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Modifiying a bass to be a headless bass with LEDS?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Fassa Albrecht, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. I have no idea which forum to put this in, so I'm putting it here. Mods, please feel free to move it to the correct forum if needed.

    Anyone here have any idea if I could convert my Yamaha 5er into a headless bass with (blue) LEDs in place of the fret dots?

    Or have I been listening to far too much Level 42?
  2. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Probably something for the Luthier forum?

    Why is it that you want a bass with no head? Just curious...

  3. I thought the Luthier forum was for new builds, not customizing stuff? I could be wrong.

    And to answer that question, I'm a Mark King fanboy and a headless LED'ed bass seems like a good idea.
  4. guest4325qpt

    guest4325qpt Guest

    May 15, 2011
    Converting a bass to a headless seems like quite the task, I'd personally just buy a headless and pay someone to put the LEDs in.
  5. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    You could be right, I dont venture into the Luthier forums...

    Ive always thought that LED fretmarkers would be rad. But, if you were to convert a bass that already has a headstock, how would you reconfigure the tuning pegs and bridge to accomodate that? Seems like it might be a difficult task! Not that its not worth pursuing if that what you want!
  6. To be fair, I've found it difficult to find any headless bass that a) wasn't a Steinberger which in the bands I typically play in would earn me some strange looks and cries of 'what the hell is that thing?!' and b) isn't a hugely expensive custom.
  7. Taking a look at the Status Kingbass, it seems that the small dials at the bottom of the bass are the tuning pegs and I could only guess that there's something of a bridge there too.
  8. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    With enough time and money you can do anything.
    A project like this would take to much of each to be worth it.

    Find a new bass

  9. Any suggestions for a new bass?
  10. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Sorry, I dont know a lot about headless basses.

    The vision of looking like a guy from Devo turns me off.
  11. Bloodhammer

    Bloodhammer Twinkle Twinkle Black Star

    Jul 7, 2009
    Shreveport, Louisiana
    I have no idea what you'd need to do to make it headless, but to do the LEDs, you'll have to get the fingerboard off the neck.

    Then you'll need to rout a trench in the neck to accommodate wires. Whether the lights need to be wired parallel or not, I don't know.

    From Wikipedia:
    You'd probably be better off using fiber optics and having all the parts (that may need future service) in the body cavity.
  12. From my wobbly knowledge of electric circuits, parallel circuits would use more power but also be better for the effect as it would be brighter and also if one light broke or went wrong, the others would not go out.
  13. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Big mods that would need to be done by a very very good luthier. Even then it may not be workable for the conversion. Cause the end of neck needs to be diff from regular necks with headstock. And the bridge requires specific mounting things that cant be done on many basses. Due to needing to be right at the end of the body etc. Installiing leds into a neck isnt a easy thing either as another poster mentioned.
  14. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
    i count 9 inlay dots on my bass. Using 3v LEDs, you could wire them all parallel and power them with a coulpa AA batteries. But the harness bundle would be really fat (18 wires!) going into the battery case.

    Alternatively, (using same 3v LEDs) they could be wired in 3 sets of 3 parallel, and series connect the 3 sets (9vdc). Then they can run off a single 9v battery with 6 wires going into the battery case.
  15. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    A Steinberger would get you looks, but a headless bass on it's own wouldn't?
  16. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Yeah, I'm always up for cool mods. I can tell you exactly how to do this.

    A. To headless bass. There are two things you have to do. The first is saw off the headstock and install a headless string clamp. If you only wanted to use double ball end strings you can simply leave everything as is and put a little catch plate (it grabs the string balls) past the nut etc. But best would be to get or make one of those neck end holders that either catch the balls or allow you to clamp single ball end strings. There is a MUCH wider variety of single ball end strings so I'd recommend that. caution. IF you buy ready-made plates the string spacing on them needs to match that on the bass you are putting them on!

    The second thing you need to do is then install the Steinberger-style bridge with the tuners. This catches the ball end of the strings and provides screws used to tune the strings. Note that because this thing has to work with double ball strings of FIXED length, it has to be installed pretty accurately . Probably some modding of the back end of the bass body will also be needed in addition to the routing needed for the mechanism, to give easy access to the tuning screws.

    B. LEDs on neck. that answer is pretty simple too. You COULD just do a custom install but that would take some serious cash. The best way IMHO would be is to buy a FRETFX LED strip that fits your proposed bass.


    Now dig. These strips consist of two parallel wires with LEDs soldered between them encased in a clear plastic strip that sticks to the side of the fingerboard. The battery box sticks to the headstock and drives the LEDs. FretFX absolutely REFUSES to do any mods to bring the wires out the other end! But YOU can do it! You'll have to chomp the wire off the headstock end and take an exacto knife and scrap the plastic down to the wires on the other end and then re-attach the original or other wires which you run to the control cavity.

    My idea is to use "phantom power" to the basses through a TRS cable run the active preamps and the LEDS so one never has to worry about the LEDs running batteries down. (My amps are set up this way right now)

    A word of warning. This seems pretty straight-forward, but I have NOT done mine yet (it's gonna be a Wishbass LED mod) so I warn you I can't tell you of any difficulties I will run into in trying to do this. Also to be more efficient, there are these tiny adjustable low voltage power supply modules you can buy, that run from 9 volts that seem perfect for running the LED chain. And once you have plenty of power available, you can do even cooler things. Do a search on TB for the thread where someone installed UV Radio Shack LEDs under a pickup cover with Neon Strings. Just TOO COOL for words!

    Edit: Found the link...Check it out!


    Obviously, these are all super-cool mods but I warn you that it's all at the upper limit of modding and not beginner type projects. The possibility of destroying a bass while experimenting is there. I'd practice on something cheap first. If it works out then copy it on something better.

    Good Luck (for both of us!)

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