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Dec 3, 2023 - 4:19:21 AM
5564 posts since 3/22/2008

There is an unbranded Kay banjo on ebay with the old KayKraft shaped peghead and some interesting tuners.  Anyone know who made the tuners and if those tuners have a nickname and the time-frame they were used?

Dec 3, 2023 - 4:41:25 AM
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Players Union Member



6214 posts since 10/12/2009

They look like the Kluson "stair step" tuners  used by Gibson on their RB 250 " bow tie" banjos from the 1950 into the '60's

Kluson tuners

Edited by - RioStat on 12/03/2023 04:49:02

Dec 3, 2023 - 5:01:17 AM
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3484 posts since 4/7/2010


Those are Kluson tuners from their 570 series. They are most commonly seen on Gibson RB-250 banjos from the 1950's through about 1970. They were also used on Gibson's Firebird model electric guitars. In the banjo world they are known as "Firebird Tuners" and in the electric guitar world, they are known as "Banjo Tuners".

A quirk, or maybe a benefit for some, is there are right and left side tuners. I believe the 3rd and 4th string tuners are reverse geared so to tighten, or loosen the strings on any tuner, you turn the same direction on all 4 strings.

Attached is a scan of the banjo tuner page from the 1970 Kluson parts catalog.

Bob Smakula


Edited by - Bob Smakula on 12/03/2023 05:04:06

Dec 3, 2023 - 7:10:55 AM

2330 posts since 5/19/2018

I was going to bid on that instrument, specifically for the late 1950’s - Early 1960’s Kluson tuners.

Another very interesting aspect about that particular banjo is the 1st Generation Weather King Head.

Really neat “Cheapo” Banjo with some high quality parts on it. These early Kay banjos tend to be pretty good players when set up right and is probably the instrument that 75% of the people on this website learned to play on.

Now that the cat is out of the bag….I’ll leave it to others to bid on it.

Dec 3, 2023 - 9:20:31 AM

5516 posts since 5/29/2011

Scott and Bob both used the terminology that most people use. Some people, me included, call them "Battle Tank" tuners.

Dec 3, 2023 - 10:00:29 AM

5564 posts since 3/22/2008

Thank you for weighing in. Much appreciated. Those are some formidable looking tuners on the Kay reminiscent of the 20's heavy duty Paramount Page figure 8 tuners that were also larger than life.

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