Rattling tuner ear

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Damon Rondeau, Feb 2, 2004.

  1. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Any sage tips about a tuner ear that rattles like the proverbial dickens (whatever a dickens is) when I bow my E string really loud?

    I can see and feel that the ear has got a bit of play in its slot; the other three are firmly fixed in place. Once in its slot, how does one of these ears get attached to the worm-gear post, anyway? A pin that's ground off and polished?

    Is there some sort of Zen-master thing I can do? Maybe involving a ball peen hammer and a punch? A shim? Surely not. Solder? Ditto...
  2. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    My teachers Pollman does this. He wrapped a rubber band around it and it doesn't anymore.

  3. Sometimes a little super glue applied to the TOP of the tuner will work. Make sure the tuner handle or "ear" is up and down so the glue will run in there, and obviously, protect the bass from any drips. If the fork that holds the pin or handle is spread out really bad, you may need to pull the fork together with some vise grips. Put some leather or something in the grips to avoid scratching.
  4. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Paul's crazy glue idea is a good quick fix but it generally won't last over time. CA glues are very non flexible and eventually give in to vibration and stress. Paul is also on target with the visegrip idea, I have had good luck with this technique.
  5. Jeff may be right about super glue not holding over a long period of time, but if you have to use a couple of drops more in a couple of years that's still a pretty good way to do it. Personally, I've not had one fail.
  6. There ya go Damon...I guess i'm a Zen Masterbassist!
    By the way, when i've done the vise grip bit in the past, i've left them on, locked, all night so that the fork kind of re-forms to the original position.
  7. I acquired my Czech bass with a broken key. Cut the remains of the old one out of the slot in the shaft with a hack saw (carefully), traced another key and cut a replacement from brass sheet of the same thickness. I then soldered the key to the shaft (on the bench, not on the bass.) That was about 25 years ago, I don't even remember which key it was now, can't tell by looking.
  8. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby

    I took a pair of water pump pliers and a piece of leather and I gave things a mighty squeeze. Bye bye rattle.
  9. What the hell are water pump pliers? And don't tell me they're pliers for water pumps! Congratulations!
  10. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    You know, those slip-joint pliers with longish handles. Very convenient for plumbing and, apparently, tuner ears. They let me apply the pressure in just the right place.

    Nice tip, Jeff. More Mars than Zen but it works.
  11. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby

    Well -- this rattling tuner ear wouldn't stay squeezed. I moved from the pliers to the vise-grips and the damned thing still kept opening up on me after a few hours of playing arco.

    I went to the CA glue method and haven't had any change in probably a dozen hours of playing time now...
  12. I went through the same thing with an Engelhardt. Finally resigned myself to the rubber-band method. When people would ask, I would say it was there as a "resonance dampener."
  13. Damon, what type machines are these...individual French style or two on a plate? I was thinking you could try to match with a new one if they're the individual. Buy a new plate if they're a common kind. Most luthiers have a drawer full of 'em. The Kay/Englehardt one's are always doing this, so they usually have a big supply.
    Last resort....new machines or take it to a machinist and have him weld the mother!
  14. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Individual French style, Paul. I know that replacement is an option, and I will go there if I have to. I was interested in ideas for a quickie fix and, as usual, the TB gang has offered up a bunch of ideas. The squeeze seemed simplest, the CA glue next in line. (Sorry -- I have a fairly laissez faire style in life, but the rubber band thing just ain't on for this bass player.) Last of all would be removal and replacement.

    I had never had a good look at how those puppies go together before this incident. I'm a little surprised there isn't a more positive connection 'twixt ear and post so that this rattle thing simply can't happen.
  15. Damon, you're one stubborn Mother...You don't wanna try the welding? I guess you could pull out the turner and figure out a way to beef up and make it thicker where you're trying to fit it in the fork. Or find a way to re-pin it.
    I think i'd buy one and clean up the others to match.
    I just noticed that bass head in your avatar....the machines in question? Between Barrie Kolstein and Gagnon, as well as some of those English shops you'll get close. Granted they're expensive.
    Lemur has two sets i've seen that could work...Deluxe French style and one they call Premium French style Heavyweight. Again, you'd have to shine up your other machines to help match.
  16. Welding isn't a good option, it won't work for dissimilar metals (i.e. if the shaft is steel and the ear is brass), even if both parts are steel all plating must be removed from the joint area, then you have heat discolouration when you're done...

    I'm gonna suggest solder again, using yer basic plumbing-type lead-tin solder. There are other varieties that are stronger but they all require higher heat and you again run the risk of heat discolouration. It will stick to dissimilar metals, if done properly the solder will wick into the cavities between the parts and should last indefinitely. It shouldn't require enough heat to make the parts change colour.
  17. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    If superglue scares you, how about trying some of that two-part, clear-drying epoxy available at most all home supply places. They usually offer it in a variety of setting times.

    The slow stuff could be mixed up, worked into the joint with a toothpick or edge of a business card, and the excess wiped clean well before it hardened.

    It would ultimately work even better than CA IMO.
  18. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Just to be clear about this: I have used the CA glue (aka "crazy" glue, "super" glue) and it is holding on quite well, apparently. I chose that method as the second-most simple after the most-simple (the squeeze play) didn't quite work for me.

    You can't see any gap in the fit of the ear into the slot. I haven't measured the gap or anything -- the only thing that matters is that there's enough of a gap to let a rattle occur. I believe that the slot must have been oversized to begin with, and that the squeezing could only have closed the slot at its top, not at the bottom.

    In this case, I don't believe you could fit any kind of substance thicker than water in there -- the gap is too small for toothpicks and business cards. You'd need something thin that will flow in or wick its way in. I thought of solder at first, but then I thought, "hey! I'll bet somebody at TB has a really handy tip for me here before I start in with the rubber bands, soldering guns, ball peen hammers and arc welders."

    I think Bob (man, I hope his recovery is going well) probably had it aced to begin with. The CA was simple, non-messy, and if I have to give it another drop or two every now and then well, that ain't no big deal. One thing you do have to watch out for (especially if you're using a very thin CA glue, as I did): if you're applying the stuff with the tuner "upside down", so the glue flows down into the slot with gravity, make sure you don't apply too much. The glue will keep on flowing into the tuner works, an outcome you surely don't want. (No, it didn't happen to me but I was a little freaked that it might.)

    Man did that thing ever make a racket when I bowed that open E!! Not any more.
  19. Look, if you got the ***** Do this ....Cut off the old ears as you call them right on the shaft, where the tuner handles ( I call them) join the shaft that goes into the worm gear. Get yourself some nice ebony, cut the ebony into nice custom turners, fairly thick and oval in shape, drill a hole in the side of the oval and eboxy to shaft! You can customize these and make 'em fancy...Do all four. You got one of a kind ebony turners!!
  20. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Paul, I only got the &&&&&, not the *****. It's gotten me this far, though...

    Thanks for passing on the nice idea.