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Ibanez Btb Changes


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My workhorse bass is a 2004 Ibanez BTB. It sounds great, and while I've always thought of myself as a guitar player, it seems I play bass more often these days. I'm starting to think I should just switch my focus to bass anyway. Here's the only bass I own:


And yes, that's a piece of spalted maple with heavy curl behind it.

I'd like to convert this bass to a 6-string, strung E-E, like a normal guitar, only an octave lower. I realize a lot of people may be opposed to the very principle of that, but it's not a new concept, and I want to try it out. The three primary issues are the tuners, the nut, and the bridge. I see two ways to go about this, and I'm torn.

The best way:

This is the bridge:


I could order another one of those individual bridge and saddle assemblies for about $15+shipping. If I grind down all the inner bridge edges by about 1/3 of a mm and squish them all together, I'll be right where I want. I think this is a good, cost effective solution, though it makes some challenges in matching hardware.

This is the headstock:


Clearly there are a few nicks and dings up here. Like I said, it's a workhorse. These are the original Ibanez tuners in "Cosmo White." They're very difficult to find, but I've identified a set of 4 for $53+shipping.

I suppose I'll have to make the nut myself. I have some buffalo horn nut blanks in the garage anyway, and that's a skill I need to work on.


Look at this thing. What a mess!


Whatever. I'll clean it up eventually. There are a couple more things to notice here too though. First off, this five string only has four strings. I'm missing the low B. I have to play it in church tomorrow morning. Who needs that string anyway though. Also, you can barely see a little black knob that should be matching the others. I loaned this bass to a friend for a while, and this is how it came back. Grr. Not a hard fix though, if I ever get around to buying one.


Check this out!


Believe it or not, I bought it like that. Someone knocked it over in the store. I won't say which store, but it's initials are GTRCNTR. Anyway, I ended up getting a pretty good deal on it. The sound was what mattered to me at the time, and this bass sounds exactly like what I think a bass should. Also, if I install another tuner, I really ought to reposition three more, so that it can continue to have the straight string alignment it was designed with. Ibanez put a thin quilted maple veneer on the headstock and gave it a trans black finish to match the body. I'm tempted to go an easier route with ebony to match the fretboard, but I don't know. The logo is a decal, not an inlay. I suppose I could make a new waterslide decal and recreate that if I wanted. But in the end, it's not going to be factory reproduction anyway, because the string spacing will be narrower than on a normal 6.

Just trying to figure out what to do, and see if anyone has any good ideas for alternate solutions. I'm open to replacing the tuners, bridge, and knobs altogether, but the string spacing at the bridge is 3", or .6" between individual strings. That's a tough bridge to find.

The cheap solution would be to buy that extra bridge/saddle, buy a cheap tuner and just find a spot for it, leave the injuries as they are, and let it relic/Frankenstein naturally over the next forty years or so. It's nice to have at least one guitar you don't have to worry about much. At the moment, I think I'm leaning that direction, but I don't know. All these repairs are certainly within my skill, and it could be pristine when I'm done. But there are a lot of other projects I care about more right now.

Any thoughts? I'm hoping some of you might be willing to share advice.

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using the same bridges is going to leave you with swiss cheese underneath them

i would be looking out for an adjustable 6 string bass bridge, or constructing something like that - preferably with strings mounting at the back of the bridge to save adding more holes through the body

or have a look at the abm version of the single string bridges which allow you to string either through the body or from the back of the bridge

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Tim - Exactly. Except with a 35" scale and nice pickups.

Wez - I'm pretty sure I'd just have to build something, or at least modify something. I can't seem to find anything that will accomodate 6 strings at 3" spacing. However, this is not a string through guitar. Those little bridge pieces trap the string ends inside. So really I'd only be leaving six holes behind, and they'd be invisible beneath the bridge.

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