TURN AN INEXPENSIVE GUITAR INTO A VERY USEABLE PRACTICE BASS
I rather like these "quick and easy" musical projects. Was
recently given a very inexpensive Checkmate brand steel-string
In a couple of hours I converted it into a fretted, acoustic,
metal-stringed bass guitar that is surprisingly loud and is very
useful for noodling around and (heaven forbid the word) practicing.
This conversion is so simple as to scarcely warrant this article,
here for a photo of this simple conversion.
The existing two outer nut-grooves can be used as-is (or perhaps
with minor groove enlargement) for the bass' E and G strings.
Carefully plot where the two new grooves in the nut should go and
then file away, being careful to go slowly so you don't remove too
I used an old set of Rotomatic round-wound bass strings that were
given to me. Boiling them removed lots of crud*. The hole in the
E string's tuning gear may have to be drilled a bit bigger to fit
the E string (mine did not).
*Click here for more information on
Although the Checkmate guitar utilizes "through the bridge" string
attachment, I opted instead to make a very simple tailpiece to
connect the ends of each string to. My reason was that the area
around the Checkmate's bridge had started to bulge up a small bit
(when it was still a guitar) & with the tailpiece system, this
should not be an issue.
Made my tailpiece by carefully hacksawing up the not too thin
aluminum chassis from an old ham-radio project. Evenly space
the four string-holes.
NOTE: After this conversion is made, the two tuning gears that
now have no strings attached to them can end up vibrating
mercilessly. This is easily cured by either romoving them or by
taking a few inches of nylon fishline and tightening it onto
(between) the two empty tuning gears.
On my second conversion, I used Fender medium-light gauge
flat-wound electric bass strings and I pulled out the frets.
I very much like the results! Slippery smooth & fun to play.
It's not as loud as with the round-wounds, but very adequate
for tinkering around. I find myself using this instrument a
lot for figuring out bass lines -- also throw it in the car for
trips, it being so small and portable. Note that if you pull out
the frets, the grooves in the nut have to be lowered so the
bottom of each string is only about a business-card's thickness
from the surface of the fingerboard.
Click here to
return to my homepage.