The perfect UPGRADE for your NS Design WAV4 or NXT Electric Upright Bass
For years, we fielded requests for a more robust, accurate tuning machine set for the NXT and WAV4 basses. The basses come with reasonably capable lower-cost tuning machines, but there are those who want to upgrade to a sturdier machine that they know they can trust over the long haul (or to confidently use with particularly tension-heavy strings).
When I first got my WAV4 a couple years ago now, I immediately wanted to change the strings to something a little more "organic" sounding, to counter the somewhat electric "vibe" of the bass' solid body. When detuning, I noticed a distinct difference in the feel of the machines when compared to those on my electric basses - and since many of my other basses have Hipshot Ultralights on them, I decided that swapping out to a set of those would be a nice upgrade to my WAV4.
The blue bass in the photos is the result - on my own personal WAV4, which is one from the very earliest run of WAV basses. I re-used the original machines' existing mounting holes, which altered the way the tuners stand off the pegbox. I rather like the more modern look of the tuners on a downward-facing angle. Most of the more recent WAV and NXT basses have the same alignment as the Hipshots, though - so the "look" should remain the same as stock when you upgrade. However, if you prefer the angled alignment like my bass has, simply drill a new hole for the tiny alignment screw and you're good to go.
These USA-MADE (not the less expensive -- but still good -- "Licensed by Hipshot" imported version) Hipshot tuners are an easy replacement, and make tuning a lot more accurate and easy - no slippage. And they are far more confidence-inspiring; they have a really solid feel that never makes you feel like the tuner might break or fail, even with the low E or low B string. (Hipshot's Ultralight Bass Tuning Machines are made of durable, precision machined aircraft-quality aluminum!) The larger inner holes on the posts (to insert the ends of the string into, to "lock" them in) are more accommodating of thicker strings than stock, and should fit most upright bass strings, as well as the NS Electric strings made for the NS Basses. And the tuners are really lightweight to boot.
We also have a set for the 5-string NXT basses - see the black bass owned by Simon Lahaye, one of our customers, in the photos - it's also sporting brand new Hipshots. They look great - and work even better, I'm sure.
So we told people about them for a few years, and finally decided, "Hey - why not just make them available at Gollihur Music?" So here they are! We are selling these keys as sets (of 4 and 5) only, in the correct size for the NS Basses (no measuring required), and only in the black finish, as replacements for the stock tuners on the NXT 4, NXT 5, and WAV4 Electric Upright Basses.
Note that these Hipshots are "ambidextrous" - meaning that any of the tuners can be easily switched from left to right side orientation. We will try to provide them set up as 2 left/2 right if we can, based on availability. But if you get one that faces the wrong direction, it's an easy 1 minute operation with an allen wrench to remove the pin screw, pull out the key, swap it around, and tighten it up again. Very smart design!
Bass X-Tender De-Tuner Key (Optional for 4-string basses)
Hipshot became well-known in the 80s and 90s for their Bass X-Tender de-tuning keys, which were developed to provide a quick, accurate re-tuning from the "standard" pitch of a string to an alternate pitch - and back - with the flick of a simple lever. They are most commonly used on the low ("E") string to extend its range to reach a few lower notes, like having a 5-string without having to, you know, actually have a 5-string. A few customers have tried the detuning key on their electric upright basses, and it's worked pretty well. Here's what a customer related:
Hey Gollihur guys, I just had a successful installation of the HE6Y D tuner on my NS Design NXT electric upright bass. The 3/8 hole fits perfectly. Note, due to the rotated orientation of the tuners on the electric upright, the treble side D tuner must be used if you want to install on the bass side of the electric upright. The only mod that could potentially be needed is a new pilot hole for the wood screw so that the other tuner on the bass side could be rotated out of the way. For me the tuner heads aren't in conflict, but they could be if you are trying to tune lower than a whole step down. Here are some pics in both positions. It is holding tune well in both positions when using the tuning procedure on the hipshot website.
So it could be a useful addition for you, and as such, we're stocking the detuning key so that you can order a full set of exactly what you need to make this happen. You can also buy just the X-Tender Key and add it on after the fact if you already have the Hipshot tuners.
On an electric bass, I've personally used one of these keys to detune reliably to a low B - but keep in mind that the range may be limited by physical aspects of the NS EUBs. See the photos above for some context; the photo in "de-tuned" mode is tuned to a D. When not in "de-tuning" mode, the Ultra-Lite detuner key works exactly the same (and is the same exact mechanics) as the "standard" Hipshot keys.
Again, please note that it is the TREBLE-SIDE key, so if you are getting this for a non-NS Design application, it's probably NOT the correct orientation for a typical electric bass headstock. So don't buy it for your bass guitar unless you know what you are doing. Also, note that the plate of the detuning key is larger than the side of the NS Design bass, so some of the flat plate supporting the mechanics of the detuner key will "hang off" the edge - see photo to the right.
Hipshot is one of the last remaining companies that not only designs, but manufactures guitar hardware in the USA.
Note that these are the US-MADE Hipshot tuners! They also have a budget set that is made overseas -- so make sure that you're not comparing our price to "Licensed by Hipshot" tuners -- they're not the same thing. The licensed tuners are still very decent machines, but there's a marked difference in overall fit and finish and quality of materials and manufacturing. We've therefore chosen to only sell the top-of-the-line USA-Made tuners, because -- when it comes down to it, you only really want to do this once, right?
Also note, if you're comparing to Hipshot's site -- their listed pricing is for ONE tuner, not a set of four (or five). ;-)
Finally, note that we include a full instruction sheet for installation; on the newer WAV model basses, it's a simple drop-in swap, usually no drilling or modifications required. Some older NS basses, particularly some NXTs, may need a slight widening of the post hole, and it's easy to do - we give you all the info you need to confidently do it yourself.
These instructions specifically discuss using your new tuners to update an NS Design WAV4 or NXT electric upright bass. If you’re not using them for that purpose, read on! There still might be some useful info for you.
The Tuners are “Ambidextrous”: The Hipshot Ultralites are very intelligently designed to be reversible, so you don’t need to worry about which ones face left or right. For four string sets, we usually try to include a matched pair of 2L/2R for your convenience, based on stock – but if we were unable to do so, it’s about a 2-minute job to swap any of the tuners’ alignment. You simply remove the small (SAE, not metric) allen screw (shown by the arrow in the photo at right) and remove the tuning “ear” – now replace it in the machine from the other side, replace the allen screw, and you’re in business.
Installing them on a WAV4 or NXT can be a drop-in installation for some basses.
You need to remove the old machines first; there is a single small screw on the outside of the pegbox that needs to be removed, and then the (gentle!) use of a wrench inside the pegbox to remove the collet/screw and release the tuning machine.
Tip: I recommend doing each side of the pegbox at a time, rather than all four (or five) - this keeps strings on the bass, and prevents the bridge from falling out.
The Hipshots install in exactly the same fashion, just in reverse. A 9/16" open-ended wrench will serve nicely here.
Some customers will find that the tuners drop right into NXT basses without modifications. If the new Hipshot tuner's collets don't quite fit into the holes, DON'T JAM or FORCE THEM. You will almost certainly chip/break the finish, and that gets ugly. You'll need to drill out the holes to be JUST A LITTLE wider.
I've done at least a dozen of these tuner swaps now, and I'd estimate that I've had to drill for roughtly half of the installations, while the other half just dropped right in. Are you feeling lucky?
How to do the widening easily and without making a big mess of it is next!
Widening of the Pegbox Holes:
You may discover that you need to make the mounting holes on the headstock ever-so-slightly larger to accommodate the Hipshot tuners.
To do this, use a 9/16” standard twist-type wood drill bit (not a flat spade bit!) with a reversible electric drill. See image to the left for the difference.
Most people will probably not have one of these in their toolbox - it's a pretty large bit, and for most home jobs, a spade bit is more likely to be in a drill bit set for basic home maintenance. So you might have to make a trip to the hardware store.
Trust me, the trip and the cost is worth it - having the right tool for the job means the results will be a lot better.
Tape over/around the holes with masking tape first; this can help prevent chipping of the top veneer and/or finish. In the image to the right, you can see that I've used white masking tape for this purpose.
I also suggest putting several layers of cardboard in between the two sides of the pegbox - that way, if the drill suddenly "lurches" as you break through the inner wall, it won't go all the way across and chew up the opposite wall.
In the image, you can see that I rolled over a ripped-off box lid, which served nicely.
Super-Secret tip: Run the drill IN REVERSE, not forward – since you’re widening an existing hole, this will keep the bit from getting jammed, or running away from you. And though it takes a few extra seconds to cut in reverse, you won’t chip the finish or over-drill into the opposite pegbox wall.
Voila! A perfect, slightly-larger-than-before hole, without completely bungling it up!
Orientation on the Pegbox:
The Original Tuners extend from the pegbox at a 90° angle. If you use the original screw holes, the Hipshots should line up without a need to tap new holes.
On some first-generation WAV basses from more than a dozen years ago, using the original holes may orient the tuners at an angle, as they do on my original Chinese-made WAV4 shown here (at right). It's because the stock tuners were different than the current model, and they had an offset retainer screw, so the hole is in a different spot (the current ones have the screw directly below the tuner.) I rather like the “modern” look of the slanted tuners, and I find that it makes tuning a little easier.
On a more recently-made five-string NXT shown at left, using the original holes still resulted in a stock “straight out” look. The tuners on the vast majority of NS Design basses out there, including ALL NXT models (to my knowledge) will be oriented like the one to the left.
Tuning Up: Insert the end of the “silked” portion of the string into the center of the tuning post, then bend at a 90-degree angle and start turning the peg to secure it around the machine post. You should trim the end of the string so that you should only end up with 2-3 windings around the peg.
TIP: Do your best to not allow the windings to “rub” the inner wall of the pegbox, this can cause binding – and put a lot of undue stress on the machine.
I hope you find my instructions helpful! If you have any questions, please let us know.
©copyright 1997-current, Mark Gollihur/Gollihur Music - do not copy, share, or reproduce without written permission
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Extremely quick delivery. Exactly as advertised. Tuners work perfectly with my NXT4.
I want to thank you for all the advice I’ve received (for my NS Design bass). The Hipshot tuners dropped in easily and feel really solid. Thanks for the expert advice and great customer service!
I received the new tuners and love them. Thanks so much.
Hey Mark. Just wanted to say that I received my Hipshot tuners as replacements for the stock tuners on my NS Design NXT 4 string EUB. Got them overnight as promised, with great instructions. Tuners installed easily after reaming stock holes with a 9/16 drill. These tuners are in a totally different league than the stock tuners. I had a tuner shaft break on a gig and I’m sure I won’t have to worry about breakage now. Thanks for the advice. Gollihur Music delivers as always!
Mark, I just wanted to follow-up receiving the Hipshot Tuners as well as our phone conversation with a huge, "THANK YOU!!!" They dropped-in pretty much as suggested (I did need to widen the hole EVER so slightly.) But what a difference! And with the more traditional strings I also purchased from y'all, the NXT is soundin' A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!! Thanks again!
My order for the Hipshot electric bass tuners arrived quickly. The Hipshots have turned out to be exactly what I needed. I'm mainly a violinist/violist, so I have tuned my WAV4 in fifths, with Red Mitchell strings, and the original NSD pegs would not hold the pitch on the C string. The Hipshot pegs haven't slipped in a week. So, thank you for solving the problem!