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What's up with hat peg tuners?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by fregoman, Aug 23, 2007.

  1. fregoman

    fregoman In Memoriam

    Mar 29, 2007
    Portland, Oregon
    I am a newbe to the DB - after many years as an EB player I recently switched to DB. I aquired a bueatiful Shen 1000 from a friend who is a pro. It is far beyond my capabilities but an inspiration to learn. It has these hat peg tuners, and I have seen that they are options on basses such as the Upton Professor - what's the advantage, or are they just eye candy? My friend said something about the strings only touching wood, better tone - sounds like eye candy to me. Any ideas?

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  2. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    Two functional advantages for me are 1) The larger diameter makes for a faster wind with the gut strings that I use. 2) Lighter weight for the scroll. I move in and out of vocal microphones and move to different positions depending on who is soling in the primary central microphone, so a lighter bass makes for easier on-stage movement.
  3. fregoman

    fregoman In Memoriam

    Mar 29, 2007
    Portland, Oregon
    Thanks, Steve - makes sense - iI never thought about weight. It also seems like some old basses have them - a hold over from peg tuners, perhaps?

    By the way, nice website!
  4. are those really called hat tuners? And who sells traditional style tuners like that? Or nice tuners in generaL?
  5. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Yup, hat peg tuners, as in hat rack, a place to hang yer hat.

    Upton Bass, Bob Gollihur, Metropolitan Music and Lemur all have them.

    I really want a set myself. :)
  6. Bubbabass


    May 5, 2004
    They are useful for hearing yourself in an orchestra when everyone is cranking loudly. Just stick the E string peg in your ear. This probably was not the original intent.
  7. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    All I know is, when I play a rental bass with hat pegs, I whack my head on them at least once during the performance. :rollno:
  8. milomo


    Aug 5, 2007
    Bloomfield, NJ
    I know from what you're talking. I bought a new bass 2 months ago, and it has hat peg tuners, and the phrase that comes to mind is from that movie "A Christmas Story" - "You'll shoot your eye out!"
  9. I think they look cool, but are they a wise investment, or should I look at plate tuners as replacements for my current plates?
  10. fregoman

    fregoman In Memoriam

    Mar 29, 2007
    Portland, Oregon
    It seems like a one way street, because they are quite large. My friend said he liked them because the string only touched wood from the tail piece to the tuners, but they are a big piece of ebony that requires redrilling the peg box, it seems to me.
  11. Heck man... I do that with out a big wooden appendage to stick out and kill my brain sells, but I do admit they can look really col on the right bass. they look kind of weird to me on new, lightly varnished instruments, but on aged dark varnished ones they look outstanding, its got kind of a vintage vibe to it.
  12. I wouldn't own a bass with them, most likely. They can fail without warning, especially if they're old pegs on an old bass. Then you get to attempt to make a new peg that actually matches the other three, both in shape and finish. Why bother when there are good quality metal machines. IMO, this is one good modern improvement.
  13. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    I have never see or heard of a current Rubner-made "hat peg" with ebony rollers fail or have problems. It's the old, cheap dyed maple ones on the cheap German and Bohemian basses that die a painful death. The modern ones are great.
  14. Perhaps the newer ones are better, my experience was on stage when my stand partner's string just went limp in the middle of the performance. I forget what the bass was and whether the machines were old or new.
  15. Do they work like old style Spanish/flamenco guitar pegs? I have one of those where the tuners are simply wooden pegs that are very gradually tapered. You actually pull them out a bit to loosen them, shove em back in hard when you're tuned up. They are interesting. They work a little too well in warm and humid weather (they don't come out).
  16. No, they're just like regular machines, only the shaft is wood instead of brass or whatever. The knob on the end is just decorative, unless hanging a hat is a real use... :p I have seen a few odd basses with actual pegs though, but I imagine those would be a real PITA to live with.
  17. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    So having a wood shaft instead of metal enhanse or hinder the sound with these pegs?
  18. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    Quite often you'll see photos of older basses showing where someone has sawn off the knob part of the ebony tuner shaft. To me it looks like someone walking around with no more ears on their head.
  19. Fregoman,
    I put a set of hat tuners on the old Juzek in hopes of improving the E string response (to no avail) and they work fine. I had trouble with the old tuners holding tune so I replaced them with a set of hats from Met music (the Juzek supplier). The installation is a PITA with the drilling of a taper but they hold tune and I agree with the cool looks. Also I think the wood is ebony. Eye candy? Yeah, you're probably correct.
  20. James VW

    James VW

    Feb 6, 2011
    I know this is an old topic, but I was searching Google to try to figure out if there was an era in which hat pegs were popular. I own a 1900s German-made with hat pegs, and I've since noticed that in photos circa 1900s (esp in Ken Burns' Jazz documentary book), all of the basses have hat pegs. And I remember hearing once that it comes from back in the day when all string instruments had that setup.

    As for eye candy, for sure! I friend of mine bought a bass made within the last ten years that had hat peg attachments, whereas inside, the pegs were metal.

    I heard from some luthiers at Hammond Ashely Violins that some professionals have enjoyed more weight at the scroll, ie adding an extension. They claimed it "opened up the sound". So maybe a reason not to have hat pegs?

    That's interesting about the Spanish/flamenco pegs, Diana Gannet's gorgeous Venus bass, made by Mario Lamarre (and almost all of the other basses he makes) has hat pegs. But they have the purpose of quick string removal, too: once the tension is low enough, you can unhook the pegs to spin them out, rather than having to use the tuning gears for the rest of it.

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