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 Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo

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EricHaven
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PostSubject: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Sun Mar 22, 2009 2:12 pm

There are a few horror stories I have heard of guys putting a Kahler on their bass, only to discover that they can no longer lower their action to a decent level. Why? What happened? Simple. There are some cases where you can install a Kahler so that it sits directly on top of the surface, BUT, there are many instances where the Kahler needs to be counter-sunk into the body of the bass. For example, the Kahlers on both my SX and Yamaha basses are counter-sunk into the body.

The best way to be sure is to measure the string action with the stock bridge on the bass, then you can use that measurement to determine just how far down into the body the Kahler should go. Remember that you do not want the trem sitting so high that in order to get your action down you end up with the strings bottoming out on the bridge saddles. You also do not want the trem to sit so low into the body that you end up with an extreme string angle from having the rollers up too high.

Rich Koerner is a master luthier who works for Time Electronics in New Jersey. Here is the direct link to his page that shows in simple visual form the correct way of installing a counter-sunk Kahler.

http://www.timeelect.com/kabass.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:02 am

In theory, couldn't you just outline around the bridge and do a careful route around the base plate...I get the feeling that I'm making this harder than it really is. You do have to make it clean (parts will be seen--it has to fit straight and (optionally) tight) and even for the base plate to seat properly. I wonder if I will have to deepen the route for the springs cam any and if so, how much? I will have to work this out, I guess. The amount that I have to drop the trem shouldn't be too extreme...at least, I don't think. It's a "we'll see" situation Cool
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:35 am

Oh, that's exactly the right way of looking at it, Martin. Every time I've dropped a Kahler further down, I do exactly that. The bummer is that Kahler themselves don't say that this is what you might need to do, and it has taken guys like Rich Koerner to look at the problem, and figure out the solution. Even I didn't realize this was a potential problem until I did an install on one of my basses where I couldn't get the action low enough, and a little web searching revealed what the solution was.
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:38 am

It's annoying and I can see how it could turn people off (along with the arm, arm lock, possible spring tension, etc stumbling blocks) as well as no real place to go if you have issues. That's what I love about this board and why I was kinda frightened to see it disappear. But now we can move on and keep on saving lives Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Mon Mar 23, 2009 3:00 am

That's what we're here for. Cool
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:56 am

I had to re-set, Sink my Kahler lower in my Blueshawk Bass. It just had to be done. I also milled (have a milling machine at work) a little to much away so it is not a perfect fit. Live & learn

Before, top mounted, but the Kahler saddles were practically flat to get the action correct.



After I sunk it, you can see the natural maple outlining it, but it now is correct. I do have a problem where the bass, I tune it, then after I played it a long time, it actually goes higher, out of tune, not lower????

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:31 pm

You mean the bass is going out of tune sharp, right Jeff?

Does it happen after you use the trem, or just after playing the bass without using the trem?

Does it happen to all four strings, or just one or two in particular?

Can you post some pictures of the headstock? From the front and from the side so we can see the string angles would be good.

Let's see if we can't help you get that puppy to behave.

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:51 am

If the strings all go sharp after you have used the trem a lot, it can be a sign of the demon of your strings binding in the nut. This can be because the strings come off the nut at extreme angles or maybe because of the strings/springs stretching out and pulling the cam away slightly from where it was zeroed.

Like Erik asked--are the strings going out of tune together (you have a Gibson 2x2 headstock, if I remember correctly. Is there a pattern with the inside (A, D) strings or the outside (E, G) strings or the top two or bottom two going out of tune)?
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:26 am

Yeah it goes sharp. My Rd sometimes when I tune it is sharp, after siting a day or two.


I will have to check, but it seems to go sharp on all the strings but the E after the bass sis 7 after I play it.

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Wed Apr 01, 2009 3:39 pm

To go along with Martin's observations, that headstock does appear to have quite the backwards angle to it. This means that you will be more apt to having the strings bind up in the nut.

Try opening up the slots with a small file. Remember, you want to open them just enough so that strings will slip back and forth easily. And it is important that you file sideways, and not downwards into the neck. You can also use a pencil to color in the slots, as pencil lead is nothing more than graphite, and this will give the slots more slip.

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:18 pm

Word! Hope that you can resolve your problems. That bass is gorgeous!
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:24 pm

as i was asking in my introduction post, i want to put a Kahler on my SR305 would it surface mount or would i have to route out some of the body? i hope i dont have to cuz i really like this bass
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:36 pm

Since the Kahler's spring system is mounted below the frame line, you would have to do at least some routing of your bass in order to install it.

To illustrate what I mean, here is a side-view of an unmounted Kahler:



If you can tell me the height of your current bridge saddles from the top of the body, then I can tell you whether or not you would need to further countersink the frame into the body, instead of letting it sit on top.

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:51 pm

EricHaven wrote:
Since the Kahler's spring system is mounted below the frame line, you would have to do at least some routing of your bass in order to install it.

To illustrate what I mean, here is a side-view of an unmounted Kahler:



If you can tell me the height of your current bridge saddles from the top of the body, then I can tell you whether or not you would need to further countersink the frame into the body, instead of letting it sit on top.


its about 1/4 of an inch from the bodyrawr" border="0" alt="" />
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:53 pm

Only 1/4 of an inch? Shocked

scratch

That's not a lot of height. You would definitely have to countersink the frame into the body. I realize that you don't want to take out a lot of wood, but at least the Kahler removes far less than a Hipshot would.

Just for comparison, my Kahler is countersunk, and the bridge rollers sit 1/2" up from the top of the body.

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:09 pm

EricHaven wrote:
Only 1/4 of an inch? Shocked

scratch

That's not a lot of height. You would definitely have to countersink the frame into the body. I realize that you don't want to take out a lot of wood, but at least the Kahler removes far less than a Hipshot would.

Just for comparison, my Kahler is countersunk, and the bridge rollers sit 1/2" up from the top of the body.


the 1/4 is not a precise measurement i was just guessing. ill get an exact measurement when i find my ruler
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:20 pm

Sounds good! Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:40 pm

just measured my saddles and they are about 1/2 an inch from the body.
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Sun Apr 12, 2009 1:49 pm

From what I can tell, you will still have to counter-sink the trem by at least half of the frame thickness. If you only surface-mounted it, your bridge saddles would have to be bottomed out to get your action down, and this means that your strings might hit the screws that hold the saddles in place.

The idea is that you have to have the bridge saddles uplifted ever so slightly to keep the strings from bottoming out, so you will have to have the trem counter-sunk a bit. Since the frame is about 1/4" thick, I suggest counter-sinking by 1/8".

Of course, you could go ahead and try surface-mounting it first, stringing it up, and see if you can get your action to where you want it. If you can, then you're all done. But if not, then you can pull off the trem and counter-sink the frame.

Guys? Any other observations to help out System here?

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Sun Apr 12, 2009 5:01 pm

EricHaven wrote:
From what I can tell, you will still have to counter-sink the trem by at least half of the frame thickness. If you only surface-mounted it, your bridge saddles would have to be bottomed out to get your action down, and this means that your strings might hit the screws that hold the saddles in place.

The idea is that you have to have the bridge saddles uplifted ever so slightly to keep the strings from bottoming out, so you will have to have the trem counter-sunk a bit. Since the frame is about 1/4" thick, I suggest counter-sinking by 1/8".

Of course, you could go ahead and try surface-mounting it first, stringing it up, and see if you can get your action to where you want it. If you can, then you're all done. But if not, then you can pull off the trem and counter-sink the frame.

Guys? Any other observations to help out System here?

now if i surface mount it i can i still pull up on the bass or is that a negative ghost rider?
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Sun Apr 12, 2009 5:45 pm

By pulling up on the bass, do you mean pulling up on the trem arm? If so, then the answer is yes. Whether or not you can pull up on the arm to raise the notes is governed by how you set the cam screw, and this will work the same regardless of how the trem is installed.

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Sun Apr 12, 2009 5:55 pm

so whether i surface mount or countersink it has to do with how i want my string action correct?
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Sun Apr 12, 2009 6:12 pm

Correct. Remember that you have to be mindful of the fact that if you lower the bridge saddles all the way down flat, the strings will bottom out on the mounts.

Let me try and illustrate.

With the Kahler's bridge saddles bottomed out all the way flat, the height from the bottom of the frame to the brass rollers is around 1/2". Now then, let's assume that in order for your bass' action to be comfortable and decent, your string height from the top of the body to the saddle has to be 5/8". Since you are left with a difference of 1/8", you could surface mount the Kahler, and have that 1/8" to slightly raise up the saddles so that your strings don't bottom out, and your action would be fine.

But what if your bass' action had to be only 1/2" to be comfortable? Even though the bridge saddles can be lowered to this point, since they are bottomed out flat and level, your strings would hit the saddle mounting pieces. So you can do one of three things. Live with higher action, shim the neck to raise it's profile higher so that you would have to raise the saddles, OR, counter-sink the Kahler down about 1/8". I believe that the best possible solution is to counter-sink the Kahler. But again, I would do so only about 1/8", since you don't want to go so far down that you end up jacking up your bridge saddles too high. I did this with my Yamaha RBX when I counter-sunk the Kahler the entire 1/4", and I lucked out since I had enough thread length in the height-adjustment screws to make it work. But what I should have done is gone down only 1/8".

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Mon Apr 13, 2009 3:38 pm

i'de have to agree with eric ... countersinking is the best way to go. eric had that picture of a countersink job on a ken smith bass ... i think it was ... that was done very nicely.

i cant believe eric second recomended shimming up the neck. i mean ... it would work ... sure. i've never done it to any of my basses. just wouldnt feel right about it. i mean ... wouldnt it kill the sustain and/or tone?

i had to countersink the kahler i installed on my ibanez ergodyne 600. it was my first kahler installation and just my luck, ended up being the tuffest way to go. eh, furreal, it wasnt that tuff. just took my time and was accurate with my measurements and it worked out perfect.

this ibanez is currently getting stripped for parts (including the kahler) for my next project. i just cant find the parts to make this the bass that i want it to be. that means that now, any parts i cant use are junk (body and neck). shame i spent so much time putting the kahler on ... but it was a great learning experience .............

i'll look for my pictures and drawings from this installation as they my be able to help you a bit.
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Mon Apr 13, 2009 3:45 pm

LOL! I'm full of surprises! Laughing

You are correct MadMike in that shimming the neck is not an ideal way to go. I only listed it as an option, as I have done this myself successfully in the past. Before I had properly counter-sunk the Kahler on my Yamaha RBX, I slipped in a metal neck plate between the neck and the pocket, soaked it in industrial-strength wood bond, replaced the screws with slightly longer ones, and torqued them down. It worked incredibly well. So much so that when I finally got off my lazy arse, and decided to properly counter-sink the Kahler pocket, I literally had to pry the neck off with a long screwdriver.

But yes, the number one choice would definitely be to counter-sink the pocket, and I believe the link you mentioned is at the very beginning of this thread.

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:07 pm

If you can make a route that fits be base plate tight enough, I can only imagine that your sustain can only improve--more surface area between the base plate and the wood...
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:09 pm

True enough. But honestly, there isn't that much more work between surface-mounting and counter-sinking a Kahler, so I believe the results are worth the extra effort.

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:46 pm

You're right, there isn't, but it couldn't hurt it, either.
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Tue Apr 14, 2009 3:43 am

heres the pocket and recess i machined into my ibanez to fit a 7410.



this bass isnt wood so i didnt take the router to it for the most part. the majority of the material was removed by hand. just really needed to make sure that the surface the kahler sat on was perfectly flat to avoid pitch or wobble.

heres my exact measurements i took to determine just how deep i needed to recess the kahler so it would fall in the middle of the min and max adjustments for string height.



i had the old bridge for reference and i belive the kahler needed another .125" deep in order to get the correct string height.

the finished job .........

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Wed Apr 15, 2009 10:21 pm

How did it work for you once you got it on? Tuning stability (after you replaced the tuners Laughing)?

And that's an awesome diagram of the Kahler!!! What a Face
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:51 am

i guess i shud post the top view specs i did as well; since people wonder if it will fit on a paticular bass or not first ... before they think of something like countersinking.

the problem i have with tune is after i do a divebomb ... it stays tuned down back at its original position. i gotta give a quick tug up to get it back in. other than that, it stays in tune as can be expected.
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Thu Apr 16, 2009 12:17 pm

Huh. Do you think that's the cam or the strings binding somewhere?
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Thu Apr 16, 2009 4:47 pm

MadMike, you mean that when you divebomb, your strings stay that low when you bring the bar back up? If so, that is a serious binding issue, and my guess is that you need to really consider filing open the nut slots. That is some extreme binding going on there! Shocked

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:21 pm

no,no ... it comes back up just fine ... but just short of where it needs to be to be in perfect tune. a quick tug up on the bar and it goes right back in tune.

i think its just cause its real new and i havent used it much. if you remember, this is the bass i cant get parts for. i was never really thrilled over the sound anyway so i dont use it at practice.

this bass is gonna get stripped down for parts and the remainder ... sacrificed to the bass gods.

this kahler is comming off and going on the p bass project. i think after "breaking it in" ittl be just fine.

the p bass project is comming along fine by the way. the laquer is stripped off and i've started applying layers of blue dye. i continue to hunt down the proper parts for this bass and continue to save money to get the 2x2 maple neck with the ebony fretboard and stainless frets.

besides semour duncan ... anyone know of any decent passive soapbars or humbuckers? whats the one on the fender p duluxe???
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:34 pm

Ah! I understand now, MadMike. It's coming back just a bit sharp, correct? Then maybe a little pencil lead in the nut slots might do the trick. But since you're going to part out the bass anyways, it sounds like this isn't a major issue.

As far as passive soapbars go, I once tired out a MightyMite that was actually pretty cool. I bought it from a seller on eBay, and I think I only paid about $30 for it. Of course, this was a few years ago, but for what it's worth! Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:19 pm

Nice!
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Fri Apr 17, 2009 3:46 am

yes ... being left a tid bit sharp ... exactly.

naw, i filed the nut and found the pencil lead, and lithium grease to be the solution to the nut problem, as the strings were binding up and going out of tune all over the place; some more than others. i just think its because the trem is still real new and stiff. it also my be because of the bass being that weirdo plastic stuff ... its always been real sensitive to string tension and temp / humidity. alternating string tension may have the bow going "boing!"

no worries. i've been completely happy with it and havent done much more than install it and set the action and intonation. when it gets on the p bass, i'll start fine tuning it and figure it out.

yes ... the mighty mite. the only semour duncan substitute i found. yes ... very cheap ... like $30 after shipping. it shud come in today.

was looking for alternatives because this pickup was looking like it didnt get good reviews ... too thin, not too clean and no low end. what were your results with it????

i'm gonna try this and the semour (also cheap) with a boomey low end, split humbucker (i haddent even looked yet) to try to get an all around full sound from this thing. the mighty mite may be just the thing with a good split humbucker???
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Fri Apr 17, 2009 3:48 am

oops ... sorry. off topic again.

i'll start a new thread this weekend discussing pickups in the proper spot.
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:06 am

Laughing

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:42 pm

I have to say this is quite helpful. Though I dont trust myself with a router so I am going tp have to find a tech to do it and tell the exactly the way I want it action wise etc. Of corse I live in west Kentucky and not too mant guitar techs that I know of do anything bass wise with tremolos. Ashame really guitarsist can have it done all day long, hmmm makes you wonder lol.
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:04 pm

YES! By all means, if you aren't skilled in doing such routing, PLEASE find a skilled luthier to do the work for you! You can ruin your bass if you attempt it yourself without the knowledge to do so! It might cost you some, but the end results will be well-worth the cost.

Also, it might take you a while to find someone willing to do the work, but they really aren't hard to do. Just be patient, and find the right person to do the work for you. Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:02 pm

Neck shim *cough*
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:39 pm

True T, a neck shim can solve a couple of problems, but I strongly discourage anyone from using them if at all possible unless it's a metal shim, and there is a lot of glue or sealant used in attaching the neck. The reason is because you can lose sustain through the neck joint whenever you introduce anything into the joint other than the body and the neck. Since sustain is governed by the harmonic resonance of the entire instrument, anytime there is the chance of air gaps in the neck joint, you could wind up with the neck and body vibrating out of phase with each other. I know it sounds crazy, but it's what I heard. A neck-through design will have the best sustain, followed by an un-shimmed bolt-on design that is simply wood on wood.

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:32 am

Both of my Roscoes have shims and immense sustain.

In fact, most of my bolt on basses have shims, and plenty of sustain.

Quite honestly, filling a bolt on's pocket with glue, to make a pseudo set neck, seems very, very silly to me. I'd be more worried about the neck getting damaged and needing replacing down the line...

That chance of the body and neck vibrating out of phase is as likely anyway, because of the body and neck being different materials(the different hardness is the major factor), not because of any pocket issue.

Out of 20 or so bolt ons I have near to hand, most with shims, I've had this issue exactly zero times, I seriously doubt that I'm that lucky.
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:10 pm

My music man came stock with a awesome little plastic shim... Branded with "musicman" Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:20 pm

i used a matchbook as a shim under the leg of my coffee table.

it looks very trailerpark and wifey hates it ...

i think i need to go get a new coffee table ... its sustain sucks.

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:11 pm

Pssh nothing an X2N won't fix Laughing

Oh! Reminds me of this:

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:03 am

madmike wrote:
i used a matchbook as a shim under the leg of my coffee table.

it looks very trailerpark and wifey hates it ...

i think i need to go get a new coffee table ... its sustain sucks.

Twisted Evil

Yes....but does it go to eleven? Laughing

Bill, I totally hear you, Bro. I'm basing my feelings more on what a few guitar techs have told me over the years. I have always heard that the best possible thing is to avoid shimming. Now, all of that being said, I did have the neck on my Yamaha RBX shimmed with a metal neck plate, and it worked perfectly. So I grant you that it might not be bad to do, and that maybe I was handed bad information. But I will say that I have done side-by-side comparisons, and I still say that a neck-through design gives you the most sustain over a bolt-on, shimmed or not. It might be true that your Roscoe basses have immense sustain, and it might very well be more than enough for what you want, but that does not absolutely mean you couldn't get even more if the neck were unshimmed.

As far as the glue goes, I always do this to my basses, and have done so since my first Yamaha BB300 after I had my first Kahler installed. I noticed that after I had been using the trem for about a year, the neck joint would squeak. I was told this was due to the constant changing of tension, so I tightened the screws down, and I added industrial strength wood glue. The squeak went away, and never returned. The idea is to further reinforce the neck joint to enhance what the screws are doing. Every time I do this, I get an increase in sustain, and a much stronger neck joint that I cannot get to shift at all. I have never had any problems from damage in doing this. This might not work for everyone, but it works for me. Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Proper installation of a Kahler bass tremolo   Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:16 am

EricHaven wrote:
But I will say that I have done side-by-side comparisons, and I still say that a neck-through design gives you the most sustain over a bolt-on, shimmed or not.

Thats the basic rule, neck through = sustain, but smoother sound, bolt on = punch and cut, with less sustain.

But, there are always exceptions, like Rickenbacker, which have a lot of punch, though they're neck through, and plenty of bolt ons with super tight pockets that get excellent sustain.

I should mention that I have some neck through basses as well, and one of them has severe sustain(but, that also has other factors adding to it), the other does not.

EricHaven wrote:
It might be true that your Roscoe basses have immense sustain, and it might very well be more than enough for what you want, but that does not absolutely mean you couldn't get even more if the neck were unshimmed.
I can guarantee you it wouldn't get me any more, as I put the shims in both myself, so I had a direct before/after comparison, the sustan remained as it was pre-shimming, and they are the next longest to the above mentioned neck-through.
EricHaven wrote:
As far as the glue goes, I always do this to my basses, and have done so since my first Yamaha BB300 after I had my first Kahler installed. I noticed that after I had been using the trem for about a year, the neck joint would squeak. I was told this was due to the constant changing of tension, so I tightened the screws down, and I added industrial strength wood glue. The squeak went away, and never returned. The idea is to further reinforce the neck joint to enhance what the screws are doing. Every time I do this, I get an increase in sustain, and a much stronger neck joint that I cannot get to shift at all. I have never had any problems from damage in doing this. This might not work for everyone, but it works for me. Wink

Hey, if it works for you it works, I just won't be testing it for myself, as I've never had these problems.

And I didn't mean damage from the gluing, but if at a later time, should the worst happen and the neck gets broken, much like a neck through, its all a waste, where as a bolt on(regular one), you just pop the neck off, and put a new one on.
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