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Gearless Bass Tuners

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by andvari7, May 12, 2005.


  1. andvari7

    andvari7

    Aug 28, 2004
    Ennui
    I know Ned Steinberger developed gearless guitar tuners, which I think sound kind of cool. But what about bass players? I think they're a really good concept, because then we can build headstocks any shape and have a straight string pull, which is supposedly the best way to do it.
     
  2. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Gearless? Then how are you supposed to finely apply up to 25 kgs pulling power?

    On banjos it works, but on basses...
    On DB, the traditional is gearless, but there's a reason a geared one is more popular
     
  3. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Good question. I don't know how NS did it, but a setup with a spiral cam pushing sideways on a section of the string between two saddles would do it. Kind of like the rotary part of a lock for a double sash window.
     
  4. Petary791

    Petary791

    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Seems pretty cool, but why would you want it?
     
  5. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN

    That's why, and it just looks hella cool.
     
  6. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Interesting.
    But would that method suffice for basss strings??
     
  7. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Sure. Just make everything 50% larger. :)
     
  8. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Except for the string pulling-power ;)

    I'm not really sure this would work.
     
  9. M_A_T_T

    M_A_T_T

    Mar 4, 2004
    Canada
    I know. From what I remember of string tentions listed on D'darrio(sp?) string packages, guitars were only like 10 - 20LBS, I think, and basses are around 40 - 50LBS.
     
  10. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    You're right. Bass string tension is about 200-300% of electric guitar string tension. e.g. D'Addario XL Lights: guitar: 15.5-19.5 lbs; bass: 33-51 lbs.
     
  11. Basses are usually 40-50 lbs. Guitars tend to be pretty variable. A light guage set will have about half the tension of a heavy gauge set. Light to medium guages are in the 10-20lbs range, but from D'addario, the E string on my guitarists LP should be something like 31lbs

    I don't see this being a problem for a bass... aren't these working essentially in the same way as a typical headless bridge's tuners? Maybe not, but I'm sure that a system like that could be conceived.
     
  12. andvari7

    andvari7

    Aug 28, 2004
    Ennui
    That seems to make a lot of sense. The only problem I see is attaching the strings and locking them into place.
     
  13. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    I can report from bitter experience that the NS plunger tuners broke, lots. I was told they had manufacturing issues with the last ones they had made. But after I had three strip on me, and since you can't really buy them anymore (I used up all the spares the guitar came with -- and when they ship your guitar with spare tuners, something is wrong), I sold an otherwise wonderful guitar (a TimTone) to a guy who thought he could handle it.

    A better alternative down the same line would be the LSR tuners, but they don't work for bass either.
     
  14. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Not.
    A typical headless tuner is a ballholder with a threaded rod. The rod goes thru some kind of wall, and there's a nut on the other side, with which you tune the string.
    This gadget is a rod with a hole, thru which you insert the string. The string will protrude on the otehr side of the rod. Then you turn a nut, and teh rod is pulled into a hole. The string follows, and forms a loop down into the pipe in which the rod runs. The rod is supposed to lock the string, and pull it down to tighten the tension.

    Lot's of words...no pics... :bawl:
    Anyway, it's a cute idea. LSR uses that as well, with good result, as far as I heard.
    But only for thin wires... :eyebrow:
     
  15. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Corrupticut
    I have been able to play with the Steinberger tuners on a tele that a friend owns and I can say that they are OK for guitar but they tent to break strings where they clamp into the tuner body. And the attempt to use heavy gauge "jazzer" strings was a washout because the force required to tune them was really high. So I don't think that we'll be seeing a bass version any time soon. They are cool looking but not too terribly cool working.
     
  16. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Something interesting from Atlansia. Something like I was referring to in post #3, but using a pull cylinder like the Steinberger, rather than a cam.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  17. andvari7

    andvari7

    Aug 28, 2004
    Ennui
    But those are also guitar tuners. I suppose I could email Atlansia (whose product line looks pretty cool), but I don't know Japanese very well (which is the reason I go to college) yet, so it will probably accomplish very little.
     
  18. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Yes, they are guitar-only tuners - just like the NS ones being discussed. Just supplying another idea, that might be developed for bass. There were some early 90s Fenders that had fine-tuners along this idea built into the bridge.