So you want to string BEAD?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Brendan, Aug 28, 2005.

  1. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    With any luck, this'll get stickied and be sort of definitive. Work in progress, errors and all:

    So, you wanna string BEAD?

    Okay, well, aside from being clinically insane, here's a guide. Actual help provided may vary, check local cable provider for details.

    The first thing you're going to have to determine is your bridge situation. If it's not an open channel (Hipshot B, A, ABM, etc), you're going to have to find out if the string hole is big enough to accomodate a B string. If you want to go check it out before you go spend the money on a set of strings, see if you can rustle up a drill bit. .125 is a 1/8th bit. Take said bit, and try to pass it through the string hole on the bridge. Does it pass through easily, with a good amount of wiggle room? Just barely? Not at all?

    We'll assume it passed through freely. This is good, but, keep in mind that regular string can get thicker around where the silk wraps are; this even varies from pack to pack. So, while you're pretty likely to be free and clear, if this is not the case, try a taper core string first.

    It didn't fit. Crap. Now what? You've got two options. The first is bore out the hole with a drill (or what have you) to make it big enough to accomodate the thicker gauge string. A 1/6th bit should let you string up to a .179 string, so unless you're gonna drop an F# on there, you're cool.
    WARNING: Do not attempt unless you are extremely comfortable with the concept of drilling out your bridge. It's not hard, but if you're new to such things, best take it to someone who knows what they're doing (be that a luthier, or a friend, whatever, just make sure the person doing the job knows what they're doing!). Sand for burrs, and you're set! This won't change your sustain, the stability of the bridge, or the asthetic of the bridge.

    The other option is a new bridge. While this may seem a bit drastic, so does boring out an old bridge. A Shaller Roller Bridge is also a closed channel bridge, but it can accomodate any B string you put in there. I seem to remember passing a 1/5th bit with room to spare (.200+!) I'm not sure about other bridges, like the Badass ones. However, any open channel bridge should do you just fine.

    In the interest of being thorough- If the open channel (quick change) bridge slots are too narrow for the B, they can be widened with a Dremel tool or file. Follow the prior WARNING, and again make sure to sand smooth to avoid burrs that could cause premature string breakage.

    Most saddles are wide enough for the B string to sit in or on the groove and intonate properly. Only a few (Warwick, for example), have saddles that prevent certain gauges. Again with the dremel tool or file. While highly unlikely, and I do mean highly, you might have to widen the saddle groove a bit. Again with the file or Dremel tool. Make sure to widen it side to side, and not down. Start in the middle, and widen out, then fine sand/file to make sure there are no burrs. Double and triple check on this one.

    Right, so, now your bridge thing is cleared up. The string fits fine, we're good to head on up to the nut.


    Back? Good.

    While the strings might be close to fitting, don't try to force them into the slots; you very could well break the nut, and replacing them (if you don't cut your own) can be $50+. Carefull, here.

    Some nuts are fairly low profile, and you might not have to file the slots at all. Other pretty much wrap around the strings, and will have to be operated on.

    This one's crucial. Widening the nut slots. I happened to have a Dremel tool with an assortment of head that were juust about right, so I used a Dremel; you may use a round file, or a dremel, or a flamethrower, I dunno. Pick your poison. Dremel is faster, but requires a much steadier hand.

    When widening your nut, the important part it to remember to only widen it side to side. If you cut it deeper, you can get some nasty string buzz and a bloody mess that only a new nut can fix. There's a liiittle give, but you really shouldn't go down at all. Widen the slot from side to side, equally. Doing otherwise will throw off the string to string spacing, and might put your B or D too close to the side of the fretboard, where frequent slide-offs can occur. There's not much else to this bit; just do NOT rush it, and be accurate the first time. New nut material is cheap, but if you can't slot your own nut, it'll still cost to have pro slot it.

    Now, your bass is strung BEAD. This will produce overall less tension on the neck than EADG (see below), so you'll probably need to loosen the truss rod a bit. Otherwise you might end up with a bit of backbow (or maybe an arrow straight neck; either way). This'll throw your action and maybe intonation, but if you're converting to BEAD, a new setup is part of the bargain. You might be able to get away with only raising the saddles a bit, though.

    And, just for giggles (Thanks to Ray Salamon; blame him): lbs of tesion to bring a string to pitch at the following gauges-
    B @ .135 = 34.3
    E @ .105 = 37.3
    A @ 0.085 = 44.9
    D @ 0.070 = 56.1
    G @ 0.050= 49.0

    Interesting, innit?

    Setup to taste, enjoy the BEAD.
  2. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Wasn't me! :ninja:

  3. I recently strung my iceman BEAD. Luckily the string fit through the bridge ( with a little extra pulling effort ).
    I just sort of filed ou the nut with the string itself. Worked OK. I'm happy, although I wouldn't have done it on a more expensive or sentimental bass.