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madmike

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PostSubject: the drop top trem issue.   Wed Jun 24, 2009 3:48 am

i know its been discussed here about the ideal mounted surface level for a kahler trem to afford the instrument proper string height "action" adjustment.

i slapped the hybrid onto my percision with the new warmoth neck and i'm just not gonna get that ideal action. with the saddles adjusted as low as they can go (with the g string just not buzzing on the roller assembly) the action is still about 5/16 to 1/8" higher than i'de like it to be, EVEN AFTER SHIMMING THE NECK; something i really dont like doing or feel i shud. i would prefer the string height roller adjustment to be at mid way and have found the trem to actually operate better that way.

at this point, i am extremely grateful i began my kahler journey with an installation on an archtop. i made some mistakes on that job that i learned from that will help me do a better, easier job on this project that i've invested so much into. i have to router out a recessed seat for the kahler for this p bass project to get the proper action (doh!).

was just wondering.

my second attempt with a kahler install and i've run into this twice. kahler trem systems are very "tall". the first was obvious, but i thought, as with neck pocket fits and a million other things, i thought the specs on the kahler would have been established for a fender fit; just mount it right to the surface and its good to go. its not. so what standard is the heigth of the kahler established for?
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EricHaven
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PostSubject: Re: the drop top trem issue.   Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:51 pm

The thing is MadMike, is that even Kahler themselves don't make it a point to address this issue, and I have told them that they need to. The Kahler wasn't ever really meant to be simply top-mounted, just that a few folks have gotten lucky when they did so. For example, my original Yamaha BB300 didn't need to be countersunk, but my Yamaha RBX, my Tokai Jazz, and my SX Precision all did. And even though my Yamaha BB300 worked with the Kahler simply top-mounted, it only did so just barely.

I always tell people to play it safe and countersink the trem. From my own experience, if you sink it down about half the thickness of the trem base, that ought to work fine. Going down all the way level to the top of the trem frame also works, but then you also have to jack up the bridge saddles to where the angle gets extreme.

At least with your Kahler mounted on the body, it would be easy to trace the outline of the frame to do the countersinking.

Between the countersinking of the trem, adjusting the truss rod, and spending a lot of time fiddling with the action and intonation, I now have string action on my SX Precision that is less than 1/8" off the frets, and the bass plays very easily now.

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madmike

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PostSubject: Re: the drop top trem issue.   Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:28 am

so, you're 1 for 4 eric. i'm 0 for 2.

its good to know this is common. i was getting a complex that this is just a RPITA for ME. i was starting to think that "they" just dont like me. truth is that extra effort is usually involved in getting something done correctly.

i'm thinking this job will be 5 times easier than the ibanez. the top is flat, not an archtop like the ibanez. the distance i need to sink it is less ... like you said, about half the base of the trem thickness. then theres the just the simple fact of having some experince with the tooling and fitting .... i cut out and built a plastic routering jig for it in 40 minutes last night. i drew a thin sharpie line exacly where the kahler is going to sit ... so no measuring. with the work much easier, i'm even thinking of using a smaller round routing bit for the sharper corners. i shud have this done in about an hour or so tonite. piece of cake.
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PostSubject: Re: the drop top trem issue.   Thu Jun 25, 2009 4:57 pm

Good deal, MadMike. Wink

Can you post pictures of the finished bass once you're done?

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madmike

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PostSubject: Re: the drop top trem issue.   Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:40 am

experience has lead to a much more efficient job.

45 minutes making the routering template jig.

1 hour of routering work.

this is exactly what i was shooting for ... the action is perfect.

absolutely i will post pics ... but when its done ... and i got a whole lot more work to do. with the trem mounted and the action set, i spent time last night mounting the pickups and getting everything lined up and working together.

now i gotta take the whole thing apart again. i gotta finish the finish and do cosmetics. theres only two coats of laquer on the body and now its ruffed up and scratched ... i figure, buffing and sanding and 2 or 3 more coats shud do it. then i wanna black out the pickup and kahler pockets. i'm thinking of just doing it with sharpie marker ... easier and more control than black stain or masking and krylon.

i still need parts too. i found these cool ufo's ........

http://www.basspartsdepot.com/UFO_Knobs-UFO_Acrylic_Aqua_Pearl_Black.html

ittl be done in a few weeks.
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PostSubject: Re: the drop top trem issue.   Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:08 am

Huh. I, too, am 0 for 2 with having to countersink the trems. On my Hamer, the trem is flat mounted and the saddles are adjusted as low as they can go and the action just isn't low enough. That bass has the strings pretty close to the body to begin with compared to a lot of other basses (it had one of those Schaller roller bridges with only one shim under it and it has a set neck). The Kahler definitely needs recessing. The thing that worries me is that one of the bolts from the trem isn't going straight down, but veering into the control cavity. You can tell that the trem is offset a fraction of an inch away from the control cavity to keep both of the bolts on that side from going into it. Space is a little more precious on that thing than I'd care to think.

On my Kelly, the trem is countersunk and it's so sweet! So much easier to set up and you can play on it without the strings clanking off of the saddles occasionally. It's great. Except that the strings bind all over the nut. But the trem isn't the main reason why I got that bass, so I'm not disappointed. I can tell the the bridge is a big part of what makes it a monster of sustain and tone. Very Happy

Some time, I will need to recess the trem on my Hamer. I don't have a router...I wonder if it could be as easy as a drill press, chisels, and some forstner bits? I don't like other people working on my instruments if the repair is something I can conceivably handle.

It sounds kinda irresponsible that Kahler makes absolutely no mention of the possibility of having to recess their trems when they go to such great lengths to be so humble and honest, you know? It's a common thingthat you have to recess the trem...so what? It's not going to ruin their sales if they say that you might have to recess your trem and include an extra routing template. The recessed trem feels that much safer to me than one that's just top mounted. To people who say you're losing wood, you're replacing it with solid brass! And by not telling people, I think that they'd just make it that much more frustrating for someone who isn't into doing woodwork to get their trem installed to have their bass come back from the shop and not play as well as before the installation and it could give them the impression that the tremolo unit is the problem, not the setup.

I think that it makes their product that much less accessible. Knowledge is power...
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PostSubject: Re: the drop top trem issue.   Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:12 pm

Awesome news, MadMike! I knew that countersinking would solve the issue. And I also really like the UFO knobs. I can't wait to see it all done!

The thing is that Kahler is still first and foremost a company looking to turn a profit, and sometimes this involves cutting corners. This is why I believe that the extra templates I have are still marked 2400, because they want to burn up as many of them as they can before they have to go through the expense of reprinting them to say 7400. So for them to go into the notion of having to mention the countersinking issue will cost them money to do because that means having to re-print the installation instructions, PLUS, they are thinking that anyone who does the routing job ought to be knowledgeable enough to know that they will need to do so. But as I recall, the guy who installed my very first Kahler back in 1984 didn't countersink it because he didn't know he had to (and remember, this was back when bass trems were even more obscure, nay, practically non-existent), and I lucked out with it working properly.

Not to beat a dead horse, but yet again, this is why I created this forum. There is a lot of valuable information about these devices that nobody seems to want to address and gets overlooked, and I got tired of people not knowing where to go. I certainly had no source of help, so I had to learn everything through trial and error, and I wanted other bass trem users to benefit from my experience. Like the tuning issue with BoboMN. He just posted that he is having tuning stability issues, and where else was he supposed to go for help?

Martin, about the issue of the mounting bolt going off at an angle, this is actually quite easy to fix. Take off the Kahler, and fill in the existing hole with wood glue or wood putty. You can also use a mixture of wood glue and sawdust. Once the glue is completely dry, re-drill the hole. If you have access to a drill press, you can assure that you drill straight down. If not, you can still do it with a hand drill, as long as you are careful to go as straight down as possible. As far as doing the countersink job, it is something you can do if you feel confident enough to handle it. But if you aren't completely sure about doing the job, then do yourself a favor and take it to an experienced luthier.

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madmike

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PostSubject: Re: the drop top trem issue.   Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:02 pm

drill presses?

fabulous pieces of equipment! i have done some of my nicest work on brass and phenolic plastic with a drill press. perfect control with bit speed and depth. countersinking comes out perfect. great for keeping everything perpendicular with the surfaces (so a screw doesnt travel and shoot out a side like on boots' hamer).

i would bet that i could also do a more precise router job with one as well.

problem ........

#1 i dont have a shop space for something like this. if i did, ittl be the first piece of equipment i buy.

#2 if i'm gonna buy a drill press, i think i'de wanna spend the money and buy a real decent, heavy one. my old employer has a bridgeport and bought a craftsman the same size so more than one press would be available ... nobody used the craftsman.

need a router?

i shopped around, priced them, and weighed the usefulness of each tool.

most routers are for cabinet making and woodwork finishing for housing refurb and construction. they are heavy pieces of equipment for milling away large areas of wood quickly. not too precise. not precise enuff for me insofar as achieving a balanced, level, smooth finished base surface.

rotary engraving machines would ultimatly be the best machine for milling out the material for a trem, pickup or even a neck pocket. the engraving idustry uses mostly lazer engravers now. we have one at my work. i tried this and some of you may have seen the pictures of my burnt ibanez. i've found used rotary engraving machines and they are still running about $1000 + for a simple one, not including the bits and mills, vaccuum waste material removal and computer to run the thing. if anyone knows where there is one for sale ... let me know!

heres the best thing i found for routering out a pocket .................

http://www.dremel.com/en-us/Tools/Pages/ToolDetail.aspx?pid=300+Series

and you'll need one of these .............

http://www.dremel.com/en-us/AttachmentsAndAccessories/Pages/AttachmentsDetail.aspx?pid=335-01

limits ....

you'll need enuff surface area on the instrument top to mount a decent template made out plas
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PostSubject: Re: the drop top trem issue.   Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:12 pm

{that was weird!}

limits ....

you'll need enuff surface area on the instrument top to mount a decent template made out plastic or wood at least 1/4" thick to allow for the guide nozzle. you need to measure pretty accurately to compensate for the distance from the guide nozzle edge riding on the template to get the proper measurement for the material your bit is gonna remove.

double chek you math and router into something scrap first!

the other thing is its depth. i've never needed to go any deeper than 1.2" for a pocket. this thing doesnt have much more range. if you needed to go deeper your gonna need to do something different ... bigger router? longer bit? ruff it freehand?

other than that, i've found the dremel to be much cheaper ($45 for the 300, $30 for the plunge router and $20 for a bit set) and pretty darn precise.

plus, you can also use the dremel tool and the tool with the plunge router for many other things; polishing, sanding, engraving, grinding and yes, with the plunge, drill pressing (90 degree).

wow, dremel shud pay me for that little promo!
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PostSubject: Re: the drop top trem issue.   Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:40 pm

Yeah, I've been using a Dremmel as my main tool for mods for years. Love 'em.
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PostSubject: Re: the drop top trem issue.   Mon Jun 29, 2009 9:47 pm

I wish I had a drill press...

When I visited my dad in Germany last winter, he was working on some aluminum with a little "drill press" that you can set on a table and clamp a hand drill into. It was pretty cool. I don't know how well it worked, but it seemed accurate enough for what he was doing and he could have it in his apartment. I remember it seemed to work pretty well when he was boring out an aluminum rod.
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PostSubject: Re: the drop top trem issue.   Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:31 am

dremel also makes a desk top assembly that can be used as a drill press. i've never used it and i dont know how accurate it is as far as depth and angle goes.

for more accurate drilling i dont use the dremel. it has wobble with a drill bit in the chuck. i have a nice hand drill i can do a better job with.

otherwise, yes, the dremel 300 series has been the most useful tool i've bought in years.
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PostSubject: Re: the drop top trem issue.   Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:01 pm

I also have a Dremel copy, and it does come in handy for doing a lot of trimming and clean-up work, but I've never had luck with doing the big routing with it. I think I might need to by an actual Dremel brand tool.

The drill press I have and use is a table-top version that I bought from an auto parts site through eBay. I paid $60 for it, and it has worked out well.

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PostSubject: Re: the drop top trem issue.   Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:18 am

eric. could you post make, model and/or website?
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PostSubject: Re: the drop top trem issue.   Wed Jul 01, 2009 7:12 pm

To be honest, the drill press I bought isn't some high-end brand, but is instead a generic no-name made in China and marketed by the company I bought it from. Despite this, it works very well for what I need it for. And just so you know, since it is a table-top version, there isn't as much space from the support post out towards the drill chuck, so while it works great for doing a Kahler routing, it does not have the reach to be able to do a pickup routing. I can't remember the name of the company offhand, but I get their catalog in the mail regularly, so I will be sure to post their website once I get another catalog.

Also, you can actually find almost the exact same type and model on eBay for what I paid for mine. Just do a search on "drill press", and toggle the option to start from the lowest price up. That's exactly how I found mine.Wink

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