Ibanez SRC6 Successful Conversion

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AV8R, Feb 12, 2017.

  1. AV8R


    Feb 12, 2017
    Hello everyone, long time lurker, first time poster.

    Just wanted other bassists know who might be considering a 6-string bass but didn't want to deal with an extra long scale and/or extra large/wide neck and string spacing common on most standard 6-string basses, that I have successfully converted a new Ibanez SRC6 short scale bass from its factory E to E (guitar-like) tuning to a standard bass B to C tuning using standard, medium gauge bass strings from Fodera (Stainless Steel strings with a medium gauge and a tapered B string were used: .34, .45, .65, .85, .105, .130).

    The bass only required a couple of minor modifications to allow the use of these larger gauge strings - namely minor body hole widening and refiling the nut grooves to accommodate the larger gauge strings.

    The biggest/scariest hurdle I faced was how I would be able to get the larger B and E strings through the body holes (for those who haven't played one, on an SRC6 the strings go through the back of the body, like a guitar, but the holes are only wide enough for about a .95 gauge string). This was solved by using a precision drill press, a level jig to hold the guitar, a sharp 9/64 (.144) cobalt drill bit and a lot of nerve to widen the 2 existing holes where the new B and E strings would go. After leveling the guitar and lining up the bit with the string holes on the back of the guitar, I carefully drilled/widened the holes all the way through to the bridge (I removed the 2 saddles by the holes I was drilling out so they wouldn't get scratched up). The other 4 holes were already large enough to accommodate the new string gauges being used so didn't require widening.

    With that done, now the nut would require filing for the larger gauges. But, since I don't have a collection of precision rat-tail files in various sizes and since nut adjustment is delicate work, I referred this part to a local luthier, who was also nice enough to finish the restring and setup of the neck, bridge and intonation.

    The end result is a well-balanced, super-light, short-scale 6-string bass tuned B to C with very tight string spacing (10.6mm) that plays like butter. Playing with a pick is a breeze and even finger playing is easier/faster with the ultra-narrow spacing (although, slap/pop playing is difficult at best, but since I don't play that style much, that's ok). The larger gauge strings also mitigate the floppy string feel and keeps fret slapping to a minimum while finger-playing (although, being a short-scale bass it still does require a bit of a lighter touch to play than a long-scale bass).

    So, if anyone out there thought about doing this but didn't have the gumption to tackle it, I say, "Go for it". It was really not that difficult and the end result was surprisingly comfortable-playing bass.

    Pictures to follow soon.
  2. Herrick


    Jul 21, 2010
    Munchkin Land
    Hi AV8R. Welcome to Talk Bass!
  3. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    Lompoc, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    There are thinner-gauge strings that might be a bit easier (e.g. Fodera 28-120). But likely still have to do some filing and other fun stuff.
  4. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Did you manually unwind the largest strings to make them fit (better, since the tuners are bass-y not guitar-y) on the tuning posts, or were you satisfied the way they sat as is?
  5. bridgecables


    Jan 11, 2016
    Thanks for the info. I've waited to pop a .105 on my SRC6 figuring I may have to do a little drilling. Nice to know I won't have issues. I specifically chose a short scale .105 to avoid having to unwind anything.
  6. AV8R


    Feb 12, 2017
    Thank you, nice to be here and share some useful info.

    I thought about that gauge but then decided having the firmer string feel from the medium gauge would better fit my finger-playing style. And yes, you'll have to widen the nut grooves - they're cut from the factory for those very light gauge strings.

    The luthier had an issue with the B string breaking on him while winding the open tapered end of the B around the smallish tuning peg. It broke on him numerous times and yes, he had to unwind the outer part of the string a couple of times before it finally stuck. BTW, I ordered the Fodera strings with a "tapered" B string which is an option on all of their sets. Basically, there is no outer winding on the last 2 inches on either side of the string. Makes the inner string winding seat on the bridge better and fit on the tuning per at the top (a .130 string will NOT fit in the tuner's groove on an SRC6 - you'd have to remove the outer winding to get it to fit). I plan to replace just the B string tuner with a standard Ibanez Cosmo Black bass tuner which is indistinguishable from the SRC's other than a larger inner peg groove and a larger central hole (color and knob size is almost identical so it should be unnoticeable unless someone really looks close). I'll let everyone know here how that turns out.

    Yeah, if you plan to keep the E to E tuning but just want a thicker/tighter E string you'll probably have to drill. It's not that bad. Just make sure to use a drill press (not a hand drill that could get out of hand and scratch up your guitar if it skips around on you). If you just want to get a .105 string through, you could probably use a 1/8" bit (I used a 9/64 so I could get a .130 through the hole, which drills a .144 gauge equivalent hole). I found that the holes through my guitar were NOT perfectly straight but were rather at a gentle angle (I shined a bright light through the holes from the front of the guitar with it laying face down on the drill press. When the light shown on the tip of the bit I knew I had perfect alignment but the guitar was not level when I did, telling me the original holes were at a very slight angle through the body). Whether this was on purpose from the factory or just a minor manufacturing flaw, you be the judge. I ended up following the original holes' trajectory so as to make the conversion as painless as possible.

    Thanks for your responses. Getting pics together now. ;-)
    bridgecables likes this.
  7. AV8R


    Feb 12, 2017
    Ibanez SRC6 tuned B to C: https://goo.gl/photos/k35qAy3MuKZeRAkcA

    Strings close up: https://goo.gl/photos/NBQ6u4Sn8VjtAx6M7

    B-string barely holding on (will remedy with tuner replacement): https://goo.gl/photos/9m2JvYs1SKEKqtY19

    All strings fit through bridge saddles just fine: https://goo.gl/photos/H7ogJFnKK2aiQDap6

    B and E strings close up (note, the B string is tapered from the factory and appears smaller at the bridge corner): https://goo.gl/photos/LP7ivWc1eDbhwHfz6

    Unfortunate view from back of guitar (although this has no bearing on playability or comfort - they are not in the way at all): https://goo.gl/photos/Du45PD2cV4BbuJ9L6
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017
    BassFace13, Aidil and bridgecables like this.
  8. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    If you decide to try a lower gauge, or to whomever else it may concern, a .125 shortish-scale single low B does exist, made by DR and sold here (select option "Short Scale: .125"):
    DR HI-BEAM Single String .120-.135
    Besides being larger than commonly available short-scale single strings, it's longer than S-S strings from most other manufacturers (34" ball-end to taper, vs. 32" and change) and should fit perfectly (full winding until the nut, tapered at the post) on an SRC6. Conversely, BEADG sets designed for the 5/8 scale (28.6") five-string Ibanez Mikro, either made by DR or Ibanez-branded, are probably too short for your 30" scale plus string-through-body loading instrument. Finally, it is my understanding that La Bella makes all their sets available in custom lengths by request (forwardable through Bass Strings Online).
  9. AV8R


    Feb 12, 2017
    Good to know. I think I'll look up the LaBella custom lengths as this could be advantageous in so many ways.
    HaphAsSard likes this.
  10. Kalium makes guitar strings in a large enough guage to work.
  11. IronSpatula


    Dec 13, 2003
    Northern CA
    Though not essential here, standard-sized string-through ferrules for basses are not too expensive...
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  12. bridgecables


    Jan 11, 2016
    Thanks for sharing those pictures. and thank you very much for the drilling advice. I have read confirmed reports of a .98 fitting without modification, and my eyeballs told me that was probably the max before a body-drill.

    I have Kalium guitar strings on my src6 currently. The ferrules aren't a problem because they have guitar ball ends. The ones .100 and up all have that taper at both ends, and you have to pick one of 3 length options; (M) is the perfect length for the extra windings to pass the nut but not reach the tuning post.

    I'm actually using lighter strings than factory right now (and very well balanced tensions, unlike factory), still in E1 standard tuning, and I'm getting a clarity, slinky tension and playing feel of a guitar. For tension comparison, I am now using a .079 to .018 set for about 19-20 pounds per string, and I plan to tune the .105 string to around C1/C#1. I'm using it as a guitar, you're using it as a bass, I'd say it has earned the Crossover title.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
  13. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    wow... :wideyed: the nut at the left side of the low B string is so thin, worries it seems prone to crack.

    Thanks for sharing. Still GASsing for a SRC6.
  14. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    I saw a used SRC6 for sale at a local GC yesterday and I snatched it up. It is a very nice bass/baritone guitar, whichever you prefer. I tune my sixes (the other is a Squier VI) in fifths, CGDAEB, basically the standard six string tuning but with the C being the low note and the B being the high! But similar to what the OP did in that my low string is only a half step above his. At the moment I just restrung it with whatever I could find on hand and using the original strings where feasible. I found a 105-ish round wound in my stash that had never been used. Like the OP I had to drill to make it fit but I just used a hand drill. It is not difficult if you do it carefully. I drilled it out to take the largest string I would ever use: 9/64" or 0.141. OK that is larger than I will ever use but I thought I might go a little larger than 1/8 or 0.125 and that was the next largest drill bit that I have. It was a long scale string so I unwound it a bit to make it fit nicely. I put some heatshrink tubing on the string between the nut and the tuner to hopefully prevent it from unraveling. I should have unwrapped a bit more as the thick part of the string wraps slightly around the tuner post but I had zero trouble with it breaking (of course the tension is a little lower than it will be with a proper gauge C string). I downtuned the A string to G, left the D string at D, tuned the G string up to A, moved the E string to where the B string is supposed to go and left it at E, and used a plain 0.014 string for a guitar for the high B string.

    I have not tried to intonate it yet, I expect there could be some trouble with that. It plays pretty nicely as it is however even though the C string could stand to be a little heavier. I've got some buzzing so I may have to raise the action or check the relief but it is mostly with the G and C strings and both are lighter than I want to use in the long run so I will wait on that until I get some new strings. I'm also considering converting it to a five or four string since I already have the Squier VI but I will hold off on that for a while too and see if I can get really comfortable playing a tight space six as my main player. I've used the Squier regularly but I also use four and five string long scale basses. My intention is to go short scale exclusively so I am going to use the new (to me) SRC6 as my main player for a while and see how that goes before I make any decisions about the number of strings.

    Probably should get some new strings and do a proper setup before too long however....
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
    Aaarn likes this.
  15. BonzoBonham


    Oct 13, 2017
    what is the serial number of the Kalium strings you used? I see the 'M' on their site but the scale is misleading...Thanks in advance!
  16. lpdrake


    Mar 14, 2018

    Thank you for this post and having the will power to go through this operation. I have followed these instructions and I'm thrilled with the results! This bass has that thick string grit-pang balls of steel tone now!
    AV8R likes this.
  17. AV8R


    Feb 12, 2017
    Glad you took the plunge too! I'm continually amazed how well this bass sounds/plays in a configuration it really wasn't designed for. I love the short scale - it makes playing with smaller hands so much more enjoyable. The only downside is that the sustain on the upper frets (especially on the B and E strings) is pretty much non-existent, but not really needed in my case anyway.

    Bottom line: my SRC6 has become the most comfortable, versatile, lightweight 6-string bass I've ever owned. I'm glad I took the leap and made the changes. Hope you enjoy yours too!
  18. AV8R


    Feb 12, 2017
    A bit more info on this SRC6 conversion: As I've been playing this SRC6 in it's current configuration for the past year, I've noticed the following things (yes this is kind of a long-term review):

    1) While having a short scale, with a good set of medium gauge strings (I've tried Fodera, LaBella and GHS) tone and sustain are surprisingly good, especially on the lower frets (near the nut). This continues to the upper frets to about the 12th fret where things get dicey since the frets are so tiny (on the high G and C strings, things are good all the way to the 24th fret). On the low B and E strings, anything above the 7th fret is playable but has little or no sustain - but below that the strings ring as well as any 34" scale bass.
    2) The electronics on the SRC6 are good but not great. The TMB controls, while good are somewhat narrow in their range. The Volume is, well, a decent volume control but my main concern is the balance control. Mine has a glitch where moving toward the Bridge pickup is an all or nothing affair. A slight click is heard when moving toward the bridge side and I am in full bridge mode instead of moving smoothly to it as on the other side toward the neck pickup. So the sweep toward the neck is good but the sweep toward the bridge pickup is 50/50 or 100/0 with just a small adjustment. Mine seemingly has a bad balance pot. Oh well.
    3) The pickups on the SRC6 are good (EMG 35hz passives). Being passive, they can work without power too (if your 9v battery dies). Although, before the SRC6 I had an Ibanez SR505 that had active Bartolini pickups that were much more tonally responsive - way more than the EMG's on the SRC6. Later I discovered that BestBassGear.com had a pre-wired Aguilar OBP-3 preamp that can replace the existing electronics in the SRC6 and probably make it SO much better than how it comes from the factory. This will be my next upgrade to make the SRC6 bass the best it can be. It will likely fix the balance switch issue too - not to mention give this bass the widest range of tonal adjustability it can possibly provide.
    lpdrake and Aaarn like this.
  19. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    you don't have any interest for another conversion to make it all EMGs?

    I've converted mine with all EMGs: EMG 35TWX (active) pickups and EMG BQC Control (preamp). Much more tonal possibilities with humbucker and jazz coil modes on both pickups using push-pull volume pots, and the mid control now has sweepable frequency range using ring knob.
    lpdrake and Aaarn like this.
  20. Silly_Monkey


    May 24, 2017
    wondering how this went. I'm thinking about doing something similar
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Sep 20, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.