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Fender historians - question about the first Fender basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AndyPanda, Dec 26, 2017.

  1. Just have always been curious if Kluson already made those tuners and Leo just ordered them and applied them to his new creation .... and if so, what instrument would those tuners have been made for? Or did Leo have Kluson custom make them just for him?

    Most upright basses back then would have had tuners on plates like this:
    Although I did find picture of an old Kay with these (Czech made?) tuners on individual plates
    But neither of those would have had the same shaft that Fender used would they? They'd have had a hole through the shaft and the tip of the shaft would have gone thru to the other side of the pegbox like this wouldn't they?

    Anyway ... just really curious if Leo told Kluson what he needed and they made it up special just for him ... or was it some off the shelf item that Kluson already made (and for what?).
    Picton likes this.
  2. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    Kluson was making both open and closed tuner sets for guitars in the '30s, likely earlier. I'm not clear on how upright tuning machines are relevant to Fender (different animal).
  3. Picton

    Picton Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2017
    Reading, MA
    Bass machines, not guitar machines.

    It’s a good question. Bass guitars were entirely new.
    bobyoung53, Lowbrow and Korladis like this.
  4. Yes I know Kluson was making open tuner sets for guitars in the 30's -- but Fender's bass didn't exist then. If Kluson was making split shaft bass tuners in the 30's and 40's what instrument would they have been for?

    The reason I showed what typical upright bass tuning machine would have looked like before Leo is because those are what were available before Fender created his precision bass and it shows that the gears and elephant ear keys were similar.

    My question is simply "Did Fender pick an off the shelf part that Kluson made already or did Fender contract with Kluson to make something special just for his new instrument?" And if it was an off the shelf Kluson item prior to 1951 , what instrument would it have been for?
    Korladis likes this.
  5. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    I think I remember reading Fender bought off the shelf Kluson tuners used on the doghouse and modified them to the new P bass. But I'd have to dig thru lots of reading to verify that.
    Korladis likes this.
  6. hypercarrots


    Jan 28, 2009
    los angeles
    From “the fender bass” by klaus blasquiz:
    The keys had to be designed to fit this new instrument. All you could buy was double bass keys, you know the electric bass was something new in the world and we had to design everything to fit that particular instrument.
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  7. Thanks for finding that. Part of why I'm so curious, I was wondering just how confident Leo was that he had a sure fire hit on his hands. I would think Kluson would have wanted a fairly large order to make it worth their time to tool up for something new.

    I know on the guitar tuners, Fender cut off the ears of the tuners halfway thru the screwhole so they bunched up together and adjacent tuners shared one screw between them.

    So I picture Leo cutting and modifying an upright type tuner for his prototype (just my imagination, no idea if he really did) - and if he did, I wonder how many instruments were built with Leo-Modified tuners before he got Kluson making them to his spec. (and if there are any examples of prototype instruments out there with Leo-modded tuners)
    Korladis likes this.
  8. hypercarrots


    Jan 28, 2009
    los angeles
    I should add, the quote above is from George Fullerton.

    I found more from the same book

    The very small headstock did not allow the installation of normal double-bass tuning keys so Leo commissioned kluson to produce modified keys to fit the headstock. he further modified the keys by cutting off a small portion of the mounting plates.
    bobyoung53, Korladis and AndyPanda like this.
  9. Thanks again for digging up that info for me.

    This is how Leo cut down the guitar tuner mounting plates --- I wonder if George mis-remembered or what part of the bass mounting plates needed to be cut down? Maybe the bass plates had ears for screws that he cut off and drilled the four screwholes we know today?
    cdef likes this.
  10. I believe I read that the very first tuners were modded from upright parts.
    Once Leo knew what he wanted, he got Kluson to build them.
    Appartently, Kluson was optomistic about the chances of Leos
    crazy idea catching on.
    AndyPanda likes this.

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