Learning to live with a D-tuner

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jerry J, Jun 28, 2003.

  1. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I went down to one of my favorite local shops that is closing down due to the lousy market:bawl: . I was intending to get new tuners for my Geddy Lee bass. They didn't have anything that would fit but they gave me a super deal on a Hipshot D-tuner. I figured "why not?".

    Well it installed pretty easily and all which was nice. But I've found that when you switch back to E is goes sharp by quite a bit. I read on the Hipshot website that this kinda normal and that you really should start a few cents lower than pitch then cycle the tuner. So I did that but the next time I went down to D and back to E is was sharp again.

    Does anyone, that uses one of these on a regular basis, retune after each use? I'm not sure that I'd trust it to go back and forth and stay in tune. If anyone can provide some tips I'd sure appreciate it.

    I'd also like to find out how to use it when I play. In what circumstances do you use yours?(maybe this would be a good thread in the "techniques" section.
  2. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    I've used a Hipshot D tuner from almost the day they came out on the market. It helps to have only two or three wraps of string around the tuning post. It's also a good idea to make sure the assembly works smoothly, and to lubricate it every month or so. Of course, the string has to be completely stretched out on it. This means a couple good hard yanks on it.

    Over the years, I've learned to play with the D A D G and C A D G tuning and get around comfortably with it. This took a lot of shedding.

    The hipshot involves a compromise because the D or C note isn't properly intonated for D or C. It works well live, but I never was comfortable with it in the studio.

    A five string bass has the advantage of easier patterns and more natural articulation. That said, I like the sound of a detuned E to D better than a D on a B string.
  3. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    I agree with the other two. I have them on all my 4 string basses. Many tunes I cover play off a tuned down e string to d. It really can't be played on a 5 string. Make sure you put vaseline on the tab of the hipshot every few months. When you drop to d, it won't always be in tune perfectly but I've found I can get it pretty close with a little finesse! I use it sometimes for a whole song or maybe for a passage or an ending to a tune. I wouldn't dare go on stage w/o one!

  4. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    If I have my Yiddish correct, a "schmeckel" is not a measure - it's a body part:D
  5. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Great advice given here. I always installed D=tuners on my fours. Once you get the hang of setting 'em up, they work beautifully: I could flip between D and E multiple times within the same song.
  6. Joelc73


    Nov 13, 2000
    I've used one for 10 years or so and I've found that what works best for me is this:

    1) Start by tuning the E, not the D (i.e. with the lever closed)
    2) Tune up from a flat note (i.e. tune up, not down)
    3) (And this is key) From a flat note, gradually tighten the tuner (sharpen the note) and between each turn flip the lever. This sounds strange, but it really makes a difference. Essentially, you're moving the tuning key slightly and then flipping the lever up & down each time until your E is in tune. Be careful not to overshoot the E. If you do, you should detune and start over.
    4) Once the E is in tune, move on to the D (or whatever the de-tuned note is).

    Also, you can try rubbing some graphite (from the tip of a pencil) into the nut slot for that string. This was an old Billy Sheehan trick that works pretty well. It keeps the string from binding/sticking in the nut slot.

    I hope this is helpful. Good luck. D-tuners really are a god-send!
  7. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    Great tips here. Thanks so much.

    I made sure that the pivot point has vaseline, only 2 winds on the post, tuned up to pitch, new strings but well stretched so all looks good. Ah, graphite on the nut. That's an old Stratocaster trick for the tremolo. I'll give that a shot.

    I'll stick with it and it should be fun. Or heck, I can be like SMASH and just never use it.
  8. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    I've got them on all my 4's also & they work fine.