I was thoroughly engaged by the discussion of a new design for bridge pins.   Lots of reasoned discussion.  So I thought it might be of interest to look at another relatively new product that is offering significant improvements and see what opinions arise.

The product is Jenz bass tuning machines and the manufacturer makes a number of claims about the advantage of these machines over the conventional ones used on  electric bass:

 "Specifically, JENZ tuning gears incorporate threaded posts that channel strings to anchor at the lowest point on the machine head post.  This improves overall headstock stability and eliminates headstock bowing – two shortcomings that have plagued electric bass design since its inception – and brings significant benefits.  First, string installation is significantly improved.  Strings automatically wind neatly and snugly around the tuning post without any wrapping error, so a string can’t bind against itself and become prone to sticking or slippage.  Second, the common predicament that many bassists confront – the need for the truss rod to be maximally tightened to compensate for headstock bowing due to its inherent weakness from being unreinforced – is no longer encountered because the headstock remains straight and stable.  Third, the JENZ machine heads work to minimize headstock modal vibration that causes pitch warble, modal dead spots, and sustain loss.  Finally, JENZ gears also eliminate the need for string retainers that exacerbate undesirable headstock modal vibration.  These improvements to bass tuning gear design not only treat many ailments common to one-piece necks, but benefits are also evident in several key areas:  easier string installation and tuning, better pitch accuracy and stability, fewer dead spot issues, and increased sustain."

You can check out the ad copy at

I fail to see any real advantage to these tuners apart from the fact that they may help those who do not install bass strings properly - i.e. winding the strings up the post rather than down.  I am entirely unconvinced on any of the other claims of improvement.  But I am open to contrary opinions, including those of the manufacturer.

Care to comment?

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Richard, I'm with you 100%...the only advantage would be to help someone who doesn't know how to wind bass strings. Everything else is fairy dust.

Now, to be fair, I'll give points to the guy who thought it up. It's outside-the-box thinking and it's different... period. There might be some "gee-whiz" factor when a bass player shows up at the gig with these.. but that's where it ends.

If someone needed a replacement set of tuners anyway, it may not hurt to try 'em out, as they're not terribly expensive ($50-$70/set, depending on the configuration)  ...but I'm "calling shenanigans" on all the supposed benefits.  

I dont see how these would make a significant difference to this so called headstock bowing issue, except that they would bring the point where the string (eliminates from the post toward the nut) lower, reducing the strings leverage against the headstock - but Im a bit dubious how much difference this would make, and you can do it with 'regular' posts anyway. Also the claim that this bowing demands a tightening of the truss rod to compensate for it doesnt make sense to me. It seems a bit contradictory the way they phrase it actually: theres no truss rod to keep the headstock from bowing, therefore you must tighten the truss rod to compensate for the headstocks tendency to bow under tension. I mean i see how the TR adjustment could have a secondary effect like it does for action and ideal saddle height, so maybe theres some issue with break angle from the nut toward the posts? Can someone explain this phenomenon for me?

As for this 'modal vibration of the headstock' issue and its various effects listed, it seems like hokum. Im sure some people can pick up on that stuff, but I cant see how these posts reduce such vibration compared to the regular style. I mean Im no scientist and much of that stuff is profound to me, but I can't picture it.

Seems like every time I think of some advantage these might give, I also think of some other factor that renders said advantage moot. Itll be interesting to read the replies to come.

I would buy these - if they were made out of brass ;)~  

You can get them made of either brass or aluminum. Noticed this on the products page.

For the sake of the discussion, why would you buy em Thomas?

Andrew, I was joking in reference to the 1980's 'brass age' of electric guitar parts. No, I would not buy them. I would simply wind more string on the tuner and get the same effect. Sorry if I was a bit esoteric in my response.

No need to apologize. Had an inkling but I ignored it. Also I wasnt around for the brass age :P.

I'm not a bass player so my opinion is not too informed. That said, I think they look kind of cool but I wrap my strings like this on my guitars and I don't need the spiral channel to do it. It also seem to me, in my Bass ignorance, that a head that bends enough to be a problem because the strings are wrapped too high on the post, probably has more problems than these tuners  or changing the relief can fix.  Since I don't play a bass, I can't comment on how prevalent "modal vibration" or how big an issue it may be but I don't recall hearing any of my bass playing friends discussing it as an issue. 

I don't understand why so many products are accompanied by these sorts of claim. It seem to me that Mike "hit the nail on the head" when he comments that the cost isn't too high so they might be worth a look if you need to change your tuners. I actually think the "cool" factor would sell them to a lot of the younger players I know. To me there's not much reason to embrace the potential backlash that making unsubstantiated claims can bring. If they are substantiated, they really, really need to make their data clearly available.

Of course, I'm not trying to make back a development, marketing and advertising investment so it's easy for me to think this way.  In other words... what do I know. 


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