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Baritone/Bass-VI Questions

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Jagdmusik, Nov 17, 2006.

  1. I'm looking to put together a bari/VI-style instrument, and I had some setup questions; I'm not sure yet if I'll go with USACG's full 30"-neck-on-VI-body configuration, or with a Warmoth 28.5" bari-conversion neck on some random guitar body.

    I. My intention is to tune F#-F# (one whole step up from a Fender VI) to better match my vocal range. Would this likely cause neck strain or string breakage problems due to higher string tension if I used standard VI strings at standard 30" scale? If so, do you think the shorter scale of a Warmoth 28.5" neck would be sufficient compensation?

    II. What sort of tuners would I use, bass or guitar? Most VI-style instruments seem to have guitar-style tuners, but are they different in any way to deal with the heavier strings? If so, where could I find replacement tuners for a Fender VI?

    III. What sort of bridge could I use? Will guitar bridges provide sufficient spacing? Are their saddles big enough for Fender VI strings? Does anyone have numbers for Fender VI spacing at the bridge? Neck width numbers would also be nice (12th fret or heel dimensions; fender.com says nut width is 1.5").

    IV. Does anyone have any ideas on appropriate fretwire sizes for these instruments?

    Any help you can provide would be appreciated.
  2. I'd think tuning up a whole step would be a bit too much tension on the neck, especially since you're dealing with 6 strings instead of the traditional 4. What seems interesting is that the string gauges for the Bass VI (not to be confused with the Jaguar Baritone..) on Fender's website are .025, .035, .045, .055, .075, .095. On D'Addario's website they have strings for the Bass VI but the gauges are .024, .034, .044, .056, .072, .084. I don't know if the slightly lighter strings (especially on the bottom end) would help lessen the tension a bit. If that doesn't work out then I know you can always order custom gauge single strings off of their site as well but I would buy the bass ones because the guitar ones probably aren't going to be long enough for your scale.
    Oh and the link to the D'Addario Bass VI strings: http://www.shopatron.com/product/product_id=DADXL156/
    Hope this helps ^_^
  3. Shouldn't a shorter scale result in lower tension when pitch is held constant? Short-scale basses feel looser than long ones when tuned identically and using the same strings.

    When you want to lower a given string pitch, you 1) decrease the string tension, 2) increase the string mass, and/or 3) increase the scale length. So here we're talking about 30" scale and Fender-VI gauges as our givens, and we want to raise the pitch. So we'd either increase string tension (maybe a problem for a whole step), decrease string mass (possible but I don't like the options)... or decrease scale length, right?

    So I was thinking the shorter scale with a bit higher tension might do the trick? Lighter strings are possible but there's not much selection out there. I was already aware of the D'Addario set and didn't like it because I think it skimps too much on the lowest string. Thanks for the suggestion, but I think Ernie Ball has a more attractive set: .020, .030, .042, .054, .074, .090. I usually prefer stainlesses and heavy strings, though, which is why I was hoping to keep the Fender set if it wouldn't kill the neck.
  4. Haha, you know what, you're right about the whole scale length and string tension relationship, I don't know what I was thinking :meh:

    So if you're going to go with the 28.5" scale neck, those Ernie Ball strings look pretty appropriate although I'm no expert.
  5. zazz


    Feb 27, 2004
    there is something wrong with the ernie ball 90 low e...like its core is too thin giving a very muddy response. I think the vi strings would be best.

    there is a guy on the fdp jazz and jag section called bassvist who knows everything there is to ever know about building vi s from us custom bodies.

    but if you are going f-f on a 28.5 then that is probably ok since e-e on a 28.5 is a little bit loose like the jag bari.... on the other hand the 30 on a vi e-e is perfect.

    unless you really want the trem a fixed bridge will be much easier to build ..but vi copies normally use the jag trem with reversed saddle plate.

    the scratch and chrome plate are very hard to get hold of.
  6. zazz


    Feb 27, 2004
    as a matter of coincidence i just happend to pick up some vi strings just to see what they would be like on my silhouette knowing full well that they wouldnt be ideal in terms of length and ferrule ball end size....i didnt even know if they would fit at all.

    but guess what the vi strings fit perfectly apart from the ball ends sticking out which doesnt bother me at all.

    and!!!!! the vi strings are way better sounding than the eb strings..especally on the low e ....so thats it i am using vi strings from now on...my search is over.

    ps rather than build a bass from scratch have you ever considered the olp mm5...its had great reviews and is very cheap.:bassist:
  7. Wespe


    Feb 21, 2006
    If you're thinking of tuning a whole step up, and you're really worried about tension on the neck, you might just consider using a capo at the second fret.
  8. You're right, but I was already thinking of doing that on occasion, in addition to having the whole thing tuned up a whole step...

    Anyway, I think I've settled on a plan now.

    I was in a vintage guitar shop the other day with a friend looking to sell his mid-50's Gretsch, and besides a strange Ibanez that looked like a cheap Alembic copy and was apparently made for and owned by Stanley Clarke ($10k), it just so happened that they had a Fender Bass VI ($20k :eek: ). I wasn't able to take precise measurements on the spot, but it answered several of my questions.

    I play lefty, so I'm afraid that (like most things) the MM5 is not an option. :( Apparently Schecter makes the Hellcat VI in lefty, but that's more expensive. I'm not actually going to build from scratch, anyway. Here's the plan:

    Buy an SX SJM-62 LH 3TS surf-guitar from Rondo (http://www.rondomusic.net/sjm62left.html), replace the neck with a Warmoth 28.5" baritone conversion (I'm thinking rosewood on padouk), fit it with a precut Warmoth Corian nut and six Sperzel locking bass tuners (still undecided on fretwire), replace the bridge with a Warmoth Modified Mustang, add a buzz-stop to the tremolo tailpiece, replace the stock bridge pickup with a Rio Grande Babybucker, route a middle pup cavity and plop the stock pup back down into it, route some more space under the pickguard to pimp out the electronics and drill/cut the pickguard accordingly, give the whole thing a decent foil shielding job, convert the stock pup-select switch if possible to a phase reversal for one of the Babybucker coils, replace the stock tone control with a Fender TBX and a Torres Super-Midrange, add three Jag/VI-esque slide switches for pup selection and a 4P6T rotary switch for series/split/parallel shenanigans, maybe replace the volume pot with a push-pull to do some other random electronical stunt (tone bypass perhaps?), and finally slap on a set of Fender VI strings, tune it up to F#-F#, and trust that the combination of shorter scale and Warmoth's stiffening bars will bear the tension.

    Sound good? All told, I think it should weigh in at just over $800 (some assembly required). :bassist:
  9. ferri


    May 27, 2014
    Berlin, Germany
    Hi guys I'm new here so no idea if this is the right place to post.
    I had a Jaguar baritone custom 28.5" it sounded ok / tuning A to A - but I wanted something bassier cause I tried a danelectro 30" (A to A) and I really liked it - so I sold it to buy a MIJ 90s bass VI (30") - of course I'm not interested in the stock strings because I want to tune it A-A.
    I'm trying D'Addario EXL157 and ERNIE BALL baritone strings but it seems I have a lot more tension on the neck than the stock strings - is it normal ? thinner strings should be lighter ...

    Has anyone ever used a bass VI as a baritone guitar ?

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