Recently my longtime friend Matt sent me a gift – a Hipshot extender aka detuner! This replacement machine tuner gives me a switch to change my lowest string from standard E tuning down to D (there are other options, but this is all I use it for).
Why didn’t Matt keep it?! It made his bass incompatible with a wall hanger, which was my gain. Something I hadn’t known: Not all detuners are the same. Matt’s was compatible with American series basses, and my bass is an early 2000s MIM. Don’t quote me on the product numbers, but I believe he sent me a BT1 and my bass is compatible with a BT6 or BT7 – I forget; but mention this in case someone else googles this as I fruitlessly did.
The sensible thing would be to not use it, and buy the correct one. The unsensible thing would be for one to attempt to modify this Hipshot even though they’ve only used a drill 5 times before. Here’s how that went; TLDR: I had no right to expect it to go this well.
Because the holes didn’t perfectly align I decided to make all new holes. One of my requirements is that I wanted this work reversible, to be able to put the original tuner back on without the holes all wrecked.
MisalignedWhen the tuner bold itself is aligned zero out of four screw holes are in the right place
Test holeA test taper on an unused latch - metal of similar thickness. Clamped down, first I slowly and carefully drilled half way through the metal with a large bit, then I changed to a smaller bit to break through the middle.
Work stationWith the test done I then screwed the plate down to a scrap 2x4. Here are the tapers half done. Note: These 4 holes are not all in the right spots - after I finished them and tried it I discovered 2 were in the wrong place, for example one aligned with some weird void in the neck hidden by the machine head. Lesson: Measure twice, cut once. I got off easy, made more holes.
OopsThe original holes are in corners, mine are the rough looking ones aligned like a compass. North and South were ok, but East and West don't work.
I'm writing this a couple months after doing the work, so I don't clearly remember - but I think I decided to twist it a few degrees counter clockwise and make use of one of the default holes from the original tuners. I wanted max stability more than totally parallel clovers
Final holesI added one more hole in the "South East" towards the switch pivot
Drillbit DepthAnother nerve-wracking first - setting a max-depth guide on the bit before drilling a hole into my otherwise perfect bass.
SandedSome time was spent flattening all the burrs the drill made.
Ta daIt's in place, and working like a dream. The switch is up - so this is standard tuning. The clover is not parallel with the other tuners; which is how it would normally be when in the dropped position.
All in all, I’m very happy with how it turned out. Yeah, the right hardware would look better, but the harrowing experiment paying off makes me like this more. It works perfectly for my purposes.