Hipshot USA Ultralite Tuning Machines for NXT and WAV4 Electric Upright Bass

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  • Hipshot Ultralite Tuning Machines for NXT and WAV4 Electric Upright Bass, product view
  • Hipshot Ultralite Tuning Machines for NXT and WAV4 Electric Upright Bass, closeup
  • Hipshot Ultralite Tuning Machines for NXT and WAV4 Electric Upright Bass, installed on NS Design NXT electric upright bass
  • Hipshot Ultralite Tuning Machines for NXT and WAV4 Electric Upright Bass, detail view
  • Hipshot Ultralite Tuning Machines for NXT and WAV4 Electric Upright Bass, 4 keys
  • Comparison - Hipshot USA Ultralight tuner vs NS Design NXT/WAV OEM tuner
  • Comparison - Hipshot USA Ultralight tuner vs NS Design NXT/WAV OEM tuner
  • Hipshot Ultralite Tuning Machines for NXT and WAV4 Electric Upright Bass, installed on NS Design WAV electric upright bass
  • Hipshot Ultralite Tuning Machines for NXT and WAV4 Electric Upright Bass, closeup with instruction for reversal
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The perfect UPGRADE for your NS Design WAV4 or NXT Electric Upright Bass

Includes our exclusive Gollihur Music tipsheet to get the most out of your purchaseFor 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!


Hipshot is one of the last remaining companies that not only designs, but manufactures guitar hardware in the USA.

Comparison Shopping?

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.

Easy Installation

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.

You may also want to take a look at our “STRINGS: Changing Strings…” FAQ in our Resources Section for some additional helpful tips on stringing up an upright bass.

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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13 Reviews

  • 5

    Great Upgrade

    Posted by Tim Skinner on Jun 9th 2023

    I just received my new tuners and got them set up on my NXT. Installation was easy and I even had to enlarge the holes. Once you get over the idea of the drill (and the size of the bit!) it's a very simple job, and well worth it. The new tunes feel much more solid, made a massive improvement in tuning stability and even seemed to have improved the sound. I opted for the de-tuner on the low E string and the addition of an easily accessible low D on demand is perfect for the setting I play this bass in. This upgrade took a great bass and made it better Highly recommend.

  • 5

    Buy these tuners!

    Posted by Thomas on May 1st 2023

    Smooth operation, hassle free handling of REAL DB strings due to a wider opening AND they improve the sound of my WAV 5 string (I find this hard to believe myself;-) )

  • 5

    Hipshot tuners with detuner on NS WAV4

    Posted by David Cushman on Apr 17th 2023

    Had a weird experience with the cheap original tuners on my NS WAV4 bass where the post inside the E string tuner literally snapped off. I talked to Mark about the HipShot replacements and ordered a full set with the detuner on the E string. The shipping was really fast, so thanks to the good folks at Gollihur Music for the speedy service. Shipment arrived at around 4pm, and by 4:30pm I had all four tuners installed and the detuner set to drop down to D all tuned up and ready to go. These tuners are really well-made, installation was a direct "drop-in" replacement with no mods required on mine. Couldn't have been smoother. I have the same set up on my main bass guitar. Great product, great price, excellent service.

  • 5

    High Quality Product!

    Posted by Yasuo Saito on Feb 17th 2023

    Purchased this for my Gen 1 NXT. The original one got white plastic spacer at the peg broken off, so kept, sliding out of tune. It's easy to install. Comes with new set of screws, of course. I did have to use my drill to make mounting hole (not all of them) slightly bigger - Just follow the Installation Note, It's super easy. My strings are Innovation Rock-A-Billy. I had to pinch end of E-string to hook. But once all strings are set, these keep them in tune perfectly. Solid product. I highly recommend this.

  • 5

    Hipshot Tuners for NS NXT

    Posted by Edgar Lugmair on Feb 10th 2023

    After the stock-tuner on the e-string collapsed when changing to double-bass-strings, I almost thought of giving the NXT back. But: then I had this very quick, friendly and profound contact wih the Gollihur family, who gave me the advice to replace the tuners and install the Hipshot. What should I say? Yes, they are solid, do best tuning, stand the tension and increase the worth of the instrument. At least everybody playing double-bass strings on the NS-basses I would recommend to install this tuners! It is a few-minutes-work, but a great step! Shipping to Germany was rather quick - the whole thing worth each penny.

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