Tag: machine heads


Morris W-50 1970's Made in Japan
I recently changed the machine heads on my 1970’s Japan made Morris W-50 to Wilkinson WJ28NGD open gear in gold and I couldn’t be happier

I have said it before but it’s worth mentioning again, I really like Wilkinson hardware for my guitars. I have their vintage bridge with compensated brass saddles on numerous of my Telecasters and their machine heads on even more acoustics and electrics. So far I have tried the following models, WJ01GD, WJ44CRGD, WJ309GD and now WJ28NGD on my new Morris W-50. Wilkinson machine heads are cheap, good quality, accurate and the gold doesn’t seem to fade straight away. They are made in Korea and was first distributed through John Hornby Skewes & Co. Ltd. but now you can find them pretty much everywhere. I bought mine from Axesrus which turned out to be really nice and helpful guys. The best part is that now you can get Wilkinson machine heads with either 8 mm or 10 mm bushings which is perfect since a lot of the Japan made acoustics comes with 10 mm holes. I don’t just randomly change the machine heads on all my guitars but I can’t stand the horrible bulky 1970’s closed machine heads in chrome that most Japanese guitars comes with. How much nicer doesn’t the Morris W-50 look now with these delicate open gear tuners in gold?

Wilkinson Machine headsWJ44CRGD, WJ309GD, WJ28NGD
Some guitars that got the Wilkinson treatment. Morris W-40 with Wilkinson’s WJ44CRGD which comes with cream buttons, not that horrible green tinted ones. My Levin 174 and K. Yairi TG-40 got upgraded with the amazing looking Art Deco inspired WJ309GD

Wilkinson WJ44

Morris W-40, Wilkinson WJ44

I just installed a new set of Wilkinson WJ44 in gold on my Morris W-40. I wasn’t happy with the fake 10€ tulip Grovers I had before so I decided to get some Wilkinson Deluxe tuners instead. They cost me about 33€ including shipping from Vansonguitars on eBay. I really love the tulip shape and will always chose that if possible but I really don’t like the green buttons that most companies use, even the big ones like Schaller, Kluson and Grover. Luckily Wilkinson has started to make their deluxe tuners in both vintage green and cream white so I could get my beloved gold deluxe tuners in off white instead of hospital green. Another good thing with these Wilkinson’s is that they have a 9mm bushing instead of 8mm which makes them easier to fit if you have modern 10mm holes for the tuners. Wilkinson are manufactured in Korea by Jin Ho and I’m very impressed with their quality considering how the cheap they are. I have both Wilkinson tuners and bridge on my Claescasters, I love their vintage bridge with compensated brass saddles.

Morris W-40, Wilkinson WJ44
Since the Morris W-40 has 10mm holes I had to try to make the 9mm bushings 1mm bigger. I decided to try the beer can trick which turned out to work pretty well. Cut a can open and remove the top on the bottom and then just cut strips as wide as the bushing. 1mm might sound like nothing but the bushing needs to sit tight in the holes otherwise they will be pulled out or move from the string tension. I had to go for about 1.5 strip to fill the gap and there was a lot of fiddling and pain in my thumbs to get it in place but I eventually succeeded.

Morris W-40, Wilkinson WJ44I was hoping that the screw spacing matched the old Morris tuners but they didn’t so I had to drill new holes. They are going to be hidden under the original tuners if I restore it but for now, I prefer gold and tulip buttons to the original Japanese 70’s chrome tuners.

How to… crown and polish frets

Last week I got all the parts needed to try to refret my Tokai, Since I have never done any form of fret work before I thought it was a good idea to practice on some guitars before I got down to business on my beloved Les Paul. The first thing did was to crown and polish the frets on my EKO Ranger VI. It was a bit scary, like always when you do things for the first time, but I soon realised that it wasn’t harder than anything else I done in the past.

How to crown and polish frets
I masked the fretboard and then crowned the frets with my Uo-Chikyu medium fret crowning file. I read that was good to use 400, 600 and 1200 grit sandpaper to polish the frets but I could only find 400 and 800 here in Barcelona. Either way, it felt like the main difference was made by the last step, the wire wool.

How to crown and polish frets
Once the frets was shiny on smooth from the wire wool I went over them one last time with a cloth and some metal polish and the removed the masking tape and oiled up the fretboard with lemon oil. I decided to change the machine heads as well, I had a set of open back grover copies that seemed to suit fine. I think the neck almost looks like new now.