Can I replace a broken tuning peg on my friend's guitar myself?
December 12, 2010 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Is replacing the machine head something that has to be done by a professional? If so, what does it usually run to get it fixed?

It's an acoustic guitar. I accidentally broke the actual peg you grab to tighten and tune the string. Most of the piece that's attached to the guitar head is still intact but there's nothing to grab to control the tension of the string.
posted by morning_television to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
It depends on the type of tuner you have. Some screw into the wood of the headstock, but others kind of "clamp" on with a single nut on the front. Depending on your level of comfort doing it, and your possession of an open-ended box-style wrench in the correct size, the clamp style can be a DIY thing. I've replaced them before on my bass, and it was totally no big deal.

I don't think I would do the screw type myself, because of the risk of stripping out the screw holes - I would take that to a good guitar shop.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:49 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yep, what deadmessenger said--it's going to vary widely from guitar to guitar. Since it's not yours, I would take it to a pro out of courtesy to the owner.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:51 AM on December 12, 2010

Okay, the husband says that for every acoustic guitar he has ever owned, it's been trivial to replace the tuning unit, so unless this is a classical or flamenco guitar, he thinks it should be fine for you to do it yourself.

He is not one to do repairs that are better done by a tech (at least when it comes to his guitars), so that's a datapoint.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:58 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

re: deadmessenger's concern - I've stripped out the screw holes. I've solved that problem by shoving toothpicks into the hole and then screwing the screws back in. Works like a charm.
posted by entropone at 10:10 AM on December 12, 2010

My husband says something similar to Sidhedevil's:
it's usually pretty easy to change a tuner. While there are different types of tuners, mostly what you need is a philips screwdriver and maybe a wrench to loosen the bushings on the peg - but they often just press in and you won't need a wrench.
posted by kellyblah at 10:11 AM on December 12, 2010

I'd bring it to a tech out of courtesy. You owe your friend a professional repair, as you broke it.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:11 AM on December 12, 2010

The way to not strip the screw holes is to place the screw into the hole, and gently turn the screw backwards until it drops into the thread, and then very gently turn it clockwise making sure the threads engage cleanly. Torque it very gently.

The toothpick trick is tricky- if you don't do it right you risk starting a split in the wood. A couple of tiny strips of wood shavings or index card might be a better choice. Those materials will conform to the threads better.
posted by gjc at 2:14 PM on December 12, 2010

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