Bruno Conqueror - Tuning Issues...

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beau bourgeois
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Joined: Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:40 pm

Bruno Conqueror - Tuning Issues...

Post by beau bourgeois »

Hello!
About a year ago I purchased a great vintage, probably mid 60s, Japanese Bruno Conqueror...which is probably one of many names that Teisco or Kawaii used.
It wasn't terribly expensive , and it looks like a Fender Jaguar knock-off (see pic), but it's sort of a cross, as far as scale length, between and Jag and a Jazzmaster. It's lighter than both a Jazz or Jag, which is really nice, and it just feels really, really, nice as far as playability. So I've been striving to make this thing solid, and it's not without some issues.
Main thing right now is tuning.
Obviously the tremolo system on this guitar is weird (but kind of awesome), and I'm not sure how much it contributes to the tuning problems (probably a lot) but I don't think there's a whole lot I can do in this area. I've tried fitting a standard updated Jag/Jazz tremolo, but this Bruno has a thinner body than a Jag/Jazz body and I'd have to route through the body just to give the Jag tremolo the space/depth it needs. Due to this, I don't mess with the tremolo too much since I know it will put the tuning out of wack.
So the next step was the tuning machines.
The old ones that it came with, the posts were smaller than the holes/bushings they were fitted into, so I figured this was likely a big issue. Maybe the tuning machines were replaced at some point since I can't see this guitar coming out from factory with posts that are not the correct size...but who knows.
Nevertheless, I was able to replace the tuning machines with some Kluson Deluxe, that seemed to fit great, but I can't say they've solved the tuning issues.
So now I'm looking at other things, mainly the bridge and "tailpiece" alignment, and how the strings come over the saddles to the nut etc. My main question is, if the string location in the tailpiece, saddle and nut, aren't all aligned together, will this cause tuning problems?
It looks to me like the nut and tailpiece don't align quite right on this guitar, because if I let the strings settle into a location on the saddle that feels natural, they tend to group themselves more on the "bass side"/low-E side of the neck, and I get a pretty good gap between the high-e and the edge of the neck. I compensate for this by pulling the strings into different positions in the saddle, but then it creates an angle between where the string comes out of the tailpiece and where it goes over the saddle; so, instead of coming straight out of the tail piece, straight over the saddle and straight down to the nut, they'll come out of the tail piece at a slight right angle only to be redirected over the saddle to head straight down to the nut. Seems less than ideal, but I'm wondering if this will cause issues with tuning? The nut seems in the right place, and spacing seems good at the top, but either the bridge or tremolo/tailpiece is off....probably the tailpiece I'm guessing.

Any insight into this issue you guys might have is greatly appreciated, or maybe it might be something else? I'd love to get this thing solid so I can gig with it, but at it stands, it'll go out of tune (most the time it's the G, B and e strings) within the first 12 bars of a song depending on how hard I'm playing etc.

Thanks a lot!
Beau
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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Bruno Conqueror - Tuning Issues...

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Lots of guitars are designed so the strings from the tuners hit the saddle at an angle, so I doubt this would be an issue if you're not using the tremolo. I'd think first off that the tremolo is the culprit. Can you adjust the trem so that it is so tight, or block it from inside, so that it doesn't move and just acts like a solid tailpiece, and see if that keeps it in tune?
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

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Bob Gramann
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Re: Bruno Conqueror - Tuning Issues...

Post by Bob Gramann »

And, make sure that the strings are not binding in the nut. If they don't move freely when you tune, they equalize the tension in each side of the nut later, like when you're playing.

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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Bruno Conqueror - Tuning Issues...

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Peter Wilcox wrote:Lots of guitars are designed so the strings from the tuners hit the saddle at an angle, so I doubt this would be an issue if you're not using the tremolo. I'd think first off that the tremolo is the culprit. Can you adjust the trem so that it is so tight, or block it from inside, so that it doesn't move and just acts like a solid tailpiece, and see if that keeps it in tune?
Oops, I meant hit the NUT at an angle, and as Bob says, make sure they're not binding in the slots.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Bruno Conqueror - Tuning Issues...

Post by Barry Daniels »

Sounds like an alignment issue. Either the neck is not aligned with the centerline of the guitar or the bridge is offset.
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Chris Reed
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Re: Bruno Conqueror - Tuning Issues...

Post by Chris Reed »

I can't see how an alignment issue would cause the tuning to slip after a few bars playing. Something must be moving. Candidates:

1 Tuners slipping. I'd expect it always to be the same strings. Swap tuners around to see if the problem also moves.

2. String binding in the nut. Lubricate with graphite (pencil lead), recut slots if this helps.

3. String sliding sideways on the saddle, if the path is angled at that point. But the picture seems to show ridged saddles - unlikely?

4. Tailpiece moving, but wouldn't that affect all strings, not just a few?

5. Too much string wound round tuning peg, so that the windings shift when playing.

Anything I've missed? I'd start with 2 and 5, as they are quick to check and likely candidates.

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Bruno Conqueror - Tuning Issues...

Post by Barry Daniels »

If the neck is far out of alignment, it could be pulled further sideways when tightening the strings, but this would be highly unusual. I agree with 2 and 5 being good possibilities. Take a fine point Sharpie and place a mark on the string where it enters the hole of the tuner. This will make slippage more evident. I like to only have 3 to 5 string windings around the tuner, with no more than one overlap.
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David King
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Re: Bruno Conqueror - Tuning Issues...

Post by David King »

Most nuts are left too tall at the factory and no one ever comes along afterwards to clean them up. The string slot should ideally be 1/2 as deep as the string diameter. I.e. the top half of the string should protrude above the top of the nut. That may or may not help your issue but it's one way of knowing if a guitar has ever been gone through by someone who cared.
I believe that there's an aftermarket replacement bridge for the Jags that might work in that guitar if it comes to that.

Joshua Levin-Epstein
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Re: Bruno Conqueror - Tuning Issues...

Post by Joshua Levin-Epstein »

(In no particular order)

1) It's probably not the machines. What most people identify as the machine slipping is poor string installation. If the new klusons have the safety post (like old Fenders), cut the string 2 to 2 1/2 machines past the one you're installing, stick the end in the hole and neatly wrap them down the post. Then tug on them to get rid of any slack. If they have the through hole, make the guitar "knot" (loose end of the string goes under the leading edge. You know what I mean) and give yourself 3 neat wraps. Tug away.
2) Disable the tremolo, period. I don't know what it looks like inside, but if there is a coil spring, replace it with washers and remove the arm. Regardless of guitar, if its got a functioning vibrato arm, you need to accept tuning instability of some kind.
3) Is that bridge screwed in place? sometimes they are just held on with string tension and require proper placement. If it is screwed on, is it screwed on in the right place? Is the bridge rigid on its adjusting screws?
4) Is the retaining bar at the peg head tight? Is the bottom smooth? Think of this as part of the nut so the strings need to be able to move across it smoothly.

You've got to remember this guitar was not manufactured to the same standards of, say, a good Fender and probably needs some tweaking to get everything lined up. Even good Fenders can need some tweaking to get everything lined up.

beau bourgeois
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Re: Bruno Conqueror - Tuning Issues...

Post by beau bourgeois »

Thanks for all the great info guys and taking the time to respond!
I assumed I'd get email when someone replied to my thread, but I haven't, or maybe it's getting filtered to junk erroneously. Anyway.

I've been messing with this guitar a bit more since posting my initial thread, and I think I might have made a bit of headway.

First off, the "Kluson" tuners I had installed weren't actually klusons but some knock-offs I had laying around from an old Squire I had. They weren't ideal and probably have some issues of their own, but I tried them out anyway just to see if they fit. They did, so I ordered some real Klusons which came in day before yesterday. (I'd have loved to keep the original open machine tuners but they were in pretty bad shape, and were missing a screw that held in one of the cogs, which meant every time I changed strings, I had a cog hit the floor, followed by the post. I've been looking for a replacement screw but finding one has proved to be pretty tough.)
The posts on the real Klusons were too big to fit the original old bushings on this guitar, which were these white plastic, brittle things that looked really cool, but probably did nothing favorable to the mechanism as a whole. So after trying to fit the the real Klusons into the old bushings (and actually breaking one, which made me want to cry) I pulled all the old bushings out and replaced them with the chrome bushings that came with the new Kluson tuners. So now everything in the tuning machine department is up to date and working great.

Second thing did was lubricate the nut, as some of you suggested. I kept hearing a "ping" when I would tune the G string which I (eventually) figured out was likely the string(s) sticking in the nut. So I went the cheap route on this, got a pencil and just "colored" in each string slot on the nut to give it some graphite to help the strings slide.

Third thing, I removed the bridge and tightened down the strings just to see where they sort of naturally lay on the pickups/neck etc. (should have thought of this earlier)
I took a picture of this just for reference, and they do tend to sort of favor the left side of the neck, so I just made a mental note of that when I restrung the guitar with the bridge in place. Some of you said this is probably not the problem, but I figured it was worth checking out anyway.

I've been playing it a good bit since making these changes, and had practice with one of my bands last night and noticed that I wasn't having to tune after every song, or worse after just starting a song etc. So, so far so good!! I haven't tried it yet with using the tremolo, but I'm assuming it'll go out of tune to a degree, but maybe not to the degree it was. I hate to disable the tremolo completely because I actually use it for some of the songs we play...so I guess I can accept some degree of tuning loss in this regard.
Anyway, I think it's on its way to become a player like it needs to be.
Thanks for all your help!
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