Convert 4 string fender jazz bass to 5

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bsane, Nov 10, 2012.


  1. bsane

    bsane

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    Hi.i have a fender jazz bass Japan fretless and I want to convert to a 5 string.is this possible???
  2. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered 8er Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    It's possible. But string spacing will be very tight, especially at the nut. Replacing the neck will yield better options.
  3. bsane

    bsane

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    More tight than warwicks?????
  4. azureblue

    azureblue

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Winston Salem, NC
    John Carruthers in LA did this with the wide neck P basses. It works. (the 1st model Yamaha BB5000 is essentially one of these) but the spacing is a bit narrow. At the time, this was done one of two ways- 1- punch a hole in the headstock and replace the nut and bridge, or 2 - reverse string the 5th string, ala Steinberger,with a bridge that has a tuner built into it.

    Frankly, though, you'd probably be better off just buying an inexpensive 5, like from Rondo or a Squire..
  5. Register to disable this ad
  6. bsane

    bsane

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    The p bass has wider neck than jazz bass??
  7. Bobster

    Bobster

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2006
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Yes,

    The standard for Jazz width nuts is 1.5" at the nut. It's 1.65" for P basses. Still not a lot of difference when you're talking about adding a string.

    I agree with agureblue.

    I would go with an inexpensive 5 string. In addition to SX or Squire, maybe a Sterling by Musicman Sub5; http://www.sterlingbymusicman.com/sub-bass

    Best of luck,

    Bob
  8. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2004
    Location:
    San Diego, Ca.
    Yeah but even then, can of worms. String spacing can't be an afterthought.get a 5ver with at least 1.75@ the nut and 17.5mm @bridge.
  9. levis76

    levis76 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2007
    Location:
    48313
    Yes and in just two easy steps:
    1) Sell 4 string.
    2) Buy 5 string.

    Yes.

    Yes.
  10. bsane

    bsane

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    thanks for the help guys...
  11. electracoyote

    electracoyote

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Location:
    Purple Mountain Majesties
    You should PM TB user Ric5. This guy converts Rickenbacker 4-strings to fivers, but I'm sure his advice would pertain to Fenders as well. He really knows this area well, it wouldn't surprise me if he has done the conversion you are considering.
  12. bsane

    bsane

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011

    thank!!!!
  13. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    I do it a lot. A p-bass neck works better than a jazz neck.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  14. bsane

    bsane

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    The string spacing???
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    At the bridge 2 1/2" or 2 5/8".

    At the nut 1 1/2" or 1 5/8" depending on the neck used.

    Also you can put on a 5 string neck and get a wider spacing. This will require some neck pocket routing
  16. Handyman

    Handyman

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Possible, but almost certainly not worth the time and expense. You'll probably end up happier and with more money in your pocket if you turn your 4 stringer into a 5 by selling it then searching the classified for a 5er that works for you.
  17. Turnaround

    Turnaround

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto Canada
    Disclosures:
    Bass Technician, Club Bass - Toronto
    And the pickups should be changed for 5-string versions - or else your strings will not be aligning with the pickup poles. Needless to say, you will need to replace the bridge as well, and the extra tension of a fifth string may be more than is healthy for the neck. All in all, a bit of the proverbial can of worms. Yes it can be done - it has been done. In all cases I have dealt with, I would judge the outcome to be less than satisfactory. Everyone I know that went this route ended up selling the bass shortly afterward.
  18. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    My best and favorite basses are conversions ... 8 poles usually cover 5 strings just fine. Most modern necks can easily handle a 5th string.
  19. Turnaround

    Turnaround

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto Canada
    Disclosures:
    Bass Technician, Club Bass - Toronto

    Tell that to all the people that complain that their pole pieces don't line up with the strings.
  20. Turnaround

    Turnaround

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto Canada
    Disclosures:
    Bass Technician, Club Bass - Toronto
    Part of the problem is the shape of the magnetic field. When Leo created the pickups for his basses, he started with one magnet pole per string. But he found that the response was improved with 2 per string. It has to do with the pattern of the field of magnets. It's an elliptical pattern that is broadened when two magnets are placed side by side. He he placed two magnets at a particular distance from each other to broaden the field. It worked exceedingly well. So well in fact that many other manufacturers adopted this pattern. Hence, the typical Precision and Jazz basses and their "clones" use this pattern.

    There are some folks that say that a single magnet works fine, and those that say that string-to-pole misalignment works, but just because it works doesn't mean it's the best way to do it. Certainly it's not without compromises. How much you are willing to compromise is the issue. How good is good enough?
  21. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    when you have 8 poles lined up in a jazz pickup it really starts to act like a rail and it puts up a fairly consistant magnetic field for the strings to be in.

    Rickenbacker uses the 6 pole toaster pickup for 4, 5, and 8 string basses as well as 6 string guitars. It works fine for all of them.

    I have built a lot of frankensteined basses and rarely do I find an 8 pole pickup that does not cover 5 strings. It happens rarely.

    The Seymour duncan 1/4 pound pickups handle 5 strings very easily because of the fatter poles.

Share This Page