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How To: Change to Vintage Tuners on a Mexican Standard or American Standard


Many like the look and function of vintage tuners over a Schaller style tuner for their instrument. To us, the neatness of the slotted string post is an advantage. Here is an outline of how to change to vintage style tuners. The procedures are good for any number of guitars.


We started with a Mexican Standard Telecaster. Use a 10mm wrench or socket to remove the bushings, and remove the tuners.

A Mexican Standard Telecaster


Using a drill press to install bushings

To change to vintage tuners, you must use conversion bushings. They are sized for a 10mm (.394) hole. This is how a small shop could do the install with a drill press. A brass "pusher" is placed in the chuck and the quill can now be used as a ram. A felt lined board is placed under the neck and the bushings are pushed home. Very little force is required and gravity does not work against you. Avoid using a hammer.


With the neck clamped to a padded workbench, install the tuners and square them up with a straight edge.

Align the tuners and the straight edge
Mark the mounting hole centers with a transfer punch

With the straight edge still in place, mark the centers of the mounting holes with a transfer punch or a scribe (preferably a punch). Note the gap between the tuners. The center to center spacing on a Mexican Std. is slightly larger than vintage spacing. It would be best if the spacing was correct but if you take care of your instrument and don't let the tuners get hit, the screws will keep the tuners aligned. Even with correct spacing, if the tuners get hit it will cause a problem. So take care of your instrument.


Remove the tuners and verify the center marks with a sharp scribe.

Remove tuners and verify center marks
  Preparing to drill Mounting screw compared to drill length

The screw must be drilled to full depth. We use a #45 drill. The minimum size is 5/64. Use masking tape as a depth gauge. Check the depth gauge against the screw and most importantly against the thickness of the peghead. Be sure you are not going to drill through the opposite side. Remember that the tuner does take up some height.


Drill the mounting holes. Again, the neck should be clamped to a pad bench. It takes some hand/eye coordination and some nerve. Remember you can push the masking tape up the drill if you are not careful. The next thing you know you have drilled through the peghead.

Drilling the mounting holes
Lubricate the threads

Lubricate the threads with bar soap.


Install the tuners. If you have drilled the holes to the correct diameter and depth you will not have a problem. Use a good screw driver and you must push down firmly to keep the drive engaged. We use Snap On drivers. It is not uncommon for small drivers to be too pointed. The driver tip should not touch the bottom of the screw. If it does, lightly grind the tip so it does not and the outer edges of the driver grip the screw. It also takes some feel. If the screw is not going in smoothly, re evaluate. Remember, it is only a #2 screw.

Installing the tuners

The change is now complete; the guitar is ready to be strung.

  Tuners successfully installed Restrung with Vintage Tuners
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This page last modified Jan. 12, 2016

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