On-the-fly headless tuning

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by IWieldTheSpade, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. IWieldTheSpade


    Mar 15, 2010
    Hi all,

    I've had a dig through the archives but it seems this question hasn't been addressed properly before.

    I'm thinking of going down the headless route, but I've not seen any indication of how easy they are to retune on the fly. I like to use drop D on the occasion, so being able to retune at least the E string with relative ease between songs is a bit of a dealbreaker for me.

    So, headless owners, without the aid of something like the Steinberger DB how would you rate headless machines for altering tuning?
  2. grisezd


    Oct 14, 2009
    I've not had a problem with the few I've had. Actually never really thought about it, just turned the knob.
    Hamish MacCleod and Doctor J like this.
  3. IWieldTheSpade


    Mar 15, 2010
    See that's what I figured really, but I hadn't seen anything mentioning it anywhere though and I've only briefly played one headless in the past. Just wanted to be sure before I embark blindly on a new project
  4. Razman

    Razman Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    Kubicki Xfactor.
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    The Kubicki is cool but it's not made anymore. Just saw some shots of a dude who's building new basses that use that same tuning system, though. Can't remember his name but his basses look really retro-futuristic, like the 1950's idea of what basses would look like in the future.

    I thought there was some sort of drop-D tuning mechanism available for headless basses, no?
    Mister_argentum likes this.
  6. IWieldTheSpade


    Mar 15, 2010
    I'm actually building my own, so a drop mechanism isn't really available enough for me to use in this case
  7. BazzTard

    BazzTard Inactive

    it's smoother and more precise than with normal tuners, because you stretch the whole string evenly instead of winding one end around a post.

    If double ball ended strings were more prolific in the late 80s, headless would've caught on with more people, but back then,before the web, finding a shop in your town that even KNEW WHAT THEY WERE was hard, let alone finding a set, that wasn't ten bucks more than normal bass strings. I blame the string makers. I wish I still had my Hohner B2A :(

    you are gonna have to buy a headless bridge with tuners, so just buy one with a drop D option . Or did I miss something?
  8. Mister_argentum


    Aug 30, 2011
    I think I've seen those basses, the armstrong relayer bass. They have the kubicki tuning system. To answer to the op I rate headless tuning systems very high.
    JimmyM likes this.
  9. IWieldTheSpade


    Mar 15, 2010
    Sorry I should have clarified that further, I'll actually be building the tuner unit itself too, but I'm not quite savvy enough to design my own drop mechanism. I'm happy enough to just retune manually, I do so with all my other instruments anyway
    JimmyM likes this.
  10. BazzTard

    BazzTard Inactive

    wow you are making your own bridge and tuning mechanism? good onya, I wish I could .

    The tuners on my Hohner turned very easily so as you say, tuning up and down a step won't take long,and because the string doesn't slip on itself like with standard tuners, it's set and forget.
  11. Ken J

    Ken J Hartford Hot Several Brass Band

    Aug 19, 2011
    Middlefield, CT
  12. Ken J

    Ken J Hartford Hot Several Brass Band

    Aug 19, 2011
    Middlefield, CT
  13. Hamish MacCleod

    Hamish MacCleod Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2014
    South America
    My Hohner 5'er hardly ever went out of tune... mostly when the strings were brand new, after a week or so i rarely had to tune it.
  14. IWieldTheSpade


    Mar 15, 2010
  15. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    The steinberger Db tuner and the Kubicki extended fret system both work really well. You can still find the Db tuners for sale, though pricey. The hipshot drop tuner works by pivoting the whole tuning head a preset adjustable distance. If you are building your own screw based tuner, couldn't you add some adjustable "stops" that could be set for alternate tunings? If the stops are accurate, you just turn the tuning knob quickly, and off you go. I would think this should be more accurate than a hipshot, because there is no twisting force imposed on the string as its tensioned. Please post photos if you build your own, interested to see how you solve it.
  16. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Watched the Youtube videos, amazing metal fabrication there, but I'm not sure how it's an improvement on the Steinberger design, which can be used with single or double ball strings with an adapter. The Steinberger system seems purer in that it only pulls in a direct straight line, no twisting, no pivoting up or down. I think the Steinberger system is less likely to break strings. In 30 years of owning my old Steinberger XP2, I can only remember breaking a bass string twice, both times with G strings that were plain wore out.
  17. IWieldTheSpade


    Mar 15, 2010
    Thanks for the input. I think I may go with the Steinberger style. I recently came across the Hipshot xtender for double bass, and I think if I can figure out a similar system, that sort of thing would fit quite nicely
  18. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    What make are those basses? Gorgeous stuff! I'm glad to see a resurgence in headless designs after a long dormancy. Are those composite necks?
  19. audionut36


    Sep 25, 2012
    image.jpg As easy as tuning a regular bass.

    Attached Files:

  20. ulasengin


    Oct 19, 2006
    My headless bass is Maruszczyk Fog Omega 5.
    It has balanced with a lightweight design. This basses builded on POLAND as hand made.
    A feeling like you have no bass when you hang around his neck . There is no composite materials. The neck is 3 pieces hard rock maple neck.
    Sounds as compared to other headed basses, much more punchy bass.
    Already almost impossible to be physically neck diving . Top horn goes to the 11. fret, not 12. These feature provides incredible balance and comfort.
    Another special future is ETS bridge. You can use regular or double ball strings on this bass.
    It has 2 strap pins. If you don't like the first pin's angle, you can use second strap pin for balance and comfort.
    It has huge sustain, set neck may be the cause .
    Very easy and very light moving .
    When I ride the motorcycle, I can carry the bass on my back. The gig bag lenght is 100 cm.
    These are amazing features my headless. I recorded a video today with my basses. I will share it when I finish the videotapes.If you like it please visit the
    You can ask anything about MARUSZCZYK basses.Please don't hesitate to ask me.