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  1. #1

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    So, I'm getting pretty tired of the performance of the vintage sealfast tuners on my 1939 L-5.
    I replaced the tuners on both my 1932 L-5 and 1937 ES-150 with Waverly replicas, and the performance is a game changer.
    (I kept the originals, but I can't ever imagine putting them back on)

    From a cursory googling, no one makes a replica sealfast tuner.
    Does anybody know if any of the other common tuner replicas share the same foot print?
    Bonus points if I could swap the pegs with the original catalin ones.

    Vintage Sealfast issues...-p170712002_photo-06-jpg

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I believe whatever Gibson's using on their high end guitars like L-5s and Super 400s have the same housing/footprint. They were made by Schaller at some point, not sure now or if they're even available for purchase.
    Next closest are probably Grover Imperials though modern ones have a clipped upper tab, so you'd see part of the old footprint and not sure the post shafts are identical in thickness.
    50s-70s Sealfasts have the same footprint but are hard to find and very expensive.

  4. #3

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    You may contact Parts Is Parts. They show a picture of some on their website but I was unable to find them in their actual catalog.
    Last edited by jasonc; 11-29-2020 at 01:09 PM.

  5. #4

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    You could have openbacked ones custom made by Rodgers who are now based in Nova Scotia. They are costly but not that costly compared to trying to find Bullseye tuning machines in working condition.

    Schaller used to offer them under the Grandtunes series. I don't see them any longer. Perhaps Gibson signed Schaller to some exclusivity or they were too slow-moving in sales.

    Daniel Slaman makes replica Catalin buttons.

    My suggestion is to spring for the openback Rodgers with the correct screwmount spacing.

    Single Gear Tuners - Rodgers Tuning Machines

  6. #5

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    Schaller was making the set called G series Big Jazz. Not sure if they still do. They mount up the same but the shaft size is a bit smaller. They do give you the new bushings with the set. You can make them work without making new holes.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max405
    Jonathan,
    I’ve had Sealfasts on 2 vintage guitars and the only time they worked remotely good was right after a string change. That indicates to me that the grease they used hardens over time. I always felt it would be perfect if I could have drilled a tiny hole in the housing and squirted some solvent in. But of course, I never had the guts to do it!
    Joe D
    My luthier disassembled all of the Kluson tuning machines on my early 70's Byrdland, cleaned them, and repacked them with new grease but it didnt make much difference. Either they are too worn (seems doubtful, as the great cosmetic condition of this guitar seems to indicate that it spent more time in the case than on the gig) or (more likely) I want a better gear ratio than these things have. It's not easy to tune precisely and they just aren't all that smooth. All of my more modern guitars are sooooo much better in that regard.

    @skiboyny thanks for the tip on the Schallers - I've been looking for a same-footprint replacement for ever.

  8. #7

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  9. #8

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    In addition to the Schaller G series Big Jazz tuners, in you can find a set, you could get a set of these in a 3+3 "banjo" configuration:

    https://www.kluson.com/kluson-6-in-line-or-single-vintage-diecast-series-firebird-tuning-machines-details.html

    Kluson 2 Per Side Or Single Vintage Diecast Series Bass Or Banjo Tuning Machines

    They have the same footprint as the Sealfast tuners, but are set up like banjo tuners.
    They are available in gold, and you can probably choose between metal or plastic buttons.
    @$275/set.

    Another option is to buy a set of NOS vintage Sealfast tuners, but you are looking at @$1,000-1,200/set. I have a set if you are interested. New, not used.

    Grover does make a set of Imperials with tabs on the top and bottom of the plate - the 151 gm set. @$80/set. Here's an example:
    Grover Imperial 151GM Tuners Gold 0069788000 006-9788-000
    Attached Images Attached Images Vintage Sealfast issues...-grover-imperial-gold-2-jpg Vintage Sealfast issues...-grover-imperial-jpg 
    Last edited by Hammertone; 11-30-2020 at 02:13 PM.

  10. #9

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    My '63 Super-400 came with Grover Imperial tuners on it that were also much too coarse for my liking. I lucked out and got a new set of SCHALLER Sealfast replicas directly from the company. I do not know whether they just had one un-sold set lying around or if these were still in production then, about 6 years ago. <br>That would be your best bet I think as the originals are prohibitively expensive and you never know what you're gonna get ....&nbsp;

  11. #10

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    So, I'm checking with Schaller and Rall Guitars to see if they have those recent production Schallers.

    That said, I'm sure they'd work better than my originals, but is the 12:1 ratio they offer better than the originals (I have no idea what ratio the originals would be).

    Second, do you all think I could remove the gold pegs and replace them with my catalin buttons?

    Alternatively, what about "waffleback" tuners. Would that be the same footprint?
    https://www.stewmac.com/parts-and-ha...-machines.html

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by campusfive
    So, I'm checking with Schaller and Rall Guitars to see if they have those recent production Schallers.
    That said, I'm sure they'd work better than my originals, but is the 12:1 ratio they offer better than the originals (I have no idea what ratio the originals would be).
    Second, do you all think I could remove the gold pegs and replace them with my catalin buttons?
    Alternatively, what about "waffleback" tuners. Would that be the same footprint?
    Kluson Waffleback Guitar Machines | stewmac.com
    The original Sealfasts have a 12:1 tuning ratio.

    The reissue Kluson waffleback tuners have a similar shape but a much smaller footprint and post diameter. They have a 15:1 tuning ratio.

    The current Grover Imperial 151GM tuners have a 16:1 tuning ratio.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    The original Sealfasts have a 12:1 tuning ratio.

    The reissue Kluson waffleback tuners have a similar shape but a much smaller footprint and post diameter. They have a 15:1 tuning ratio.

    The current Grover Imperial 151GM tuners have a 16:1 tuning ratio.
    So, Hammertone, it seems like if I want to improve performance and keep something with the same foot print, I should go with those Grover Imperial 151GM's then? Because the Schaller ones, if they actually have them, would be the same gear ratio as the original?

  14. #13

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    I wouldn't be so worried about tuning ratios, what's an extra turn or two? I'd be more concerned w/fit--screw spacing etc.
    I sold my last nos set of those Schallers otherwise I'd try to see if Catalin buttons would work on them, I have a few guitars w/them but somehow I don't think so.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    I wouldn't be so worried about tuning ratios, what's an extra turn or two? I'd be more concerned w/fit--screw spacing etc. I sold my last nos set of those Schallers otherwise I'd try to see if Catalin buttons would work on them, I have a few guitars w/them but somehow I don't think so.
    I suspect that the Catalin buttons may not fit as well, based on the big age gap in production, different makers, and possibly slightly different specifications, but I don't know.

    My guess is that the footprint of the current Grover Imperial 151GM tuners is very close to that of the old Sealfast tuners, so that a set would look good on your guitar. I don't know if the screwholes would line up, but the area would certainly be covered by the tabs on the new tuners.

  16. #15

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    Pardon the ignorant question, what's the story with Waffleback and Imperial tuners? Why are they so much more expensive than regular Grover Rotomatics or Super Rotomatics?

    John

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by campusfive
    So, I'm getting pretty tired of the performance of the vintage sealfast tuners on my 1939 L-5.
    I replaced the tuners on both my 1932 L-5 and 1937 ES-150 with Waverly replicas, and the performance is a game changer.
    (I kept the originals, but I can't ever imagine putting them back on)

    From a cursory googling, no one makes a replica sealfast tuner.
    Does anybody know if any of the other common tuner replicas share the same foot print?
    Bonus points if I could swap the pegs with the original catalin ones.

    Vintage Sealfast issues...-p170712002_photo-06-jpg
    What I don't know about fixing tuners would exactly fill a book on fixing tuners.

    But, I googled it and there are lots of videos and sites on the subject.

    They involve identifying the problem and addressing it, without replacing the bad tuner.

    For example:

    How to clean and lube dirty old guitar tuners | stewmac.com

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    What I don't know about fixing tuners would exactly fill a book on fixing tuners.

    But, I googled it and there are lots of videos and sites on the subject.

    They involve identifying the problem and addressing it, without replacing the bad tuner.

    For example:

    How to clean and lube dirty old guitar tuners | stewmac.com
    can't do that w/Sealfasts, they're, well, sealed. they're a major pain in the neck to disassemble and easily damaged doing so.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    Pardon the ignorant question, what's the story with Waffleback and Imperial tuners? Why are they so much more expensive than regular Grover Rotomatics or Super Rotomatics?

    John
    Because guitar consumers embrace the seemingly obscure, traditional, and inexplicably revered.

    The readily available assortment of modern tuners completely ‘wax the hiney’ of the tuners of old.

  20. #19

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    But if one is trying to maintain/restore a vintage instrument, surely we can all respect and admire the wish to keep the instrument as original as possible.

    I know that sounds ridiculous in terms of making a given guitar play at its best. But I get the reverence some have for a vintage instrument in its original configuration.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bezoeker
    But if one is trying to maintain/restore a vintage instrument, surely we can all respect and admire the wish to keep the instrument as original as possible.

    I know that sounds ridiculous in terms of making a given guitar play at its best. But I get the reverence some have for a vintage instrument in its original configuration.
    Yes, but there are modern current production Imperials and Wafflebacks (though not Sealfasts). How come they cost more?

    John

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    Yes, but there are modern current production Imperials and Wafflebacks (though not Sealfasts). How come they cost more?

    John
    Way above my pay grade to speculate on why this is so.

    I understand the marketing of products like Waverley tuners, and the associated cost premium.

    So to speculate...

    Presumably the Imperial and Wafflebacks are made in smaller numbers for “discriminating” consumers.

    So both the lower quantity (so more fixed cost applied to each unit), and the marketing “cachet” of these tuners are likely the source of the cost premium.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    Yes, but there are modern current production Imperials and Wafflebacks (though not Sealfasts). How come they cost more? John
    Quote Originally Posted by Bezoeker
    I understand the marketing of products like Waverley tuners, and the associated cost premium.
    So to speculate... Presumably the Imperial and Wafflebacks are made in smaller numbers for “discriminating” consumers. So both the lower quantity (so more fixed cost applied to each unit), and the marketing “cachet” of these tuners are likely the source of the cost premium.
    Nicely played. Well, less "discriminating" and more "want to restore their nice old archtop guitars without chopping them up, drilling extra holes in them and so forth, both out of respect as well as the desire to not lose value."
    And I'd say "significantly smaller numbers," not just "smaller numbers."
    No different from Waverlys, except that there are MANY more consumers for Waverlys than there are for wafflebacks, Imperials, and Sealfasts.

  24. #23

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    I should find someone to tool up and make reissues of these, most other tuners seem to have been reissued by now, haven't they? and while I'm at it make correct reissues of Grover Imperials in the prewar style which look way cooler than what's out there now.
    I'd provide a service and make a fortune.
    well, maybe not the last part so much

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    can't do that w/Sealfasts, they're, well, sealed. they're a major pain in the neck to disassemble and easily damaged doing so.
    From the pictures of the underside, there is what may be a plate fitted into the metal (apparently, this depends on the model and I can't be sure about it - it may be plastic and only on newer models). If it were possible to drill a very tiny hole, or two, it would be possible to try the naptha and lubricant procedure that Erlewine did. He injected it into the little hole in the Kluson tuners on a different Gibson model.

    Barring that, I think I'd try a naptha (or some solvent) bath to see if enough seeps into the cracks to make a difference. I don't see much downside to that.

    My bias is towards keeping vintage instruments in original condition whenever possible.

    If they're replaced, what happens to them?

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    From the pictures of the underside, there is what may be a plate fitted into the metal (apparently, this depends on the model and I can't be sure about it - it may be plastic and only on newer models). If it were possible to drill a very tiny hole, or two, it would be possible to try the naptha and lubricant procedure that Erlewine did. He injected it into the little hole in the Kluson tuners on a different Gibson model.

    Barring that, I think I'd try a naptha (or some solvent) bath to see if enough seeps into the cracks to make a difference. I don't see much downside to that.

    My bias is towards keeping vintage instruments in original condition whenever possible.

    If they're replaced, what happens to them?
    There are metal plates on the old ones but they're not designed to be disassembled. You can pop out the plates of old Imperials w/out too much trouble and clean/ regrease them.
    I'm very into originality too and would try everything I could to keep a guitar so. Many moons ago when I bought my NYer it literally took me 3 yrs of calling every guitar shop in the country to find the correct set of Imperials to restore it. This was pre ebay, it's easier to find what you want now as long as you have patience and deep pockets.
    As for drilling holes I probably wouldn't do it, there's no telling if the worm gears are shot.

  27. #26

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    Another option is to find a set of mid 40s early 50s Kluson Sealfasts w plastic buttons. They're the same as the prewar Sealfasts save for the buttons and much easier to find, though not cheap.
    If it was me I'd start by calling someone like Norm, he's been in biz long enough he might have something laying around and I believe the OP knows him.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    Nicely played. Well, less "discriminating" and more "want to restore their nice old archtop guitars without chopping them up, drilling extra holes in them and so forth, both out of respect as well as the desire to not lose value."
    And I'd say "significantly smaller numbers," not just "smaller numbers."
    No different from Waverlys, except that there are MANY more consumers for Waverlys than there are for wafflebacks, Imperials, and Sealfasts.
    Well yes. You just say it much more accurately than I do. That you gain “sensitivity points” is also a bonus. But simply more accurate is the part that matters.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bezoeker
    Well yes. You just say it much more accurately than I do. That you gain “sensitivity points” is also a bonus. But simply more accurate is the part that matters.
    Excellent! I'll definitely get more action with the chicks - they I hear they dig sensitivity points, bigtme.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    Excellent! I'll definitely get more action with the chicks - they I hear they dig sensitivity points, bigtme.
    Just go to the Drake Hotel and hang out in the bar. If a woman approaches, introduce yourself as “Sealfast, James Sealfast”

    That should do it.

    *********

    I have not been in Toronto in many years, so change the venue as needed to make the weak joke work.

    Hope all is well with you Hammer. Miss Patrick2 big time.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    I should find someone to tool up and make reissues of these, most other tuners seem to have been reissued by now, haven't they? and while I'm at it make correct reissues of Grover Imperials in the prewar style which look way cooler than what's out there now. I'd provide a service and make a fortune. well, maybe not the last part so much
    While you're at it, make these as well...
    Attached Images Attached Images Vintage Sealfast issues...-kolb-1-jpg 
    Last edited by Hammertone; 12-07-2020 at 02:11 AM.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    While you're at it, make these as well...
    Well, they're certainly Cugat, but maybe even less profitable.
    just maybe....

  33. #32

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    If the wormgears are shot, I don't see what further harm a very small hole would do.