How to "loosen" Gotoh Vintage Staggered tuners

LaMarr Bruister

Strat-Talk Member
Aug 8, 2022
46
North East USA
I have a guitar that came with Gotoh Vintage Staggered Tuners - similar to old Klusons but staggered. They are shockingly stiff to turn. I have hipshots on most of my strats and they are easy to adjust with the end screw on the button. I have Klusons on one guitar and they are....err, normal?

Is there anything that I can do to loosen these tuners up a bit and make them easier to turn?
 

Geoff06

Strat-O-Master
Nov 15, 2021
638
Wisconsin
Compressed air can work wonders on tuners that have too much oil/grease or some kind of foreign debris in them, but I'm not sure that would help in this case. Do they all feel equally tight? And do they feel smooth or rough?
 

Eric_G

Senior Stratmaster
Jan 10, 2021
3,911
Quebec
I have a guitar that came with Gotoh Vintage Staggered Tuners - similar to old Klusons but staggered. They are shockingly stiff to turn. I have hipshots on most of my strats and they are easy to adjust with the end screw on the button. I have Klusons on one guitar and they are....err, normal?

Is there anything that I can do to loosen these tuners up a bit and make them easier to turn?
To be clear, I have never tried that… but …

I’m a son of a seamstress and grew up with sewing machine oil always around. Used it many time to lubricate all sorts. The reason I think of it is most bottle will have a needle size applicator that would fit in the casing hole of the Gotoh…

So I would try something like that:

 

Della Street

Parasite
Platinum Supporting Member
Jan 9, 2022
1,441
USA
i'll tell you the wrong thing, but here:
i had a bad batch of Fender brand vintage tuners once that stripped and twisted themselves immediately upon installation. since then i'm really cautious with new sets and, even though everybody says not to, i do lubricate them as follows.
prior to installation, i put them on a clean absorbent rag and squirt a small amount of silicone lube into the hole. then work the tuner in one direction gently for good many turns, squirt again and turn the same amount in the other direction. then wipe it and move on to another.
works for me.
 

grandstick

Strat-Talk Member
Sep 20, 2015
67
Virginia
I have a guitar that came with Gotoh Vintage Staggered Tuners - similar to old Klusons but staggered. They are shockingly stiff to turn. I have hipshots on most of my strats and they are easy to adjust with the end screw on the button. I have Klusons on one guitar and they are....err, normal?

Is there anything that I can do to loosen these tuners up a bit and make them easier to turn?
Are you comfortable with disassembling each tuner, and lubricating them? There are a couple of metal tabs that hold the rear housing in place. If you bend each of these tabs you can lift the housing - exposing the gear and the screw that holds it to the capstan. Loosen that screw and lube the gear.
 

LaMarr Bruister

Strat-Talk Member
Aug 8, 2022
46
North East USA
Are you comfortable with disassembling each tuner, and lubricating them? There are a couple of metal tabs that hold the rear housing in place. If you bend each of these tabs you can lift the housing - exposing the gear and the screw that holds it to the capstan. Loosen that screw and lube the gear.
There's only one way to find out...
 

Fenderbaum

Senior Stratmaster
Aug 11, 2020
1,688
Bergen, Norway
There's only one way to find out...
They are a nightmare to disassemble.. Possible though. Need a hammer and something sharp to wedge under the tab. And you need a vice to hold it..
True that Gotoh´s have tight tollerance. But i have purchased many sets and none have been death gripping hard to turn.
 

Scott Baxendale

Most Honored Senior Member
Silver Member
May 20, 2020
7,296
Sante Fe, NM
I have a guitar that came with Gotoh Vintage Staggered Tuners - similar to old Klusons but staggered. They are shockingly stiff to turn. I have hipshots on most of my strats and they are easy to adjust with the end screw on the button. I have Klusons on one guitar and they are....err, normal?

Is there anything that I can do to loosen these tuners up a bit and make them easier to turn?
Oil them
 

Nick L Plate

Strat-O-Master
Sep 15, 2020
549
Santa Barbara
In my experience, they loosen up a bit with use. I think Klusons are freaking terrible tuners, and much prefer the stiff precision of Gotoh to the ridiculously slippy, sloppy Klusons. To be honest, the design of the original Klusons is cheap and bad, so vintage correctness leads users to need something that resembles what is actually a pretty junky original. (The cruddy Klusons were often exchanged for Grover Rotomatics, which are no longer state-of-the-art, but at the time were way better than sloppy Klusons.) I love Gotoh tuners, which IMO are clearly a level above all other production tuners, but since the original Klusons were non-adjustable, unfortunately the Gotoh replacements are non-adjustable as well, though they did opt for solidity instead of the Kluson wigglyness. Gibson was notorious for cutting corners on cost, and this means we have to replace OEM junk with... junk. The ABR is the same deal.
 

Butcher of Strats

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 28, 2022
3,691
Maine
I have arthritis in my arms and it is physically painful to turn them. Yes, they are that tight. I asked my wife and she struggled too.

I have Klusons on another strat and Hipshots on 3 strats, and these are the hardest to turn I've ever experienced.
Yeah I have arthritis in my hands and keep buying those same Gotoh split shafts because they are so food plus under $40.
They do loosen up a little over time, and I do not think it is a stiff gease issue, I doubt trying to replace the lube is going to make them looser.
Feels like a very tight tolerance that will last 50 years.

Do you have a cordless drill?
And one of those tuner crank things?
I just use the fitting on a drill to string up, then fine tuning is not so bad.
But putting on a set of new strings is painful and then my fretting hand index finger hurts once I start playing.
 

StratUp

Dr. Stratster
Sep 5, 2020
10,878
Altered States
Yeah I have arthritis in my hands and keep buying those same Gotoh split shafts because they are so food plus under $40.
They do loosen up a little over time, and I do not think it is a stiff gease issue, I doubt trying to replace the lube is going to make them looser.
Feels like a very tight tolerance that will last 50 years.

Do you have a cordless drill?
And one of those tuner crank things?
I just use the fitting on a drill to string up, then fine tuning is not so bad.
But putting on a set of new strings is painful and then my fretting hand index finger hurts once I start playing.

If you have one of those, you can try wearing them in a bit. Don't put a string on the tuner. Load up one of the crank things in the drill and spin the tuner on a slow speed for five minutes. See if it improves with a little cycle time.
 

Butcher of Strats

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 28, 2022
3,691
Maine
If you have one of those, you can try wearing them in a bit. Don't put a string on the tuner. Load up one of the crank things in the drill and spin the tuner on a slow speed for five minutes. See if it improves with a little cycle time.
I should.
Could then report if it helps loosen up.
Got a new set in the bins somewhere.
 

The Ballzz

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 26, 2014
2,671
LAS VEGAS , NV
If you have one of those, you can try wearing them in a bit. Don't put a string on the tuner. Load up one of the crank things in the drill and spin the tuner on a slow speed for five minutes. See if it improves with a little cycle time.

This is a wonderful idea! I might however suggest reversing the rotation of the drill, a couple/few times throughout the process! I would also recommend keeping close tabs on any excessive heat being build up throughout the process! Any nylon and/or plastic components might not be happy with much heat! Don't overdo it! It will either help a bit in a fairly short time or not at all.

Simply Tunin'
Gene
 


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