Dumb Q: What side are tuning keys?

I have a regular jazz bass style neck. Do I need 4L or 4R tuners?----left or right depends on how you are looking at it. I always get these things backwards.

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Hipshot refers to them as bass or treble side.
What make are you looking at that refers to L or R?

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Thomann refers to typical Fender J- or P-bass sets as 4L. They don’t have any 4R sets.

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I saw that the other day and a big, cartoon “?” appeared above my head. Am I correct in assuming that “bass side” is the side of the headstock where the E string is at, and “treble side” is the side of the headstock where the G string is at?

Assuming a 4-string bass, of course.


Bass Side or Treble Side?
Fender-style basses have 4-on-side tuners. Others, including 5-string basses, have the tuners on each side.
As a left-handed player, I’d need treble side tuners if I wanted them to fit the right way.

Bass side and treble side are references to the orientation of the tuner. More specifically the side of the headstock the tuning machine should be mounted on. A bass side tuning machine has the tuning shaft protruding from the right side of the tuner and a treble side tuner has the shaft protruding from the left side.


You are correct. @LeftyChad 's got the full answer and further details as it pertains to left-handed instruments, but I figured I’d respond in the affirmative anyway, as going by which strings are where is the easier way to remember which side is which! :slight_smile:


A lot of places on amazon and ebay have them described as 4L or4R


Just to be safe order the middle one.

Just kidding.

You already got all your answers.

Reverse headstocks are not common, but they do have them, and they would be 4R.

My six string comes with 3L an 3R tuners, but I can only buy them in sets of 4, 2L & 2R. The other 1L and 1R I would have to buy individually. As you would for a reverse headstock


You’re right, I didn’t think about those. Probably applies to left-hand basses as well. My apologies for not being inclusive.

For the record, Graph Tech does seem to offer 3L/3R sets:



Sweet. Those are the ones with individual grear ratios for each string, so one turn changes the string an octave.

Also expensive. But thanks for bringing it to my attention. If there is one thing that is cheap on my bass its the tuners. I will upgrade them someday


could always go headless and make all this irrelevant

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For those of you new to the forum, this means buy. Please do not mod your bass to be headless because machine heads are a pain in the ass. :slight_smile:

Pro tip for sure @chordsykat

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Unfortunately there is no standard, different manufacturers and suppliers use different nomenclature when describing their tuning machines. Some look at the headstock from the front and some look at it from the back so left and right is meaningless until you know how they are looking at it. Most suppliers will tell you somewhere on their site what they consider left and right but not all do.

Your best bet though is to look at the photos with the knowledge that string tension must force the pinion gear into the worm gear…


Off Amazon when buying Open gear tuners, R is bass side, L is treble side.

Open gear is reversable, and tgey wanted double for a set of inmport tuners that were all R (I needed for a P bass) then a set all L.
Also the 4r set would take about 2 weeks to get and tge all L set would be here overnight.

I saved money and got the L set overnight and spent about 20 min reversing them from L to R, then installed them.

Also, since I do alot of Stingrays, they are always 3+1 and import open gear tuners almost NEVER come 3+ 1 and are almost always 4R or 4L or 2R + 2L so I always reverse at least one.

That said, closed tuners on alot of modern bass headstocks, like Ibanez SR’s, LTD B’s and F’s and more, Lots of Schecters like Studios, stilletos hellraisers, almost anything not being a basic Jazz or P bass from Schecter or LTD are closed tuners.
The smaller ones with smallet tuning heads or ears are closed.

Closed tuners are often, if not always NOT REVERSIBLE. Therefore it DOES matter what you get.

This applies to open vs closed from import to top branded, open is reversible, closed is not (unless it specifically says reversible on a set of closed tuners)

So depending on tuner type it matters what you get or it does not matter.