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Mar 24, 2024 - 10:49:21 AM
124 posts since 11/3/2015

I installed a set of Cheat-a-Keys on one of my banjos and am unhappy with the result and I am looking foir some advice.

I had to tighten the unit with a wrench since finger-tight was insufficient to prevent movement. I adjusted the stops as directed and they more or less work, except for the fact that the 2nd string tuner is not even close to smooth in its operation. It is like throwing a switch. I can probably put some silicone or other lube in it but before I start messing with it, I thought I would ask you guys your thoughts. Even the 3rd string tuner is a bit clunky, but I'm ok with it. I could take it off and start over but I thought I'd ask first.

BTW, I can't say enough good things about the Mighty-D Tuner. The only downside is that they don't reansfer easily between banjos. But they work beautifully.

Mar 24, 2024 - 11:06:21 AM
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43 posts since 1/13/2005

Directions say finger tight only. Avoid scratching the peg head cut thin clear plastic strips and make holes to fit below the top part and above the bottom part. Look for the little dot on the second string post to make sure you installed correctly.

Mar 24, 2024 - 1:27:05 PM

5712 posts since 5/29/2011

Cheat-a-Keys need a good balance between the tightness of the shafts and the tension on the knobs. It is easy to get that ratio out of sync. Make sure the shafts are slightly more than finger-tight, then work on the knob tension. If the knobs are too tight against the shafts they can have that toggle switch effect, and they can cause the shafts to loosen which causes its own set of headaches. I hope that made sense.
At least, that's been my experience. Both sets of my Cheat-a-Keys were made by the original maker; I don't have any experience with the new ones being made by Gold Tone.

Edited by - Culloden on 03/24/2024 13:29:09

Mar 25, 2024 - 6:01:30 AM

124 posts since 11/3/2015

Mark -

Thank you. I have the Gold Tone version. I will try your suggestions but the unit needs to be pretty tight against the headstock to keep from moving. I will mess with it some more.

Mar 26, 2024 - 7:45:06 PM
Players Union Member



32 posts since 8/10/2013

On cheat a keys the screws that hold on the tuner knobs serve no purpose except to hold them in place; they aren't like regular tuners.

When I first got mine I had a similar issue with one knob turning easily and the other being stiff. In the end it was a case of taking them off and then putting them back on, and for whatever reason (more even tightening?) they then worked great and have ever since.

I had contacted Kitty though and she let me know that if I were to open the top to lube them that I should not use light oil or something like vaseline and only a heavy grease such as wheel bearing grease should be used (sparingly), so that it doesn't run out onto the peg head.

Hope you get it sorted out!

Mar 27, 2024 - 4:59:48 AM

124 posts since 11/3/2015

Thanks. I'll mess with them some more. I had been considering using fry grease.

Mar 27, 2024 - 12:01:53 PM

4495 posts since 6/15/2005

Landcrab, the instructions that came with my 3 sets of original Cheat-A-Keys, which I purchased in 2003, 2007 and 2008, specifically state to use “normal brown grease or vaseline” if necessary.

I have never needed to lubricate any of these tuners, and finger tight is easily tight enough.

Mar 27, 2024 - 12:51:01 PM

4495 posts since 6/15/2005

Landcrab, sorry to disagree again, but the instructions also state that the screws that hold the knobs in place are also used to adjust the drag of the tuners, and in my experience that is exactly what they do. The 2nd string issue the OP describe sounds like the screw on that string's tuner is too tight. OP, check that you properly installed the Cheat-A-Keys. The tuner that moves more when you turn the knob is the tuner for the second string.

Mar 27, 2024 - 1:18:15 PM
Players Union Member



32 posts since 8/10/2013

No offense taken. I think we are all trying to help out a fellow player!

The information I offered was taken directly from a 2018 email from Kitty at Famous Old Time Music (with a couple minor redactions) where I was told the screw does not affect tension and that vaseline should not be used.  See below.  Maybe something changed between '08 and '18?? 

From: "Kitty McIntyre" <>
Sent: Wednesday, 16 May, 2018 04:45:32
Subject: RE: Contact Us Form submitted on Famous Old Time Music Co.

Sorry to hear you’re having this issue. I don’t believe loosening the screw will help. The only function of that screw is to hold the button on the shaft. It does not adjust the tension like it would in a friction style tuner. So… bad idea? No, but neither will it help.

D___ (the guy who makes them) said NOT to use light oil or Vaseline. It will break down in hot weather. He suggests that you use regular auto wheel bearing grease. Can you give that a try and let me know if the problem is resolved?

Mar 27, 2024 - 3:34 PM

4495 posts since 6/15/2005

Hey Landcrab, early on, FOTMC was the only place you could get Cheat-A-Keys. That’s where I bought my first set and got to speak over the phone about them with the late Kevin Hendricks (Warpdrive), who worked at the store.

I think Kitty was mistaken about the screws. They clearly function just like any other knob screws and determine how freely the pegs turn. When I got my second set of Cheat-A-Keys there was too much play in one peg and I couldn’t tighten the screw enough to remedy the issue. I called Dave Brown, the maker, and he advised me to run the lower half of the screw through a pair of pliers to roughen it up and increase the drag, which he said was essentially the process he used in his shop. So I did what he said and it worked.

Mar 29, 2024 - 7:24:38 AM



2633 posts since 11/29/2005

If they’re already swinging too quickly, last thing you want to do is lubricate. In my opinion. I’m basing that on my Hopper cam tuners I was fighting. Not cheat-a-keys.

Apr 1, 2024 - 2:10:39 PM
Players Union Member



32 posts since 8/10/2013

Thanks for the info. I'll pack that away for future reference.

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