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Convert 4 string to 5?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Zodiac, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. Zodiac


    Aug 11, 2007
    Buda, TX
    Has anyone done this? I know I'll have to replace the nut and bridge (or add a single if I can locate a matching one) as well as an additional peg.

    My main concerns are removing the nut and proper alignment of the 5th peg. How difficult are these?

    I'm not concerned about the nut width; my bass has a 1.75" nut and I've seen 5-string basses with the same width.

    I looked at the Music Man Bongo and it looks like I can get away with not having to move the bolt holding down the D&G string. I can simply add the 5th peg to the bottom, move the strings down one space and add the B.

    My headstock is similar to the Fender Precision.

  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Get ready for really tight string spacing.
  3. gjooro


    Mar 27, 2006
    Just don't do it. You'll ruin the bass.
  4. LeonLivingston


    Aug 28, 2007
    The only way I've ever seen that done is to get a 5 string neck specialy made for your 4 string body. Not sure how well just adding a string to the neck would work
  5. NKUSigEp


    Jun 6, 2006
    Bright, IN
    Please don't do it! :eek: First, where are you going to find space on the headstock to put a 5th tuning peg? And then how are you going to route the string to it? And your string spacing is going to be RIDICULOUSLY tight - you will have the equivalent of permanent fret buzz that no amount of adjusting will fix just from the strings being so tight together and hitting each other. Does your bass use pole-piece type pickups or bar magnets? If it's pole-pieces, your going to have a serious drop in volume from the strings not vibrating over the top of them since they're shifted to accomodate a 5th string. And where are you going to find a nut that will fit on a 4-string but made for 5?

    And if for whatever reason you do go through with it, I hope you plan on keeping your bass forever b/c that will have absolutely killed the value of it. People just aren't going to respect your work so it will be nothing more than firewood. :bawl:
  6. dumbdrum


    Sep 19, 2006
    People have been known to convert Ricks as 5ers are rare. I wouldn't recommend it though you risk ruining a perfectly good bass and you may not achieve the results that you were after.

  7. Moe Monsarrat

    Moe Monsarrat Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2006
    Austin, Tx.
    Endorsing artist:Regenerate Guitar Works Carvin, Micheal Kelly Guitars
    I did it once but never again. Not a good idea IMHO. Just get a 5'er.
  8. T-MOST

    T-MOST Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2004
    NJ via NYC
    Why? just get a 5.
  9. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I vote the same as the rest. It's going to be a very large pain in the ass to do, and what you would end up with is highly unlikely to be anything like what you want. It's going to cost you more than the difference between what you can get for your Bongo as it is and what it would cost to buy a Bongo 5er, and once you've done it you'd be lucky to get 10% of what the original bass cost should you ever decide to sell it. This is an extremely bad idea.
  10. CharlyG

    CharlyG ~ he not busy being born Is busy dying.

    Jun 11, 2005
    West Hills, Ca.
    One reason is, a lot of 5'ers have WIDE necks. I had one of Jeff's 4-2-5 RIC conversions and it was great! I like narrow necks and 5 strings, what can I say?
  11. Silas Martinez

    Silas Martinez

    Jan 17, 2007
    Denver, CO
    Try finding, or having made, a 5 string neck for the bass. A new neck - don't mod the existing one. Replace the pups with ones intended for 5 string, and find a 5-string bridge that won't require re-routing to work. Only if you can do those things is it worth while to do - because if you decided it doesn't work for you, it can be reverted - or if you want to sell the bass. Modding the existing neck, and extensive rerouting, are generally really really really bad ideas.
  12. MixBass


    Feb 23, 2006
    L.A. Harbor
    Co-founder. GrabAxe
    Well...I have 2 90ish Stingrays that were done w/ great results.Fretted and frettless. My luthier filled in the old peg holes and put new veneer on both sides of the headstock. Then redrilled 3+2 and put gotohs on it.Bart p/u and new bridge. They both play and sound great. The fretted one has a great B and is the fastest easy bass I have. One drawback is if your slap happy, it's a little tight. It's very slapable but if your jumping around @ the same time... I don't know how often it turns out well but mine are great.
  13. Back in the day, Shaller or Gotoh or one of those companies made a 5 string conversion kit for P-bass. It came with a new nut, string tree and bridge. The string tree (button) had to double as a string anchor and the bridge had a tuning machine built in for the extra string. It basically stuck a string in between the regular d and g positions. Those string would be really tight spacing and the a and e would be regular. It didn't catch on (I wonder why). Really, just buy a 5 string and be done with it.

    check this out
  14. CharlyG

    CharlyG ~ he not busy being born Is busy dying.

    Jun 11, 2005
    West Hills, Ca.
    4-2-5 should be reversable. THe only blem would be on the headstock. Jeff pulls out the poles on the pickups and redrills for 5 poles. Not a big deal. The bridges have the same footprint, and the nut can be replaced. On a 4003, he just makes saddles that will fit 5 in the space of 4. He also picks up a little real estate by moving the outside strings out slightly. If you replace the bridge, you have to make sure the new 5 string bridge will adjust for this particular string spacing.
  15. Fealach

    Fealach Guest

    Apr 23, 2003
    Gone to a better place
    The Wilkinson 4+1 was a kit to convert a 4 string to 5. Included a new bridge, string tree, nut, and directions, similar to described above. However, the string spacing, while tighter than the average 5 string, was equal between the strings. Easy to put on, though the nut was made to fit a Precision so sometimes a new one had to be made depending on the bass; also, if your bass doesn't have a string tree you'd need to drill a hole in the headstock.

    I have one, and like it. I wouldn't want to slap on a bass with this bridge, but I like real music so I have no need to. :p Sorry, I couldn't resist. I kid. Or do I? :ninja:

    If you've seen Tony Franklin play his solo bass version of "The Rain Song" (it was on youtube I believe) he uses a fretless P with a 4+1 bridge and seems to have no trouble. He seemed to like the bridge when he discussed the mods that were on the bass when I saw him at a clinic.
  16. blackcrayon


    Feb 5, 2006
    I converted my 4 string wishbass to a 5 :) Of course the headstock was large enough to easily add a fifth tuner.
  17. Thunderitter

    Thunderitter Bass - the final frontier! Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2007
    echo - get a 5!
  18. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    The difference in price between a Bongo 4 and a Bong 5 is about $250. I doubt you could make the conversion in aesthetics and functionality for anywhere near that.
  19. Akami

    Akami Four on the floor

    Mar 6, 2005
    The Wilkinson method would probably be the best option if you decided to do this but I agree that you should just find a Bongo 5 and sell the 4 in it's present state!
  20. Zodiac


    Aug 11, 2007
    Buda, TX
    Thanks for all the input.

    Since it's more complex that I thought and the likelihood of ruining a perfectly good bass is high, I'll just go back to comparing 5-strings online and see if I can find one I like.

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