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  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Portland, Oregon, USA

    Issues With Replacement Tuners On My R9

    Okay, so back in January I bought this 2006 Iced Tea R9 that had been totally beat to heck and abused. It was, at least when it left the factory, a beautiful gloss top version. The figure is not quite flame, not quite quilt--but a beautiful combination of both. However, one of the previous owners (while under the influence of something) had apparently tried to relic the finish using a hot soldering iron and 50-grit sandpaper--including burning 5/8"-tall initials into the flametop below the tailpiece. Enough damage to make a grown man cry--or burst into hysterical laughing.

    I got it unbelievably cheap, what a disaster! It probably would have been a good candidate for Historic Makeovers, but due to the economics of my wallet, I decided to not do that at this time, though I may at some point in the future. My luthier, Kerry Char of Portland, Oregon, did some finish touchup for me, including reparing some sections of burned binding. It looks pretty good--most of the heavy damage will pass the three-foot rule, but it certainly doesn't look new. My instruction to Kerry was that I didn't mind if it looked used, but I wanted it to not look abused. He exceeded all my expectations.

    I had an older RS Kit to go in it, and used their recommended wiring scheme with the Jensen caps and the BB 1&2 factory pickups. These are NOT potted, and are pretty microphonic.

    It didn't have the factory bridge and tailpiece--it looks like the original owner might have put on an aged locking Tone-Pros ABR-1 bridge, and an aged tailpiece. I think it is a Gotoh, and I suspect these parts may have come from RS Guitarworks. Not factory, but they seem to be working fine.

    The case is a brown/pink Lifton copy, and it has been reliced, too. Got a broken hinge that is held together and functional with a bent paper clip, and the typical "Look Out!" latches. I haven't decided what to do with the brown Lifton--I'm either going to stick it in the closet or sell it outright; but in the meantime I bought a new black/burgundy Gibson Custom case to transport it in. Big improvement.

    But my question is regarding the tuning machines. The guy I bought it from actually apologized for the machines--the original owner had replaced the factory keystones, not with Grovers (which might have been okay), but with Sperzel brushed aluminum locking tuners. The big problem was that they were apparently a self-install--very amateurish, and it was probably done with large amount of alcohol. The faceplate was severely damaged, as the bushings were pounded in with a hammer leaving crescent-shaped dents. The silk-screen was damaged, and the holly veneer cracked around the d-string post. Ouch!

    Now everbody knows that Sperzels are simply some of the best tuners around; I have them on several of my G&L guitars and I love their stability and smooth action. But man, do they look WEIRD on a Les Paul! LOL! No complains about the way they work--stringing is a 5 minute job, if that. And my understanding is that they are fairly lightweight. So, when my luthier was putting things back together, I decided to have him touch up the finish on the faceplate, and reinstall the Sperzels.

    I'm very happy with the work Kerry did. I have a few minor issues with the guitar itself--the microphonic pickups for one, and I may change the wiring scheme. The neck feels even bigger than my 2006 R8, and isn't nearly as comfortable as my two VOS G0 models.

    But I got to wondering...

    Are the Sperzels having a negative effect on the tone? Now, my other three Historics have quite a bit of resonance--I can strum a chord and feel the vibrations from the endpin to the top of the headstock--and they shake like crazy! I'm getting SOME of that with the R9, but it is not as pronounced. Are the Sperzels responsible for that? Is the pressure from the bushing nuts restricting the vibration and changing the tone? Does anyone have any specs on the weight of the Sperzels versus the factory tuners?

    The guitar is pretty loud acoustically, and sounds great through my Mesa amps, so no complaint there.

    But I'm wondering if a set of the Tone-Pros keystones or the factory Gibson Historic replacement tuners will make an audible difference. And why?

    Any ideas? Or should I just play the heck out of it and enjoy my new "beater"?



  2. #2
    Les Paul Forum Member Ryan Givhan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Lexington Kentucky

    Re: Issues With Replacement Tuners On My R9

    idk about the tuner, but i really want to see some before and after pics.

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member Pat Boyack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    The Palace of the King

    Re: Issues With Replacement Tuners On My R9

    Quote Originally Posted by Boogie Bill View Post
    But I'm wondering if a set of the Tone-Pros keystones or the factory Gibson Historic replacement tuners will make an audible difference. And why?

    Either of those two will work.

    Hey, you bought it cheap. Get some pickups you like, a wiring harness and play it. Unless you send it to HM that's all you can do.

  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member
    Classic Club
    moozak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    indy, indiana

    Re: Issues With Replacement Tuners On My R9

    Quote Originally Posted by Boogie Bill View Post
    Are the Sperzels having a negative effect on the tone?
    with all the other stuff that was done to the guitar i'm not so sure i'd worry too much about how those tuners affect tone. lot's of vintage LP players back in the day Grover'ed (or Schaller'ed) their bursts - and we revere those recordings today as the pinnacle of tone. i can see replacing them if you're gonna do the HM thing some day... but other than that...

    ˇǝʌıʇɔǝdsɹǝd ʍǝu ǝןoɥʍ ɐ ɯoɹɟ pןɹoʍ ǝɥʇ ƃuıǝǝs

    My guitars:

  5. #5

    Re: Issues With Replacement Tuners On My R9

    What a hack the previous owner was. How does the guy even have enough brains to hold a job that would allow him to afford such a guitar??? I think we're gonna need to see some of this poor baby.

    Regarding the tuners, I've never had a problem with the stock Kluson style tuners and I think the RS Klusons are even better yet. They also shave a bit of weight off of the guitar which is always a good thing in my opinion.

    In my experience, microphonic feedback is usually due to the pickup covers not being potted. I've purchased a couple of sets of high end boutique pickups that squealed with high gain and simply resetting the cover fixed them completely. I prefer using a bead of silicone vs wax potting. Here's my technique.
    (post #16)

  6. #6

    Re: Issues With Replacement Tuners On My R9

    a beat up R9 would be cool..thats what id lake..btw i broke my Lynyrd Skynyrd Ann model headstock for the 4th time...sheesh

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