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Turning a 4 string design into a 5 string

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jmorbita, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. Hello,
    I'm now in the process of starting my next build, and I found that I really like my first design (4 string bass), only now I want to build a 5 string.
    I'm making my drawing using the templates for the 4 string as a starting point, and drawing the dimensions of a 5 string neck.
    I started with the original body, drew the 5 string neck, then added the headstock. Now, the headstock obviously needed to by modified since the nut is wider. For now, I just made the original headstock, but bigger.
    Now, at least in the drawing, the original body doesn't look that bad, meaning it doesn't look small. I'm trying to figure if there's any reason it should be bigger or if I'll just leave it as is. The scale will be the same, so the bass will obviously look a bit chubbier due to the wider neck.
    If I added a sixth string and kept the body's original size, access to upper frets might be threatened, not really sure to what extent though.
    So my question, how do you go around modifying a design that you think originally works, to a significant change as the number of strings? any thoughts?
  2. Don't know your design, but on mine a four or five string wouldn't influence body size. Nor does it for Fender e.g.

    If you go extended range (six and up), I think you should alter your body to keep things looking good.
  3. I'm not saying a change in body size or shape is obligatory, I'm asking what influences your decision in modifying the body shape or size or leaving it as is.
  4. Sorry, misinterpreted your question. I think the looks and accessibility are most important. If I can reach the whole fb and the body shape does not look out of tune compared to the neck, it's okay for me. A change from 4 to 5 strings could mean a redesign of the headstock though if you make 'm as small as I do. But I guess I'll leave the conversation, because I do not have an awful lot of experience regarding your intended topic.
  5. gbarcus

    gbarcus Commercial User

    Jul 20, 2008
    Minneapolis & St.Paul, MN
    Owner of Barcus Basses barcusbasses.com
    If you keep the spacing the same, you are only adding ~3/4" at the bridge and even less at the neck. Personally, I always lay my neck and body templates out to get a good idea for how it will look and feel.
    I mainly do neckthru builds, so my wings stay the same, but my neckthru changes which makes the body bigger.
    If your upper and lower cutaways transition right into where the neck is, then you could have issues. Post a pic of your template if you can.

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