Drop in machine heads for epiphone special ii

Discussion in 'Epiphone Guitars' started by Samuel Reed, Feb 14, 2021.

  1. Samuel Reed

    Samuel Reed New Member

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    Hi all
    I'm having my first ever attempt at modding a guitar. Really good fun, but I want to start easy.
    I'm changing everything on an Epiphone Special II.
    I don't have any tuning issues but I want to change the machine heads to something vintage, with white pegs; purely aesthetic.

    My question is, does anyone know of a set that are
    A. better than the stock tuners.
    B. Moderately priced.
    C. and this is the key part... require ABSOLUTELY NO DRILLING. I don't want to drill. At all. I want a drop in set.

    Many thanks indeed!
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2021
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  2. Kostas Kritsilas

    Kostas Kritsilas Member

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    Depending on the age, the tuner post holes should be 10mm in diameter. If so, you can get a set of the Hipshot tuners with the UMP plate. They come in a variety of tuner buttons, including white plastic. They are generally cheaper than better known brands. Other things to consider are the tuner body finishes (chrome, gold, or black), whether you want locking tuners, and open or closed back (open back are a little lighter, and have an 18:1 tuning ratio; the closed back are a little heavier, and have a 15:1 tuning ratio). The UMP plates remove the need for any drilling of the headstock, and should you choose to do so when you sell the guitar, the original tuners can be put back on.
     
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  3. Samuel Reed

    Samuel Reed New Member

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    Thanks so much for the suggestions!
    I'd read elsewhere that the machine heads on ES II were 8mm.

    I don't have calipers and am not really sure what I'm measuring anyway!

    Really hope that someone out there has done this exact job before and can suggest a foolproof set. It's an Indonesian ES II, if that helps.

    Thanks again.
     
  4. Davis Sharp

    Davis Sharp Well-Known Member

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    You're measuring the diameter of the holes. I had a Spec I and had to ream out the holes and drill new screw holes to install 10mm tuners.
     
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  5. Samuel Reed

    Samuel Reed New Member

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    What about just changing the buttons on the machine heads? Is that easy? Do replacements attach in a universal way?
     
  6. BGood

    BGood Well-Known Member

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    If you're only doing it for the looks, that is definitely the best solution. I would think that part is pretty much universal. Not a big expense to try it though. And contrary to replacing the whole tuners, you can go crazy in what you put in for buttons.
     
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  7. Samuel Reed

    Samuel Reed New Member

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    Bit of an issue here: I bought new tuner buttons as suggested but the new ones attach with a central screw. I'm not sure how the old ones are attached. There doesn't appear to be anything. Before I risk breaking something that can't be replaced, anyone have any idea if the buttons on the tuners in the attached photo can even be swapped out?
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Raiyn

    Raiyn Well-Known Member

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    Nope
     
  9. Samuel Reed

    Samuel Reed New Member

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    Eurgh.

    Looks like new tuners at some point then. I want to pimp every part until the guitar is an atrocity.
     
  10. BGood

    BGood Well-Known Member

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    ... and you don't want to drill 6 tiny holes where they'll never be seen ?

    On my Special 1, I only remembered 3 years later that I did drill holes for new tuners, when I took a picture of the back of the headstock to show the stamp there or something.
     
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  11. Samuel Reed

    Samuel Reed New Member

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    I wasn't clear. I'm happy to drill the little holes for the screws that hold the gears to the back of the headstock; I don't want to do all that drilling and precision reaming to house the shafts and pegs.
    I don't have the tools or skills!
     
  12. Raiyn

    Raiyn Well-Known Member

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    :laugh2: Bruh.
    https://www.harborfreight.com/t-handle-reamer-66936.html
    [​IMG]
    Work from both sides. This is how I installed Hipshots on Killer Frost.

    Oh and @Kostas Kritsilas is 100% right about the Hipshot tuners. I use their open gear lockers on all of my axes. Stupid easy to install. They also make a "vintage" size now, but unless it's an actual vintage instrument (or stupidly expensive) I'd just gently ream the holes out.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2021
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  13. Supersonic

    Supersonic Well-Known Member

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    Agree 100%. I bought this exact same tool from Harbor Freight last week to enlarge the holes for new pots. I was surprised at the weight and quality of it for being $4. Does a great job. No skills required except patience.
     
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  14. Davis Sharp

    Davis Sharp Well-Known Member

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    Agreeing with @Raiyn and @Supersonic. The most important tool is a steady hand. I used a cheap caliper and a hand reamer. I measured the 10mm diameter part of the reamer and wrapped a bit of tape at that point. Then I slowly reamed and, when I got near the tape, I would remove the reamer and see if the tuner fit.

    I understand if you don't want to do it, but as far as skills required, if you can turn a knob you can do this.
     
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  15. Samuel Reed

    Samuel Reed New Member

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    Really happy with how she turned out.
    Gave the machine heads a miss this time.
    Thanks to all.
     

    Attached Files:

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  16. Davis Sharp

    Davis Sharp Well-Known Member

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    Looks like a completely different guitar. Nice work.
     
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  17. Raiyn

    Raiyn Well-Known Member

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    Since you put the wiggle stick on there, I would highly suggest the locking tuners now. String wraps + wiggle stick = tuning instability.
     
  18. Samuel Reed

    Samuel Reed New Member

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    The roller bridge and tusq nut seems to be coping fine. It's held its tuning really well.
     
  19. Raiyn

    Raiyn Well-Known Member

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    Those are excellent parts of the equation, but when you exercise your trem the wraps shift. There are no string wraps on a locking tuner.
     
  20. Brewser

    Brewser Member

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