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bass GUITAR?!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by unclebass, Jun 1, 2014.

  1. unclebass


    Dec 17, 2012
    If this is not the right forum, please relocate. I am toying with the idea of trying to make a bass from an electric guitar. Has anybody done this?

    Before anybody asks, "Why would you want to do this?", the answer is 'Just Because!'

    Have been wanting to check into a short scale bass for a while, but I think this would definitely be unique. I would use the guitar pickups, nut, and possibly even the tuners. Of course I would eliminate 2 tuners and recut string slots in nut. I also know that I would have to use short scale strings and mount the bridge to allow for proper intonation while mounting another plate at the end of the guitar body for the ball end of the strings to set in, since the scale will be much too short for any standard bass strings. Will definitely have to use largest short scale bass strings available. I know that this thing might look like a train wreck, but I think it would be fun and I might learn alot as I try to make it work. I won't be sinking any more money in it than absolutely necessary.

    Would appreciate any information from someone who has tried this...
  2. I think some TBers on here have made basses with strat bodies but I think they had 34" scale necks bolted on. I can't remember.
  3. hover


    Oct 4, 2008
    I wouldn't relocate the bridge, you'd mess up the intonation.
    I would just spend the 10-12 bucks and pick up a proper bass bridge.

    Just realize the potential for real floppy feeling strings is high, and bass strings have a hard time liking wrapping around guitar tuners...some would posit that won't work with guitar tuners at least not for the E & A. Otherwise, give it a shot.
  4. Goteky45


    Oct 30, 2009
  5. unclebass


    Dec 17, 2012
    Really don't want to change the neck. Think I could get away with using guitar neck if I could find a 5 string set and discard of the smallest string and still tune EADG. Should be able to get a .125 to make a decent E if I can find one in such a short scale. If necessary, I would replace tuners with cheap bass set. I already have a bridge, and it would be in about the same place as original bridge, but strings would have to run to the end of the guitar body to take up the excess length due to the very short scale. Would have to make a makeshift tail piece like an upright bass.
    hover likes this.
  6. hover


    Oct 4, 2008
    Yup...I would just "drill out" the ball end areas a tad but keep the holes to keep good down pressure over the saddles / witness point.
    Best of luck with your project!
  7. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    You'll need a good neck to support the bass strings tension.
  8. OneAri


    Jan 1, 2013
    Brighton, UK
    There's a guy in the Epiphone owners club who did pretty much what you're suggesting to a Dot Studio hollow-body (can't remember his name...sorry.)
    All he swapped out was tailpiece, bridge and strings

    Still, either check that or maybe he'll crop up here at some point
  9. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Of course, this has been done before. Here's one of several Fenders...

    Attached Files:

  10. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I really don't think that is what the OP is looking for. I am pretty sure he wants a standard 4 string bass on a guitar body (and neck.)

    I am sure somebody had to try it over the decades but nothing jumps to mind. Isn't a guitar only 26" scale?
  11. F-Clef-Jef


    Nov 13, 2006
    Neenah, WI
    Getting "regular" bass strings (especially a .125 E string) to wind onto a guitar string sized tuning peg might be quite a challenge.

    My deepest sympathies to that poor, skinny, little guitar neck! It's gonna be a rough day for that guy.
    JimmyThunder and KingKrabb like this.
  12. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    But the truth is that the Fender factory has done it, decades ago, and periodically since then. We are currently in the golden years of Fender VI availability. The OP's intent is related to the VI, whether he sticks with six strings or pulls out two, leaving four. LaBella and CircleK/Kalium (and probably others) make strings for the VI that should be adaptable to his project. They will be too long but if he chooses a hard tail guitar platform to modify he could anchor them past the bridge somehow to eat up the extra length, or he can figure out how to shorten them. There are quite a variety of strings available from those two companies alone, a better selection of gauges than you can get for short scale basses, I believe. I was going to try something like this myself, but using a 27 inch baritone Telecaster and I was going to leave it a six string. I even found a local music shop that had them in stock and played a couple there which gave me some confidence that I could adapt to them. I was unemployed at the time and could not afford to act on the impulse. By the time I got a new job the Squier VI was out and for my taste that is the better option.

    I am tuning the 30 inch Squier in fifths starting on the C below the traditional bass guitar E string using a 0.120 string from LaBella. Based on that I would say that an E is feasible on 25.5 to 27 inch guitars. The tension will be lower so you just use a lighter touch or a pick. If you keep it as a six string the lighter touch will come naturally due to the tight spacing. If you select your string gauges to keep the total neck tension the same as it was when strung and tuned normally for a guitar, whether you use four or six strings, you should have no trouble with the neck at all. Obviously if you use only four strings each of the four can have 1.5 times the tension of the original guitar strings without overstressing the neck. If the desire is to use, say, a dead stock Stratocaster then I am sure that it will be successful, especially if you drop two strings. But if the desire is not specific to a particular guitar I would favor 27 to 29 inch baritones from various companies to get a bit higher tension. The Squier VI uses tuners that are small but made like bass guitar tuners. If you can find them on the aftermarket they might be a better choice than the standard guitar tuners or trying to shoehorn bass tuners into the existing holes.

    Or you could just get a Squier VI. Dirt cheap, very well made, and more fun to play than you could ever imagine!
  13. You could maybe make it into a bassVI.
  14. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    AGH likes this.
  15. raventepes


    Jan 7, 2012
    Reno, NV
    I kind of like the look of the Strat. How does it sound?
  16. staindbass


    Jun 9, 2008
    nice stuff ! my first solid body bass was a strat body, with a music master bass neck i put together.
  17. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    Played great but didn't sound great with the pickups and really lousy strings. Very easy on the hands and shoulders. Tore it down for another project.
  18. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I also have a sub short-scale bass. 24" scale. Mine is old from the days when Japan sold such things. In a way it's a very interesting instrument. You'll love the way you can reach all manner of double stops etc. that you can't on a longer scale bass. Down sides are that 24" is just about as short as you can go with an E string and still have some tone left. You can't make one of these in 5 string and have it work. And worst of all is that there are no strings for these basses. And that means you have to try to bend the E string around the tuner post and large heavy strings don't much like that. There is a great tendency for the central wire to snap. Since I only play 5 or 6 string these day I don't play the sub-short anymore, but I must admit it's a very interesting instrument. Building one would be worthwhile, I think.
  19. Yes I did this with an old dreadnaught guitar someone gave me, but with some modification. I removed the old tuners then plugged the holes and drilled out the peghead to hold some old Ibanez tuners I got from the junk bin at a music store. I used the bridge but installed a trapeze style tail piece from some old Hofner knockoff to bear the load. I then installed an old 6 string guitar humbucker and output jack. Slapped on some old Ernie Balls I had laying around, and that was the birth of my "campground" bass. It's not very loud. Plugged in it sounds a bit upright bass-ish.
  20. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Jason at Bassstringsonline.com said he could order a custom La Bella set for my 24 3/4" scale Supro Pocket Bass.

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