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Tuning Machines Recommendations

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Meg Learmonth, Nov 24, 2017.

  1. Meg Learmonth

    Meg Learmonth

    Oct 28, 2017
    I will cut right to the chase:

    I was playing a gig and my bass kept coming out of tune. I have a Squier VM Jazz bass and I've never thought of upgrading my tuning machines until now. What would be the best tuning machines that'd keep the tuning really well?

    Thanks for helping me with my numpty question!
  2. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I've always gone the Schaller route when replacing tuning heads. The BM4 will give you the right look but may require new holes. Hipshot HB7 might be a better bet as a direct replacement, but there are many hole patterns and peg hole sizes used across the Squier range. I suggest you measure up then see what's available - both Schaller and Hipshot publish engineering drawings of their products on their websites.
  3. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    What's wrong with the existing hardware? When we hear of issues like this, the first thing that comes to mind is a problem somewhere else along the string path: bad install, witness points, nut slots, etc.

    mesaplayer83, sissy kathy and 96tbird like this.
  4. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    .and ..... tuning down to pitch. Always tune UP to pitch so no slack Remains in the tuner mechanism or windings.
    Zooberwerx, sissy kathy and SteveCS like this.
  5. JGbassman

    JGbassman Supporting Member

    May 31, 2011
    Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    As stated make sure you are getting the correct amount of windings on the post and tune up to pitch. If that still doesn't work, and you want to replace tuners, I favor hipshot products. They are always consistent and work great. I have two different styles of hipshot tuners on basses and the are outstanding
  6. I'd agree with Zoo and 96.

    I worked in music stores and had my share of recently-purchased axes come back with the 'this g*****n thing won't stay in tune!' complaints, and it was always down to spaghetti windings on the posts, way different string gauges installed after purchase that fouled the nut, etc.

    And as 96 pointed out: With open gear tuning keys especially, always, repeat, ALWAYS tune UP to pitch. DON'T go sharp and back down. This tends to 'set' the mechanism against the tension.

    Install new strings, make sure you leave at least two wraps around the keys (I like 3 or 4 on the smaller diameter D and G if I can get away with it), with none of the wraps on top of each other. Each needs to look like new cable on a winch, or fresh fishing line on a reel, nice and neat and side by side.

    Make sure they slide easily in the nut. Make sure they're seated correctly in the bridge, both the saddle groove and the retainer on the end of the bridge for the ball end. I always pull the string up from the fingerboard at the neck / body intersection to get the stretch out of them. Tune carefully up to pitch, will take several passes as the new stretches out of them.

    I'm utterly intolerant of an instrument that won't stay in tune, so I've carefully and always done all of the above and never had any problems. I have a Squier VM equivalent, a James Johnston, probably with the same keys as your bass, and I have no problems.

    Best of Luck !
    SteveCS likes this.
  7. mesaplayer83


    Jun 27, 2017
    Was thinking the same thing, as I don't see the tuners on that model causing any tuning issues...
  8. marbir


    Oct 18, 2010
    So I had kind of the opposite question. I just got a squier bass and thinking of upgrading a couple things, pup, bridge. But I'm checking out the stock tuners I have on this and comparing them to replacements from Grover, Schaller, in the 50-70$ range. Seem they're all 20:1 machines. I counted the gears on my squier stock equip and I got 23. So aren't my stock tuners actually better than a lot of replacements?

    Attached Files:

  9. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Other than changing the pickup - and that’s assuming you don’t like the sound of what you already have - there’s no reason to do the other mods you’re contemplating (i.e. bridge and tuners) unless there’s something wrong with what you’ve already got on there.

    And even then, trying a different set of strings might well get you the sound you’re looking for at minimal cost with no mods needed.

    Just a suggestion.
    marbir likes this.
  10. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    They have a finer adjustment yes.
    marbir likes this.
  11. The ratio listed on tuners isn’t the number of teeth on the gears, it’s the number of times the key has to be turned to get one turn on the post.
  12. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    Unless the worm gear is a double helix, it's the same thing. I've never seen anything other than a single helix on a worm gear. One key revolution will advance the cog gear one tooth; so you can count the number of teeth on the cog to determine how many revolutions the key has to be turned to make one revolution of the capstan.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
    Lownote38 and marbir like this.

  13. Hmm... gotta get better at thinking things all the way through before I answer.:banghead::eyebrow: You are correct.
    sissy kathy likes this.
  14. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    Been there; done that.
  15. fender3x


    Mar 12, 2006
    I agree about wanting to know why it's going out of time before spending $70 on tuners. All the things mentions plus the neck joint. Also check the bolts on the tuners. I have old Fender, Schaller and some cheapo Chinese tuners. The Schallers are great and I would totally recommend them for reducing weight...but for tuning, even the cheepos stay in tune....
    Zooberwerx likes this.

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