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> Stringing A 4-string Bass With 5-strings, Bass player, please chime in!
Taka Perry
post Oct 1 2013, 11:05 AM
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Hey GMC,

My friend plays bass, and currently has a 4-string bass. He was wondering if he could get a pack of strings for a 5-string bass and put the lower 4 strings on his bass. I think that he would have to file down the nut to accommodate the thicker strings, or make adjustments to the truss rod, but I'm pretty sure it'd work after that.

I know Bogdan here plays bass, but if any of you have any experience with this, please let me know! Thanks smile.gif


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Oct 1 2013, 04:03 PM
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Hi mate, I don't have experience with Bass strings but I think that you will have to calibrate the bass if you want to use another thickness. Let's see what Bogdan says about this.


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Bogdan Radovic
post Oct 1 2013, 04:46 PM
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I don't know anyone who did this but it all depends on the string thickness (gauge).
If the lowest (E string) is somewhere between 90-110 maybe even 120, he'll probably be able to fit it in. Or he could also skip the thickest string from the 5 string set, all again depending on the gauge of the set.

Not sure how economic this would be as 5 string sets are more expensive and 4 string set on a 4 string bass will always be more balanced.


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Todd Simpson
post Oct 1 2013, 08:53 PM
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Bogdan hit it on the head of course smile.gif Essentially you are trying to string the bass with strings that were not designed for it. Basically much thicker strings. The problem you may run in to is INADEQUATE SCALE LENGTH.


E.G. THe neck is just too short to provide adequate tension to the strings. The best thing to do is simply to try it though and see how it goes smile.gif

Todd





QUOTE (Bogdan Radovic @ Oct 1 2013, 11:46 AM) *
I don't know anyone who did this but it all depends on the string thickness (gauge).
If the lowest (E string) is somewhere between 90-110 maybe even 120, he'll probably be able to fit it in. Or he could also skip the thickest string from the 5 string set, all again depending on the gauge of the set.

Not sure how economic this would be as 5 string sets are more expensive and 4 string set on a 4 string bass will always be more balanced.



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Taka Perry
post Oct 2 2013, 08:47 AM
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QUOTE (Bogdan Radovic @ Oct 2 2013, 01:46 AM) *
I don't know anyone who did this but it all depends on the string thickness (gauge).
If the lowest (E string) is somewhere between 90-110 maybe even 120, he'll probably be able to fit it in. Or he could also skip the thickest string from the 5 string set, all again depending on the gauge of the set.

Not sure how economic this would be as 5 string sets are more expensive and 4 string set on a 4 string bass will always be more balanced.


Yes, so the nut width shouldn't really be a problem I guess. I'm not too sure about what my friend wants to achieve, but I am guessing he wants to play in lower tuning with modern metal bands that play very low.

The good thing is, I'm not buying the strings, so my friend can worry about the money laugh.gif Thanks Bogdan, I'll let him know your thoughts smile.gif

QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Oct 2 2013, 05:53 AM) *
Bogdan hit it on the head of course smile.gif Essentially you are trying to string the bass with strings that were not designed for it. Basically much thicker strings. The problem you may run in to is INADEQUATE SCALE LENGTH.


E.G. THe neck is just too short to provide adequate tension to the strings. The best thing to do is simply to try it though and see how it goes smile.gif

Todd


Thanks Todd. You've raised an interesting point. I never thought of scale length as becoming a limiting factor. I did a quick Google search, and it turns out that 5-string basses can have scale lengths as long as 35" ohmy.gif I can understand that a longer scale would allow the lower strings to be strung tighter, but at the same time wouldn't the thinner strings get tighter and also harder to bend? Is it a just a matter of finding the right compromise for your playing?


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pdf64
post Oct 6 2013, 10:07 PM
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I have a friend that does this with his Rickenbacker.
I'm not sure if the nut needed filing for it to fit.
To my ears, the bottom notes of the B string don't sound quite 'right', as if there's a wolf tone or the intonation is a bit off.
Perhaps the bridge doesn't have enough adjustment range to accommodate such a thick string.

Or maybe the amp being used couldn't cope with such a low note.

Be very careful when tweaking the truss rod to slacken the strings off before doing so.
You can get away with it on guitars but there's generally much more tension on a bass neck and it's possible for the truss rod to snap or the threads to strip.
I learned this to my cost a long time ago!

EDIT - I don't see that the tension on the neck should be much different, whether the 4 string bass is strung with the top 4 or bottom 4 strings of a 5 string set, as each string is likely to be about the same tension.

Whereas 5 string basses need stronger necks due to having all 5 strings, so about 25% more tension to counteract.

Pete

This post has been edited by pdf64: Oct 8 2013, 09:50 AM


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