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  1. #1

    Experiences swapping out Rotomatics for Repro Kluson Wafflebacks ?

    Hey folks - Would like to hear from anyone who has either positive or negative experiences swapping Rotomatics for wafflebacks - I have a '54 Historic that came stock with rotos. Doesn't look from the Stewmac site like the screw holes line up well - one seems only off by a couple mms, but the other would obviously need a new hole. Had the idea of only using one screw and just gluing a sheared off screw head in rhe other end of the housing so it looks right and I would still have the option of returning to the rotos at a later time. Not sure the one screw would be mechanically sufficient, though. Being that it's black lacquer, it wouldn't be that big a deal to drop fill an extra hole with lacquer if I reverted to the rotos - wouldn't be as obvious as with a mahogany neck. Then there's the mounting nut in the headstock face that I'd imagine would leave something of a footprint when removed. Lastly, I imagine conversion bushings would be necessary?
    Wanted to say that the current rotos are very precise - they're the first Asian production ones, higher quality I think than some produced since. So this is a switch purely for cosmetic purposes.
    Let's hear your experiences.
    Last edited by stratty109; 08-10-19 at 12:37 PM. Reason: Add info / typo

  2. #2

    Re: Experiences swapping out Rotomatics for Repro Kluson Wafflebacks ?

    Quote Originally Posted by stratty109 View Post
    Hey folks - Would like to hear from anyone who has either positive or negative experiences swapping Rotomatics for wafflebacks - I have a '54 Historic that came stock with rotos. Doesn't look from the Stewmac site like the screw holes line up well - one seems only off by a couple mms, but the other would obviously need a new hole. Had the idea of only using one screw and just gluing a sheared off screw head in rhe other end of the housing so it looks right and I would still have the option of returning to the rotos at a later time. Not sure the one screw would be mechanically sufficient, though. Being that it's black lacquer, it wouldn't be that big a deal to drop fill an extra hole with lacquer if I reverted to the rotos - wouldn't be as obvious as with a mahogany neck. Then there's the mounting nut in the headstock face that I'd imagine would leave something of a footprint when removed. Lastly, I imagine conversion bushings would be necessary?
    Wanted to say that the current rotos are very precise - they're the first Asian production ones, higher quality I think than some produced since. So this is a switch purely for cosmetic purposes.
    Let's hear your experiences.
    The buttons on the Rotomatics are less likely to catch on something. If you bang into something with a Rotomatic you are less likely to damage the tuning key than with the old Kluson style. I've seen plenty of Klusons keys with bent shafts. When it comes time to tune your guitar, your fingers slip onto the Rotomatic keys more easily than the Klusons and the Rotomatuc buttons just feel better to your fingers. The Rotomatics are less likely to slip than the Klusons.

    I had a '71 and '72 ES-335 and i replaced the Klusons with Grover Rotomatics on both guitars and I couldn't be happier. I paid for them by cleaning a bakery part time after school for $1.40/hr. It was money very well spent. The Klusons are an inferior and cheaper tuning key that were generally used on the less expensive models. The Klusons just look cheesy to me, and the Klusons also are prone to rusting.

    Whyever would you want to revert to an inferior tuning key?

    Scott Novak

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Concord, Ca USA
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    Re: Experiences swapping out Rotomatics for Repro Kluson Wafflebacks ?

    I disagree about the quality of the reissue waffle backs, i have 2 sets and they are not cheap tuners by any means.
    Can't answer all of the OP questions but on the top of the head stock you will need to use adapter bushings most likely. I don't have any experience with the Grovers but these bushings covered the witness marks from Schaller tuners.
    53 LP, 74 Black Beauty, 09 50th R9 LP, 06 R6, 63 SG Special, 62 & 64 SG juniors, 60 Double Six, 1947 L7 and 1937-41 L30 archtops and a few Fenders, Voxs and Hagstroms,
    ___________
    Scott

  4. #4

    Re: Experiences swapping out Rotomatics for Repro Kluson Wafflebacks ?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxwedge View Post
    I disagree about the quality of the reissue waffle backs, i have 2 sets and they are not cheap tuners by any means.
    Can't answer all of the OP questions but on the top of the head stock you will need to use adapter bushings most likely. I don't have any experience with the Grovers but these bushings covered the witness marks from Schaller tuners.
    I have no experience with the new wafflebacks but just got a set and they seem to be smooth and high quality. I've heard the same from others on the forum. I think Scott N is referring to vintage Klusons (not sure if he means the standards ones or wafflebacks) which don't have great tolerances and tend to go out of tune. The reissues are not the same company and are not mechanically the same. But even the old wafflebacks were stock on higher end guitars, such as the '54 staple pup LP, which is what my Historic is. It was made long before the reissues, so Gibson used Grovers. I understand they use the wafflebacks now. It's not a really big deal, but I thought it would be nice to have the headstock cosmetically era correct.

  5. #5

    Re: Experiences swapping out Rotomatics for Repro Kluson Wafflebacks ?

    Quote Originally Posted by stratty109 View Post
    I have no experience with the new wafflebacks but just got a set and they seem to be smooth and high quality. I've heard the same from others on the forum. I think Scott N is referring to vintage Klusons (not sure if he means the standards ones or wafflebacks) which don't have great tolerances and tend to go out of tune. The reissues are not the same company and are not mechanically the same. But even the old wafflebacks were stock on higher end guitars, such as the '54 staple pup LP, which is what my Historic is. It was made long before the reissues, so Gibson used Grovers. I understand they use the wafflebacks now. It's not a really big deal, but I thought it would be nice to have the headstock cosmetically era correct.
    The Klusons I've had personal experience with were on a 1963 SG which was quite well used when I bought it in '70. Then on a new '71 ES-335 and also a new '72 ES-335. I replaced the Klusons on both ES-335s with Grover Rotomatics.

    I had also seen Klusons with bent shafts on other people's guitars, which was yet anther reason I replaced mine with Rotomatics. Any of the Kluson style reproductions still suffer from an unsupported shaft design. The Rotomatics are simply a stronger tuner that is less likely to be damaged. Even compared to brand new early '70s era Klusons, the Grovers were smoother and more precise.

    I'm not exactly sure when the Grover Rotomatics were introduced, but I believe that they have been used by Gibson at least as early as '58.

    The question I pose is: Are you planning to hang the guitar on the wall and look at it or play it?

    It's my belief that the Rotomatic style tuner, that is essentially clamped in place by the tuner retaining nut, will better transmit vibrations to the headstock for longer sustain and a better tone. I'm certainly not alone in believing this theory.

    I really don't remember any guitar player that I knew in the '70s that didn't prefer Grover or Schaller tuning keys over the Klusons. If you had the cash you replaced the Klusons.

    Scott Novak

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