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Feb 28, 2024 - 6:03:27 PM
96 posts since 12/9/2018

I have a Gretsch tenor banjo from the 1930's that uses direct drive tuning pegs. I'm trying to make it more user friendly for my grandaughter to use on stage. Does anyone out there have any experience with direct replacement geared tuners for this type of application. The tuner shank/thru hole diameter is .205" and the peghead is .656" thick. I have looked thru my stash of fragments but no luck. Any suggestions? Thanks for any help.

Feb 28, 2024 - 6:52:17 PM
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3522 posts since 4/7/2010

My opinion is to go ahead and enlarge the tuner holes to 3/8" and install a set of Gotoh planetary banjo tuners.

But, many Gretsch banjos have a volute at the transition from the peghead to main portion of the neck. A set of planet tuners might not seat correctly on the volute's curved surface. My usual work-around is to fill the tuners hole with any kind of cheap dowel. Locate where you want the new tuner to be, then do a light counter sink with a forstner bit on the back of the peghead the same (or close) diameter as the gear housing of your new planetary tuner. You will likely have to do that to only the first and fourth string tuner holes. After the countersinking, then enlarge the .205" holes to 3/8".

Gretsch banjos are not exceptionally valuable, but are often good utility instruments. A modification as I described will not lower the value. If anything, it will improve the value as the banjo will be tunable.

Shameless plug; I sell Gotoh planetary banjo tuners for $65 plus shipping.

Hope that helps.

Bob Smakula
smakulafrettedinstruments.com

Edited by - Bob Smakula on 02/28/2024 18:53:38

Feb 29, 2024 - 5:20:05 AM

96 posts since 12/9/2018

Thanks Bob.

It seems like you are always there with advice for the shortest route from A to B. The method you suggested should allow me to avoid messing up the fairly intricate engraving on the overlay.

I have 3 tenor banjos that I have offered to give my granddaughter. If she chooses the Gretsch, I'll get an order headed in your direction. Thanks.

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