New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Matthew Stidham

New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by Matthew Stidham » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:30 pm

I have a worn out 1974 Ramirez 1a. I really should part with the guitar and buy a more modern instrument, but I love the guitar so much and have such sentimental attachment to it....

Anyway, the original tuners are worn pretty bad and really need to be replaced. If you were to replace the original tuners, what would you put on that would remain true to the style, and would function well, but wouldn't necessarily break the bank?

Joseph J. Redman

Re: New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by Joseph J. Redman » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:43 pm

For under $100 you can get a nice set of Schaller or Gotoh tuners that are very functional, and should last you long. You can get these at Stewmac or LMII.

If this was my guitar, I would have it restored by a reputable restorer and try and obtain original Fustero tuners, which is probably what is on the guitar. These are not avaiable new any longer, but you might find a set somewhere if you really look hard.....:-). Ramirez 1A guitars, especially the older models, are highly priced possessions, and very popular with collectors and professional players alike. Problem is, this is not my guitar........:-)

ChiyoDad

Re: New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by ChiyoDad » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:48 pm

guitardude127 wrote:Anyway, the original tuners are worn pretty bad and really need to be replaced. If you were to replace the original tuners, what would you put on that would remain true to the style, and would function well, but wouldn't necessarily break the bank?
I think Gotoh Deluxe Lyra tuners would be the lowest-budget option that is of a similar style and that function very well. They'll cost about $75 with shipping depending on the vendor. The buttons can be changed if you like.

If you can be more specific about your budget, then we can move upwards in our selections.

gotoh_deluxe_lyra.jpg
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robin loops
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Re: New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by robin loops » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:16 pm

There are some issues with the alignment of the holes for the classic Ramirez tuners and newer standard hole spacing. I was able to replace mine with a set that had two matching holes and only had to drill one new hole. The fourth was too close to re-drill without having to fill the old hole so I opted for using only 3 screws (holding up just fine). Not sure about the spacing for the 70 1a's but it's definitely something to be aware of.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
-James-

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Jose-Guitarra8a
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Re: New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by Jose-Guitarra8a » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:45 pm

robin loops wrote:There are some issues with the alignment of the holes for the classic Ramirez tuners and newer standard hole spacing. I was able to replace mine with a set that had two matching holes and only had to drill one new hole. The fourth was too close to re-drill without having to fill the old hole so I opted for using only 3 screws (holding up just fine). Not sure about the spacing for the 70 1a's but it's definitely something to be aware of.
The hole spacing is a factor on the older Ramirez guitars. I had a '70 Ramirez 1A that had difficult to use Fustero tuners. Don't quote me but the spacing on the older guitars are 36mm versus 35mm in the newer guitars.

I order 6 single Gilbert tuners to fit on the guitar. Yes, the Gilbert tuners didn't look right but I was able to better tune the guitar.

By the way, I still have the Gilbert tuners with Snakewood buttons and black rollers. Send me a PM if someone is interested.

Cheers,
Jose

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Jose-Guitarra8a
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Re: New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by Jose-Guitarra8a » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:47 pm

robin loops wrote:There are some issues with the alignment of the holes for the classic Ramirez tuners and newer standard hole spacing. I was able to replace mine with a set that had two matching holes and only had to drill one new hole. The fourth was too close to re-drill without having to fill the old hole so I opted for using only 3 screws (holding up just fine). Not sure about the spacing for the 70 1a's but it's definitely something to be aware of.
The hole spacing is a factor on the older Ramirez guitars. I had a '70 Ramirez 1A that had difficult to use Fustero tuners. Don't quote me but the spacing on the older guitars are 36mm versus 35mm in the newer guitars.

I order 6 single Gilbert tuners to fit on the guitar. Yes, the Gilbert tuners didn't look right but I was able to better tune the guitar.

By the way, I still have the Gilbert tuners with Snakewood buttons and black rollers. Send me a PM if someone is interested.

Cheers,
Jose

ChiyoDad

Re: New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by ChiyoDad » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:54 pm

robin loops wrote:There are some issues with the alignment of the holes for the classic Ramirez tuners and newer standard hole spacing.
Is this in reference to the roller/barrel holes or the attachment-screw holes?

If it's the roller/barrel holes, then the OP would need to find matching tuners, or have a luthier plug the original holes and redrill, or buy a set of singles. Attachment-screw holes are easier to take care of.

David LaPlante
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Re: New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by David LaPlante » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:22 pm

http://www.e - b a y.com/itm/VINTAGE-SPANISH ... 20ceafec91

(item # 140906589329)

The question is whether your guitar is 36mm or 35mm spacing and which these are.

Matthew Stidham

Re: New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by Matthew Stidham » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:47 pm

Ok, say I can find parts to repair the tuners I have, can the buttons be changed as well? I have one that's cracked.

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robin loops
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Re: New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by robin loops » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:34 am

You would definitely want to gewt replacements that have matching rollers. I was referring to the attachment screw holes.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
-James-

GuitarVlog

Re: New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by GuitarVlog » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:06 am

robin loops wrote:You would definitely want to gewt replacements that have matching rollers. I was referring to the attachment screw holes.
If it's just the screw holes, then it's a relatively easy fix if you want to plug them and re-drill. This blog post of mine illustrates the procedure I learned from a luthier (among other minor maintenance work):

http://theguitarjournal.blogspot.com/20 ... es-to.html

To ensure a roller hole match, you can go to the Stewart-MacDonald website and compare the tuning machine spec diagrams against those that you currently have installed.

You might want to also check the diameters of the rollers and of the holes. While working on one Spanish-made guitar, I discovered that these were smaller than normal. I wanted to do the installation right so I bought a hand-reamer through Amazon and enlarged the holes.

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robin loops
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Re: New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by robin loops » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:20 pm

GuitarVlog wrote:
robin loops wrote:You would definitely want to gewt replacements that have matching rollers. I was referring to the attachment screw holes.
If it's just the screw holes, then it's a relatively easy fix if you want to plug them and re-drill. This blog post of mine illustrates the procedure I learned from a luthier (among other minor maintenance work):

http://theguitarjournal.blogspot.com/20 ... es-to.html

To ensure a roller hole match, you can go to the Stewart-MacDonald website and compare the tuning machine spec diagrams against those that you currently have installed.

You might want to also check the diameters of the rollers and of the holes. While working on one Spanish-made guitar, I discovered that these were smaller than normal. I wanted to do the installation right so I bought a hand-reamer through Amazon and enlarged the holes.
Yes the drill and fill method you link is the one I would have used had I not been able to do it without 'filling and drilling. The one thing I would change though is that rather than using toothpicks (even hardwood ones) I would use a higher quality wood and make my own pegs for filling. But in the case of Ramirez guitars, it is possible to use modern tuners without filling any holes at all and only drilling one new hole, so old tuners can be put back on at any time. That was what my first post was about. I always prefer minimally invasive repairs on vintage instruments. Another option to modifying an expensive vintage instrument is to simply drill new holes in the plate of the tuner itself.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
-James-

David LaPlante
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Re: New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by David LaPlante » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:19 pm

Frankly, I've seen too many botched amateur tuner installations to confidently recommend that you can do any of this unless you are experienced.

Take the guitar a competant luthier and consult with them as to the best course of action.

Rob22315

Re: New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by Rob22315 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:48 pm

I replaced the tuners on three old Yamaha's with no problems. I used the $15-25 Chinese tuners off e - b a y as well. Overall, I found the quality to be terrific for the price but these aren't in the same league as $200+ tuners. However, they should be fine for your application. One thing to keep in mind - the new chinese tuners will be considerably heavier than the ones you've removed because the plates and gearing are all much thicker than the stock tuners. As a result, the headstock is heavier and will tend to neck dive unless you've got the guitar in a fairly upright classical playing position.

In theory, a heavier headstock could affect the sound but on the lower end Yamaha's with the fairly thick neck, I doubt you'd hear much of a difference - I didn't.

FYI, I did the tuner swap on Yamaha G240Sii, G245S, and G250S all from the late 70's or early 80's. The tuner swap was a huge upgrade over the stock tuners.

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robin loops
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Re: New Tuners for Old Ramirez

Post by robin loops » Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:50 pm

David LaPlante wrote:Frankly, I've seen too many botched amateur tuner installations to confidently recommend that you can do any of this unless you are experienced.

Take the guitar a competant luthier and consult with them as to the best course of action.
Yeah, changing tuners isn't like changing strings. Any work done on a guitar, other than replacement copy saddles (don't modify original), should be done by someone with experience. Just like a car, if one has no mechanical ability/knowledge, they should take it to a mechanic. But, I would imagine that anyone seeking advice on guitar repairs has some experience doing their own guitar repairs.

Assuming the OP is capable :wink: , replacing tuners is quite easy. Most important thing to watch for is proper alignment so that the rollers rest properly in the holes. If not placed just right, they will have too much friction (by not resting properly on edge on hole) and be difficult to turn (also won't be as smooth as the should be). As I mentioned in an earlier post I do recommend (even for the most experienced) to use the least invasive method available. By finding tuners that will fit without filling any of the original holes, the original tuners (or a replacement pair with original specs) can be put back on and guitar returned to it's original state. In my case I found ones that matched two of the old holes and one hole that was in a completely different spot (drilled new hole). For the one hole that was close enough to an old hole to require filling and drilling, I did nothing (3 screws hold the temporary tuners in place just fine). At any time tuners with the original specs can be put back on and the only evidence that it had ever been modified to accomodate new tuners will be a single tiny little hole underneath the plate.

Warning to the OP: You do only get one chance to install them correctly. And it is pretty easy to screw it up. If you do, you're only left with four solutions. First is to put old tuners back on and look for a replacement with orignal specs/spacing (best option at this point but only possible if you did the no drilling and filling minimally invasive method mentioned above). Second is to fill the new holes and drill them again (a pretty botched job). Third is, find other replacement tuners that have different spacing altogether so you can drill entirely new holes (also a botched job). Fourth is take it to David who has experience fixing botched tuner installations (best option if you already filled and drilled old holes).

NOTE: I'm assuming you know that you have to actually drill new holes for the mounting screws. If you were thinking to just screw them in (using the screws to drill) you should definitely take it to a luthier.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
-James-

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