Replacing a Friction 5th String Tuner on a
Banjo with a Geared Peg
The geared 5th string tuner
was the greatest thing to happen to the 5-string banjo since Earl Scruggs.
Many modern imported banjos still use these, though. For a total savings
of only around $6.00 per banjo for the importer, I still marvel at why the
things are still being made!
The shafts of these tuners are often
narrow and rarely
tapered. Some friction tuners that came on better banjos
had a set screw on one side of the shaft and you can't simply pull them out, but
on this one we are safe to do just that. Without assistance from a tool,
this one pulls right out. See the video to the right for a different type
of removal and installation.
Here is my YouTube video that shows how
I replaced a Grover friction peg with a geared machine.
You can see that the new, geared tuner isn't
going to fit the existing hole and must be reamed. The shaft on the new
tuner is tapered as well and you must have a tapered reamer of the correct size
to do this job. I made this one from an existing reamer, but they are
available through luthier supply companies.
The reamer is matched perfectly, but the hole
left by the original tuner is too small to allow the reamer we need for the
final fit to get started. Drilling the hole with the
proper size twist drill bit would work, but I have a set of reamers of lots of
different sizes so I gently enlarge the hole with one that will allow me to get
started. The tape that is on the reamer stays on this reamer because I use
it for a stop when setting tuning machines on new banjos I build and it has
nothing to do with the job at hand. I ream the old hole only enough to get
the proper reamer started. Pay close attention while shaping the hole if
you try this yourself. The taper should allow you to tap the unit in and
get a tight wedge fit without glue, but not so tight to split the neck.
This is where experience helps.
Instead of finishing this series here, I suggest
that you read my series on removing a stubborn 5th string peg for the rest of
the information necessary to complete this task by clicking Here.