Tuners with Good Taste


Single Line, Single ring. Courtesy: Dr. Vintage


OK, some of you are probably way too young to get the joke. It seems there was this cartoon character in commercials for Starkist tuna (tuner, get it?) named Charlie the Tuna. Being named Charlie meant that everybody, for years, would call me Charlie Tuna or would use the “Sorry Charlie” line on me. Well, Charlie (the tuna, not me) wanted to be caught and eaten so he tried to show good taste by doing things like reading Shakespeare or learning to sculpt or something like that. Well, the punch line was “Sorry, Charlie, Starkist doesn’t want tuna with good taste, Starkist wants Tuna that tastes good”. So now I’ve used up 100 words just explaining the joke. OK, tuners. The stock tuner on a 335 was a Kluson with a “keystone” tip. Same with the 345, only in gold and the 355 got one of 2 types-either Grovers or Kluson Wafflebacks. We’ll leave the 355 out of it for now. Tuners are a pretty good way to identify the year your guitar was made because they changed the design frequently. The problem is that Klusons aren’t especially good tuners and performers changed them for the more precise, better holding Grover in droves as the Klusons wore out, got bent or they just got tired of retuning their guitars every song. But, if the original Kluson is still on the guitar, you can tell a lot from its appearance. Guitar experts talk about single  line and double line and single ring and double ring. I had no idea what that meant for the longest time. It’s pretty simple. Single line means that the word Kluson Deluxe in written in a single line down the back of the tuner. Double line means there are two lines of copy running down the back. Single ring refers to the plastic keystone tip. If it has a single ring at the base of the keystone shaped tip, it’s (duh) a single ring. Double ring? You got it. So, from 1958 to early 1960, the tuners were single line single ring. In early 1960 they added the second ring (which I like the look of better). That lasted until 1964 and maybe into 65. At that time, they added the second line of text on the back, so we see double ring, double line from 1965 through sometime in 1969 when they changed the wording on the back from Kluson Deluxe to Gibson Deluxe. There are a number of sub-variations, like patent pending and patent number and various oil hole locations, especially on the early ones. A good place to get educated in the real esoterica of tuners is at Doctor Vintage’s Site HERE. I hope the good doctor won’t mind if I borrow his impeccable images. And if he does, I’ll find others. Thanks Doc. We’ll get into Grovers in another post. They became stock on the 81 Dot reissue and are still used today on Memphis ES-335s. The Nashville 335s (Historic) still use the good old Kluson , although they’ve been improved and the company was bought by Tone Pros a couple of years ago.

Double line Double ring (Gibson Deluxe) Courtesy: Dr. Vintage



3 Responses to “Tuners with Good Taste”

  1. Markus says:

    I was convinced the tuners on my ’68 es-345 were replaced, even though they were supposedly original to the guitar – as they are double line Gibson deluxe but single ring.

    Because of this I’ve been keeping an eye on ’66 – ’68 es-3x5s for sale to see what they have.

    After examining pictures of a dozen or two for sale, many of which are advertised as “all original”, it seems that they too are single ring almost without exception.

    Do you think that single ring can be original to this period, or have most of these guitars had their tuners replaced over time in fact? I am very curious (it reminds me of the 1968 nut width confusion).

  2. OK Guitars says:

    All 345s are supposed to be single ring. I’ve seen a couple that are double ring but there’s no way to know if they are original. A 68 ES-345 should have double line “Gibson Deluxe” single ring Klusons. Some early 68s may say “Kluson Deluxe” but still would be single ring.

  3. Markus says:

    Ah, thank you very much for responding. I have clearly been assuming no tuner difference between the 335 and 345 ! So it appears that they could very well be original after all (they are certainly old). Many thanks again, and for the very informative blog and wonderful photographs!

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