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Username: johnp352

Post Number: 1
Registered: 10-2007
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 10:16 am:   Edit Post

New here, found the site after doing a search on the above instrument, and have corresponded a little with Mike Pace (thanks Mike). I 'd like to throw a question to all of you (hope this is the right section of the forum to put this in?). There's been some discussion and even a few instruments built here like the one above I am trying to get going..I have almost everything figured out except for the string spacing..

I am playing chords (mostly 2 and 3 note comping things) along with bass lines, and I play the lines in this fashion mostly with my thumb..however I also play regular finger style bass, and even do some slap, though more for percussion than groove.

From what I understand, "normal" spacing at the bridge is 19 MM, whereas a "tight" 5 string spacing is more like 16 MM. This would be on a 34 or 35" scale, strung b-g. However the instrument I want to do is a short scale..and strung "a" (the second string on a four string bass) to "f". The feel of a short scale, especially the spacing is a lot different from a long scale though.

As a sort of "mule" to test strings (btw the LaBella light baritone strings are just about right for this)I have converted a danelectro 30" scale 6 string bass to a five string, (made a new bridge), but the spacing is still to tight..at about 14MM.. so..for those of you with a 5 string and/or six string that is roomy enough to play finger style (I suppose this is what I am after..a baritone 5 string I can play like a "bass", if you get my drift). .. what do you think the spacing should be? both nut and bridge..Also, radius.

any help really appreciated. I am starting to get strange looks when I measure 5 string Warwicks at the store (they are 16mm btw)

Username: deano

Post Number: 20
Registered: 7-2007
Posted on Saturday, October 06, 2007 - 7:06 am:   Edit Post

Welcome to the club, John. If you're thinking of ordering a custom Alembic bass, you've come to the right place. There are folks here that simply amaze me with the knowledge they have and are willing to share. I'm relatively new here myself, but am willing to share my experiences. My playing style and concern for neck width seems to echo yours. I'm confident other, more experienced Alembic Club members will also chime in here to assist you.

To my knowledge, Alembic offers 2 stock neck widths: "Comfort" and "Classic" taper. I was very lucky in my search for the right guitar for my playing style and small hand size. I purchased a custom signature 5-string bass from Will Gunn Guitars with a custom neck (Will had built for himself, but never used). The bass I purchased is the Nov. 2000, Featured Custom of the Month named, "Coco Bolo Fantasy," and you can look on Alembic's website in the custom archive to find photos. http://www.alembic.com/info/FC_willg.html My bass was exactly what I was looking for and I'm extremely pleased in every respect.

Anyway, if you use nut and 24th fret dimensions (rather than bridge) in your discussions, you will take the scale differences out of the equation. You also can do the math to convert neck width to string spacing. Here's what Alembic's website has for neck widths compared to my Coco Bolo Fantasy:

Comfort: Nut-1.875" 24th-2.93"
Classic: Nut-2.0" 24th-2.5"
Mine: Nut-1.75" 24th-2.6875"

My personal dilema was the Comfort neck was too wide and the Classic too narrow; not for my fretting hand, but for my right hand. The dimensions of my bass are perfect (for me).

The other important consideration is the neck radius. I have no way to measure mine (I don't have a caliper). But, I can tell you what Will Gunn told me about when he ordered the bass. He asked Alembic to make it as thin as they could with a flat-C shape and they did a wonderful job. It resembles a 60's P-bass, slab neck, only with 5 strings instead of 4. The neck on my bass is very stable even though it is quite thin; probably due in part to the 3 ebony laminates.

Finally, after all of this rambling, I suppose it doesn't mean much unless you can put your hands on it. If you're ever in North Dakota, drop me a line and I'd be happy to arrange a time for you to see and play mine.

Username: johnp352

Post Number: 2
Registered: 10-2007
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 - 1:11 pm:   Edit Post

thanks Dean...I really appreciate it...anyone else here with a similar setup?
Advanced Member
Username: hieronymous

Post Number: 215
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007 - 3:53 pm:   Edit Post

I have an Alembic 30" scale baritone tuned A-A (it's half of this doubleneck). It has a very flat radius and guitar-like string spacing. I will try and measure it over the next few days, though the more I think about it it might not be until next week.

I misunderstood what you were asking in your original post, but have begun to understand it more - I am thinking of something similar, though I would have it tuned E-C, like a 6-string bass without the low E.

Have you ever played a Fender Bass VI? Similar to the Danelectro I imagine. I find that I always play the Bass VI or my Alembic baritone with a pick - the strings spacing would have to be quite a bit wider I think to be able to play fingerstyle comfortably...

Sorry for the rambling post - just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking about your question.
Username: johnp352

Post Number: 3
Registered: 10-2007
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007 - 5:57 pm:   Edit Post

I replied off line, but thanks H, Turner was/is still d'man.

I played a '63 Fender Bass VI for a long time..with and without a pick..as well as a Jerry Jones Neptune VI (superior ax, btw), but that is what has led me to the point of trying to get 1) a-f tuning and 2) on a "normal" (what IS that?) spacing for a bass geetarist.
14 MM? 16 MM? 19 MM ? arghhhh
Advanced Member
Username: pace

Post Number: 349
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Sunday, October 14, 2007 - 7:16 pm:   Edit Post

Hi John!

Nice to see you've made it onto the forum. Ive been meaning to reply to your last e-mail, but between work, and various other projects I havent had the time to take the bass to the shop & measure & convert to mm.... Hopefully tomorrow after I take the dog to the vet.. :-)
Senior Member
Username: flaxattack

Post Number: 1697
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Monday, October 15, 2007 - 6:05 am:   Edit Post

i have a 5 string- direwolf in the custom archives-
string spacing is .500 inch with a 1.75 nut
2.45 inches at the 24th fret......
Username: johnp352

Post Number: 4
Registered: 10-2007
Posted on Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - 5:53 pm:   Edit Post

Thankx for the response Flax..

that spacing is the same as I have on the Dano mule..too tight for me to play finger style, and the 15% slap I play..btw..what strings/set do you have? this is getting to be really hard thing to ...gauge. I am leaning toward a 1/2 light/med LaBella baritone set...which has nothing to do with either bass OR bari..the tuning is a-f in fourths..on a 30" scale.
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 1804
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2007 - 10:44 am:   Edit Post


String spacing depends a lot on playing style. If you play a lighter touch, you can play narrower than someone who digs in. That's because the more you dig in, the more of your finger that needs to fit between the strings. Because you are using thinner strings than most with your tuning, you should be able to play slightly narrower spacing center-to-center as well. The stock Zon Sonus models came at 17mm c-to-c if you can put your hands on one of them for a test. Trial and error, mostly in the form of store browsing, is a great way to go. Additionally, there are a number of bridges out there that are adjustable for spacing. If you own a bass with one, you can play with adjustments to see what works best for you and then put it back if you feel like it.

You can also look at the bridge spacing of a classical guitar for comfort fit. That might approximate your situation fairly well.

As far as the nut goes, I prefer it on the narrow side. Your chording style and hand size should dictate. One other issue here was sort of raised by Deano with the taper comparisons. I prefer a relatively straight taper so that the string spacing doesn't change as much as you move up the neck. The comfort taper is just too wide for my left hand on the upper frets.
Username: anarchyx

Post Number: 44
Registered: 10-2007
Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2007 - 1:47 pm:   Edit Post

double nut's the way to go

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