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DB Tuning Machine Issue

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by hsouth, Nov 30, 2013.

  1. hsouth


    Sep 9, 2009
    A few months ago I began having problems with the plate tuners on my double bass. The tuners were attached with screws and many of the screw holes were stripped, so the screws constantly popped out. I decided I would uprgrade to single tuners, and when my luthier recommended these "French style tuners" all seemed well.

    Recently I had the operation done. And the new tuners function just fine, but they aren't in the pegbox straight! I don't know what the issue was, but it is almost like the tuners were too long so the luthier put them in at an angle. I'm not pleased with the repair asthetically speaking, and I was upset when the luthier (a very experienced and renowned one) told me that this was how it was supposed to be. So here are my questions for you all at TB:

    1.) Should the tuners go straight across the pegbox?

    2.) Is there a guarantee that the tuners that one purchases will be the right size for the instrument?

    3.) What would you do in this situation? I paid a ton in labor for this repair.

    Here is a picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/77519008@N05/11142234086/

    Many thanks,

  2. keiranohara

    keiranohara Commercial User

    Nov 7, 2007
    Ossining, NY
    Luthier at AES Fine Instruments
    The tuner shafts have to be mounted square to the outer face the pegbox. If your scrolls sides were parallel, then your tuner shafts would be parallel to the ground. There is also that a point to be said that these are retrofitted into existing holes. Bushing the holes would be necessary if you really wanted to change the tuner's geometry. That would have been a rather large bill to pay and may or may not made ascetic/economic sense.

    So short answer is, yes, this is common operating procedure.
  3. Are the backplates flush to the cheeks? Do the machines function smoothly?
  4. Hi Harry.

    No, that's pretty much impossible for the reason keiranohara there explained.

    It is obviously possible to make such tuners that would go straight across, but at a great cost.

    In DB world it's pretty much guaranteed that they do not unless they're a direct replacement.
    Nothing like Fender open gear style or Gotoh closed one, which are pretty much interchangeable (respectively) over the decades, exists.

    First, I'd tidy up the windings around the pegs, IMLE that makes a world of difference on looks.

    I'd also wouldn't hesitate to drill new anchoring holes if the existing ones are too far from the string path.

    Must be an optical illusion, but to me it looks like the shafts are not in line with the wheel cl.
    That's obviously impossible but that does make it look worse than it actually is.

  5. Those tuner shafts are not even remotely perpendicular to the sides (checks) of the peg box. There should be an angle but those seem to be set at too much of an angle - just look at how the gears are showing a big gap under one side and are almost touching the sides of the box on the other.
  6. hsouth


    Sep 9, 2009
    Hector - The shafts aren't perpendicular at all, and this is what bothered me. Nor are the gears flush to the pegbox. But they do operate smoothly, which is perhaps the most important thing (to answer kungfusheriff). And that's a good point about the retrofitting, keiranohara... I just thought it would look a little nicer after I got that big labor bill!

    And it seems that the gears should be flat against the pegbox, right? Not the case here, especially with the G.

    Any more thoughts?
  7. RCWilliams

    RCWilliams Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 23, 2007
    Merriam Kansas (Kansas City)
    owner KCNC Production and Design
    It looks to me that the first mistake was not bushing the original holes, and placing the machines so they could be installed normal to the cheek of the scroll. the spacing required for normal installation of the machines cannot be achieved from the original holes as is evidenced by the position of the extension of the tuner through the opposite side of the peg box. installation of the tuners would probably been much easier if the spacing were correct.
  8. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member


    It looks like the previous shafts were less tapered than the replacements , leaving a larger hole in the "non-gear" cheek - the tension of the string is pulling/deflecting the shaft ( and gear) so that the gear is not flush with the pegbox cheek ( esp. the G string tuner, in your photo). The large hole in the "non-gear" cheek should at least be "bushed" to minimize the "deflection" of the shaft & gear under string tension.
    Whoever performed the "labor" should be embarrassed and should offer to remedy the shoddy installation FREE OF CHARGE, or offer a partial refund.
    BTW - I installed these same tuners myself, on my bass, and made sure they were mechanically and ascetically sound. I am NOT a professional luthier.
    Good Luck.
  9. hsouth


    Sep 9, 2009
    Iona bass,

    I appreciate your in depth reply. It's the best explanation I've heard so far. And yes, I will be calling the luthier tomorrow when the shop opens back up to get things straightened out (literally).

    Thank you all for your knowledge on the subject, and happy holidays.

  10. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member


    You're very welcome.
    Happy Holidays, ( and Tuning!), to you as well.
  11. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member


    What was the response from the luthier? Any resolution? Let us know.

    Below is a photo of my installation...
    I did not mortise, (countersink), the worm gear assembly into the cheek, but choose, instead, to mount them flush on the outside and fabricate circular hardwood bushings that are between the back of the gear and the face of the cheek ( difficult to see in this photo). I played with a mockup at my kitchen table for a week(!), to see how best to gauge the meshing of the worm/circular gear teeth.
    These tuners function smoothly, with no backlash, binding or rattling.
    I charged myself an arm and a leg!
    Thanks and Good Luck.

    Attached Files:

    • #6.pdf
      File size:
      24.7 KB
  12. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    This sounds exactly right. I would say that having the pegs angled so much is not such a problem in itself, but the fact the the gears are on such a different plane as the plates (especially on the "G") means that they aren't going to mesh well with the worm gears, and will eventually bind up, even if they work well now. I'd get this fixed pronto. Every time you turn a tuner key, you will likely be doing some damage.
  13. hsouth


    Sep 9, 2009
    Luthier isn't working this week because of personal health issues. I'm going to call back this week. I'll keep you all updated on what happens with the bass, and thanks again for comments.