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Converting a guitar to a short scale bass - will it work?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jaguarcat311, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. I have a decent les paul copy guitar that i never use and bought for 50$ and i thought itd be a fun project to turn it into a short scale bass. Im not sure if its possible though, has anyone ever tried anything like this? as it is now as a guitar, it is archtop, it has two humbuckers, a 3 way switch, 2 volume/2 tone pots, and a bolt on neck and standard gibson style stop bridge. what i would do to convert it to a shortscale bass: I found a set of EMG passive bass pickups that fit in standard guitar humbucker slots, so that takes care of that problem. for tuners, bore out four of the tuner holes and replace with bass tuners. for the bridge, the stop bridge would be removed and since its an archtop, i would put a floating archtop bridge and a tailpiece (like the hoffman beatles violin bass). a new nut is pretty easy to install, a standard p nut should fit or i could get a blank and make my own. im not sure how the action would be, or if there would be enough string tension to actually put a set of bass strings on and actually be able to play it. its only a 25" scale, and i believe that most short scale basses are 30" scale. so it might require very heavy strings to keep enough tension on it to make it playable... im not really sure. im sort of hesitating on trying it because of the tuners, everything else i can undo, pickups, bridge, tailpiece, etc. If there are bass tuners that fit guitar tuner holes i would try it. so if anyone has any thoughts or ideas, or experiences on this topic, let me know, thanks
  2. JTGale


    Oct 26, 2004
    Hummelstown, PA
    My first thought is that you wouldn't be able to find strings that taper down in such a short length to fit into your tuner holes. But, I am sure that somebody out there will prove me wrong on this.

    I will have to give it more thought. Interesting idea ... :meh:
  3. yea i thought it might be a fun project, even though it would turn out to be a disgustingly short bass. One of the main reasons i was thinking about trying this project is because this guitar is so light (weighs a bit less than my gibson sg which is one of the lightest guitars out there) and its small, itd be fun to play and throw around, plus who cares if it gets battered up a bit, i got it dirt cheap. there are short scale bass strings, that are probably 3 inches shorter than standard, and if some of the excess was clipped off, i believe the string issue would be fine. there might be a lot wrapped up on the tuning pegs but oh well.
  4. thought about making custom machine heads so you don't have to worry about tapering?
    Just a thought...
  5. mcbrat

    mcbrat Electra Outlaw

    Dec 22, 2004
    the 1/2 size basses are 25" scale...

    thought about this too for a "travel" bass
  6. You could string it BEAD and tune it to EADG.
    (The distance from the fifth fret to the bridge on a regular 34" scale bass is about 25.6 inches, so the string tension on your "guitar" should approximately be the same as on a regular bass tuned BEAD.)
  7. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    You could string it baritone (down to B) with heavier gauge strings. A Les Paul style guitar should lend itself to this well.

    I have recently ordered a CD from an artist named Phil Brown from Tone Quest, and he plays a baritone Les Paul (actually a regular Les Paul, not specifically a baritone model, but he strings it with heavier strings). It's great stuff. His tone is similar to ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, and sounds just awesome.

    To hear a sample of it, go to Tone Quest's website:


    Make sure your speakers are on. His tune "Heaven" is no longer the featured tune that plays automatically on their homepage, but if you scroll to the bottom, it's still there. Just stop the other player above it from playing, and hit "play" on the player at the bottom of the page to hear Phil.

    I have recently purchased a Yamaha baritone guitar (it is a slightly longer scale guitar), and I must say I like playing baritone better than my regular range guitars. The tone is just positively creamy, and the instrument makes a great compliment to the contrabass.

    You can rock out all day in "B" instead of "E" - "Welcome to the basement."
  8. mcbrat

    mcbrat Electra Outlaw

    Dec 22, 2004
    here's how mine turned out. it plays rather well, though it's a world different than my jazz :)

    it went together nicely. Schaller roller bridge to space the string in for the narrower neck.

    used a brass adjustable nut as a string guide since it has a zero fret.

    had to drill out the holes in the tuning pegs to accept the bass strings.

    got the action raised up enough and got it tuned properly... needs a proper set-up yet, but it actually sounded okay with the 6 pole pickup....

    here's the pics...