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Replacing a Jazz Bass tuner under tension

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by paulears, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. I've bashed my Jazz Bass on the headstock, and the damage is a small chunk of wood chipped off on the very top, and the single tuner on the bottom side caught the force and snapped off the paddle. The impact started at the top, then slid down until it hit the tuning paddle. The sharp edge of a brick wall! It didn't even go out of tune. I can fix the chunk temporarily until at some stage I get it repaired properly, and I've ordered a new machine head.

    My question is that the G is still at pitch so I can't just take out the 4 screws because it will probably suddenly spin and damage the guitar even more. I don't want to cut the string - as it's nearly new, so is there a non-damaging way to take the tension off?
  2. SamanthaCay

    SamanthaCay Like bass guitar OMG! Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    If there is enough of the cam left (the part the paddle is attached to) vice grips.

    Do you have a way to show us a picture or two of said tuner?
  3. Andyman001

    Andyman001 moderation must be taken with a grain of salt

    Feb 11, 2010
    Grab the tip of the post with a pair of vice-grip pliers and remove the screw holding the gear to the back of the peg. wrap the neck with an old towel or something just in case.
  4. SamanthaCay

    SamanthaCay Like bass guitar OMG! Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    Why wouldn't you just de-tune it using the vice grips:confused:
    That's what I was getting at anyways.

    Oh wait I think I get where you're coming from, you mean to grab the post as in the part the string wraps around, remove it from the gear and let it turn slowly, makes sense.

    I'd still try and de-tune using them on the cam first though.
  5. Qlanq


    Jul 9, 2007
    Try to put a flat-edged screwdriver in the string slot and unscrew the peg until the tension releases the string.
  6. Got it! I do have a nice chunky screwdriver that will fit the slot. Just needs a spare pair of hands to unscrew the gear wheel. Annoyingly the break is just inside the tuning head frame - so nowhere to attach the grips to. I'll report back guys - thanks!
  7. Even if there's nothing sticking out, you can slot it with a dremel cutting wheel and use a straight-blade screwdriver. The slot will extend into the frame, but you just use a screwdriver narrow enough to not engage the frame.

    Or you can drill a small hole and drive a screw or easy out into the hole (depending on which way you need to turn it) and turn it with that.

    You've got lots of options.
  8. TGLbass


    Aug 20, 2010
    DUDE lay a bath towel or something around the string so it doesn't fly all over the place and cut the string with some cutters. No need to go all tools and what not on it. You can put on a glove on your cutting hand too. I hope I'm not wrong in thinking the string is still on the tuner.
  9. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    Hence the advice about going "all tools and what not".
  10. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    If I'm not mistaken, if the paddle on your tuner was soldered on to the gear shaft, tension for that style tuner comes from the big Phillips head screw through the back of the center (round) gear.
    You might be able to put a butter knife in the string slot and unwind it enough to get the string off just as it sits. If not loosen the big Phillips screw on the back and see what happens.
    Don't use the butter knife like a screwdriver, put the blade in the slot just ahead of the handle so you can get a grip on both sides of the shaft. Think of the letter T with a stubby upright leg and a super long cross
    I wouldn't worry about the string whipping off and hitting you. It's rigid enough that about the worst that will happen is the wraps around the post might jump a bit if you released the tension quickly, but it ain't gonna fly off like a whip or anything. Not only is the string too stiff, but relatively speaking it's not under that much tension. If you strung it as intended by putting the end of the string down the center of the post then bending it over before wrapping it around the post, it can't jump free no matter how fast tension comes off.
    The only time I'd be worried about the string being a potential hazard would be if you wind up cutting the string under tension. If I had to cut a string under full tension, I'd put on some work gloves and grab the neck just behind the nut and cut the string on the tuner side of the nut as close as possible to the tuner post.
  11. TGLbass


    Aug 20, 2010

    It's a very simple fix- snip snip-- string tension relaesed no damage and go on about your business. One string is prob $5. But if you want to break out the power tools and goof around with a screw driver and vice grips up around all that nice wood on the headstock... what happens if the vice grips slip and take a chunk out of the wood? That's okay though I just thought I'd tell you what I did.
  12. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Sure, just destroy the string when he's trying to save it. No, being creative can save $5. Five bux is five bux.

    If you have three or more wraps on the post, do this:

    Gloves. Grab the string at the nut, hand around the neck. Cut the string at the bend where it comes out of the tuner slot. There will be enough length to stick it back in the hole and make a new bend and you'll only lose about a half wrap.
  13. elBandito


    Dec 3, 2008
    Rotten Apple
    You can release tension from the bridge by lowering and removing the saddle.
  14. Nothing will happen. The gear will remain firmly affixed to the shaft under torque from the string.
    Until he releases some with the butter knife--then he'd better keep a firm grip on it--lest it go flying and take out a window or the TV or something....:D
  15. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    Yup. Just place something cross-wise in the the tuner post slot and use it to take up the tension
    while removing the post screw and gear in the back of the tuner. Then gradually release the tension.

    Use something that will clear the other tuning posts as it turns. It will not turn very much. Maybe 1/4 turn.

  16. Nagrom


    Mar 21, 2004
    Western Canada
    And its real hard to back drive a worm gear. That's how they work.
  17. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    Was going to post the same thing...

    - georgestrings
  18. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    True, but then you would need to redo the setup once you replaced the machine head.
    If you use an alternative method to release tension at the source, it's a 5 minute parts replacement job rather than a 5 minute replacement job followed by a setup.
    No biggie if you can do your own setup, but with the average setup costing $75 around here, if OP can't do their own setup and removes the G bridge saddle, they are still faced with a fairly simple, inexpensive and simply accomplished repair job, plus a $75 setup.
  19. Question - How many bassists does it take to solve a simple problem?

  20. New machine head arrived today, and my doubts were unwarranted. To be honest I was surprised how little effort you had to put in to take the stress off the worm gear. Then as you all told me, you could remove the cross head screw, and without the tension, the gear lifted straight off. Releasing the tension on the slot, it just undid. New head, replaced the screws and fixed in less than five minutes! Thanks folks.

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