Whether you are trying to keep a crowd on the dance floor or there’s a rock club promoter breathing down your neck about set times, sometimes every second counts. Ever start playing the next song that’s in Standard tuning and realize you are still in Drop-D from the last song? These are just some of the scenarios where the Extender Key by Hipshot shines brighter than the chrome it’s made from.
The Xtender or Extender Key by Hipshot (they are spelled both ways on the Hipshot site) takes your low E string down to D at the pull of a spring loaded lever as well as goes back to E with the same level of ease.
I had the Hipshot on my bass and working in less than an hour and that included snapping a few photos for the purpose of this blog.
Let’s first take a look at everything you get; an entire replacement tuner, the sub-plate assembly with the extender key, the mega important nylon washer that you don’t want to lose, replacement screws and a replacement string ferrule.
Step 1: Remove the old tuner
The Hipshot replaces your entire E tuner. As always hang onto the stock hardware. I decided to use the stock string ferrule and stock screws, why? Because they worked perfect and I thought why mess with it? The choice it yours.
Step 2: Line Up and Screw Fast the Sub-Plate
Hipshot has tuners in all shapes, sizes and colors. Left-handed bass? No sweat, the company has every tuner under the sun, but by chance your’s doesn’t line up as perfectly as mine, plug and re-drill the old holes. You want the sub-plate flush with your headstock. Then screw in the screws.
Step 3: The Nylon Washer Strikes Back, Lubing Your Thumb Lever and Finishing Up
Set the nylon washer between the sub-plate and the replacement tuner. You want to screw the wheel gear to the tuner and the string post completing the tuner install. The hardest part was holding everything together while you tighten the screw. I kept the bass hanging off a table and had my thumb holding the string post in place.
The final step before tuning was to lubricate where the thumb lever rotates around the sub-plate. The instructions suggest Vaseline, I sprayed some WD-40 in a Q-tip and it seems to be doing just fine.
Tuning and Setting the Adjusting Screw
Now you are ready to restring just as you normally would. Before tuning up make sure your Thumb Lever is in the up position. Always tune up to pitch rather than down. Why? There is less string slack involved and you’ll get better tuning stability if you tune that way.
Once you are tuned to E, drop the Thumb Lever and check it with a tuner. If you are perfectly tuned in D, do nothing, if you are sharp or flat, return the Thumb Lever to the E position, re-check your tuning and tighten the Adjusting Screw if your D note was flat or loosen it if your D-note was sharp. It took me 3 or 4 times to get it right. Once it is in tune you are good to go.
On The Job Training
I took the bass out this past weekend with the new Hipshot installed. Once I was setup, I tuned my bass as normal remembering to tune UP to pitch and not down to pitch; I noticed the Hipshot was spot on. If you have any questions about the Hipshot, let me know below in the comments box.
Price: $95.00 This was for the BT7 model for my MIM Standard Fender Jazz bass. The Hipshot website has plenty of other options as well as a great installation DIY video.