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broken tuner

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by ethnotime, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. ethnotime


    Sep 24, 2006
    New York, NY
    Could I solder this back on? If so is there any brass-colored solder? I'm thinking of using silver but I want it to look somewhat uniform.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    Solder will not hold it. You may be able to get someone to tack weld it.
  3. If the parts are brass, it will take ordinary 60/40 lead/tin solder quite well. That's the type used for copper plumbing.
    But the parts must ALL be brass. If the stud is steel, and the clover-key is brass(which it appears to be), there is no way to weld, solder, or braze the parts together. In that case, super glue would probably hold it.
  4. My rattling machines were fixed with globs of solder, but that was before I discovered JB Weld.
  5. ethnotime


    Sep 24, 2006
    New York, NY
    Thanks for the replies.

    I'll try soldering it, the parts are all brass so I guess it'll be ok. I can only find silver solder, is there brass or copper colored even?

    If that doesn't work then I'll try the JB weld, although it seems tough to get just a little of that sutff in there.
  6. That sounds like a plan. Solder will come off with heat; I don't know what you have to do to remove JB Weld. There has to be a welding supply store somewhere in the five boroughs. If you can't find one PM me and I'll hook you up with the place near Albany my Dad gets his stuff from.
  7. a lot of times it is possible to crimp what is left. it will also work with loose ones that rattle.
  8. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Silver solder means that the solder contains some silver, which helps it stick to materials such as brass and steel. There are a number of ways to go here.

    Traditionally, "silver solder" referred to a solder with a very high melting point, requiring a torch and temperatures approaching red-hot. There is some technique to making a good joint, including getting the surfaces scrupulously clean (free of oxidation), applying flux, and keeping the joint in the torch flame until the solder melts into it (to maintain a reducing atmosphere). I would not do this on a prized bass tuner without some practice on scrap material. Also, the heat will discolor the metal. Definitely don't do it with the tuner on the bass.

    There are some newer solders for plumbing, which are lead free and contain some silver These are softer and lower-melting. You can get a paste flux containing tiny particles of the solder, which works like a dream, and then you apply just a dab of solder from the spool and you're done. The joint won't be as strong, but IMHO the lower temperature makes the job much more beginner-friendly. You could still practice on some copper plumbing parts. A soldering iron can in principle melt this solder, but the joint is big enough that you will need a propane torch to supply sufficient heat.

    The soft solder is more recoverable if you screw it up on the first try.
  9. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    I like to use old-school tin/lead solder for the low melting point and duller appearance. The new lead-free stuff needs a LOT more heat and I just don't want to get tuner keys that hot.
  10. ethnotime


    Sep 24, 2006
    New York, NY
    well I have a cheap solder gun that I've used for basic wiring issues on my electric. I figured I'll try that option first (maybe crazy glue afterwards?)

    Actually this is the third time the key has come off! I had it repaired maybe 5 years ago and then again two years ago. It wasn't expensive but if it's going to be a recurring fix I might as well figure something on my own. Good tuners are expensive to buy (and presumably to install) so I'd like to try doing it myself before I consider buying a whole set just because of one broken key.
  11. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    If you scrape the inner surfaces down to clean, bare metal and use an acid solder paste, you should achieve a permanent bond.

    If you get new ones, can I have your old ones? ;)
  12. Cheap solder gun isn't going to get anywhere near temperature on a work piece that big. You'll need a torch. Fortunately, they're cheaper than soldering irons.
  13. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    People appear to disagree with my concern that solder would not hold. I have never tried to repair a tuner with solder but have a lot of experience with it. It is not designed to have mechanical strength. Is this how the machines were made?

    Why not tack weld it? You can tack weld brass and it should hold forever. I am not arguing, just asking.
  14. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    Brass can indeed be welded--but if it was originally soldered, why not do it that way? The difference is that the soldering process (even the hard solder) does not melt the base metal. Hard solder (actually a type of brazing) begins at 840 deg. F. It (frequently called silver solder) is used to hold the carbide tips on saw-blades. Pretty strong stuff.

    Most brasses melt at around 1600 deg. F, or more, so if you can get a hard-solder or brazing compound with a melting point under 1000, and a small torch to heat the tuning shaft and thumpiece, you should be able to get a good join.

    OTOH, if you are not familiar with this sort of work, it really might be wise to pay a local craftsman to do it, and make it clear the job has to be as good as the other three....

    The look will definitely change. Is that going to be OK with you? The patina is going away, for sure.
  15. Take to a welding shop and have it brazed, that is the American term for brass welding. It will over time tarnish and look like the others again.

  16. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    A welding shop will possible destroy the tuner; they generally work on larger, less fragile items, with a whole lot of heat and power on their side.

    I usually take them to a jeweler who does fine silver soldering. They will have a number of different wires, some that contain different alloys that will be close to the old brass in color. It will be a $25 fix while you wait and they will do a great job, with minimal worry about them doing any damage. They work on old, expensive, delicate items all day long.

    Post some results and a photo or two for us.

  17. Never thought about it, but yes a jeweler could braze it also. The bronze would be stronger than silver solder.
  18. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    When I was making furniture this is who we used - they can make or repair anything and could probably do a patina finish to match. If I had money to burn I would have them fabricate me a custom set of tuners. Welcome to Raredon Resources
  19. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    +1. Also, electrical or plumbing solder will not hold. Probably just make a big mess. Another option might be a bicycle shop. Many are competent with silver solder.
  20. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Whether low temperature will hold depends a lot on the surface area between the two parts, and to some extent technique. A typical problem is that the solder doesn't actually get into the joint itself because the joint isn't hot enough, or there is corrosion inside it. Preparation of the joint should take more time than the actual soldering. Another pitfall is inadequately cooling the joint before handling it.

    I'd advise against welding. You'll have a hard time finding a welder who is experienced with unusual materials and small scale work, and there are no second chances. I think that most welders would advise silver brazing for this job. My only reason for leaning towards the lower temperature solders has to do with the relative skill level needed.

    Also in my view, JB-Weld isn't such a terrible idea. It's the only option that avoids removing the plate from the bass. You're still better off with clean surfaces, but you can coat the paddle with the stuff and then mush it into the slot. If you ever want to re-do it as a soldered joint, the JB-Weld comes apart and cleans up with moderate heat such as supplied by a heat gun.

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