4 string restung to B,E,A,D?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by natev, Feb 1, 2006.

  1. natev


    Feb 1, 2006
    hey i want to know if anyone has heard of a 4 string bass being restrung to a BEAD instead of the obvious EADG is it possible to change to but over or sumthing to do it or how would you go about it thanks
  2. it's fine, I used to do it before I had a 5-string. you have to file the nut to fit the bigger strings, but otherwise it's fine. Just set it up properly so the strings don't rattle on the fretboard.
  3. horrible


    Jul 20, 2005
    works well for me. I tune my P-bass either BEAD or AEAD using Fender nickelplated steels 60-115 (the set is actually 40-115, just ditch the g-string). No real mods needed, just a slightly higher action. :smug:
  4. hmmm - 115? thats a pretty light B string!? makes sense though I guess
  5. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    you can buy a normal 5 string set and ditch the G-string. assuming youre using a 34" bass.

    file the strings slots in the nut
    if you have to, file the string slots in the bridge
    put on strings
    adjust truss rod
    set intonation

    anything i missed out?
  6. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    ESP makes a bass with just such a tuning. IIRC, it's the DF404. Has a tribal inlay on the neck instead of dots.
  7. I've done this a lot, on my own basses and on customers' basses. You lose the five highest notes on your G string, and gain the lowest five on the B. This is an outstanding deal, in many cases. A few things to bear in mind.

    Some four string instruments don't want to hear a B string. It might be the lower mass or stiffness of the neck, or the way the builder "voiced" the bass. Unless your name is Tobias or Turner, you really won't be able to tell until you try it on your bass. No one you encounter on any web site will be able to predict whether you will like theresults or not, or whether your instrument will support an acceptable B string or not. Don't expect a computer to predict the future. Go buy a five string set and get it on!

    Most four strings have 34" scales. Most of the best fives use a longer scale length, around 35". The increased tension necessary to get equal gauge strings up to pitch on a longer scale seems to produce a more solid B string. Don't expect too much past the seventh or eight fret on the B, as the tone tends to get a little choked there under the best of circumstances. If your bass has a scale length of less than 34", your chances of being pleased with the results decrease. Consider using a heavier gauge string unless your bass has a scale length longer than 34".

    Most often, the G string on a given set exerts more tension on your neck than the B. You may have to decrease the truss rod tension after the switch, otherwise the decreased tension of your BEAD set may result in less relief or even a little back bow. This is a quick fix, and if you use the next heavier gauge set, you may not even notice it.

    Your nut slots may need to be widened by a hair. Not deepened, but widened just enough so that the heavier gauge strings rest in the bottom of the slot. This is a very simple operation, but you can also wreck your nut by getting the slot deep enough to cause string buzz in the open position. Most basses have enough clearance in the slot width to accomodate a slightly wider string, but if you notice unusually high action at the first fret, or if you encounter tuning problems (especially pinging) with your new strings, he slots are probably too narrow and need a little attention. This is a job best left to a real repairman, but don't let this dissuade you from the great experiment! If you need a little set up work after you take the plunge, the cost will probably be less than $50 and the results will be worth it.

    The BEAD set will be a heavier gauge than your EADG set in all liklihood, so a little intonation adjustment will probably be in order. You can hold off on this until you get it strung up and see how it sounds. No biggie.

    I've done this to an MTD 435 (a 35" scale four string) and the bass just slays. It is a blast to play (nice narrow neck), it sounds tremendous, and it largely eliminates the need for a four and a five string.

    Turn off you computer, go buy some strings, and report back your results!
  8. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    Yep, forgot to check/adjust action (before intonation) and check adjust pickup height (sometimes lower tension will necessitate lowering pickups if they are set realtively high).

    I had trouble setting the intonation on the B, and when I looked into it others had too. The solution for me (and some of the others) was to use a tapered B string.
  9. Not all 4 string basses can accommodate a B String through their bridge (they are machined for regular tuned gauges), so you *may* need to replace the bridge with one that has larger holes or doesn't require the strings to pass through it.

    Just a thought...
  10. Bravo! One of the most positive, insightfull, totally well meaning posts I've ever read here.
  11. by all means do not "ditch" the G strings, keep em just incase, or if you have anotehr bass using a G string it could break, dont jsut discard a new string!
  12. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I also used to do this before I got a 5 string due to the low tuning my band's guitarists use. I wasn't really happy with it as I only owned one (good) bass back then and goinng BEAD made slapping more difficult.
  13. tiredman9


    Aug 15, 2005
    New York
    i wouldn't recomend tuning a four string BEAD just because it limits your possibilities. Try tuning in fifths CGDA. youl get a much better range.
  14. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    It can be done. Many guys do it. I dont really see why though. Why not just use a 5? You avoid altering the nut, etc.

  15. jgrotto


    Nov 29, 2005
    Didn't read the whole thread so I hope I'm not being too redundant but-

    I tune to drop c# (c#, g#, c#, f#) and use a light gauge B string (115) for my low c#. Before I put the thicker string where a thinner string should go, I brought my bass in and let a luthier look at it. He filed the nut where the thicker string would be sitting a little bit and then adjusted the neck, intonation, etc. A thicker string where a thinner string once was, I imagine, can put some irregular tension on the neck unless it's setup appropriately. Not to mention that if your action is way low, a thicker string is gonna be hitting the frets unless you raise it. All in all, I think I paid $70? Money well spent, in my opinion.
  16. 5bassman

    5bassman Supporting Member

    May 4, 2005
    I did it on both of my Sadowsky Ultra Vintage 4's. I never used the high G on my 5 string basses and wanted a thinner neck. It worked out great on both! I widen the nut using the old strings from another 5 string set and then put a new set of strings from a 5 string set and did a setup on both. I love it!
  17. My Carvin BB70 does BEAD just fine, even with strings .015" thicker than usual. When I had it strung with the bottom four of a light 5-string set, it did just fine there, too.
  18. Jugghaid


    Jun 28, 2002
    Denver, CO, USA
    I just got done doing this on a Schecter California custom. It works fine. I decided on this bass as it's a solid, well built bass with good electronics (EMG's not the HZ's) good hipshot hardware, and most importantly for me a 35" scale. The longer scale really does improve the string tension on the low B.