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Jun 12, 2021 - 3:44:04 PM
8 posts since 12/28/2010

The 5th-string friction tuner on my 20s tubaphone with Wyatt Fawley replacement neck came loose and I have removed it. I am contemplating upgrading to a geared tuner, but am concerned about possible consequences of the necessary enlargement to the hole. Per StewMac specs, the friction tuner diameter tapers from 0.312" to 0.376". Geared tuners (Gotoh, Waverly, 5-Star) vary a little but generally taper from about 0.325 inches to 0.392 inches. I have a Gotoh in hand; taper is 0.315-0.393.

I have a StewMac reamer and have installed fifth string tuners on tenor conversions, so am familiar with the process. Those banjos were not nearly as nice as this one, and I wonder why Mr. Fawley would have install geared tuners on the peghead but a friction fifth-string tuner on the neck, which gives me pause. Photos of the friction & Gotoh tuners (showing the increased diameter) and the neck with tuner hole visible are attached.

Should I be concerned about damage or weakening of the neck related to enlarging the hole?


I am unfamiliar with how to post photos to the thread; they are apparently available by clicking on my user name (?)

Edited by - cmorgan on 06/12/2021 15:58:28

Jun 12, 2021 - 4:10:14 PM

57698 posts since 12/14/2005

Here's your peg hole picture.

Just helping out as best I can.

FIRST, make a hole in a scrap of similar wood. (Maple?)

Make sure the peg fits.

Then, see if you can ream the neck without much damage to the binding and fingerboard.

And, next time you order a neck, specify a geared 5th.

Best wishes for a suceesful transplant.

Jun 12, 2021 - 7:29:17 PM
Players Union Member



14221 posts since 8/30/2006

The Gotohs do have a different taper, but I haven't had any trouble using the Stewmac reamer.

Be more concerned about leaving the one extra long tooth. I grind them off, so they don't cause any trouble.

Then the Gotoh nickel plating is slippier, so it can be roughed up to adhere better to any white glue you may add.

Pull the old one like a tooth. The old friction tuners varied in quality, the better ones worked.

Jun 12, 2021 - 7:38:32 PM

720 posts since 8/26/2009

I'm no luthier, but I usually grind off the fin if it is tight fit and use a drop of glue to keep from turning (this of course won't reduce the taper).
With this nice custom neck I think I would try to hand file the taper down on the Gotoh instead of reaming the hole bigger. Looks like you are only talking .003 on the bottom and .017 on top, and in the round only half of that has to be filed off in a circle and use a drop of glue.

Jun 12, 2021 - 7:46:11 PM

52 posts since 10/5/2019

I’ve done this upgrade a few times. First of all, definitely worth it! It is quite easy. I’ve never had to enlarge the hole while doing that project but I have for other instruments and If you do, it’s not a big deal. I definitely second that you should figure out the exact size bit in a scrap of wood. That will save you a lot of headache!

Jun 13, 2021 - 5:15:22 AM
like this

8 posts since 12/28/2010

Thanks to everyone for the advice. I think I'll try filing down the Gotoh - I'd rather trash a tuner than a neck!

Jun 13, 2021 - 12:27:21 PM
likes this

57698 posts since 12/14/2005

Now let's all grab our banjos and SING!


I'd rather trash a tuner, than a neck!

What the heck,

File to spec!

I want to have a tuner with a gear,

Bright and clear,

Put in here!

Away, I'd rather grind away,

With a file, For a while

A man gets tied up in a task, we're here to ask...

We're here to ask!


Jun 13, 2021 - 3:48:17 PM


New Zealand

11195 posts since 6/29/2003

Friction pegs work well if they they are adjusted correctly. Instead of replacing the tuner, apply a drop of aliphatic craft glue (or titebond glue) to a point on the spline then reinsert the peg. Remove the button and place a socket head over the shaft. Support the neck under the 5 string peg with a towel etc on a solid surface then tap the peg firmly down a couple of times to drive it in the hole. That should work. Just my 2c worth.

Jun 13, 2021 - 4:17:44 PM

11540 posts since 10/27/2006

Ok, here's a dirty little secrets: 1) The Stew-Mac 5th string reamer is not tapered to fit any tuner I know of exactly. 2) It doesn't have to be because close enough is fine. Really, it is.

Make the test holes as suggested till you get a consistent result. Then go for it. Like anything, experience will guide you but first you have to get some.

Jun 13, 2021 - 5:49:26 PM

1744 posts since 6/2/2010

I have never had a problem with the Gotoh fin. I have installed Gotoh's on maple and mahogany necks. I press fit them in once the hole is reamed properly.

Has anyone actually split a neck with a Gotoh? Just curious.

Jun 14, 2021 - 9:02:50 AM
Players Union Member



14221 posts since 8/30/2006

Good on you Mike

Jun 14, 2021 - 11:28:03 AM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)


24835 posts since 6/25/2005

Jun 19, 2021 - 5:57:58 AM

8 posts since 12/28/2010

Here's the happy ending: I'd finished the repair before seeing the rest of the posts. I filed the Gotoh down, checking frequently on the fit. It seemed none the worse for wear when I was done. I then installed it with a bit of Titebond glue mixed with sawdust. It's held fine, with no modification to the neck required.

Yet another example of a problem being solved by looking at it a different way. I was too focused on making the hole fit the tuner to realize that making the tuner fit the hole would work just as well or better. Some day I may learn to remove my mental blinders without prompting...

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