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5-String Spacing

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by KSB - Ken Smith, Nov 4, 2004.


  1. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Attention 5-String players. What is your favored string spacing at the nut and bridge from string to string, center to center? 1"+/26mm, 24mm,23?....... Etc and nut 9?10mm?.. Also what string length is your 5-string?

    I have my Morelli labelled 7/8ths Bass in restoration and I am considering making it into a 5-string. I don't need another 4 and if I decide to sell it down the road a 5er is much less common than the 1,000s of old German shop 4-string Basses. My main reason is to try playing a 5 since alot of the orchestra music is not possible to play with a fingered extension.

    So, another thread here on 5s but for a slightly different reason.

    Again, Nut spacing, Bridge spacing and string length.. Plz!!..Thx.. Ken.....
     
  2. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    The Pollmann 5 in my shop measures 26mm at bridge and 9.5mm at nut. It's very playable, but I'd want more arch for digging in.
     
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Thanks Arnold, I play my 4-String Basses at 10mm/nut and 26mm/bridge. I measure without the angle included, just center to center. 26mm at the Bridge seems a bit wide for a 5 in my world. I measured my old Bridge from my Italian Bass I used for 15 years and it is about 23.5mm measured on the centers.

    Controlled Bow hand is very necessary to avoid hitting other strings. Wider spacing is much harder for me in thumb position for the left hand. I am curious to know what spacing Edgar Meyer uses for both his 4-string Gabrielli and and the 5-string Bass he plays in the chamber group........
     
  4. Mudfuzz

    Mudfuzz

    Apr 3, 2004
    WA...
    Ken, most likely you have seen this but...... still. Just scroll down to the bottom for string spacing.
     
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Thanks Aaron, I have never seen that website b4. The Spacing listed there is much wider than I've ever used.

    I am most interested in hearing from TBers and the spacing 'they' currently use. Also, that website is from Europe and most likely for 'German Bow' players.

    One day I called and asked my old friend Bassist/Luthier Paul Biase in NYC what spacing and arcs he uses for the Bridges he cuts. He told me that German Bow Players use wider spacing and with more arc whisle French Bow players use slightly closer spacing and a shallower arc.

    I place a ruler under the strings touching the Bridge between the E and D and then the A and G. The space desired is about 1/4"-5/16" or 'about' 6.5-8mm est. from the top of the ruler to the bottom of the string in the center of the three, ie; the A or the D in the order listed here.

    I know that's a bit tight but that's what I am used too.
     
  6. Mudfuzz

    Mudfuzz

    Apr 3, 2004
    WA...
    My EUB is 10.5mm at the nut and 19mm at the bridge and I really have to watch not to dig-in when bowing [french], but not undo-able.
     
  7. Ken....I have the Bohmann set up stricktley for pizz, so I won't confuse you with any measurements. It plays like butter, but in order to pull that off, i've had to just adjust it with pizz in mind.
    Didn't want you to think I was ignoring your thread.
     
  8. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Thanks Paul, I know you don't ignore me, .. Ever!!.. lol... But, even though you are set up mainly for Pizz I would still would like to get your measurments when you get the chance....36-24-36..lol
     
  9. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Aaron, 19mm sounds impossible unless you are just bowing a single note at the end of a tune. In an Orchestra you play every dynamic and Bowing technique using the entire 1st Octave of the Fingerboard and then some. Fast passages and string crossing at light-speed on occasion but not uncommon within each concert. I don't think 'fender' spacing is bowable for Orchestra playing on this planet as far as I am concerned.

    Thx anyway for your input..........
     
  10. Ken...this is very ballpark....the Bohmann's nut is @ about 1/8" between strings. The bridge, and you'll need a 4/4 size bridge!! is @ about 1". String length is only 41 and 3/4!!
    Suggestions: Have your guy lay the new, full size fingerboard OVER the neck leaving about an 1/8" to 1/4" exposed to accomodate the B string, keeping the original neck in tact.
    Check that one picture of the back of the neck shot on the Talkbasses to see what the hell i'm talking about. (Basses, Sticky, The Talkbasses)
    Last suggestion...use only a Thomastik B string if you want any pizz sustain at all. With so much orchestral playing, you probably won't care about that so much, so might as well let the feel be your most important issue.
    Bridge and sound post placement in relation to the bass bar on a fiver becomes more important than almost anything, as you know of course....both in terms of sound and feel! When you go in for final adjustment, make sure your guy has allowed plenty time for you.
    What have you been thinking of for machines? Since your Morelli has full plates, you may want to change to some individual French style machines.
    Being a five stringer player AND and a Morelli owner, i'm really excited for you about this. If you DO do it, I hope you can supply us with complete KS picture up-dates! Good luck Man! :hyper:
     
  11. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Thanks Paul, but your Bass looks more like 3/8" spacing than 1/8' at the Nut!.. Try with a ruler....Not between strings but from the center of one string to the center of the next as if your splitting the diameter in half with the ruler...
    My Morelli labeled Bass is made by Pfretzschner in my opinion. They must have been contracted as well due to demand to fill orders for less elaborate models just as Juzek did with Wilfer.
    I will probably go with about 25mm or just under one inch at the bridge and 9mm, just under 3/8" at the nut. The Plates are coming off and I will use the same gears as on my Gilkes now. The Krutz gears work and look great to me. I will put 2 gears on the low side for 'B' and 'E' and 3 on the treble side A,D and G. This will give a little more breathing room for the 'B'.
    Your Bass looks like only the 'B' side fingerboard is fanned out. Years ago I bought and converted Juzek(Wilfer) 5-String into a 4-string Bass. The Fingerboard 'bubbled' out on both sides of the neck. I shaved the edges down for the 4-string!
    Arnold will probably Fan this one out evenly somehow. I will most likely use a graduated/slanted Tailpiece as well. The Bass is slated for a new Bassbar anyway so making it for a 5er is only a slight alteration. We will cheat the Bridge a hair and make it only 43" length to help the 'B' fundamental speak better.
    The Bridge size is relative to the Top, Bassbar and FF hole placement. We can alter that with the new 'Bar as the current Bridge, a "5/4" size has pushed the Treble F-hole slightly down and has to be slightly re-shaped. A 4/4 Bridge is correct for the Bass with 4 or 5 Strings on it.
    Arnold has an old Pullman 5-String in the shop now. The Bass is tuned to low 'C' as the owner played it that way. This I see avoids moving out of half position to play the Eb. Unless you have to play the low 'B' or octaves using the 'B' string, I think this tuning would suit me better...I am thinking of Obligato or maybe Jargar Strings for this Bass. It will be set up for Orchestra playing.

    Paul........ You 'Know' that I will have "Pleany" of pics when this Bass is done.. B4 and after is my favorite.........