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Ditson Bowlback Mandolin

Q: Hi, I own a early 1900's Ditson bowlback mandolin and one of the tuning machines stripped out so I can't tune it at all anymore. Do you sell, install, or know where I can buy new tuning machines to fix it? I have searched the internet high and low for tuning machines for a bowlback and haven't had any luck at all finding any. I really miss playing it. Any of your help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance, Dan
Topeka Kansas

A: Don't search for "bowlback" tuners. Measure the distance between the centers of the string posts. Any set of "A style" tuners would work, if the holes line up. I don't know of anyone that makes an exact copy of the tuners that were usually used on round back mandos. But, after 70 years of need, Stewart-MacDonald is now making a direct replacement for the tuners used on old parlor guitars.

I checked Stew-Mac, and they just have A and F styles now, but there is hope. It is, of course possible to fill and redrill your tuner holes to fit any tuner you like, but you want to avoid carving up a Ditson. It is also possible to "Frankenstein" tuners. Steal parts from other sets, cut and respace the base plates, fit new parts to old baseplates etc.

We can do that if necessary. It is usually cheaper to use new tuners than to pay for the shop time required to deal with recycled parts.

Steve Mason