Epiphone enclosed tuners

Close-up #46: Tuning machines, part 2 / introduced 1940–1955

This is part 2 of an overview about the tuning machines used by Epiphone – covering the tuners introduced between 1940 and 1955.

See part 1 for the tuners introduced 1931–1939, also containing an introduction and general remarks.


7. Waverly, strip, bell-end (used 1940–42; 1955)

Waverly strip tuners with rounded "bell-end" plates had been around since the 1920s, and started to appear on lower Epiphone archtops and electric models around 1940 – and discontinued in 1942.

Olympic 18832
Olympic 18832Olympic 18827
Waverly WG-31

Footnote: In 1955, a post-war version of a Waverly strip tuner with bell-end plate briefly appeared on the short-lived Volpe model (pic below). Note the hash-marked plates and rounded worm bearings which are similar to tuner 12.)

Olympic 18827

8. Waverly, single, "yoda head" (used 1939–42, 1946–52)

These single tuners are colloquially dubbed "yoda head" due to the distinctive shape of the plate ends which remind of the Star Wars character.

Triumph 15892

Above: The first "yoda head" tuners – with metal buttons – were installed on some Triumphs around early 1940, but mostly the plastic button version was widely used on lower models before WW2 – as seen below on two 1940 Blackstones.

Backstone 16385Blackstone 17473

Waverly "yoda head" tuners were not used on wartime Epiphones (1943–45). After the war, they were reintroduced sporting somewhat thinner plates – with plastic or metal buttons, as seen on the 1947 Spartan pictured below. By this time, Phillips screws became common (but not exclusively used).

Spartan 56046

By 1946 tuner bushings generally became standard also on lower models – typically hex-type bushings (example below: 1946 Blackstone).

Blackstone 55250

By 1949 a hash mark pattern appeared on the plates, as seen below on two Zenith models from 1949 and 1950.

Waverly CMI catalog 35 Waverly CMI catalog 35

9. Kluson, single, riveted gear (used 1943–44)

In 1943, John E. Kluson filed another patent for a tuner which became widely used on guitars made during WW2 – probably due to its metal saving features such as very thin cog wheels, riveted to the string post instead of screwed as before (see part 1, tuner 5.).

By 1944, the 3-on-a-strip version of the Kluson tuner (see 10.) took over on all lower Epiphone models.

Kluson 1943 tuner patentZenith 19421

The late 1942 Zenith above was among the first receiving the riveted version of the Kluson single tuners in early 1943. Below a 1944 Zenith.

Zenith 51341

Some wartime examples had a gunmetal finish, as seen on this 1944 FT 45.

FT45 51601

10. Kluson, strip, riveted gear (used 1943–46)

These strip tuners were based on the patent filed by J. E. Kluson in 1943 (see above 9.) – and widely used on middle/lower models until after WW2. Many examples are seen with black buttons, but not exclusively.

Olympic 19266

Pictured above a very early example with riveted cog on a late 1942 Olympic – still with the manufacturer's stamp on the plate (missing on later examples).

The example below on a 1945 Zenith below shows very thin cog wheels.

Zenith 52611
Zenith 52611

11. Waverly, strip, post-war square-end (used 1949–54)

These plain strip tuners started to show up in 1949 on the newly introduced low-end Byron and Kent models – below on a 1949 Kent Hawaiian.

Kent Hawaiian 78Kent Hawaiian 78

Note the square-shaped bearings which are similar to other pre-war Waverly strip tuners (see 7.) – and also much like the Waverly tuner illustration in the 1935 Chicago Musical Instruments (CMI) catalog.

Waverly CMI catalog 35

12. Waverly, single, bell-end (used 1952–56)

Around 1952, Waverly-made single units with bell-end plates began to replace the "yoda head" tuners (see tuner 8.). Note the same hash mark pattern on the plates. Pictured below: plastic buttons on a 1952 Zenith, metal buttons on a 1953 Devon.

Zenith 64893 Devon 65880

Below a 1953 FT 79: Note the rounded shape of the bearings – different from pre-war Waverly bell-end tuners (see tuner 7.).

FT79 66969

Summary part 2 – tuning machines introduced 1940–55

The table below summarizes the tuners typically found on acoustic archtop models per year. For earlier tuners see summary part 1. For detailed tuner info of any Epipone model see models.

Abbreviations: ni=nickel plated, met=metal buttons, white=white plastic buttons, b/w= black or white buttons.

Model
7. strip
Waverly
bell-end
8. single
Waverly
yoda
9. single
Kluson
riveted
10. strip
Kluson
riveted
11. strip
Waverly
square
12. single
Waverly
bell-end
Devon

1949–52
ni, met



1953–56
ni, met
Spartan

1946–49
ni, white

1943–46
ni, b/w


Blackst.

1941–42
1946–49
ni, white

1943–46
ni, b/w


Zenith

1941–42
1948–52
ni, white
1943–44
ni, white
1943–46
ni, b/w

1952–54
ni, white
Ritz 1940–42
ni, white


1943–45
ni, b/w


Olympic
1940–42
ni, white


1943–45
ni, b/w


Byron




1949–54
ni, white

Note: This overview is subject to updates whenever new evidence surfaces.

(Feb 11, 2019)