FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
How do I install my tuners?
1. Remove the 2nd and 3rd strings and tuning pegs from your banjo. Then compare your two Keith Tuners. and you’ll notice that the spools on which the strings wind are of different sizes.
2. The Keith Tuner with the larger spool is for the second string. Remove the nut and washer and insert it through the headstock, positioning it so that the two side thumbscrews can be conveniently reached while tuning. Put the flat washer and the nut back on, and tighten securely.
3. Similarly, install the Keith Tuner with the smaller spool for the third string.
* PLEASE NOTE: When tightening down the nuts, use a smooth-jawed adjustable wrench. Pliers will scar the metal, and may slip off and damage the headstock. If the holes in your banjo’s headstock are too small for the Keith Tuners, we recommend having them drilled out by a qualified instrument repairman.
TO SET THE STOPS:
1. Loosen all four side thumbscrews one-half a turn. The Keith Tuners will operate like standard tuning pegs. Now put on the second and third strings.
2. Tune the banjo to the open G tuning (second string – B. third string – G). Firmly tighten the black side thumbscrews, which will set the high stops. Now, tune the second string down to A and the third string down to F# (put the banjo into open D tuning) and firmly tighten the uncolored side thumbscrews. This will set the low stops. The tuners will now operate as “D-tuners”. and will not turn past the high or low stops.
3. If the pearlescent buttons are not at a convenient angle to turn while playing, simply unscrew the end thumbscrew that holds the button in place and pull the button free of the shaft. Since the button will fit on the shaft in six different positions, you can install it at the angle that suits you best. Push it back on the shaft and screw in the end thumbscrew.
Tuner button Placement
Experience has shown that placement of the tuner buttons affects the ease and speed of playing. Keith Tuners are designed with this in mind. The shaft of the peg is splined, enabling you to remove the button and place it to your liking.
The above drawing illustrates the recommended placement of the four tuner buttons when the banjo is tuned gDGBD.
1st string tuner button should be placed diagonally toward the center of the peghead.
2nd string tuner button should be placed parallel with the strings.
3rd string tuner button should be placed perpendicular to the strings.
4th string tuner button should be placed diagonally toward the center of the peghead.
* NOTE: These directions assume that the strings are wound on the spools in the normal manner; that is, the pitch of the second string is raised by turning its tuner counterclockwise, and the pitch of the third string is raised by turning its tuner clockwise. If you prefer to wind one or both of your strings in the opposite direction, just swap the black and uncolored thumbscrews on the appropriate tuner.
A FEW IMPORTANT POINTS:
* When setting the stops, always tune up to the high note and down to the low note. Set the high stops with both strings raised, and the low stops with both strings lowered.
* Other tunings may be used besides the one described. Just remember that the stop for the higher note is set with the black thumbscrew.
* If the high note seems to come up a little flat, check to see if the string is binding in the nut or the bridge. It may be necessary to reshape the string groove, using a small knife or file. so that the string slides freely in it. It may also help to shave a little pencil lead into the grooves of the nut for lubrication.
* If the tuners have a tendency to slip when both stops are set, tighten the end thumbscrew which holds the button in place and which also adjusts the friction.
* A little grease may ooze from the tuners, particularly when they are new. This is not a sign of trouble– they are packed with grease at the factory, and it is normal that some will work its way out. Just wipe it off.
* Don’t force the tuners past the stops. This could result in internal damage. Tighten the side thumbscrews firmly (by hand – don’t use pliers) to prevent the stops from slipping.
* Don’t attempt to take the tuners apart. The guarantee is void if they have been abused or disassembled.
* If this pair of tuners is for the first and fourth strings, they will both have large spools, and will be labeled “1st” and “4th”.
Repair & Service
Keith tuners are built to aerospace tolerances, using high-quality stainless steel components.
Therefore, there is nothing to ‘wear out’ inside. Properly maintained, they should last several lifetimes.
However, like all precision machines, they require some periodic maintenance.
Help! My tuners are slipping!
If your tuners are slipping (i.e. not holding pitch), there are a few things to try:
-Tighten the end thumbscrew, which holds the button in place. Proper end thumbscrew pressure is critical.
DO NOT USE TOOLS to tighten the end thumbscrew – only thumb and finger. The “coin slot” found on the button is to aid in
removal of seized or over-tightened screws. Use of tools to tighten any screw on Keith tuners will void the lifetime warranty.
If the tuners continue to slip, please try the following diagnostic test:
-Slacken the strings, and remove the end thumbscrew and plastic button from the tuners.
-Remove the small friction washer underneath the button. This should be a leather washer,
and it should feel fairly soft and flexible. If the washer on your banjo is black plastic, it should be replaced
with a fresh leather one.
-Put the plastic button back on without a washer underneath, and press the button down onto the shaft.
It should slide freely all the way down until it contacts the metal gearbox. If it does not, then the plastic may have
shrunk, which can cause the button to ‘seize’ on the shaft. This can cause slipping. In this case, we usually recommend
replacing the buttons with new ones.
99% of the time, slipping tuners are the result of either a tight button, or a worn out / outdated friction washer.
Thankfully, these problems are easily resolved. Friction washers and replacement buttons can be found in the Parts section of our online store:
Help! My tuners are stiff / hard to turn!
* After several years of use, the grease may begin to dry out and the tuners become hard to turn. This can be corrected by removing the side thumbscrews and adding a little light oil such as 3-in-1 oil, sewing machine oil, or penetrating oil. Remember: these tuners are precision-made, and require lubrication. If you continue to use them when they are dry and hard to turn, you may cause internal damage.
* If the tuners are still hard to turn after oiling, they may need to be serviced. Beacon Banjo offers a full servicing and relubrication for $35 + $8.50 shipping ($43.50 total). This process takes 1-3 weeks depending on the condition of the tuners.
*Please note that we cannot service other brands of D-tuners. If you are unsure if your tuners are genuine Keith d-tuners, please check the paragraph below for more information.
To send your tuners in for service, please mail them to:
PO Box 597
Woodstock, NY 12498
Please include a check for $43.50, along with a letter indicating your preferred return mailing address. NOTE: Please do not disassemble your tuners before mailing them, as this can easily result in missing parts. If parts are missing, we will replace them at additional cost.
* Don’t forget to fill out your guarantee card and mail it in.
Are my tuners genuine Keith tuners?
Over the years, there have been several different companies that put out banjo d-tuners that are similar to Keith tuners.
Most of these products are loosely based on ours, but there are some details that are only found on the genuine Keith product.
If you have a pair of D-tuners and are wondering if they are “real” or a copy, here are a few details that can help:
-Engraving: All genuine Keith tuners have an engraving on the ‘shoulder’ of the gearbox, which is the flat surface that faces away from the headstock.
-On most tuners, this engraving reads: “The Keith Banjo Tuner”
-On Keith tuners manufactured prior to 1971, the engraving reads “Scruggs Keith Bump”
-Certain tuners will be engraved as “The Gibson Banjo Tuner”. These are genuine Keith tuners. We produced tuners for Gibson for some time in the ’80s andearly ’90s which had the “Gibson Banjo Tuner” engraving and the Gibson logo molded into the button.
The only difference between these and our usual Keith D-tuner is the text of the engraving and the custom-molded button.
Otherwise it’s a stock Keith d-tuner, and we still support them with our warranty and servicing.
However, we cannot provide replacement “Gibson” buttons – since we no longer maintain an active business relationship with
Gibson, we are not able to offer any product or parts using their name.
-Input Shaft: All genuine Keith D-tuners have a 12-pointed or “Spline” shape input shaft. This is the metal stem where the plastic button is mounted.
If you remove the plastic button, you will see the input shaft sticking approximately 1/4″ out of the top of the gearbox.
If the shaft is round, square, or mostly round with flats on the sides, your tuner was made by another company.
Our 12-point shaft is specific to Keith tuners. It allows the player to adjust the angle of the tuning button for optimum playability and quick detuning.