For years, owners of late-’50s guitars have been searching for authentic tuner buttons to replace the deteriorating or broken buttons on their axes. Because the original buttons were celluloid, they’re vulnerable to shrinking or crumbling over time, and most will eventually need to be replaced.
While there have been aftermarket tuner buttons available, none of the previous models were ever the right shape or color as the originals. Even Gibson’s vintage-style buttons look a bit different – the color is a little too green and they’re also a bit more opaque.
Lou Gatanas, a vintage guitar collector and historian, decided to create an authentic-looking tuner button. After a year of R&D, he devised prototypes molded from an original late-’50s single-ring tuner in mint condition, with all of the specifications for color, size, and shape taken from that button. Instead of celluloid, these are made of a plastic called marveloy, which is stronger and has proven far more durable. The end result is an authentic-looking button that should hold up to extensive use.
Installation is pretty simple but should be left to someone familiar with vintage instruments and guitar repair. If you need to replace the original buttons on a late-’50s Gibson, like a ’58-’60 sunburst Les Paul or on any guitar with Kluson Deluxe-style tuners, Uncle Lou’s Repro Tuner Buttons are the best reproduction buttons you’ll find. They’ll also make any ’59 reissue look even more authentic.
Uncle Lou’s Repro Tuner Buttons
Type Of Unit: Replacement tuner buttons
Features: Authentic reproduction of late-’50s single-ring buttons used on Kluson Deluxe tuners.
Price: $45 (set of six buttons)
Contact: Uncle Lou’s Repro Buttons, PO Box 40-19, 164th Street, Suite 601, Flushing, NY 11358, (718) 762-1679, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.unclelou.com
This review originally appeared in VG‘s June ’99 issue.