You may recall my adventure with putting Waverly tuners on my pre-war Martin 1T ukulele. The Waverlys look great, and work well, but the fit left something to be desired. To be honest, I was disappointed.
The basic problem is that the Martin's headstock is thinner than the ideal thickness for the Waverly tuners. So the washers stuck up a bit on the top of the headstock. It made me a little crazy. It just didn't look good.
My friend has a beautiful set of Gotohs on her harp ukulele. Gotoh makes very fine tuners for guitars and ukuleles, and they make a planetary set that resemble the old Grovers that came on these Martins. I checked the measurements, and found they would be a perfect fit.
Unlike the Grovers, the Gotohs have a 4:1 planetary gearing. Yes!
So I ordered some. I discovered Gotoh makes all sorts of variations - different body finishes, different knobs, etc. I wound up ordering my set from the fantastic folks at Japanese Guitar Parts. They're the Gotoh agent for North America, and can get anything that Gotoh makes. I sprung for the UPT-UB8-CW - chrome white with tortoise knobs.
And now I get to drill them out.
The Gotohs fit a 10mm hole. That's just about what the stock Martin hole is.
Probably no coincidence that the Gotoh instructions show them being installed on a Martin. Hmmmm.
This was a little tedious, but I wanted to be precise. I got the holes to the point where the new tuners would fit perfectly snug.
Obviously, if you have a stock Martin, the tuners will just drop right in. You won't have to mess with the holes as I did.
There's a locating pin on the Gotohs - again just like old Grovers. You can see the pin to the right.
You press the tuner down onto the headstock from the rear and make a small divot with the pin.
It worked perfectly. The hole can't be too big - the tuner would rotate if the pin won't sit in the hole correctly.
The locating washer is beautifully made - it has a ridge on the back to locate itself exactly in the tuner hole, thus keeping the tuner shaft perfectly upright.
I went for the white chrome because I wanted a look like old nickel - not too shiny. I think they look great and have a nice vintage vibe.
I want to put some on my other Martins, and I may go for the black ebony buttons on those. But I went a little wild on this one.
What's the verdict?
They are incredible. Smooth, very precise, and beautifully made. And having a geared tuner is very nice - much easier to use than the old direct tuners. I'm going to order up more soon. And I plan on replacing some of the tuners on my Kalas too.
I highly recommend them - frankly any Gotoh tuner for that matter. They're just fantastic.