Review: Jenz Precision Bass Machine Heads

The Fender bass. I love it, probably more than most, but like the Stratocaster, it is heavily copied. The classic feel and sound have kept those instruments current, even after 60 years.

Speed things up to today: Technology says, “Hey, we can make a few minor improvements,” and, with money being tight, sometimes buying a cheaper instrument to upgrade later is the best route.

Jenz machine heads are the product of guitar builder James Donahue. They look very similar to the elephant-ear tuners you're used to seeing on Fender-style basses. Even better, they line up, mount and screw in the exact same way as your current tuners! This means no painful modifications or power tools are required.

For this review, I dropped the Jenz tuners into my 2010 Fender Standard Jazz Bass. The obvious advantages were: a tighter-turning tuner and a less-cluttered string wrap, thanks to the unique downward-angled string grooves. The cleaner string wrap prevents strings from overlapping and slipping.

The downward angle of the tuner also cuts out the middleman, the stringtree. The stringtree was always a quick fix to keep the D and G strings in the nut; in recent years, we’ve even seen the string retainer bar that tames the A, E and B strings. With the proper angle set, string tension is sent directly to the nut, then transferred down toward the bridge. This reduces headstock bowing and annoying rattling and dead spots.

If you’re trying to get more mileage out of an old, tired vintage neck, can’t seem to remedy a dead spot or just need a solid tuner upgrade, these are well worth looking into. The installation took me about 20 minutes and all I needed was a Phillips head screwdriver. I made sure to test the tuners with nickel wound strings, silk-wrapped strings and flatwounds. I ran into no holdups in performance with any of them.

Jenz offers direct replacements for most Fender and Squier basses. There also are 2x2 and 5-string tuner sets available. Keep checking their site (below) for new models and finishes.

Price: $65 to $90

You can't believe everything you read on the Internet, but Billy Voight is a gear reviewer, bassist and guitarist from Pennsylvania. He has Hartke bass amps and Walden acoustic guitars to thank for supplying some of the finest gear on his musical journey. Need Billy's help in creating noise for your next project? Drop him a line at

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