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Electric Bass C-Extensions...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by jdapodaca, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. jdapodaca


    May 25, 2006
    El Paso, Texas
    I posted a thread about this over on the slab side of things.

    I was wondering if any of you guys have seen anything similar to Double Bass C (or B) - Extensions for the electric bass.

    I really dislike 5 string basses, but sometimes I need some sub-contra E notes for theatre gigs and such when I'm playing electric. Any ideas?
  2. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Banned

    Apr 6, 2007
    Scordatura and a good Tuner?
  3. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    That's what I've always done. Not sure about the good tuner, I use my ear.

  4. Never used one, but I think you can get a special tuning machine for the e string that'll let you drop it to d with the flip of a lever.
  5. jdapodaca


    May 25, 2006
    El Paso, Texas
    That's called the Hipshot.

    That's not really what I'm looking for, though. The problem I have with the Hipshot is that 1st fret become Eb, 2nd fret becomes E, etc.

    I'm more interested in seeing if someone would be able to actually add an additional piece of fingerboard (fretboard) to an existing bass, with some type of closer at the E and frets down to a C.

    This way you can close it back up, and play regular bass again.

    Perhaps some of our DB luthiers have some input if they think this is possible on a slab?
  6. That would take a lot of extra fingerboard and really mess with the balance of the instrument, we double bassists have the lucky feature of the almost foot long scroll and peg box so we can just throw on what is it 10 inches that an extension is, but with Electric it would be kind of awkward to attach but also to play.
  7. jdapodaca


    May 25, 2006
    El Paso, Texas
    I'd rather have some extra weight on my bass than play a 5 string and accidentally come in a 4th below everyone else.
  8. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Banned

    Apr 6, 2007
    I use my ear too, but when you start going below the double contra E it gets a bit more difficult. We're thankfully graced with such nifty electronic devices that are more accurate than our own ego's and ears. :)

    I don't know how playable an actual extension on a bass guitar would be, I mean they're hard enough to use on a Double Bass. What is it that you don't like about five string bass guitars? You can find ones with really small necks and with good setups. Most people I know who don't like them just aren't ready to explore the added possibilities.
  9. deaf pea

    deaf pea

    Mar 24, 2005
    Cuernavaca 1 hr S Mexico City
    Seymour Duncan/Basslines SMB-5A Endorsing Artist
    Yeah, I did that ("accidentally come in a 4th below everyone else.") a LOT when I first changed to 5-strings more than 10 years ago . . . and I STILL do, occasionally. But, for ME, it was worth the trouble getting used to playing on 5-string basses. Just having the ability to play 2-octave scales and arpeggios WITHOUT SHIFTING is a big plus for me.

    IMO, if you'd actually give it a try . . . not half-*$$ed . . . but REALLY invest the time to become comfortable with the extra, lower string, you, too, might find (like ME), that you don't have ANY USE for a 4-string bass . . .

    OR you could just start tuning ALL of your slabs AND DB's to fifths (C-G-D-A) . . .
  10. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I would say check some of the extended range bass sites they probably would know since everything they use is a custom instrument. The only thing I've seen is the basses with extended fretboard for more high end range and they are typically fretless basses. I have seen a guitar maker who makes guitars with one extra low fret so guitar is Eb instead of E.

    I was never fond of 5-string BG's they never felt right or sounded that good. Then I got a Zon with the composite neck and my whole view changed.
  11. jdapodaca


    May 25, 2006
    El Paso, Texas
    I just don't like 5 String Basses, period.

    I play 4 string double bass, and would like to also play 4 string electric bass. I don't think it's necessary to train your mind to think "lowest string is B," instead of "lowest string is E."

    I made a little sketch with MS Paint, using a guitar headstock cause I couldn't find any pictures of a bass headstock from the side. Pretend the last two tuners aren't there. This is what I'm picturing:


    The park where the ebony meets the headstock would I guess have a little piece of felt, or something, and it would be good if it could be taken off and the bass could be restored to a regular bass without extension.

    The string could go through the end of the extension and then somehow back through the regular tuner, or maybe through the D or G tuner, similar to a Double Bass extension.

    Something tells me this is totally possible...Luthiers??
  12. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    I think the entire neck would have to be custom designed. The extension would run afoul of the tuners on most basses. You'd need the tuners on the other side of the neck or down at the bridge.
  13. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    You mean like a Kubiki Ex Factor?
  14. jdapodaca


    May 25, 2006
    El Paso, Texas
    Exactly like that, only 4 to 5 extra frets.

    I think what would have to happen is that someone design an entire neck around this idea, and it could be purchased as an entire neck and replace your bass's existing neck.

    I guess there could be a couple of different models of the neck, with different neck shapes and diameters etc etc.
  15. Kam


    Feb 12, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    You could look into an extended-neck bass, like one of Curbow's 33-fret monsters, detune the strings a 4th (maybe using the B-D strings instead of standard E-G); capo the first three strings at the 5th fret and leave the 4th string open so you have a low B or C, depending on how you tune/capo it. The only permanent modification to the bass might be widening the nut to accommodate the wider strings.

    IMHO, it's a hell of a lot easier to just learn to play with the 5th string, but to each their own.
  16. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    I doubt the replacement neck idea would be very practical only because most of the basses that a replacement neck of any sort would be feasible for have a headstock and tuners. You'd in that case also be looking at the cost of a tuning bridge like a Kubicki or Steinberger. With the initial cost of the bass and the replacement parts I can't see it coming in under $2K at the very least and could easily cost more.

    I had an Ex Factor briefly about fifteen years ago and there's a lot to be said for them. The design is innovative, very functional and the workmanship is good but to be honest the extension wasn't something I ever got very comfortable with. Even with the upright extensions have never been very appealing and it's been posted here several times by extension users that a 5 string double bass is much more practical in terms of technical execution.

    I strongly sympathize with original poster...I've never liked 5 strings either. I'm assuming a 4 tuned B E A D wouldn't give enough upper range? A 3 octave 4 string instrument like that Zon thing for what, $6K might be an answer? It's not what he wants to hear but it's a just pit band thing and even a cheap 5 string slab is probably going to work better than the custom low C rig for easily a fraction the cost. With the guys I know slugging it out doing those pit band/studio gigs the Fender Jazz type 5 has been the de facto instrument of choice for quite a while now.

    If the extension were to be pursued Gerard Samja who posts here occasionally and builds very nice DB extensions and is a slab luthier would be a good contact to make. Mike Kinal also here in Vancouver built a lot of headless slabs a in earlier days. I know he's not thrilled about them any more...like many he feels the lack of mass in the headstock imparts negative sonic qualities but this is unique and might interest him.

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