I'm not sure where to post this really: http://www.sankeyguitars.com/whatsnew/2018/10/1/new-invention-wrap-lock-headless-tuner It's from a few years ago, and the examples are all guitars - but I can see it working with tapered or exposed core bass strings without scaling it up significantly. Not sure if it would be that useful on most basses with all wound strings but a piccolo bass or a six string (or more) with plain strings might benefit immensely over some of the standard set screw arrangements.
I think I might have stumbled across a possible path to tool-less headless single-ball-end string changes, if only you could implement a nifty automatic clipping system like some locking tuners have!
Does anybody know of something that exists that does all this singing and dancing? The closest I can think of is the NS Design Self-Clamping Tuning System which you still will want to clip the strings for - even if it was on the market as a bridge seems like a lot of routing, forces a certain string spacing, and would not allow for rear or other interesting, shrouded or angled tuner arrangements due to the tuning knobs being where they are (like a volume knob, 90 degrees from the usual headless arrangement, parallel to the strings).
Thanks to the sterling collaborative efforts of @Paul S and my lovely partner, I got this for me birfday! It's a Riverhead Unicorn RUB1090, from 1985-ish. I've wanted one of these since I tried one at the old Bass Centre in Wapping in 1985, and sadly found myself unequal to the £500 price tag!
They don't turn up too often & I've missed out on one or two, including this one when it first came up a few months ago. Happily Paul gave me first refusal - and a great excuse to get it at no personal expense! So everyone's a winner!
This is in nice condition for a 35-ish year old bass. A lot of these are pretty tatty, seemingly the factory finish wasn't too durable, but this has had a decent refin at some point, over the original matt black. The hardware's in near-new condition, which I'm surprised & very pleased about - many of these have corroded-looking metal parts. There's a little bit of fretwear, mostly under the E & A around the first 5 frets or so. A fret level/dress would help but I don't know if I'll bother - Paul's strung it with flats & the slight acoustic rattle doesn't seem to be audible when plugged in. Actually this is the first time I've had flats on a fretted bass in about 15 years & I'm surprised how well they work on this! Through my little Yamaha THR10 it sounds nice & full, with a bit of a Jazz growl to it. Pickups are passive single coils & fairly close to J positioning.
First impressions are that it's a bit nicer to play than my Hohner B2A or Cort Space headlesses - the chunky pickups provide a more natural feeling hand/thumb position and the narrow (39mm nut) but fairly deep neck makes it feel pretty substantial.
Very early impressions, I may try a bit of recording with it over the next few days. On the whole, I'm chuffed to bits!
I've been trying to find our more about my Hohner headless bass from the late 80's which has a jack on the reverse and a strap with a rotating connector so that you can spin the guitar as in ZZ Top style ( but without the fur!). Does anyone else have this? I can't find out anything about them.
Luckily it has a conventional jack because it's totally impractical