The Modified BEAD 4 String Bass Club

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by FFTT, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    Back in the early 90's I started thinking about a 5 string bass,
    just to get that extra low B string.

    I've alway been a hold the bottom, drive with the kick type player especially playing in a 5 piece group where holding down the bottom was important.

    Then I went shopping and just didn't fall in love with any 5 string at any price point. My fingers are short and the necks just felt too wide.

    So, after a bit of pondering, I decided to modify my '79 USA Custom Shop Schecter PJ just enough to run the low 4 strings of a 5 string set.

    A simple, easily reversible mod, plus resetting intonation.

    That's the way the bass remains today.

    What I liked beyond retaining the slimmer 60's neck width,
    was that the change in attack angle on the relocated E & A strings gave the E & A more punch and I didn't miss the G nearly as much as I thought I might.

    Since then, other players have picked up on this idea saving them the cost of a new bass, while still getting the lows they were after.

    Reversing the mod is as simple as replacing the nut and setting the bass back up for traditional 4 string operation.

    Just wondered how many of you have tried this.
  2. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    It's a fairly common practice, there are lots of threads on it. Back in the mid '80's I used to play in roots/Americana power trio and would bring a second bass strung BEAD for the second set. Unlike you, I ended up missing the g string a bit. Ended up playing fivers for the next 15 years, but have returned to four strings almost exclusively. For me it was cool for a while, but the cachet wore off, I guess.
  3. jay tay

    jay tay

    Aug 12, 2009
    Manchester UK
    I'm contemplating this at the moment. Have been playing six string basses the last five years, but have recently started playing a four string P Bass in a new project. I love the P Bass tone, but miss the low B too much!
  4. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    Fortunately I still have my Jazz Bass and My Hofner, for conventional 4 string tuning.
  5. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    Jay tay,

    I would take the bass to a qualified luthier to have it done right. Shouldn't cost much.
  6. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    23 ft below sea level
  7. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    I was surprised how natural it feels.

    Although it did confuse guitar players during jams if they were following your finger positions.
  8. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    I posted a photo of mine in other threads but here it is again.


    Clippage, just a quick demo posted here when I first got my Reeves.

    Last edited: Apr 18, 2014
    exidor likes this.
  9. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    i always have atleast one BEAD in the fold.
    Miles_ONeal likes this.
  10. I did this back around 1983 when I first started out. I had a no-name short scale bass I was learning on and couldn't figure out why everybody on the records I was playing along with could hit lower notes than me. This was pre-internet and I was 13, so cut me some slack. I figured if I tuned everything "one string lower," I'd be ok.

    Once I got a decent full-scale bass, I converted to standard tuning but always switched back and forth, floppy strings and all. Never did like the extra width of a 5 string neck, always dug the feel of a nice skinny Jazz-sized nut. Nowadays I've got my old Peavey Foundation strung for BEAD (with proper string gauge) and everything else in standard.
  11. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    BEAD is a fairly common tuning among the TB crowd and there have been a lot of threads about it. On the other hand, if there is going to be a club thread about it the club will hopefully attract most future posts about it and keep all the wisdom in one spot. Compromise tunings that give you some very useful low notes without taking too much of your G string, DGCF in particular, are also somewhat popular.

    I'm not in the club really. I do down tune a four string but I tune in fifths: CGDA. It is the same concept but instead of taking away your G string it actually gives you half a step more range than a five string. But it is not for everyone and it already has its own club. The drive behind it is basically the same however: getting some desirable five string feature on a familiar, comfortable four string. I have really tried to love a five string, twice now, and pretty much failed. Oh, I can play them just fine if the string spacing is at least 18mm but I really cannot love them. The necks are just awful. Maybe some day I will try to love them again but it will have to be with an asymmetric neck bass. I did just get a six string but it is a Bass VI and while it will take quite an adjustment to get comfortable on it, that narrow six stringed neck feels positively delicious compared to a fiver.

    Now imagine them trying to follow your fingers when you tune in fifths! Especially on a Bass VI that looks like a guitar!!
  12. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    When I was first learning to play guitar and sing,
    I tuned my Epiphone acoustic electric to BEADF#B strung with Martin Heavies.

    That was before I discovered capos trying to match my voice.
  13. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    I had not dropped in for a while and tried a search before I posted this.

    Agreed on inspiring new adoptees to consider this before
    they spring for a Five String.

    I have always played totally by ear and memorization of grid pattern.
    Sort of like memorizing old paper computer punch cards.
    78 songs a night and I couldn't tell you what notes I was playing without thinking about it.
    I did take one bass lesson from Keter Betts 'cause I was stuck on 2 bars of the lead break to Sir Duke.
    It was 10 minute lesson, then we just jammed! :)

    Miles_ONeal likes this.
  14. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    So Far in no particular chronological order of adoption we have.

    #1 FFTT
    #2 Jay2U
    #3 pacojas
    #4 Stormchaser
  15. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    23 ft below sea level
    Thanks for the membership, I'm honored :smug:
    About playing by ear, for me it's exactly the same. I do over 80 covers just by remembering patterns and positions.
  16. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    Back in high school, the band instructor hated me because I refused to cut my hair, but also because I could play the most difficult alto sax chair challenge parts with the sheet music closed. He kept trying to bump me out of 1st chair.

    He would throw stuff at me like The Marriage of Figaro at higher than normal tempo.

    The final straw was after I organized all 70 band members who wanted to play The Rock Opera Tommy for the spring convert festival. The kids really wanted to do this and were 100% behind it. They were even willing to buy their own sheet music.
    He dismissed my proposal in front of the band saying, we're not going to play that junk!

    I walked out, never to return, telling him there was nothing more I could learn from him with that kind of attitude.
    I was one of 4 people in that band that went on to play music for a living.
  17. I've had an Ibanez SRX300 tuned BEAD for a few years now. I tried a few string combinations but settled on Ernie Ball Power Slinkys 70-90-105-135. If I play songs normally in DGCF, I just drop the EAD to DGC to get the open strings I'm looking for. I have a precision, jazz, and another active Ibby tuned in standard so the SRX was a good choice to go BEAD and it responds well to the heavier gauges.
  18. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    It doesn't hurt when you choose a bass where people won't be screaming Blaspheme! just because you modified the nut.
  19. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    I wish I could say I was a member of this crowd. I have tried to like the BEAD on a 4 string but I use the G way too much and I miss it a lot when its not there. Although, maybe I'll give it another shot one of these days considering I have three basses. It wouldnt hurt to string one up BEAD and give it another go. It would really open my mind up to another level of playing.
  20. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    23 ft below sea level
    That GSR200EX Ibby of mine has Ernie Ball flatwounds on it. Gauges 60, 80, 105 and 135 are responsible for my sound. I bought it as an active bass, but I removed the pre-amp, as it only consumed batteries, while limiting the dynamic range. I did a lot of minor modifications to improve playability and sustain. I'll never sell this bass.
    My other bass is a G&L 2000 which is in EADG tuning, but can be tuned down to DGCF easily. Even C# works well.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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