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Turning 5 string to 4 string

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by CaptainTuna, Aug 10, 2012.

  1. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    Hey guys!

    I'll start off by saying I've found lots of sites discussing about 4 to 5 conversion but nothing much about the exact opposite.

    I'm not sure where to start or if there's anything that I have to pay extra attention about, or if this is even doable. I'm not a pro at these things, that's why I'm so uncertain of what the problems could be.

    First thing: can it be done without changing everything? I have pickups with poles and I guess this is a huge issue, i guess.
    Next thing would be the bridge...but if the pickups are an issue I'll just think twice before moving to the next step.

  2. The poles are going to be an issue.

    If you're fine with that. You'll need:

    New pups,
    New bridge,
    and a custom nut

    Plus you'll either have an empty tuning peg or need to find something to do with the hole in your head stock.
  3. smogg


    Mar 27, 2007
    NPR, Florida
    I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
    All kinds of reasons not to do it (right out of the gate probs w/the pups, neck will prob be too wide, need new nut, new bridge, just to name a few). If you are wanting to move back to four just sell the five and get a four stringer.

    If it's a beater and you are trying a go at modding then by all means have fun. ;)
  4. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    You will also have a wider neck then most for 4string. This can greatly affect playability.
  5. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Banned

    What kind of bass is it? Most 5 strings are built with pretty narrow necks. If it's 1.75" at the nut or less, you're in P-bass territory, which is what I prefer in a 4 string, YMMV.

    As for pole pieces, if your 5 string is actually built with a 5-string pickup, your poles may not line up, but as long as the outside strings don't go past the outside edges of the pickup poles, you'll be fine. There are plenty of 5 strings made with 4 string pickups, and some of them actually sound good, so why would the reverse be any less true?

    At most, to try it out, you'll need a new bridge and nut. You should be able to get those pretty cheaply for the sake of experimentation. The strings may have slightly weird angles going from nut to tuner, depending on the headstock shape, but it will most likely be fine.

    If you end up liking it, you can plug the extra tuner hole with a dowel, or something interesting like a coin or a dolls head or whatever.
  6. I recently saw a bass player out here who had his 5 string tuned EADG with the low (highest pitch) string missing/empty. I asked him why he did it that way, seeing as how a 5 string would have the usual bass 4-strings already there.... he couldn't really give me an answer.

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