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PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:01 pm 
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Walnut
Walnut

Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2018 2:03 pm
Posts: 31
First name: Michael
Last Name: Perkins
City: Charleston
State: SC
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Semi-pro
I'm designing a new Bass IV. For those who don't know what that is, it's a 6 string, super-short scale length (30") bass, tuned E,A,D,G,B,E just one octave lower than a standard guitar.

For the headstock, I would like to use the slotted head tuners that go through the headstock. I have never used that kind of tuners before though. I know that they are almost always the tuning machines of choice for classical nylon stringed guitars. I have definitely seen them used on electrics, and weirdly enough, usually on electric basses more so than guitars. Does anyone know if the through-hole tuners are any better or worse as far as staying in tune? It seems to me, that since each peg is anchored at two places, instead of just sticking out in the wind... more of the energy would be transferred into the headstock, and may improve tone/sustain. It also just seems to me like having the strings wrap around the fatter pole might help too. Also, the downward angle of the strings is greater since the pegs are recessed into the headstock.

All in all... I can't think of a reason why using a slotted head would be a bad idea, but I thought I'd ask you guys what you think first.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:26 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
Posts: 1618
First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
There are two types of slotted head tuners - one is intended for nylon strings and has big plastic rollers. The other is used on steel strings and has a small metal shaft 1/4 inch in diameter. Some slot head tuners are individual, some have three mounted on a plate (most of the nylon string tuners are three on a plate) Slotted headstocks are more "traditional" in appearance and I use them on any guitar that I want to have a vintage vib. Someone said they have a certain mojo that just goes with an old style guitar. I use paddle head (solid headstocks) on more modern guitars and all of my electrics.

Some random thoughts about slot heads in general. I think slot heads are harder to build - you have several fabrication steps to make the slots. The tuner holes need to be precisely drilled, particularly with the three on a plate style or they will bind. The shafts are supported at two places by wood, they do not normally have bushings. The knobs stick down to the back instead of out to the side if that makes any difference.

Most of the time the break angle over the nut is higher with a slot head - some people think this makes a difference with sustain or sound, I'm not convinced, but it can give greater friction at the nut which might make it harder to tune. They can be harder to restring or replace a broken string - I have a slot head 12 string and there is definitely an order to installing the strings. I don't know how much fatter your bass strings are - you may have to drill the holes in the tuners. Unless the slots are very carefully laid out it is possible that strings will contact the sides of the slots - again there are some tricks to prevent this while stringing.

There is absolutely no reason not to do it, but there are some big differences in the two types of tuners.

edit to add - if you do decide to make a slot head let me know - I have several tricks for laying out the slots and drilling the the tuners that might be helpful.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 11:15 pm 
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Koa
Koa
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Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:17 pm
Posts: 910
City: Escondido
State: CA
Zip/Postal Code: 92029
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Semi-pro
I think it is an esthetic choice. I've never seen a slotted headstock on a solid body, for example. But when I want to evoke more of a Gypsy jazz or bossa association for my arch top guitars I choose a slotted headstock. Slotted is definitely more work, though.


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