StewMac tools

5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Please put your pickup/wiring discussions in the Electronics section; and put discussions about repair issues, including "disappearing" errors in new instruments, in the Repairs section.

5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby Chris Richards » Tue Dec 06, 2016 11:30 am

I've decided my next build is going to be a 5-string bass. All my basses to date have been 4-string and basically follow a traditional Fender "blueprint" for all critical dimensions, not being overly experienced with basses I was hoping someone could help with a few questions I have. I'd like to keep to a kind of Fender "feel".

1) What nut width for 5 string would give a comfortable Fender feel for 5-string .
2) Fret board width at the end of the fretboard or somewhere beyond the 12 fret so I can get an idea of the fretboard plan shape.
3) I know it's very subjective but what are your thoughts on making it 20 or 24 fret. I'm kind of worried about making the neck too long and the bass overly neck heavy. I was going for a 35 inch scale length to aid the low B string. My other concern with a 24 fret neck is that it cuts down the space between the bridge and end of neck for pickup positions.
4) I wanted to go for a Firebird shape but was worried that without a significant top horn the strap button position would encourage the bass to tip forwards.

I guess that's enough for now and thank you.

Chris
Chris Richards
 
Posts: 238
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 9:24 am
Location: London, England

Re: 5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Tue Dec 06, 2016 12:11 pm

I am in the design, measurement stage on my first bass also!
Maybe we can help each other out as we go.
I have all the measurements from my Fender 5 string at home. (I'm at work right now) :oops:

I will reply again this evening, or tomorrow as time allows.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
Gordon Bellerose
 
Posts: 926
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 11:47 pm
Location: Edmonton AB. Canada

Re: 5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby Chris Richards » Tue Dec 06, 2016 12:18 pm

Hi Gordon....

That would be a great help...The only definitive thing I can find is http://www.warmoth.com/Bass/Neck/Gecko/GeckoMedium.aspx which gives some dimensions of their Gecko basses.

I'll be drawing some full scale plans very shortly, so hopefully will come out with useful stuff!

Thanks again
Chris
Chris Richards
 
Posts: 238
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 9:24 am
Location: London, England

Re: 5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby David King » Tue Dec 06, 2016 12:54 pm

Chris,
The Firebird shape with a 35" scale and 24 fret access is going to require a knuckle dragger with a strong left arm to play it.
My recommendation would be to do a series of fingerboard layouts via fretfind 2D for various scale lengths, string spacings and number of frets. Print them using the multi-page PDF and cut them out. Use some 2" EPS foam insulation board to mock up the body and neck just to get a feel of where the nut is etc when you wear it on a strap.

If I had to build this bass I'd probably use a 33" scale length along with 20 or 21 frets for all the reasons you mentioned.
A fender "feel" is going to want a 1.8" to 1.9" nut width with a bridge spacing of 3/4" per string so figure a 3" wide fingerboard at the 24th fret. These measurements are going to slow someone with smaller hands down considerably (not always a bad thing for bass.)
David King
 
Posts: 2302
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:01 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: 5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby Peter Wilcox » Tue Dec 06, 2016 1:00 pm

I built myself a 5 string a couple of years ago which has been my main gigging and jamming instrument since. Nut width 1 3/4", string width 1 1/2" (3/8" string spacing.) String spacing at the bridge 3/4" for a width of 3". Fret board width at 12th fret 2 1/2". ~1/8" relief on outside of B and G strings. 34" scale length, 21 frets.

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2973&p=28574
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it
User avatar
Peter Wilcox
 
Posts: 873
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: 5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby Chris Richards » Tue Dec 06, 2016 5:56 pm

David & Peter....

Thanks for the advice, all really useful information... More especially for me since I have such little experience with basses, I built a 6-string Firebird with 24 frets and 25.5 scale and it was surprising how much that changed the geometry of the guitar.

I certainly don't want to sacrifice it being comfortable to play just to fit in all the features I mentioned although I do love the Firebird shape and I would like to keep the 35" scale for the sake of the low B. I think like you suggested, David some drawing and mock ups are required.

Love that Base Peter, I remember the post and thanks for the dimensions..

Regards
Chris
Chris Richards
 
Posts: 238
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 9:24 am
Location: London, England

Re: 5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby Jason Rodgers » Wed Dec 07, 2016 1:26 am

You could do a 33"-35" multi-scale fretboard to get the length on that low B, and it would look thoroughly badass on a Firebird body, as well.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
Jason Rodgers
 
Posts: 1542
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:05 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: 5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby Chris Richards » Thu Dec 08, 2016 4:34 pm

Thanks Jason....

I'm learning a lot in a short time and fanned frets could well solve a few problems, good tension for the low B and allow me to move the neck in to the body a bit more...Good idea, I'll be doing some drawings soon..

Thanks
Chris
Chris Richards
 
Posts: 238
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 9:24 am
Location: London, England

Re: 5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Thu Dec 08, 2016 11:51 pm

Chris,

I said I would get back to you with some measurements.

These are from a Fender Jazz Bass.
34 inch scale - 20 frets

Width at Nut = 1 7/8
Width at 20 fret = 2 13/16 (neck pocket)
Nut to Bridge = 34 1/16 @ G string
Nut to end of neck at Body = 24 13/16

Of course you want more frets, so the neck would be longer. You would also have to cut away the bottom of the body to have upper fret access.
And you are talking about a shorter scale, so all of this goes out the window, except for the nut width.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
Gordon Bellerose
 
Posts: 926
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 11:47 pm
Location: Edmonton AB. Canada

Re: 5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby Jason Rodgers » Fri Dec 09, 2016 12:45 am

Chris Richards wrote:Thanks Jason....

I'm learning a lot in a short time and fanned frets could well solve a few problems, good tension for the low B and allow me to move the neck in to the body a bit more...Good idea, I'll be doing some drawings soon..

Thanks
Chris

Search the Dingwall D-Bird. Yowza!
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
Jason Rodgers
 
Posts: 1542
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:05 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: 5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby Chris Richards » Fri Dec 09, 2016 5:43 am

Hi Gordon...

Thanks for all the info, really useful. I'm undecided on the number of frets at the moment and only having played rock music I don't really know how important it would be to squeeze in the extra frets, personally I don't want to compromise the looks and balance of the bass, that's more important to me. When I start drawing I guess I'll find out.

..And, thanks Jason I'll take a look at the Dingwall Basses.

Thanks again
Chris
Chris Richards
 
Posts: 238
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 9:24 am
Location: London, England

Re: 5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:53 pm

I just did a full scale drawing of the bass I want to build.
I have changed the scale to 35 inch also, to make the low B a bit more playable.
I made the nut a bit more narrow than the Fender bass I own, which was 1-7/8". I went with 1-3/4"
This makes the strings a bit closer together, which works for me. I do not have gorilla hands. :-)
I am going with 22 frets. The neck, from nut to base, is 27-1/2 inches long. The headstock is not included in that measurement.
This makes the neck 3 inches wide at the base. That is leaving 5/32 on each edge.
My bridge is 19 mm centers.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
Gordon Bellerose
 
Posts: 926
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 11:47 pm
Location: Edmonton AB. Canada

Re: 5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby Jason Rodgers » Sat Dec 31, 2016 1:25 am

Aaand will you be giving us a sneak peek?
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
Jason Rodgers
 
Posts: 1542
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:05 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: 5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Sat Dec 31, 2016 2:22 am

Yeah, I will post pics along the way. I may have to change things a bit to make the bass more playable, but it should be pretty close to the drawing.
I still have to make a neck template, and may have to change the body template some also, so it could be a while before there is anything to post.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
Gordon Bellerose
 
Posts: 926
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 11:47 pm
Location: Edmonton AB. Canada

Re: 5-String bass, nut and fretboard width.

Postby Bob Francis » Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:46 am

I had a 1 3/4 width 5 string and it felt good to me.
My main bass is a Precision with a 1 3/4 width neck.
I
Bob Francis
 
Posts: 338
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:28 pm


Return to Solid-Body and Chambered or Semi-Solid Electric Guitars and Bass Guitars

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

Your purchase from these sites helps support the MIMForum, but only if you start at the links below!!!
Amazon music     Amazon books     Amazon tools     Rockler tools     Office Depot    

The MIMF is a member-supported forum, please consider supporting us with a donation, thanks!
 • Book store • Tool store • Links •