1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Switching 5 string from High C to Low B

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Contrabassic, May 5, 2010.

  1. Hey,
    I recently bought a 1946 Kay M-5 5 string set up with a high C. I would rather have the Low B. Just wondering if anyone had any experience in altering the bass to take the low B. I know some of these older Kays were not set up for the added tension of metal strings. Wondering if there are any foreseeable problems If I decide to switch it.
  2. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    If the bass handles the tension now, then switching to the BEADG setup shouldn't be a problem. The difference in tension between the low B and the High C is small on most modern sets. I think Spiro is an exception. The other thing to consider is how much bottom the bass produces. Try tuning the E down a step or two and see how the the low notes sound. You don't want to re-cut your notches and slots first, only to find out that the B-string doesn't ring worth crap.
  3. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Just curious-- wouldn't the fingerboard have to be re-dressed as well? After all, the vibrating excursion of the strings would differ substantially. For example, there'd be a low B where there once was an E, an E where there was an A, and so on.
  4. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    I had thought about this too, as I read this thread. I think that, even though it possibly has a beveled fingerboard, it shouldn't be a problem. Many basses don't have the bevel underneath the E string anymore because the metal strings vibration is less wide than the gut strings the bevel was designed for, so the E string should be okay, and I can't see any problems in terms of vibration size of the B string if it does indeed have the bevel.

    But I could be off in left field completely. who knows? possibly someone with a five string?


  5. Cody Sisk

    Cody Sisk

    Jan 26, 2009
    Lilburn, GA
    Ronald Sachs Violins
    It shouldn't hurt anything to go ahead and switch out the strings. Any potential fingerboard buzzing issues will present themselves once you've changed them out. Swap them one at a time so that you maintain the setup..
  6. Cody Sisk

    Cody Sisk

    Jan 26, 2009
    Lilburn, GA
    Ronald Sachs Violins
    BTW, Paul Warburton is our resident 5-string expert. Pick his brain..
  7. Thanks for the input.

    After playing this thing on a few gigs. I decided to keep the high c setup. Man the thing bows so sweet. I can also play nice sounding, clear 4 note chords.

    I cant wait to record with it. People will marvel at my range while I whip up a 3 octave scales!

    Thanks again.
  8. Chicken. :bag:

    If you ever want to give it a shot, the bevel shouldn't be an issue as Cody said. The best fiver with the low B that I ever knew was a big Tyrol that Red Mitchell had the great luthier Paul Toennniges adapt from four back in the olden days of the 60's. Paul used a beveled board.
    You don't know whatcher missin'. Them low notes just kill.
    Good luck either way.
  9. I'd have to agree with Paul on this one! Any number of instruments can play up in the high register, but when that low B is vibrating away at 32.5 Hz, that is all you. No one else gets there. You are a BASS player for chrisssake!!;)

    Try it one day, you'll never go back. I have had a cellist turn round during a concert, grinning like an idiot, to find where that low rumble was coming from! (he was tacet at the time so acceptable...!)

    And if you have trouble with buzzing, throw in some bridge adjusters to raise it and you can make minor adjustments on the bridge curve. The fingerboard (asssuming it is ok now) should be ok with the low B setup. The tensions are (as noted previously) almost the same, and it only means shifting the strings down one each. Not that much of a change really. I upgraded my strings to belcantos and needed to widen the notches on my bridge and nut to accommodate them, so make sure you like it before doing that. No E string is going to fit back in that slot once it has had a B there.

    No harm in trying though huh??!

  10. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    It sounds sweet. Leave it. If you really want the low notes you can always add an extension!
  11. Cool - a 5iver with an extension - you wouldn't see many of those around! Just imagnie your range then!

    Just out of curiosity - has anyone here ever laid eyes on such a beast??
  12. DavidMP


    May 8, 2006
    Alberta, Canada
  13. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
  14. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    The picture from response #12 is from Mario Lamure's site. I've seen that bass live at an Montreal Symphony audition.

    The little extension on the middle D-string is so it can be lowered to a C (same as a cello's C-string) for playing Bach suites. There is that long C in Mahler Symphony No.1 as well.....Hmmm.
  15. Awesome!

    That is so cool.

    Now, has anyone ever put an extension on the low B to get it even lower!!?

    He he.:D
  16. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    It's been done!

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.