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 My Customized Locking Bass Tuning Keys

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EricHaven
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PostSubject: My Customized Locking Bass Tuning Keys   Tue Sep 08, 2015 7:25 pm

So by now, ya'll know full-well of my quest for a fully-locking bass trem system. My guitarist/luthier/best bud Andy Beech of D'Haitre Guitars and I tried a few different ideas to get fine tuners onto a Kahler bass trem to no avail. The idea was to incorporate a locking nut, but we simply could not get a design that would be simple to implement, easy to use, and effective. Also, since many players now detune on the fly, having a toplock made this more difficult to accomplish.

So we took another look at the concept of creating locking bass keys. Andy and I mulled over a couple of different approaches, taking several things into consideration. We knew that this would involve modding existing keys, and trusting Andy as I do, I felt confident that the design we settled on would be worth the risk of destroying a set of bass keys.

And it worked.

Sorry for the crap images, as these were the best my phone could get. But I think you'll get the idea. My four-stringer Romulus on the left, and my fiver Remus on the right. You'll notice the remnants of the toplock design Andy created for Romulus. It worked, but without fine tuners, getting Romulus in tune was a huge chore. Having the keys modded to lock eliminated the need for the toplock, so I simply removed the lock plates.





We combined our collective ideas to come up with this method.

1. Sanded down the tungs that the string would normally drop down into.
2. Drilled the appropriate-size hole for the string to pass through, taking care to drop it down halfway between the new top of the key, and the base.
3. Drilled out the center hole (can't recall what size we used).
4. Tapped new threads into the new center hole (again, no recollection what thread size, just used a size for the screws we got).
5. Installed allen screws.
6. Slipped the strings into the holes, and CAREFULLY screwed down the allen screws.
7. Clipped the excess string lengths off the ends.



After we did this, we noticed buzzing on the D and G strings of Romulus, so we ripped out two brass rollers from an older Kahler 2400 I had laying around, and Andy crafted a rolling string tree.



So I can hear all of you asking "how well do they work?" The answer is....AWESOME.

Divebombs are extreme. The tuning stability is almost perfect. I say almost, because running the amount of distortion I do, I can sometimes hear an extremely SLIGHT wobble when doing chords, but honestly, we are talking hairs of a semitone. I imagine that the strings are being torqued so much when tremming while locked, that they simply shift a hair out. I think this has more to do with the position of the arm when it returns to pitch. And when playing clean without distortion, you cannot tell at all.

Also, we used the Carvin keys we got for my basses when they were being created, and to be honest, the material isn't the highest of quality. The posts tended to move around a bit beforehand anyways, so I imagine that using a better set of keys would result in an even more stable design.

I have to say that I am EXTREMELY happy with the results.

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PostSubject: Re: My Customized Locking Bass Tuning Keys   Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:53 am

Does anyone make a decent roller nut that fits a jazz bass? I think this in combination with a roller nut would solve every tuning issue I've ever had.
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PostSubject: Re: My Customized Locking Bass Tuning Keys   Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:29 am

bootsox wrote:
Does anyone make a decent roller nut that fits a jazz bass?  I think this in combination with a roller nut would solve every tuning issue I've ever had.

I seem to remember seeing bass roller nuts somewhere Boots....but for the life of me, I cannot remember where.

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