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Installed Steinberger tuners on Firebird - the results and some tips

DingoL

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Feb 25, 2021
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EDIT: My intial post was asking advise on whether I should install them. That question is still below. I installed them and described the results and offered some tips further below.

---Original Post-------------------------------------
To those who've installed them, what do you think?

I just got them in the mail, but kinda have cold feet on going ahead with installing them, which means drilling tiny 6 holes that won't be covered up if I revert back to the originals.

Any advise on whether I should install them or return them? I'm not a luthier and I don't do serious guitar maintenance, but this shouldn't be a big deal.

I bought these Steinberger Tuners only for weight reflief. The original tuners work fine (stay in tune), but I was hoping to get the half pound of weight relief (which is what people estimate). I think that would make a world of difference.

The design concerns me: relying on that little "tooth" to hold it steady.

There seem to be mixed reviews. Some love them, but several have issues. For example, some say you have to really tighten them hard to get them to not slip. Some say they will slip after a while, but i suspect it's usually due to installation issues, but not sure. Some of those posts are older, some not.

Btw, the guitar is a 1990-ish Orville by Gibson Firebird. It's an awesome playing guitar and looks and feels just like a Gibson Firebird. It was neck heavy, but drilling a strap button behind the neck really helped that. Still awkard due to the weight of the neck though, which is why I want to install lighter tuners.

Any recommendations on these tuners would be helpful from those who have done it?
 
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beeflin

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Feb 25, 2021
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I ended up disliking them. Since they pull the string down into the headstock they can't turn round and round unlimited times like conventional tuners, so you can run out of adjustment, and since you've cut the string short there's no way to pull it through any further to tighten it, so you have to change the string even if it's new - and new strings are at their stretchiest. (This also makes it impossible to take them off, boil them and put them back on.) Furthermore, changing a string is too fiddly to do mid-gig. They're not all that light, either.

There's really no way to make a reverse-body Firebird balance except attaching the strap to the headstock, so you need to give up that as a hopeless quest.
 

guitplayer

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It helps with balance. I`ve not encounter any adverse situations.
Once you get he string change down, piece of cake.
 

Tommy Tourbus

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It helps with the balance because they're made of plastic. That plus the extra holes are why I didn't like them
 

DingoL

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Feb 25, 2021
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OP here. I installed the Steinbergers. Initial impressions are good, but I will need time to experience slippage issues.

Tuning: So far, so good. I manually stretched the new strings and played with aggressive bends for about 10 minutes, retuning until it stabilized. I stopped when I could hit an open G after several aggressive bends. Still time will tell if they wear out soon.

Weight: First let me say the best way to solve neck dive are, in this order:
1) Use a wide leather strap
2) Use the post where the neck meets the body (not the post on the upper bout). If you don't have one, install one, which is a DIY easy mod.
3) Pull the rear part of the strap from the rear post up over the top of the body, like Allen Collins. That helps hold it steadier, but also keeps the face from learning forward/downward due to #2.
4) Get lighter tuners.

I’m at #4. The SBs seem to have made enough difference, although slight, that it feels a bit more comfortable. Although these tuners may not be made of quality steel, I’ll still install them if they work AND make a difference in neck dive. I can feel that it might enough difference.

Nylon Strap Test: It passed. For the heck of it I tried a normal cheap nylon strap, and I was surprised that I could play comfortably play standing up, feeling no pressure, like I’m having to hold it up. It would not fall if I took my hand of the neck. However, the neck would dive slowly if I walked around or bent over slightly. The key is I felt comfortable with no pressure to hold it up while playing.
 

DingoL

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Feb 25, 2021
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OP Here: Just a few commons on installation:

Bushing Removal: One challenge was removing the bushings for the original tuners. I had never done this. There are plenty of videos, but the method I used was to loosen them by taking the smooth blunt end of a thick drill bit (about the girth of a thick pencil), sticking into the hole from the top of the headstock, and rotating it several times, leaning it out as you do. Use medium pressure and be patient. You will see the top of the bushin eventually slip/move up from its position. If not, you might try occassition pushing on it from the bottom of the hole with a flat head screwdriver to see if you've loosened enough. It doesn't seem like it will work at first. Just be patient and don't over do it with pressure.

Drilling the 1/8" holes with a 1/16" bit: I could not drill a separate hole. i had to basically make a groove in the side of tuner hole for that tooth. The point of entry for the tooth was too close to the tuner hole--impossible to drill by hand. The bit would slip. Even if I could have had precision with braces and drill press, I believe the hole that would be made would have blended with the tuner hole.

Question for luthiers: Should I have done something differently? Should I have wrapped tape around the SB tuner posts to adjust its fit/position. Perhaps that would have positioned the tuner, so that tooth would have a point of entry further away from the tuner hole, allowing to drill a clean separate hole?

String installation: It is very easy. One negative is the knob to lock the string has some sharp edges. The instructions say to turn it as hard as you can. You never hear that in instructions. Well I didn't go as hard as I can on most, but I did on one string. It kinda hurt due to the edge of those knobs. They're not sharp, but feel sharp when you turn hard.
 
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guitplayer

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<a data-flickr-embed="true" href=" https://flic.kr/p/2hV35St " title="2nd mod (7)11"><img src="https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49170581727_40f0f782ac_b.jpg" width="1024" height="686" alt="2nd mod (7)11"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <a data-flickr-embed="true" href=" https://flic.kr/p/2hUYscM " title="2nd mod (3)1"><img src="https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49169873043_dde081b74b_b.jpg" width="1024" height="686" alt="2nd mod (3)1"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Here is one I did with FRX trem
 

DingoL

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Feb 25, 2021
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Been playing it hard. It stays in tune great. The lighter tuners are nice, feels great. Plus i polished the frets and tweaked the truss rod. It's playing great. Kinda my favorite guitar since the mod. I can finally enjoy it. Weight and balance really make a difference to me. I was going to sell it. Glad i didn't.
 

Grog

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Apr 7, 2012
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I bought a 2012 Firebird V 2010 new when the Steinberger tuners were stock. I was hesitant at first, but as I read reviews the tuners were getting most of the praise on this version. I’ve been happy with them & haven’t had any problems with them to date. They even had a Les Paul with them installed at the time, that was kind of odd......
 

DingoL

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Feb 25, 2021
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Update: Stays in tune great. Really liking it now that its balanced. Thinking about upgrading the pots/harness. That's for another post though.
 
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