Is it possible to convert my 4 string to 5?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by aparker82, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. aparker82


    Sep 19, 2012
    I have a MIM Fender P bass I Love and I'm wondering if it's possible to convert it to a 5 string and have a smiliar string spacing as my Ray35?
  2. wooheehaa


    Jul 14, 2013
    std p is 41.3, ray35 is 45mm. its physically impossible to have similar string spacing on the lower fret
  3. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    tune BEAD and lose the G.
  4. aparker82


    Sep 19, 2012
    How narrow was it? 15mm? If I had to do any closer than 17.5 I doubt I could play it, when you changed the pickups did you use a 5 string pickup or a soap bar type 4 trying pickup
  5. aparker82


    Sep 19, 2012
    Would a 5 string fender neck fit on it or would I have to expand the pocket?
  6. probably inappropriate to this thread, but it's something that's discussed endlessly on TB- i was bicycling by and i thought i'd ask-

    why is there an almost genetically predisposed aversion among most electric bass players to wide(r) spacing?

    why is 16 or 17mm almost the very edge of the electric fence?

    are players who stay in this zone completely comfortable with this narrow spacing?

    just genuinely curious.
  7. Immigrant

    Immigrant In Memoriam

    All your answers will soon come...

    The thread title is to Ric5 as the Batsignal is to Batman.

    He will have verbal advice and drool-inducing visual examples.
  8. It gets very narrow. Many of the old 5 and 6 string basses had very narrow spacing. This can make slap pretty difficult.

    Spend a little time on your bass and see how much you need the G string. If it's not that much, I think tuning to BEAD would be the path of least resistance.
  9. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    Modding electronics, bridges, tuners, etc…these are all reversible. If you love your P-bass so much, you may not want to do something that you cannot undo. If you do and it works out, that's great. But if it doesn't, you run the risk of never getting back to the state you love.

    Doing the 'B-E-A-D' thing is still reversible. All you'll probably need is a new nut (and strings, obviously). Or if you only go down to 'C' and don't need the open 'B' note, you could get a Hipshot Drop-D de-tuner and set it to 'C' instead of 'D'. But if you cut into the neck pocket and you don't like the results…yer screwed, and so is the bass you loved.

    There's also the possibility you may not take well to a five-stringer. This happened to me. I got a lovely Squier Deluxe V (in that hard-to-find white, no less), but I just didn't take to it.

    Basically, I want you to avoid any crushing regret, especially since you told us how much you dig your P-bass. I'd advise you to get a solid, but inexpensive, five-stringer and see how it works out for you. If you find a good deal, it'll probably cost only a little more than either a new bridge/strings/nut or a new neck/strings/bridge.
  10. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    I don't know if it's possible or not, but it would seem to me that, with the price of a new bridge, new pickup, new tuner, nut, tools, labor, etc, it might be more economical to purchase a used 5 string.

    Unless there are other reasons that you are thinking about this, such as a fun project, I would suggest just picking up a 2nd an SX.
  11. aparker82


    Sep 19, 2012
    Hmm, I guess the BEAD is something to really ponder, I will have to agree that I don't really want to chance ruining an instrument, I guess if I'm going to chance ruining one I'm better off buying an SX and seeing what happens haha. Do they make pre cut nuts or would I buy one and take a file and sandpaper to it?
  12. dgce


    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    I remember in the 80s when 5s were still exotic and for the elite. Someone (could it had been Hipshot?) came up with a P-bass mod kit to convert your 4 string P to a 5. Needless to say, it didn't catch on but it could be worth a Google search.

    I think the BEAD idea is a good one especially considering you love your bass and you could always go back to regular tuning. At worse, you may have to replace the nut.

    On the other hand, these days there are some 5-string basses on the cheap that aren't half bad. Now I've never even seen this one, but it's a P bass, it's a 5 string, and it's cheap:

    While clearly not on par with a US Fender or your MIM, a lot of bass players have been raving about these new Squires' bang-for-buck. Maybe this P-5 is another winner.
  13. There are guys who have done conversions like this (Ric5 comes to mind).
    The spacing is VERY narrow, but can be done.
    You need to add another tuner to the treble side of your headstock. Custom cut a 5 string nut, and install a Schaller 5 string adjustable saddle spacing bridge.
    Other than that, I'd go EMG pickups, so you have rail magnets for better control over the volume of each string. And it looks better than having off-set pole pieces.
  14. That conversion kit put a string in between your conventional E & A strings. Leaving you with screwed up spacing on the low strings...and the tuning was adjusted for that 1 string at the bridge.
  15. Droopy


    Oct 18, 2009
  16. dgce


    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    Yes! I remember you had to install some little Floyd-like fine tuner at the bridge for one of the strings. Little wonder it didn't catch on. But again, 5 string basses were exotic back then and pretty expensive. These days, they have great playing 5 string that most can afford. I wouldn't want to risk messing up a 4 string I love when you buy a great inexpensive 5 string or just tune BEAD.
  17. remainthesame


    Sep 24, 2008
    idk about you but i like my strings as far apart as possible. no less than 19mm
  18. I thought that, too. (Big hands/fingers) But basses with 16/17mm spacing can be quite comfortable, too.
  19. I'm aware of only 1 conversion kit, the Wilkinson 4+1. Intended for a Fender Precision, this kit resulted in no permanent mods to the bass. It consisted of a nut, replacement string tree, and replacement bridge. The extra tuner was on the bridge, the string was anchored inside the new string tree. On the bass it was designed 4, it was a drop-in replacement, very easy to do.

    The new string was "between" 2 of the other strings. New spacing was narrow but uniform. The only thing I didn't like about it was that it wasn't so easy to use on anything besides a Precision. Not many basses have tiny little nuts like Fenders, especially with a wide neck like a P. The string tree is also not common outside of Fender and copies. I did have one bass the nut fit on, and the kit worked well.

  20. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I think everyone should have the same spacing based on my preference and that everyone else is stupid.