Trade Secrets!

Lubricating guitar tuners


Issue 20 March 08, 2007

Tune-up Special at Dan’s Garage:

Lube job for tuners

Lube job for tuners

Do your old guitar tuners need a 50,000-song oil change? Get them working smoothly again: flush out the dirt and dried-up lubricant, and oil the gears. Here’s how we grease monkeys do this in my service station:


Let's give these old tuners an oil change

One side at a time, I clamp the tuners into my nut & saddle vise and flush them out with naphtha solvent — forcing the solvent in and out with a plastic pipette. This dissolves the old grease.

Don’t contaminate your naphtha by dipping the dirty pipette back into the can. Instead, pour some naphtha into a mixing cup.

Cleaning guitar tuners

The naphtha drains out and dries quickly, and I don’t worry much about any solvent remaining in the housing — it will mix with the petroleum jelly that I’ve loaded into my “grease gun” (a large-size glue syringe).

Glue syringe

Here’s a neat trick!

Why push the grease through a full-length needle? Instead, I trim the needle short with nippers. The trick is to slide a .016” guitar string into the needle before cutting. This keeps the tube from collapsing as it’s cut.

Cutting the syringe

The glue syringe makes a great grease gun. I leave this one loaded with petroleum jelly, a grease that contains no silicone. (Keep silicone away from instrument finishes because it resists finish touchups and is next to impossible to remove.)

Oiling guitar tuners

A make-it-yourself syringe:

In a pinch, you can make a tiny grease gun by cutting the top off the squeeze-bulb of a pipette. Fill it with grease, and use any 1/2" round rod as a plunger.

Pipette as grease gun

Use a power screwdriver and an EZ-Winder to wind the tuner forward and backward rapidly as you squeeze in the petroleum jelly. The moving parts spread the grease to where it’s needed.

EZ-Winder

These tuners are working smoothly now, and ready for lots of miles before their next scheduled maintenance!

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