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B-E-A-D on a P or . . . ?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by howlin, Oct 4, 2017.

B-E-A-D on a P?

Poll closed Oct 14, 2017.
  1. Yes

    79 vote(s)
  2. No

    9 vote(s)
  3. Maybe

    19 vote(s)
  4. Get another bass

    20 vote(s)
  5. "Shut up and eat yer carrots..."

    13 vote(s)
  1. howlin


    Nov 15, 2008
    I'm Not There
    It could just be the change of seasons but I've been seriously thinking of converting my P bass to a B-E-A-D tuning. Yes, I could just get a 5-string but my experiences haven't been all that rewarding due to weight and other concerns. Thing of it is my P has been out of action lately and on an occasion or two I've been asked of my other bass will go lower.

    So, I'm wondering if anyone out there in TB land would care to share their reasons - for or against - using B-E-A-D on a P. Thanks.

    [BTW, no 35" scale. The string tension is too high for these aging hands. Otherwise, I'd just go for a Peavey G bass.]
  2. mesaplayer83


    Jun 27, 2017
    I prefer using a 5 string over BEAD fours - to each their own, though...
    osonu, C_Becker and bassbully like this.
  3. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    You could string it up and try. Before you even intonate it or possibly mod the nut you could get an idea how you'd like it in about 10 minutes.
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Modded nut is the thing...new nut to go back.
    Gravedigger Dav, M.R. Ogle and Atshen like this.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I can't think of a good reason why it wouldn't work on a P bass in particular. Try it temporary with the stock nut. If you think you'll like it, file the slots (or have a pro do it if you're not "that guy".
    GIBrat51, kodiakblair and Atshen like this.
  6. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Down tuned P style basses are very common among the stoner\doom metal crowd. I have a long thread about down tuning that has some tips and tricks.
    Look for thicker strings and decide if you are OK with filing you nut.
    If your P is naturally dark or scooped a lower tuning could get muddy. Mids are your friend.
    Some people just like the feel of a 4 string neck, or would rather mod an existing bass rather than buy a new one. It is your instrument, your decision.
    slugger, Sartori and Atshen like this.
  7. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    I prefer a 5 string over BEAD because I also want to play notes on the G string and I can't be bothered with swapping basses around on a gig. You may not need the G so a BEAD might work for you.

    My P bass is 35" and my J is 34", both 5 strings and both no difference in string tension for my ageing and sometimes aching hands.

    If you've not had a good experience with 5 string basses in the past I'd suggest you try some better basses. My Lull and Sadowsky are very easy to play. IMO no downsides, except maybe budget. But buy used and they will hold their value and be worth every penny when you play them.
  8. mech

    mech Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    @howlin ...A top nut is modified correctly for the larger BEAD set does NOT have to be changed to go back to EADG, or whatever smaller diameter string set. If the bottom of the slots are radiused, the strings sit in the bottom of the slot and don't rattle, even if a smaller diameter. I have several 4 strings modified for BEAD and occasionally change one back to EADG with no problem. BEAD 4 strings are common in Nashville to get the low notes of a 5 string but still have the traditional look.
    Tbsx, Stumbo, seanm and 5 others like this.
  9. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I put BEAD strings on a non modified EADG nut and the nut broke on the G slot. So I'd advise against this. YMMV
    mech likes this.
  10. QweziRider

    QweziRider Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Northern Nevada, U.S.
    My reasons? I am far too used to having the B as my anchor and can live without G more than I can without B. Love my P, need the B, and it's worked wonderfully ever since as B-E-A-D.
  11. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    Not necessarily. I've had nuts modified to accept larger strings on multiple basses and have no problem going back to "normal" sized strings with the modified nuts.

    I did BEAD on my jazz bass for a while, but found I missed the high G more than I thought I would, so I moved on to a 5-string.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
    Stumbo, chris_b and Jazz Ad like this.
  12. i hate username

    i hate username

    Jan 9, 2006
    I used to string an old Hohner P-bass up BEAD.No issues to report and it was a lot of fun to play. A new nuts cheap enough, go for it. You can always go back if you dont like it.
  13. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    At this point BEAD on a four banger is tried and true. The only concern is that you lose your G string. Some don't like that, others are fine with it. BEAD is not the only option. DGCF will get you the two most useful lower notes and it won't chew up as much of your G string so if you want a lower bass but are concerned about the G string the D standard tuning is an option that a fair number here find their happiness with. And you could put a Hipshot tuner on the D string to get down to a B when you really, really need to do so!
    Stumbo, Dudaronamous and NKBassman like this.
  14. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I tried a BEAD P for a short while but the string low tension got to me. Finding the right 5 string was key and in my case a Lakland 55-01 was perfect.
  15. DavC

    DavC Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    to me , it depends on how Low you need/wanna go .. ?

    i only want to detune the E down to D once in a while ... so on one of my guitars & basses , i installed a slightly thicker gauged E string ... less floppy when dropped a step .

    to go lower , i would restring with the Low B ...

    i'm pushing 60 yr old ... arthritic hands from bass/piano/guitar since 1963 ...

    my choice for a comfy 5 string neck = Warmoth Deluxe 5 - has asymmetrical backside !! really feels great .
    i use the thinner nut of the 2 available ( 1 3/4 versus 1 7/8 ) bought a used Warmoth with the wider nut thinking it would be OK - not .. ! not these old hands ... my 5ver is tuned E - C for now ...
  16. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    I had my reverse-P modded to go BEAD. I love it.
    Stumbo and Sartori like this.
  17. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    With the right string gauge you can have identical tension on a 35 as you do on a 34. That's why they make different thicknesses of strings.
    Andre678 and 40Hz like this.
  18. MHT75

    MHT75 Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2010
    It won’t hurt to try. I have my 4 string strung BEAD for the band I play with. No issues. Way better than down tuning a standard EADG set. Much better articulation and sound.
  19. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    I have a BEAD and find that it’s just fine except for jazz stuff. And super light to boot. My a-player is a converted to passive Schecter elite neck thru. I replaced the stock emgs with Delano’s that just sounded better without the pre. anyway, very lightweight 5. String tension is decent. I have it set up with low tension flats.
    MHT75 likes this.
  20. Dudaronamous

    Dudaronamous Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2005
    Bothell, WA
    Strung my G&L L1000 BEAD years ago without modifying nut and it worked great, no issues. Try it on your P!
    Sartori likes this.

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