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Username: rob_steen

Post Number: 11
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 - 5:06 am:   Edit Post

Hi All,

Just a thought I had and its history.

I was playing a friends 6-string bass over the weekend, although I don't like 6-stringers I did quite like the very narrow string spacing.

So, what would be the issues with using a very narrow string spacing on a regularly tuned and 34" scale 4 string bass?

I know Alembics are narrower then 'standard', but I was thinking smaller then that.

This may be the inpiration I need to start builing my next bass, or just me thinking aloud.

Problems I can see :
Problem : Where to get parts? I don't have access to a metal shop so the bridge could be a problem.
Possible solution : Cut down a six string bass bridge. Messy, but may work.
Make a wooded bridge.

Problem : Very narrow neck, may not be stable.
Possible solution : Use stronger wood? Any ideas?
Reinforce with graphite.
Leave the neck 'thick' but narrow?

Problem : The pole pieces on the pickups would be misallinged to the strings.
Possible solution : Use pickups with no poles.
Slant the pickups to match.

Would the neck be comfortable?

Has anyone tried such an idea?

I'll be thinking about this for a long time before I start, but just thought I'd try here for some thoughts, advice and ideas.

- Rob
Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 1306
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 - 5:23 am:   Edit Post

Schaller make a bridge with rollers which can be positioned for any string spacing. I have on on my precision and it's very stable.
_tailpieces/Bass_bridges/Schaller_4-String_Roller_Bass_Bridges.html,stewmac have them.

Senior Member
Username: crgaston

Post Number: 413
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 - 5:43 am:   Edit Post

You're on the right track. Alembic would be happy to build you one, and if they couldn't they'd tell you why. Take some measurements and give them a call. My 5 has got very narrow spacing...they were able to use the 4-string pickups on it. Also, I think Mica's bass has pretty tight spacing as well.

As far as building your own, maybe neck-through would be the way to go, as it might be easier to slim the neck at the 24th fret that way. Otherwise, you'd end up with too much space on either side of the strings, or you'd have to custom-rout the neck pocket into a body blank. Seems like it'd just be easier to slim the neck in a table saw, sand it to the feel you want, then glue the body wings on. Carvin has graphite-reinforced necks available as an individual part.

Good luck!
Intermediate Member
Username: bkbass

Post Number: 145
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 - 6:20 am:   Edit Post

Rob, I have two custom spoilers with extremely narrow string spacing. The 4 string fretted has an overall neck width of 1.5" all the way to the bridge. It is very comfortable and quick. The neck thru is also carved very thin. To compensate for this purple heart stringers were added to the neck. Naturally, Alembic pickups are blade style poll pieces so tracking is not a problem no drop outs in volume etc. The biggest difference I find is in the right hand as it is very difficult to snap and pop in the traditional style. I have a modified technique which gives me the same effect for how infrequently I play in that style. Mica can help you with the dimensions. BTW, the basses are 32" scale. The 5 fretless has the same spacing except for 5 strings. If you have the chance,play a Carvin 6 and a Pedulla 6 they have a 5/8" spacing as opposed to a Fender 3/4" spacing. This 5/8" will still give you room to snap and pop. It may be the happy medium in narrow string spacing that is widely accepted. Alembic can and will build anything custom. Stick with them and you won't go wrong.
Username: rob_steen

Post Number: 12
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 - 9:47 am:   Edit Post

Thanks for the thoughts.

This would definitely be a self build project.

Neck through does seem easier, in theory. Though my only build so far was a jazz and it was OK.

I like the bridge you mentioned Graeme, but this is a fun project, not too serious, if I was buying a good bridge I'd put it on a good bass.

I don't want to spend a lot of time and money on this.

If I do it and like it then maybe I'll invest more into it.

At the moment it's an idea. Who knows where it will end.

- Rob.
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1220
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 - 9:14 am:   Edit Post

As far as building your own, there's any number of adjustable spacing bridges to be had, and blade-style pickups would cover the eventual spacing, so you wouldn't have to worry about the strings lining up over pole pieces.

I have five 5-strings that run the gamut. The two Alembics are their 'classic taper': 2" nut by 2.5" at the last fret. I have all three versions of the Yamaha BB5000. The first two were essentially made by taking a bb3000 4-string and subdividing for five strings, so they're narrow by today's standards (remember, these were the first production modern fives, from the mid to late 80's): 1.75" nut by 2.25" last fret. The third 5000 is AFTER all the thumb/slap guys started being 'girly men' about a narrow neck: 2.75" nut by 3.75" last fret. BIG spacing, like most modern TRB's and others.

I play all of them over time. I like the Alembics best, as the strings are almost parallel, not much flare at all. The narrow 5000's (think spacing like a Ric) remind me of fingerpicking guitars, and I really like them, the only rub being playing right at the nut: It really tightens my technique since they're REALLY close together, so that's good. The 'big' 5000 is like loose jeans, it's comfortable in a big floppy way. It stretches my hands, especially reaching over to the E and B. On the other hand, it's easier to play at the nut as they are further apart.

I like them all, but narrow is just fine with me. I feel like my technique must be better for them being more narrow, and it's a breeze to play. Yamaha gets crazy with the fingerboard width on their sixes: The TRB6's/JP Signatures are just crazy wide, like some others.

I worry more about a thick, baseball bat, round neck (original Steinbergers come to mind) than width or spacing.

Best of Luck,

J o e y
Username: rob_steen

Post Number: 13
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 - 9:28 am:   Edit Post

Thanks again.
I do like the narrow Alembic neck on mine, so I'm wondering if going narrower would be good or bad.

I have some crazy ideas for a bridge that I may try as I think they be very cheap.

I may try a throw a test bass together to see what it's like and then, if I like it, go into better detail.

I'll post more if I get around to doing it. Probaly in a few years after all the other work on the house is done...

- Rob.
Advanced Member
Username: terryc

Post Number: 246
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, August 30, 2007 - 2:59 am:   Edit Post

What about a broom stick..that it pretty narrow..skiffle bass players used them for years!!!!
Senior Member
Username: bassman10096

Post Number: 941
Registered: 7-2003
Posted on Sunday, September 02, 2007 - 3:42 pm:   Edit Post

Ibanez Soundgear 4s and 5s have narrow spacing and a very slim neck. Very fast. You could do far worse quality-wise for the money. Lots of folks have gotten closer to their individual sound swapping pickups, etc.
Senior Member
Username: dannobasso

Post Number: 628
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Sunday, September 02, 2007 - 8:32 pm:   Edit Post

I have 2 narrow 6's medium scale. No issues for me.
Here is one of them.
Advanced Member
Username: haddimudd

Post Number: 214
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Tuesday, September 04, 2007 - 2:59 am:   Edit Post

Rob, the 6-string fretless neck on my doubleneck has some very narrow string spacing. I can't tell the exact specs out of my head but surely could look them up later. It is narrower than a Fender Jazz and even feels more like a narrow five string. The neck is very flat and fast. The hand grips around it with no problems. But that's Alembic, I am not sure if it would feel as easy with other brands. Even the regular 4-string neck feels and plays like no other brand's neck I have ever played.

In terms of good and bad:

Certainly there is confusion for the muscle memory at first when switching from the regular spacing (4-string) to the narrow (6-string). Everybody who picks up the bass for the first time falls for that trap, but after a while the muscle memory adjusts, so on the long run it is no issue at all. The low B string is a bit floppy on the 34" scale, it probably could use a 35" or 36" instead, but I don't really mind. Slapping would probably be more comfortable with wider spacing, but since I don't slap much on a fretless I am rather safe. It is funny, I can't slap well on basses with more than 4 strings, therefore I am game for any number of strings on a fretless but prefer a 4-stringer for slapping, regardless of the string spacing.

In any case I like the narrow spacing on a 6-string neck. I wouldn't want to have a too wide fretboard, and it surely would become too wide for me with 6 strings and standard spacing.


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