Acoustic Guitar to Acoustic Bass Conversion

75,093

81

31

Intro: Acoustic Guitar to Acoustic Bass Conversion

This instructable was made to convert an acoustic Guitar to Acoustic Bass.

You may be asking yourself why anybody would ever want to turn an acoustic guitar into an acoustic bass. Well I can’t answer for anybody else but for me it was because I had an old acoustic guitar lying around. So why not turn a guitar into a bass.

Sorry my camera has horrible audio. It sounds really good in person.

Step 1: What You Need

This is a fairly simple conversion and you do not need many tools. What you will need however is:
Grinder or dremal
Drill
Screwdriver
Welder
These tools may vary depending on your guitar

You will also need:
Scrap Metal
Hinge
Guitar (of course)
bass strings
tuner

For me I had an old guitar that was given to my dad a many years ago. It looked like a cheap guitar and had been sitting in storage with the strings on so the top was peeling away from the body. If you are lucky you may find an old guitar lying around or i am sure you can find an inexpensive one on eBay. I have seen them go for very little. But if you are going to go through that to buy one, you might as well just buy a bass.

Step 2: Take the Guitar Apart

You will now need to take your guitar apart. First, take the strings off. Then you will have to take the tuners off. Then the guitar strap holder .Depends on what type of tuners you have but hopefully you can take two of them off. For me I unscrewed a screw and it pulled right out. The Tuner peg you use for your low E string will also probably need to be drilled out, mine did.

Step 3: Nut

The string spacing on a guitar and bass are completely different. You can buy a new nut if you want but all i did was file a new slot for the two middle strings A and D. I also used the same groove for the Low E string and the G string, the low E string may have to be filed a bit bigger but it should not have to move.

Step 4: The Tailpeice Part 1

The hardest part of this build is definitely the tailpeice. I recommend that you start with a template. I used a piece  of construction paper to sketch it on.
To find the correct place to put the holes place a straight edged yardstick from the E string groove on the nut to the place where the old E string hit the saddle there should be a slight mark. Place a piece of paper on the guitar where you want your tail piece to be. Then follow your edge to the paper and mark it. Do the same for the D string.
Now with your two marks you are going to measure between the marks and divide by three. Then you found the places for the string holes. I then measured 3/8" from the edge and thats where the holes need to be.
The Holes to hold the strings were made by drilling a 1/4" hole and the connecting it with an 1/8" hole. the hole on the side is 1/8" also.

Step 5: The Tailpeice Part 2

The tailpeice I made is of 2 pieces of eighth inch stainless steel and a steel hinge. I used a grinder to cut the shapes out for these, you could also use a dremal tool, then use a MIG welder to secure them together.
I drilled a  hole in the hinge and then welded on top of it together.

Step 6: Put It Together

Now that you have made all of the pieces it is time to put it all together. First,put the tailpeice on. I recommend that you place a piece of cloth or other soft piece in between to protect the guitar. Then tighten it up. Four of the six tuners will need to be put on. You can put all of them on if you want, but for mine I put the top two and bottom two tuners on. This will mean that there will be two holes in the middle. I did not do anything with these holes but it you really wanted to you could fill them in with wood filler or whatever else.

Step 7: Stringing

Now simple put the strings on. It's pretty straight forward.
The strings need to be tightened up all at the same time to keep the tail piece from pulling too hard on one side.

Step 8: Adjusting

I had to do a lot of adjusting to make this bass work well enough to be called a bass. The first thing i had to do was raise the bridge up about an eighth of an inch. This was done by placing 3 zip ties cut to the right size and placed in the slot for saddle. I also had to file a groove for each on the strings to sit in on the saddle. This kept the strings from buzzing.

Step 9: Future Improvements

Future Improvements
     Make the tailpeice go closer to the saddle
     Put nylon string on
     Pull the frets
     close up the two empty hole on the headstock
     put something over the six holes on the bridge

If you have any improvements that you can think of add it in the comment, please. 
That would be great.
What Can You Do with a Dremel Tool?

Finalist in the
What Can You Do with a Dremel Tool?

Share

Recommendations

  • Optics Contest

    Optics Contest
  • Plastics Contest

    Plastics Contest
  • Audio Contest 2018

    Audio Contest 2018

31 Discussions

0
None
aaron0420

1 year ago

nice! I've been looking for instructions to convert my old acoustic guitar to a bass guitar. worth the try though I'm not good with measurements. thumbs up!

0
None
atroiano2

2 years ago

Played a U-Bass at the store and wondered why no one makes a parlor sized acoustic bass. Saw this able and got inspired. There are enough expired acoustics in the world to give this a shot. and wouldn't you know it, I have a welder.

0
None
who___cares

5 years ago on Step 4

I am planning to built one myself and got a question. Can't you just use the old bridge? Of corse by drilling two new holes.

1 reply
0
None
DanielL26who___cares

Reply 3 years ago on Step 4

I know this is very old, but for anybody who comes by and has the same question: you can't, because the intonation would be way way off. Even a short-scale bass guitar is way bigger than a standard guitar.

0
None
shamysmyth

4 years ago on Introduction

im kinda new to mods. the only thing i can do is to change the pickups (if you call that modding)..... but, do you not need a new bass neck ???

You had me intrigued enough to give this a try. I started with a home-built dreadnaught that had seen better days ... had some ugly patches, etc. I did a few things differently from you.

First, I removed the old bridge and installed a new one. To do this, I took off the back of the guitar and removed the original bridge plate, and replaced it with one that was about 50% thicker and 100% bigger. Before I replaced the back, I installed a JBB double piezo pickup, just in case the finished guitar wasn't loud enough for jams. In retrospect, I probably could have used your tailpiece set-up instead, since using a pin bridge didn't result in the volume I needed, and it turned out to need amplification anyway. And you don't need to remove the back to install the pickups, saving you a lot of work.

Second, I used bass tuning machines. I picked up a set for $20 or so at a music shop.

Third, I used a set of strings for a 5-string bass. The thickest string was .045", which would produce a B note on a typical long-scale (34") bass. I figured that on a short-scale (25.5') guitar, it would be like fretting on the fifth fret, giving the usual low E of a bass. The "E" string in the set would be used for the "A", the "A" for the "D" and the D for the G. The supplied G string would not be used.

I did have to drill out the tuner for the E string so that would accommodate an .045" string, and expand the slot.

The result was a bass that sounded pretty good, although soft in volume. The original strings were phosphor-bronze, which gave a louder, clearer tone, but when I played "plugged in" the finger noises were really apparent. I replaced the strings with half-round strings, which resulted in less finger noise but also less volume and clarity. Not a problem when you're playing with an amp, but I really can't jam "unplugged" with it, since the other instruments are louder. But plugged in, it gives a very sweet tone.

0
None
mdwheels03

4 years ago on Introduction

Can you still put a strap on the bass after taking the strap holder off? Or is there a way to put a new one on?

0
None
auciel01

5 years ago on Introduction

SO AWESOME! Thanks so much! TOTALLY doing this!! Quick question - when you filed the slots in the saddle for the bass strings, did it damage the saddle, or would i be able to put guitar strings back in? Thanks so much!

1 reply

That's a nice mod, I've been thinking about doing something similar but was not sure if the neck of the acoustic would bend under the tension of the strings.

0
None
ArtieWallace

5 years ago on Introduction

I started out trying to learn the acoustic 6 string guitar and was not able to get the hang of it due to nerve damage in my hand. After a while I decided to try a 4 string Bass, that worked out much better for me. Sense then I been looking to turn my old 6 string acoustic into an acoustic bass. Everyone I spoke to told me “don’t waste my time trying to convert it”. Your instructions answered the few questions I had and could not figure out.

Thanks for posting on instructables.com. Your photos showed great detail and your instructions appear to be very basic. I think you answered the few questions I had, I will be trying to make the conversion and I will post how it worked.

Thanks again for sharing,
Artie

0
None
jackf

5 years ago on Introduction

How do you think it would hold up on an old 3/4 length nylon? too much of a stretch?

0
None
djframe

6 years ago on Introduction

what did u do to the neck? I did not see an explanation in the steps.

THX
DJ

0
None

If you can figure out how to adjust the truss rod in the neck, you might be able to use the B, E, A, and D strings from a 5-string set and tune them to a standard EADG. The thicker strings would require more tension for that tuning, as well as being shorter, and might be just tight enough to really be playable. You could also remove or grind down all the frets and just leave it as a fretless acoustic, thereby fixing your intonation issues

0
None
zombeastly

7 years ago on Introduction

VERY VERY COOL!!!! is there any way to do this to an electric guitar?
thx

0
None
rimar2000

7 years ago on Introduction

Nice work, well done.

"If you have any improvements that you can think of add it in the comment, please." I suggest you to change the plastic nuts (under the strings) with another made of bone. It is not difficult, and sounds a little better.

4 replies
0
None
mdog93rimar2000

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

also, it looks like thae action is too high on this guitar, that's the distance between the strigns and the fretboard for those who might not know.

Was this a steel string to begin with? and also what did you use the welder for?

oh and can you get nylon bass strings??

0
None
peach_fartmdog93

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

yes it was a steel string, i dont know about nylon bass strings, and the action is probably high due to neck warping. im guessing he welded the hinge to use as the tailpiece.

0
None
mdog93peach_fart

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

yes, the strings will also be too loose when tuned to a bass tuning because he didn't lengthen the scale length to that of a bass guitar. The only way to make this technically a proper bass would be to move the bridge further back, if it would fit on the guitar still at the correct length, but then you'd either have to extend the neck and remove the frets fill the old slots and reposition them so the 12th fret is halfway between the nut and bridge OR remove the frets fill in and prepare new neck then refret the frets in the correct position, but this would mean you would have less frets overall

0
None
peach_fartmdog93

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

it could still be played like a bass at that scale but you would probably be forced to used a low tuning such as b standard