drilling a 6th hold in a 5 string neck
Just wondering what peoples thoughts are on this?
I've been pondering with converting a 5 string to a 6 string. Mainly to keep the neck width. Just wanted some thoughts before going for it.
I highly recommend against it. Mods of this nature rarely go well, and the guys who pull them off well usually are those who have the skills to build basses from scratch.
Best to sell off your bass and buy a 6-string with narrow spacing.
I ( rather my bass tech at the time) converted my 4 string Elias to a 5 string.
New hole in headstock and new tuner... new nut... and new bridge. I didn't change the P bass pickup. I had no issues with the conversion. I still own the bass and it is a great bass.
Make sure you measure things good. That you will be good with the string spacing and make sure you have enough overhang for the outside strings. Make sure your new bridge height is good. Saddles the same height off the body etc..
Good luck with the project.
middle string is the added one.
I have no experience with the matter, but a bass player friend of mine had his four successfully converted to a five by my luthier. If it is a five with narrow string spacing, I suggest forgetting about the plan. If it has wide string spacing, it might be possible... I would probably still suggest forgetting about it...
yes.. make sure you are wanting/OK with the tighter spacing. My spacing ended up at 14.5mm. And it was a narrow neck to start with. Like a Jazz bass nut width.
I was OK with that though. I like closer spacing. :D I don't have thick sausage fingers, so I can still get my fingers between the strings
Plan everything out carefully and double check all your measurements on the bass and the new components.
** the nut width on my Jerzy Drozd custom 6 string is 52mm with spaces ( not center to center) being 8 mm. and a 4mm overhang.
So if you have 52mm nut width you should be good. (52mm is a common 5 string width I think.)
I'll separate post this info....................
My 6 string has a 52mm nut so here is what the specs at the nut are.
NUT WIDTH - 52mm
STRING SPACING - 8mm
(edge to edge,)
OVERHANG - 4mm
STRING GAUGES - .125 .100 .80 .60 .45 .30
A mod like this would be best if it was reversible.
Can we see a picture the bass and headstock?
My conversion could be reversed, and the only trace would be a doweled hole in the headstock.
I would do it right away on a cheapo bass, it's fun to experiment. But never with a valuable instrument.
I'm not worried about the nut, I've made my own replacements for broken stuff in the past.
I was wondering how you handled the bridge. Did you just use a standard one? How does it work/feel down by your right hand?
I was thinking of using those single piece per string bridges like these. That way the string width could be controlled all the way.
(not my bass, just a pic I found as an example.)
It's doable but I would recommend against it if you like slapping, since you will end up with a narrow spacing on the right hand (and if it's already under 17mm with 5 strings you'll end up with something like 14mm spacing, which you might not find comfortable even for fingerstyle)
To put it in perspective, this mod is done relatively frequently, and if you search, you'll probably come up with a few example threads. A second point is that I don't think anyone who has replied in this thread yet is actually a luthier - no offense to them, but I usually wait for the advice of my mechanic when I want to address something on my car, not my friends who are all car guys but mostly have only experience driving them and minor mods.
The key data you need are your nut width and width at the end of the fretboard. These will determine what your string spacing is going to be when you are finished. Once you've worked this out, you can then decide if that string spacing is something you can live with.
The nut will need to have at least 4mm beyond the string on each end. The point where the strings cross the last fret on the fretboard will also need to reflect about 4mm minimum outside the strings to the edge of the fretboard. If you have the means, the best way to get a good visual of this is to draw it out to full scale. You'll be able to play with the nut and figure out locations of the strings (strings can be spaced on equal distance or equal centres) and then visually ascertain whether it will be something you'll enjoy playing. What kind of bass is it?
I have small hands, and I currently have 2 5-strings. 1 is strung B - G, the other E - C. This gets me 90% of the songs we cover/want to cover. I have tried many 6 string basses and can't find one that doesn't leave my entire arm and wrist aching from having to move around as much as I need to.
I learned that John Myung's personal versions of the 6 string Bongo basses are built on 5-string specs to reduce the string spacing. Makes sense when playing that fast. My reasons would simply be to put the strings within finger reach so I'm not fumbling around as much.
At the very least I figure it will be an interesting learning experience.
Gerald Veasley's Ibanez signature bass has 14mm string spacing, and although I don't know John Myung's precise specs it won't be far off that (I'm no luthier ;), but considering the top and bottom strings remaining at the same place the string spacing of a bongo 5 (which IIRC has 17.5mm spacing) with 6 strings would be 17.5 * 5 / 6 ~= 14.5 mm)
Personally I'd go mental with such a spacing, but I have big hands and I do like me some slapping sometimes :)
You might want to measure and post here some spacings on your bass:
- String spacing (at nut, and at bridge)
- Nut width
- Overhang at the nut (distance between the string and the edge of the fretboard)
Also note that pickups with poles might cause some volume difference between the strings, if you have a pickup with a rail/blade design (like EMGs) you're fine :)
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