How to fix a broken Kay tuning peg?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by FlamencoTom, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. FlamencoTom


    Dec 16, 2012
    Storrs, CT
    I have a mid-1950's Kay bass. One of the tuning pegs snapped off. I live in Eastern CT and tried Upton Bass for help, but they don't have any parts around that would fix it. I discovered this forum and was wondering if anyone has a suggestion about how to proceed? I've been playing the bass for about 5 years, we have a quartet called "the seldom heard" and we play about once a month, so I need to find some way to fix this. Thanks for any suggestions! attachment.jpg

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  2. StayinTime


    Sep 26, 2012
    Hi have you checked out Gollihur Music?
  3. Bob won't have Kluson machines, because Kluson went of business decades ago. I hear the machines Engelhardt uses (and Gollihur sells) are not a drop-in replacement.

    You could keep an eye on eBay as they do pop up occasionally, or, if you'd like to have the bass back in action soon, start calling machinists and welders to see if any of them are interested in helping for a reasonable price. I've seen coins, washers and all sorts of crazy stuff welded onto broken tuning machines.
  4. 360guy


    Apr 28, 2006
    Lansing, MI USA
    I had the same situation on a repair about 2 years ago. Here's what I did. I bought some brass rid ( same diameter as the Kay post 1/4"?) and brass plate the same thickness as the other tuning keys (1/16"?). I bought these at a hobby shop.

    Remove the whole tuning plate. Using a jeweler's saw trim 1/2 the rod lengthwise. Then fashion a piece that mimics the original and solder the assembly. It's not easy but it is doable. You might be able to hire this out to a jewelry repair shop. I'd guess they would charge you 75-100.

    Send me a message if you want help. I still have some of the necessary brass left over. Good luck!
  5. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Assuming you still have the bits that broke off, "hard solder" would probably be a permanent repair. That's my go-to technique for problems like this, but it takes skill and practice (thanks to my dad for teaching me). Still, a small welding or machine shop would be quite likely to be equipped for this kind of soldering. I've learned that any job which doesn't require setting up a CNC machine can usually be fit in quickly between other jobs.

    An old trick I learned is to wrap the entire plate in a damp rag, so it doesn't overheat and discolor the finish while you perform the repair.
  6. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    This is a pretty common old Kay / Kluson repair. If you know someone who has one of the little Smith micro welding torches, they can Silver solder everything back together. I used to mess around with fixing them myself, but then found a local jeweler who has a bench setup and can do it in about 10 minutes. Jewelers are used to working on delicate small parts, so I'd go to one of them before I went to a larger scale "welder".

    You can also find a broken donor machine and swap the complete post and button. To do it, you'll need to pull apart the brass tabs from the inside, pry apart the section you need, and then lightly hammer everything back together again on the final piece to "mash" the tabs back in position.

  7. ethnotime


    Sep 24, 2006
    +1 on the jeweler: my D tuning peg breaks every couple of years and last time it happened someone recommended going to a jeweler as they can put the pieces back together pretty easily. It was done about 1 year ago and it cost me like $50 in New York city. It's a pain to get the tuner off and keeping the sound post up but it was definitely the best solution.

    Good luck
  8. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Did the heat discolor the plate? That's the only question. The best solution is to remove the worm gear, so then you don't heat up the whole assembly, but that's a lot of extra work. If you can tolerate a bit of discoloration, then just bring the whole business to a jeweler, like everyone has said. I bet many jewelers would charge less that 50 bucks if you explain that it's not a museum piece - it only needs to hold:) Also, jewelers have something called "heat sink paste" which they can spread on the plate to keep it cool, but it still might discolor a bit.
  9. ethnotime


    Sep 24, 2006
    Nothing was discolored fortunately! I couldn't remove the worm gear because of a bent screw in the tuner (mine is tyrolean style) so I had to take the whole thing over. I bet most jewelers would charge less too but in NYC this what we get!!!

    Incidentally that same tuning peg is becoming bent again and will surely break off sooner or later. It takes a beating, I think, when I put it in my Honda civic. I was just looking at the sloane tuners today and I might take the plunge and upgrade when this peg finally breaks off again. I was also thinking of building a tuning peg protector, made out of cardboard or something so that I can protect the tuners. We'll see.

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