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Tuning problems in a DIY-Kit guitar


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Some time ago I have built myself a Les Paul from a DIY-kit I bought. Unfortunately I have noticed that the tuning stability is rather lacking. I have decided to try and fix this issue, but I am unsure where the problem lies.

Few "hotspots" I'm considering are:

the tuning pegs - I had quite a lot of trouble when trying to tune the guitar, especially the A string. It seemed like the peg itself was moving. The tuners overall don't give out a promising feel, especially given that the kit itself was rather on the budget side. I would normally think the tuning pegs are the main problem, but after reading some discussions, I have seen differing opinions on this topic.

the nut - in order to get the action low enough to be usable, I had to file down the holes for the strings. I had no proper tools to do this, so as you can imagine, it's far from a clean job. I suspect the grooves are all over the place, however the strings themselves should just sit in the deepest one and not move around. For anyone wondering I have used a pencil to lubricate the nut.

the bridge/tailpiece - for some reason the holes that were drilled for the bridge and tailpiece pins were too big and I had to put some paper in them to fill the space. Under tension of the strings, I can definitely see that the tailpiece is slightly coming out of its place and tiling towards the neck, thus getting stuck on the back wall of the hole. It's looking quite stable in this position, but I can imagine that when it comes to tuning stability, it's the smallest things that make the difference.

Right now the guitar absolutely dislikes any bends and I also feel like it tends to break strings more often than other guitars I own. I am planning on upgrading this guitar as a whole, but I just don't have the time or resources to do it now. I have been thinking about upgrading only the tuning pegs, but if it won't make any difference then I'd rather not spend the money. I was wondering if you guys could guide me in the right direction.

PS Are Framus tuners good? The Grover tuners I've found are 3x the price of Framus' and I don't know if they're actually worth it.

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Everything you've identified is probably contributing to the problem. You'll need to fix them all to make it go completely away.

I have no clue about Framus turners, always use Gotoh myself.

But I've always considered the stamped metal Les Paul turners to be borderline crap even on the originals. If you are going to change them, I'd pick a stronger construction for replacement.

SR

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Generally any tuners these days are of reasonable quality, even some of the cheapest Chinesium tuners. The stuff that gets banged into these budget import kits are the lowest of the low though. That applies to most of the hardware as pennies equal margins.

Not sure about Framus, but if they're associated with the Framus/Warwick then they should be at least "good". Wilkinson aren't half bad, unless their quality has dived in the last ten years. Having a known name to the tuners should get you in the ballpark of stability if that's the fault. I like Gotoh myself also, if only because Japanese-made rarely fails to be good. Even the cheapest Gotoh kick Wilkinson to the kerb.

The bridge and tailpiece wandering is a big issue. Eventually that movement will waller out the holes by compressing the wood, exacerbating the movement. These can either be dowelled and redrilled, or if you're not too fussed about permanence, epoxying in the studs.

If the nut is close to being "standard", grab a Graph Tech TUSQ nut that fits the spec. If you're struggling with any of this, we'll help figure it out.

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1 hour ago, Prostheta said:

Generally any tuners these days are of reasonable quality, even some of the cheapest Chinesium tuners.

By experience I can tell that the quality can vary quite a bit in the cheapest China tuners. The most common issue is that the poles wobble. That may not be too much of an issue, though, as the string tension keeps the pole from moving. I've also had an off-center gear which was replaced by a new tuner. That one was funny: Of the 16 windings for the pole to make a full turn there was 5 very tough ones, the rest being more or less effortless.

For a quick and dirty fix for the loose bridge posts metal tape might be better than paper. If you need more than one round of tape, a slice of soda can wrapped around the studs is a good alternative as well if there's enough space. The reason might be as simple as having metric hardware vs. imperial or vice versa in which case getting a new bridge with larger posts is an alternative.

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For that price and from a well known brand and vendor you should get decent quality. My worst experiences have been in the sub-10 category directly from Chinese web shops, ebay and the likes.

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