Adding a 5th String

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by baste_artist, Oct 31, 2017.

  1. baste_artist


    Jun 9, 2013
    Greetings Fellow Bassters!

    About a year ago, I picked up a Breedlove Pursuit Bass, and it eventually became the bass I play more than any other. It's just so easy to pick up and noodle around on. I put Thomastik Acousticore strings on it, and the sound really caters well to playing chords, and melody.
    As playing it, I had an idea; to add a 5th string. I thought the spacing was already slightly wide as it was, and since the strings I was using were light gauge, it should be able to fit a 5th string without much trouble. I also figured that a higher string would give me more playability in the upper register, allowing for more chordal and melodic playing, which I found myself doing more and more, just because of the sound of the bass itself.

    I happen to know a luthier, who's a good friend of mine. He actually is the science and woodshop teacher at my high school. He helped me build an electric bass and guitar back in high school, and has helped me with almost all of my setup work since. I pitched the idea to him, and he thought it seemed doable. There were a few tricks to figure out, but it was worth a try.

    For some reason, when I was thinking of how to do it, I totally spaced out the bridge, which is the most tricky part. It's especially tricky because the Breedlove uses a bridge doctor, or bridge truss, which can adjust the tension. His original concept to alter the bridge was to fill the center two holes, drill three new ones directly into the bass, and those strings would be fitted through the body. The issue was that the bridge truss was in the center of the bridge, directly where the middle string would need to go. What he ended up doing was drilling diagonally, towards the back of the bridge, and gluing on a carbon fiber patch, to keep it in place.

    So now nearly every string is strung up in a different way, but I really don't notice any differences in tension/sound. He also fitted me up with a K&K Pure Bass pickup, which we wired directly into the existing fishman preamp. After communicating with K&K, they said if we wired a 1megohm resistor in parallel with the preamp, that it should be workable.

    All said and done, I am absolutely IN LOVE with this bass! I got a brand new set of Thomastik strings, along with a high C string. It's my first 5 string bass, and every day I'm having so much fun learn new things to play. I realize now that somewhere down the road, I might have to become a 6string player, because I simply love the range.

    Just thought I would share this story. Maybe it will inspire some of those who have unique ideas, but are unsure of their possibility.

    After a couple days of practicing on it, I recorded a little doodle. Attached below the pictures :)

    EDIT UPDATE: Id like to give a shout out to the luthier for this project; Bruce Potter with Potter Guitars, based out of Willits, CA. He does very good work and is quite reasonably priced!

    IMG_0030.JPG IMG_0031.JPG IMG_0032.JPG IMG_0033.JPG

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
    Michael Schreiber and mech like this.
  2. Interesting. My only concern would be the extra tension on the top but, I guess you’ll find out in time.
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    The acousticores have non-metal cores and are very low tension. It shouldn't be an issue.
    Intonation on that C string, however....would be my concern. Particularly for the chordal playing OP is talking about.
  4. baste_artist


    Jun 9, 2013
    The bridge saddle needed to be filed to intonenate it, but it's plenty good enough for me.
    Lmk if anything in the recording sounds way out of tune to anybody.

    And yes, I was concerned with the tension, but the Thomastiks are super low tension. Also, if the tension begins to be too much,
    I can adjust the built in bridge truss :)
  5. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i say: nice job and congrats! i'm always pleased and entertained by the cleverness i find on TB.

    baste_artist likes this.
  6. baste_artist


    Jun 9, 2013

    Thanks!! I love it so much, that I'll be taking it with me as my sole bass while traveling abroad for the next 6+ months.
    Will probably have to pick up a cheap electric if I manage to get gigs tho :)
    JRA likes this.
  7. I wasn’t familiar with those low tension Thomastick strings. I like the idea. In fact, I was in Guitar Center today and saw a Breedlove bass. Natch, I had to fool with it. Unfortunately, even if I had extra cash at the moment, there’s several bass and guitar projects that need to be finished.

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