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Setting up 4-string bass for lower strings of 5-string set (BEAD)?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by LegChai, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. LegChai


    Dec 7, 2011
    I'd like to get more depth from my 1980s Fender Jazz Bass Special and purchasing another with more strings is out of the question at the moment.

    It seems like it would be pretty easy to outfit a 4-string for use with the lowest four strings from a 5-string set (B, E, A, and D). I imagine I'd just have to get someone to cut a new nut, right?

    Is there anything else I should know? Does anyone here play this way?
  2. BobaFret


    Jan 22, 2008
    I have thought about doing this but haven't yet. I think you'd just need to file a little off the existing nut ( to make it a hair wider ) for each string that won't fit. Then it's just setup/intonation stuff from there.
  3. done it - the novelty wore off quickly - switched back and never looked back
    had to replace the nut afterwards -
    Put the whole thing on the list of things I wished I had never done.

  4. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Yep, there's a few threads on this.

    All I had to do on my P copy was file the nut slots a little wider - and as everyone will tell you, wider, not deeper! But if you can get one cut specially, all the better.

    Not a novelty for me, but a necessity - without a B string I don't feel I'm covering the bass range. I don't play any bass without a B.
  5. jewbageled


    Jun 29, 2011
    I filed the nuts of a p-bass down to fit the low B string in and raised the action a bit.
  6. LegChai


    Dec 7, 2011
    Thanks everyone. Still haven't completely decided. I want the low string because I often music on slack-tuned guitars, and I'd like to be able to have the bass carry lines that are significantly lower. I just don't have the cash to go blow on a 5-string, and I'm not sure I'd like the neck. Looks like an easy conversion though. I'm seriously considering it.
  7. mech

    mech Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    Easy to do and completely reversible as long as the nut is not filed too wide or deeper. I've done this since the 90s and have four 4's strung BEAD. Bridge saddles will need to move back about 1/8" to set the intonation and the truss rod may have to be tweaked depending on the tension of the new strings.

  8. toomuchfunkk


    Nov 15, 2010
    Thanks for asking LegChai. I was wanting to do the same thing with my G&L JB.
  9. +1

    You might not like it or be able to get used to it; try it on some junk bass first, and see. Also keep in mind - can you live without a G string?
  10. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Why? getting a new nut is no biggie...

    Oh, the old ones are always the best...

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