel these want a little lubing. I'm just careful not to clean up any excess and I also turn the pegs about 50 times each with this spinner to work them in before I string up.

They are done and the work really paid off. Although not as good as the 180.00 dollar Waverlies on my other resonator these are very smooth and look great. I am happier than I thought I'd be. I do wish they'd used ivoroid buttons instead of plastic but they look good. With the complete setup, new cone and tuners this Nat is playing like butter and sounds like thunder. I'm one happy picker.


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