Stringing BEAD

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Eggman, Jun 14, 2020.

  1. Eggman


    Dec 3, 2004
    Denver, Colorado
    I have been thinking about stringing one of my 4 strings BEAD. Pros/cons/things to look out for/things that I will need to adjust-change? Appreciate any input from those who have done this successfully. Thanks.
    ed morgan likes this.
  2. BB Brian

    BB Brian

    Apr 15, 2020
    West Texas
    Well, if you change string gauges you are looking at setting it up again: neck relief, string height, possible nut change or filing, etc. ad nauseum.
  3. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    It all depends on the string gauge and tension you use/used. Prepare to have to do a set up. Just like any change to different strings.
  4. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Some will say that there's potential issues with the B since many 4 strings are 34" scale vs. 5 strings tending to be 35".
    That aside, you will need a truss rod and intonation and action adjustment. You might need a nut modification to fit bigger strings.

    I have a 4 string Dingwall strung BEAD. I like it.
    EMoneySC2 and ObsessiveArcher like this.
  5. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    You'll need a new mnemonic device too. You won't be able to remember your opens with Every A$5 Does Good.
  6. Bassist59


    Oct 4, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Before I bought a 5 string, I detuned one of my Basses BEAD with the regular strings on. Really, it was no problem. I didn’t need to do another setup. Neck relief was ok, intonation and action were ok, too. The advantage is, to go back to EADG, just tune back up. It was simple as that. I learned a lot of 5 string material like that.

    If you want to use the bottom 4 strings of a 5 string set, you’ll have the right feel, but you lose the ability to easily go back to EADG. The spacing will be wider than on a real 5 string. You might have to do minor adjustments...oh, you’re gonna have to file your nut to widen it....there won’t be any easy way of going back. FWIW, I believe BEAD with the thick strings will result in reduced the tension on your neck so you won’t damage anything.

    It’s a trade-off. Personally, I can’t ever go back to a 4 string after playing a 5. As a matter of fact, I’m trying to get a custom 5 string V bass made right now. I love the V shape, but nobody makes a V style bass in a 5 string version! Not even in a kit!

    Good luck, let us know what you come up with.
  7. jdaunt


    Jun 30, 2016
    Grand Blanc, MI
    I did that to one of my basses before deciding to get a 5er. If you have the flexibility of basses But all 4s, it’s not a bad idea to put one BEAD just to have that option there.
  8. Gsnorgathon


    Jan 15, 2020
    Sea Addle
    Depending on how picky you are about gauges, you won't necessarily have to go the buy-a-five-string-set-and-chuck-the-g route. Some manufacturers (e.g. Rotosound, DR) make 4-string sets for BEAD tuning.
    Winky and Bassist59 like this.
  9. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    You’ll probably want to widen the string slots at the nut to accommodate the fatter strings. Also, there are BEAD string sets out there but they’re few and far between.
    Bassist59 and knumbskull like this.
  10. I used the DR drop down and keep a bass tuned to BEAD. I play a lot of Rage/Audioslave stuff and Tim C sets his basses up that way, so I thought it would be good enough for me too. BEAD is obviously a little floppier on the B string, but not unmanageable.
    Bassist59 likes this.
  11. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    Good advice so far. Don’t forget you can also buy single strings in the required gauges.
    Bassist59 likes this.
  12. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    All that being said, there's no reason not to do it. I had my Geddy Lee set up that way for a few years before buying a 5-string and it worked great. And even with the modified nut I have had no issues after going back to EADG tuning with regular gauge strings.
    Bassist59 and M0ses like this.
  13. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    I've done this before, and I currently tune my 4-string CGDA, so I am accomodating a low B on a 4-string with that tuning. The nut is the main deal with this, you will need to get the appropriate gauge file (~$30) and file the low string slot ... and you gotta do it correctly or else you mess up the intonation forever, or ruin the nut. Even if you aren't doing it yourself, it's worth watching a youtube video about how its done, because I have found that you can't always trust just any guitar tech to do this correctly either - you may need to vet the guy before just dropping off the guitar.
  14. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Aside from probable action adjustments, you'll need to deal with the nut. The slots will need to filed out to account for the larger diameter strings. Failure to do so could result in the nut breaking: I lost the bottom tine on the "G" slot on the bass I tried this on.
    BadJazz likes this.
  15. bassbones2

    bassbones2 Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2013
    Nicholasville Kentucky
    Had to go to fours a few years ago because of hand issues. Normal is DGCF....I have one the ADGC....WOW!

    DO IT!

  16. Hover-Rich

    Hover-Rich Commercial User

    Jan 21, 2018
    Craig, Colorado
    Hover Harness, LLC
    If you are just "thinking about" it, maybe the best first step is to just try BEAD for awhile before making any changes to the bass. Borrow a friend's old 5 string set, put them on your 4 string, play with it for a little while and see if it even works for you. Maybe it won't feel 100% right but you can try it out without doing a set-up, filing the nut and other irreparable changes. If it doesn't work for you, just put the old EADG set back on and no harm done.
    GravyGoodness likes this.
  17. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    i built a parts bass for my younger cousin ... BEAD ... nut slots needed wided a bit ... found lighter gauge low B and the rest ... so it could still be restrung EADG with nut ... some string sites list tensions .!? setup was similar to gauging string gauge ..!
  18. wow... you're like the first person I've heard of who just tuned his bass down 5 semitones without it apparently sounding like crap or fretting out.

    your action must have been fairly high and you must have had relatively heavy and/or stiff strings on there for it to work - but kudos on the success story.

    Nearly always folks end up putting the bottom 4 of a 5 string set on a bass when they detune it so the tension and guage make sense... but yeah, I'd have tried what you tried also... and it's really nice to hear of something working out without costing a cent!
  19. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    A nut file and setup is all you need. If I do a gig and only bring one bass, it'll almost always be my BEAD.
  20. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    Let me be the second. I did this with my Steinberger for decades. Standard .45-.105 strings, just retune and go. Never had an issue. And I run very low action.
    Bassist59 and dkelley like this.