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Convert 5 string to 6 string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by J-Building, Oct 2, 2010.

  1. J-Building


    Jan 1, 2009
    I don't know if it would be more appropriate to put this in the Luthier's Corner or in Hardware, but hopefully I'll get enough advice here. I really like the idea of a six string, though the sheer size of many six string necks has always turned me off to them. For me, the neck is the single-most important feature of any bass I play. I was looking at a fairly-beat up American Deluxe Jazz five-string with a cracked headstock near the B string tuner, and since I was planning to replace the neck anyway, would it be possible to convert this to accommodate six strings?

    Here's the ad:
    I consider that crack to be a pretty major structural flaw, and I was hoping to put a fretless neck on anyway. The body, to me, is pretty beat up as well, so I've shot him an offer for $400 so far.

    Would my time and money be better spent converting another bass, or will this do just fine?
  2. Most older 6 string basses have extremely narrow spacing.
  3. J-Building


    Jan 1, 2009
    I'm trying to look for something that isn't like an Ibanez Soundgear, BTB, and still somewhat within a reasonable price range. Basically, I want a 6-string jazz bass without having to go custom or paying exorbitant sums of money (of which custom would definitely do). I'd give my price range as something less than $1300.
  4. Marton


    Sep 20, 2005
    Get a used Peavey or Carvin.
  5. BrewCityLdB


    Jun 28, 2008
    Milton, WA
    One of the guitar players in my band plays bass in several of his other bands and these have been his primary basses. He just modded two Squire Active Jazz Vs into sixers and they actually play pretty nice.


  6. J-Building


    Jan 1, 2009
    YES this is along the lines of what I'm talking about!
  7. Pete


    Jan 3, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I wouldn't do it and I'm a 6 string player. That 5 might not be worth the asking price being busted up but if you convert it you'll have a very narrow 6 (3" at most). Plus the neck may not be able to handle the extra 40lbs of tension. That bass has pole pieces in the pickup which means the strings won't be even volume wise. There are plently of options in that range without modding.
  8. J-Building


    Jan 1, 2009
    Thanks for all your suggestions, but I think I'll just wait. It could be another year before I can lay my hands on a Steve Bailey (the bass that I'm trying to somewhat emulate). The only steady money I can get comes from Christmas, Chinese New Year, and my birthday, and getting a part-time job is next to impossible when there are two Cal States, one community college and three high schools all within 10 miles of where I am.
  9. Between the cost to convert it, the potential problems, zero resale, etc. I can't see it being a good idea to convert a 5 to a 6.

    I suspect problems with neck width are technique related.
  10. J-Building


    Jan 1, 2009
    It's not a technique issue at all, it's simply not liking the width of the neck. As I play on the B and E strings, I find that the bottom of the neck is digging into my hand, and I can't properly/comfortably play on those strings without turning my wrist away from the neck, which in turn creates even more discomfort. I've never had extensive playtime on anything wider than an Ibanez five-string, and a lot of six-strings feel very alien to me now.
  11. Unless you have freakishly small hands, that digging is from you wanting to wrap your thumb around the neck, which is absolutely a no-go on wide 5s and 6 string basses.
  12. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Actually I have what you want. It's my Modulus TBX6. A 6er with the width of a 5er. It's a graphite neck so string tension is no problem. It's so narrow that it's virtually impossible to slap on it. And though I usually don't play wide neck 6ers, it takes me a bit to get used to the narrow spacing when I start using it as a Go-to main axe. It cuts so well, though, it does often get used quite a bit.

    Bottom line is that after a brief period of readjustment back to the narrow spacing it plays just fine. Guitar players who also play bass go absolutely nuts loving it when they play it! Personally I'd rather it had a slightly wider spacing but hey we all have to make sacrifices for tone!

    And no its not for sale!

    So if you want an oddball thing like a super-narrow 6er, then go for it. It is definitely a playable instrument. There are obviously a number of reach advantages from that...like getting the low strings high up on the neck. Hey, I'd say go for it. Just save your slapping for your 4 stringer.
  13. BrewCityLdB


    Jun 28, 2008
    Milton, WA
    From what I was told by my buddy who modded the above pictured basses is that those have a slightly wider neck than most Fender/Squire 5 string necks. I own a 2009 MIM Fender Jazz V Standard and there's no way I want to convert it over to 6. Just looking at it and the pictures here I can tell the nut isn't as wide. So if you can find a replacement neck that has this wider neck I say go for it.

    As far as resale goes.. you're not going to get anything in resale on a Squire anyway. I can't see a beat to hell Fender with a cracked neck fetching much either regardless of where it was made. If what you see here looks like what you're going for I say find a local luthier/mod guy and at least discuss the idea. You could have a bass suited to your needs without sinking a bunch of cash into it.

    Also check out Rondo's site as they've recently released a 6 string, Jazz style SX (my friend also owns one of those and said with a couple set up adjustments he's very happy with it).
  14. kimstevens


    Nov 12, 2002
    Those look really great, actually something I'd be interested in as well .... how do they feel at the nut, do your fingers bump into adjacent strings?

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