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From B-G to E-C (potential damages?)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Guimdonatron, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. I have a Tom Clement fretless five string that I picked up from a fellow TB'er. The thing is a MONSTER of a bass, so I recommend anyone looking for a groovy mama jamma to hit up Tom.

    Ahem, NEVERTHELESS, I am not too hip on using the low B string, and if I do it is typically in a region that is on the "E" string. Because of this, I am looking into putting some Thomastik Jazz Flats strung E - C on this bass and I am curious to know if that is potentially dangerous.

    My reasons for asking being:
    A) Changed tension could cause neck warping?
    B) Nut issues?
    C) Anything else that I am unaware of!

    Any help is majorly appreciated! Thank you for your time!

  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    It will not damage the neck at all, because the total string tension will be roughly the same. (Assuming you are switching from the same brand of strings.)

    You will need a setup for sure, and probably a new nut. Are you comfortable doing this yourself? If not, a pro setup guy should have no problem making this mod for you.
  3. DeMayunn


    Dec 12, 2012
    You'd need a new nut and a setup (intonation and neck adjustment). After that your all good.
  4. I'm not really comfortable putting a new nut in. I was just going to see how it felt. I'm not comfortable replacing the nut myself. Action and neck adjustments I am fine with however. I just planned to see if the strings set will within the nut and then go from there. I just didn't want it to potentially warp the neck based on the tension.

    Also, I'm going from LaBella Tapewounds to Thomastik Flatwounds.
  5. MCS4


    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    You should be able to get a good impression of how it feels without modifying the nut. If you like it, a nut change will likely be best to optimize action and prevent buzz -- but even if you are not comfortable doing it yourself, it is cheap and easy work for any decent repairman or luthier ($20-$40). However, you may well be able to get away with it without a new nut.

    Tension is a non-issue, and I can't see any other issues to worry about. I've swapped 4-strings between BEAD or EADG several times with no problems.
  6. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I've done this quite a few times with a number of different basses. You may need to adjust the truss rod and intonation but otherwise you should be fine.

    Maybe I'm just lucky but I've never had to replace a nut. If you are getting a lot of buzzing, then sure, but try it first because you may have no issue at all.
  7. mech

    mech Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    I have 5 four strings that are strung BEAD (.130-.070). I often restring any one of them to EADG (.105-.050). The nut does not have to be changed. If the bottom of the slots in the nut on your bass are U-shaped, as they should be, it will not have to be changed. The adjustments that I have to make are to set the intonation and maybe tweak the truss rod to re-set the neck relief. For the intonation, the saddles have to move toward the neck about 1/8". It's easier to do this before you install the new strings. With the truss rod adjusted for the same amount of relief, the action ends up being the same for either gauge set with no change being made to the string height adjustment.

    Try it. It's easier than it looks.

  8. +1 Good Advice

    I don't know if the headstock tilts back or not - if it does - the nut may be a non-issue; it may not be anyway. You will need to reset the intonation for sure, maybe the neck relief.

    Try and see - good luck. :bassist:
  9. Does anyone have a link to a guide for resetting intonation? I've searched around but I typically can only find vague guides. Bass repairs are something I have always hesitated about, but I would rather learn now than get stuck with no luthier and no idea of what to do someday.

    I understand that you have to shift them back or forward to intonate, but how do you know if it's properly aligned? Do you just have to restring and tuneup? And if it isn't properly intonated you destring, adjust, restring, tuneup, and repeat?

    Also, do you need to check every note (I have a fretless) or just the mid-neck octave?
  10. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    People disagree over whether you need to intonate a fretless or not. Those who say no will argue that since your intonation depends on finger placement you just put your fingers in the right spot and don't worry about the bridge saddles. Certainly the violin family instruments have only a rudimentary intonation adjustment capacity, at best. So it is up to you which camp you want to fall into, I don't bother on my fretless and in my case I would have to improve considerably before it could have any possible benefit.

    I am sure there are several ways to check intonation. Most of us use an electronic tuner. Put your finger on the string above the 12th "fret" and pluck it to play the octave harmonic. Note the pitch indication on the tuner. The string should be adjusted to be close to in tune but it does not have to be precise. Just note where the pitch indicator is. Now without moving you finger on the string press it down against the fingerboard and pluck it again. Is the note now sharper or flatter? If the note is sharp turn the saddle adjustment screw to move it farther from the nut. If the fingered note is flat then move the saddle closer to the nut. Repeat until the harmonic note and fingered note have the same pitch. I think most of us loosen the string until it is quite floppy before trying to move the saddle to make the saddle adjustment easier then bring it back up to pitch before rechecking the intonation.

    Especially on a fretless you only do this for the 12th fret. On a fretted bass you can check every note and try to set the saddle to minimize the error on every note. Evidently some people here actually do this....

    Already been answered but as long as you use strings intended for the pitch you tune them to the tension on your neck will not change significantly and it will be in no danger. You are unlikely to need to do anything to your nut.

  11. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    the 12th and 24th fret harmonics of each string of my basses are prefectly in tune and the open string too why would it be slightly out of tune ... if it does, you are out of tune and on a fretted bass it could be a disaster.

    As for the topic at hand, I did that to my 5 string without even thinking I could damage it, just do it. Experiment ... if you have to check the internet each time you do something you won't ever get somewhere ...
  12. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    You may need a new nut and in that case have someone make it for you and set it up. Glad you are enjoying the bass. What # is it? .tom
  13. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    I am sure those notes are all in tune on any bass. If they are not you have a bad string! When you adjust the intonation you compare the 12th fret harmonic to the 12th fret fingered or fretted note. You compare the note you get with your finger held lightly against the string above the 12th fret position to the one you get when you press your finger and the string down against the fingerboard or the fret at the same position.

  14. +1 Exactly

    Match the 12th fret fingered note with the 12th fret harmonic, and use a light touch. You can even use a cheap $15 Korg tuner.

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