Short Scale Bass/Guitar Hybrid with Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet, Bigsby, and Coil-Splitting

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by TheoP, Jul 31, 2019.

  1. TheoP


    Jul 29, 2019
    Hi everybody,

    I’m looking to do a fun project and try to create a hybrid between a bass and guitar by using a Gretsch G2220 Electromatic Junior Jet II (red finish) and modifying it.

    First, I am deciding between using light-gauge short scale strings or piccolo strings. Since piccolo strings are an octave higher, they would do the job well, but D’Addario only makes a set for long-scale basses. Would these long-scale strings sound good (or even work well) on a short-scale bass without messing up the neck too much?

    Second, I was looking to coil-split it, so I could have the “Les Paul vs. Strat” effect. I’ve heard that the default Gretsch mini humbuckers aren’t too good, so I was thinking of upgrading them to humbuckers that could fit in the bass well without much drilling and be coil-split. Is this at all possible, or are there no pickups that would fit into the mini humbucker cavity? Also, any recommendations on good cheap (<$150) pickups would be greatly appreciated.

    Finally, with the lighter sound/strings, I thought about adding a Bigsby B5 to the bass. I know I’d have to replace the normal Fender-style bridge for a rolling one or a tune-o-matic one, but would a Bigsby be able to handle this kind of general setup since I’m not using super-heavy strings?

    Thanks so much for the help!
  2. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
  3. Not sure where to check the wound length of guitar strings, maybe the manufacturer web site but I’d bet there are at least some guitar strings long enough to work on a short scale bass as piccolo strings.

    If you do go with a tune-o-matic type bridge you will need to shim the neck to get a good string height. If you look around, Bigsby has a shim for Telecasters. Don’t know if it would fit the Gretsch but it will give you an idea and they’re not too difficult to make. I’ve made a couple of full length shims like that.
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    The only difference between piccolo bass strings and guitar strings is the length.

    Are you converting the Gretsh from six strings to four?
  5. TheoP


    Jul 29, 2019
    If that’s the worst I need to do to modify the guitar, then that’s not bad at all! They’re probably super cheap to make too!
  6. TheoP


    Jul 29, 2019
    The Gretsch is already only 4 strings, so that’s why I was looking at piccolo strings vs. guitar strings. Are piccolo strings thicker than guitar strings?
  7. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Oh, ok, I thought you were converting a guitar, not making a bass into a piccolo bass. Got it.

    They're both available in different gauges. What gauge you use depends on the feel you want.
    Generally you start with about half the gauge of standard tuned strings for an octave up at the same tension.
    If guitar strings fit in terms of length there's no reason not to use them.
  8. Asher Platts

    Asher Platts

    Apr 18, 2022
    So, lemme save you some trouble on a couple points:

    string tension:
    Check out StringJoy, they have a string tension calculator. They have the standard pounds tension for a guitar setup with 9s as the default setting. If you like that tension feel, add up the tension for all the strings, that's your total string tension.

    That's what a bigsby spring is pushing back against.

    Now just change the scale length to 30 and the number of strings to . If you planning on making a piccolo bass because you want a piccolo bass, keep the pitch the same and divide the total tension from before by 4.

    I think you will find though, that you could get the same string tension with lower pitched strings (like proper E string bass tuning).

    The scale length you are looking for is either baritone, or short scale bass. Either way, 30.3" length scale strings... regular bass strings won't fit properly, neither will regular guitar strings.

    If you want to make it into a baritone 6 string there is space in the headstock for 2 more tuners at guitar spacing.

    In fact, if you look at the Gretsch Baritone, you'll notice that the body shape is identical. That's because they use the same routing jig for both. The control cavity is also big enough to wire in two more pots for volume and tone, like a les paul. You can easily find wiring diagrams for that online.


    Unless you are putting brand new pickups that are coil tapped or 4 wired and coil split ready, you won't be splitting the G2220's single coil pickups.
  9. Asher Platts

    Asher Platts

    Apr 18, 2022
    They are either the same, or even thinner. The difference is the length. Piccolo bass strings are 34" scale, baritone/short scale bass strings are 27"-32" scale and guitar strings are 25.5-24.75" scale (though you could probably put them on a short scale guitar)