Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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A Caul in the Clamp is Worth 6 Bushings in the Head

With the neck all nice and finished, we can start to really move forward. What remains to do is to put the tuners on, make a nut, and bolt de ting on!

I have a set of 'vintage' tuners I got from Callaham. I'm pretty sure they're the Kluson repros that everyone else sells, but I like to throw my business to Callaham since they're such great folks and their stuff is first class.

Three steps to putting the tuners on: insert the bushings, drill pilot holes for the screws, then screw the tuners to the headstock. It's straightforward, but we need to take care to ensure the tuners line up properly. It looks awful if the tuners don't line up...like the geetar was built in somebody's basement workshop.


Here we have one of the tuner bushings. This we will insert into the hole in the headstock, then drop the tuner into it.

There are a fair variety of sizes of bushings and tuners out there; these are the 'vintage' (surprise) size Fender used until the late 70s or early 80s when they began to offer 'modern' tuners in their guitars. If you have an aftermarket neck as we do, you need to specify (or know) the size of the tuners you'll be using. These are 11/32" in diameter - some are 10 mm, etc. etc.

The differences are really in the style of the tuner - the shape of the tuner body, the shape of the tuner knob, etc. And in modern tuners, there are such options as locking tuners, tuners that trim the string length (I kid you not) and more. As for me, I just dig the style of the old Klusons on Fenders. It's just right.

So.


We need to press the bushing into the headstock. I usually try a press-fit first and see how far they will go in by hand. In this case - and it's usually the case on a new neck - some of the finish is in the holes and needs to be removed.

I have an old tapered file that's perfect for this kind of thing. Just need to be careful not to remove finish or wood from the top and bottom edges of the headstock around the holes.

After that, I push the bushings in about halfway by hand. I've heard horror stories about pushing the bushings into a too-tight hole and the headstock cracking. I suppose that might be possible, but I don't want to take any chances.

Don't they look nice all lined up like that? It's almost...art.

Now we can drive the bushings all the way into the headstock. Stewart-MacDonald sells a fancy tool to push in and remove tuner bushings, but if you're careful, you can do it without that.

The main thing to keep in mind is you want to be careful not to damage the finish on the headstock.

What I use is a couple pieces of scrap wood (I think this is pine, which is nice and soft) as cauls on either side of the headstock. I have tried towels, but the clamp has a way of pushing down and marking up the wood, so cauls are much better.

See the new words you learn when you do this stuff? I learned that from Dan Erlewine's book! Me a luthier!

Not.

With the cauls in place, I just use onna dem cheap but indespensible clamps from The Despot and clamp down until the bushings are set. On this one I did three bushings at once - that's probably the maximum to get in one shot.


Here they are pressed in place.

Starting to look like an actual geetar now!

 
 
 
 

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