I have a 1978 LP Deluxe with old Grover enclosed, non-locking, non-original tuners. The G string goes out of tune quickly and the tuner does not feel right to the touch. You do 1/4 to 1/2 a turn and nothing happens then, all of a sudden, you make a small turn and the tuning of the string jumps. Also, the screws on the G tuner are often loose and have to be tightened while the other tuner screw remain tight. Is it time for a new set of tuners?

  • That particular machine head is the most vulnerable of the lot. I've replaced loads. It gets knocked, hit, bent etc. You could try swappinhg it with one of the other two on that side, but you'll need to plug the holes in the head anyway. At nearly 40 yrs old, it's a good time to replace.
    – Tim
    Oct 27, 2016 at 7:31
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    First job is to take retaining screws out, put a matchstick or toothpick in the holes, and carefully re-screw. The whole machine head moving won't give any clue as to the state of the mechanics. A well fixed one is a good starting place.
    – Tim
    Oct 27, 2016 at 9:22
  • BTW, you should refer to them as "machine heads" because "tuner" can be ambiguous. Oct 27, 2016 at 12:36
  • @CarlWitthoft - machine head is the common correct term, although another ambiguous word used is 'knob'. The OP's use sounds rather fishy to me...
    – Tim
    Oct 28, 2016 at 16:20

1 Answer 1


Firstly, if you do replace the tuners then keep the originals! Those Norlin-era Gibsons don't command a lot of money in the used market, and it may be debatable that they never will once the baby boomers move on, but for the time being collectors seem to value originality over any perceived upgrades.

The obvious question, to me at least, is whether the machine head is to blame. G strings seem to have a propensity to bind in the nut slot, and I don't have a lot of faith in Gibson's ability to cut nut slots at the correct depth, width and profile. Have you recently changed string gauge, or even string manufacturer? I would get a guitar tech to make an honest appraisal of the instrument and the tuning issues you are encountering.

Old machine heads can slip, especially if damaged. What you choose to replace them with is a matter of personal preference, but I would try and find something that matches the aesthetics of the original tuner.

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    Well, if the nut is a concern, that could be replaced, or at the least reworked to eliminate sharp edges and stuff Oct 27, 2016 at 12:41
  • I had a bit of a brainfart with my original comment (and clearly cannot read). I'm not massively up to speed on Norlin-era Gibsons, but I wager that a 1978 Deluxe would have originally shipped with Kluson deluxe machine heads. Those old Grovers don't retain any sort of value. The issue may be that the post-holes were widened in the headstock to accommodate them, and there might be the tell-tale Grover 'bite' marks on the back of the peghead.
    – ABragg
    Oct 27, 2016 at 13:52

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