Issues with changing tuning to BEAD for a Vintage (1976) Precision bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by novo, Oct 17, 2017.

  1. novo


    Feb 20, 2007
    Hey Guys

    I am thinking of switching my 1976 Fender P to BEAD tuning.
    Do you think this will damage the neck in any way since its a rather old bass?
    Apart from filing the nut a bit for the B string to fit, do you think any issues would arise with the bass?
    I do have a 5 string bass, But I do find the sound of the vintage P and the extra mojo the low B will bring with it to be amazing!

    You thoughts?

  2. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    The only destructive change is filing the nut.
    Other than that you'll just have to adjust the saddles for intonation and maybe do a minor adjustment to the truss rod, depending on whether the total tension changes or not.
  3. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Why? A .120~135 string is fat, but you don't typically tune it all the way up to E but to B: and, for a B string, even the thickmost end of that range is not especially tight in general terms.
    Similarly, a .04~.045 may look thin, but you don't tune it down to D, let alone down to the aforementioned low E: a point-oh-four(something) is more than adequate, for a G string, and in fact pretty tight (if you consider that the same or similar gauges are often used on 6-string Spanish-tuned guitars - electric usually - for their lowest string, at the equivalent of 8 semitones down where they are on a bass when you compare the two different scale lengths against each other).

    In other words, do you already tune lower than standard EADG (say, one or two half-steps lower), or perchance use a G string thinner than .04?
    If not:
    - and your usual G on that bass is a .04, after removing it(, moving the other strings down one slot) and effectively replacing it with a B, the latter is not gonna be tighter than the G unless it has a gauge of .135 or higher;
    - if you use a .045 G, swapping it out and retuning to BEAD will not result in more tension unless the added B is at or above .145;
    - if your G is a .05, .052 or .055, any B gauge you end up with is gonna be safe, tension-wise, provided it's below the .16~175 range! (Yes, those exist - and aren't too hard to find - but unsurprisingly they're for tuning down, to low A, G#, G or F#.)

    In short, you'd have to really go out of your way to have a BEAD set with more tension than a commonly-used EADG set. Looks deceive.

    Now, should tone rather than tension be a concern, have a look at this recent discussion (for tips and thoughts if anything - no substitute for firsthand experience IMO):
    B-E-A-D on a P or . . . ?

    (Ugh, I took ages to find it, I expected it to say "BEAD", no hyphens, in the title... :/ )
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
    novo likes this.
  4. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    ^^ THIS^^ Pretty much in a nut shell... If you're concerned about preserving a "vintage" nut, just have it removed and replaced with a new one (I recommend a Tusq) cut for BEAD. No, tension won't be a problem. The only real problem some people run into when they do this, is intonation troubles. Some bass bridges don't have enough saddle travel to intonate correctly; it's the most common complaint on the BEAD Owners Club thread (in the STRINGS forum, IIRC) - other than a floppy B string... You, however, shouldn't have an intonation problem with a P-Bass bridge. I didn't have one with the Hipshot A bridge on my Carvin when I strung it this way, either. A floppy B string? That's a subject for a different post...:thumbsup:
    novo likes this.
  5. novo


    Feb 20, 2007
    Thank you!
    HaphAsSard likes this.
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