Shortening strings at the ball end for sub short scale bass using cable nipple screws!?

Hello my friends,

I own a Blackstar CARRY-ON ST BASS which which is very short: 23.46" (596mm) scale length.

The strings are 125-105-85-65 custom gauge. It is VERY hard (= impossible!) to get the right strings, so I thought about custominzing long scale strings myself.

I have seen various methods on the internet, most of them involve unwinding the string to make them thinner in order fit the headstock. Those methods seem to be hit and miss.

My idea is to cut at the ball end and use Brake Cable Nipple Screws to replace the “ball”.

Something like this:

Is this a sensible idea or is it totally stupid?

Any ideas for alterative approaches?

Thank you & cheers!

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Hi @chris_van_hoven, welcome to the forums! A fellow Dutchman, or a descendant of Dutch immigrants somewhere else?

As for your plan to use brake cable nipple screws instead of string ball ends, I’m not sure that would work. I’m afraid they won’t be able to hold the string tension. But I guess you could use some old strings to give it a try!

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A fellow Dutchman in German Exile :slight_smile:

So, my theory is: as these are BRAKE nipple screws they must be good enough for braking. The models I am looking for are used for scooters or small motor bikes (5mm x 7mm) with a 2mm hole for the string.
I cannot imagine myself playing harder than a scooter braking at 60km/h??!

What do you think?

Groetjes,

Chris

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First, Welcome. I’m fairly new here myself, it’s a good group.

The quick answer is yes, but that’s just my opinion (see below).

I have done this without adding the screw/clamps that you’ve desribed. I currently have a couple of sub short scale basses (27 5/8" and a 25.5" scale) that use steel strings, both are headless and have allen screws on the headpieces. the shorter scale bass has locking guitar style tuners on the body and I shortened the strings at the ball end so that I could use the other end to fit the tuners. I trim the other end for the 27 5/8" scale bass as it has a Hipshot headless bridge.

There are some out there (far better players than myself) who insist that cutting the string, other than to trim the ends, will damage the string, causing it to unwind or lose tension. I certainly understand this in theory, but I haven’t seen or felt anything on either bass that would lead me to believe that the strings are not functioning properly. YMMV.

I’m not sure if these would work, definitely smaller gauges…
I am a builder and I’ve made several sub short scale “travel” basses, both with headstocks and headless. I usually stick with 25 1/2" for my smallest scale. For those that have a headstock, I discovered that Ernie Ball has a 9 string Slinky guitar set with the 4 lowest string gauges being " .105, .080, .064 and .046" . These strings work great and a set is only 18.99. Tuned to standard EADG, the tension is right and they sound great.

I realize that they’re quite a bit smaller than what came on your bass and there is a roughly 2" difference in scale length, but for 20 bucks, it may be worth a shot to try them.

as for what you are suggesting, I think you should go for it.

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Hi @Moonshine !

So, my idea is to screw the brake nipples first ( somehow I have to LOL about this part of the sentence) and then solder them.
It should be impossible than for the strings to be damaged beyond the solder point, right? Therefore it has no negative effect on the sound of the strings, theoretically!?

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That’s a very thick gauge, :joy: . Is this standard tuning?

It’s a very short scale similar to Tiny Boy bass size of 23” scale. TinyBoy chose to go with doogal string. It’s a 45/105 gauge and sounds just like a normal bass. It’s very expensive string but they are handmade.

2 possible problems I can foresee are one, you may not get the proper crimping or tightening on all of the strings so one , some or all would sound like dead strings.

Two, if you can manage to successfully shorten and get proper tone you may not get the right tuning use to thinner gauge plus if you are modifying the current strings on your bass the thinner sections would have been the part that was wrapped around the tuners so you may not get the proper tuning anyways.

If you are essentially want a lower gauge string why not buy a cheap set of 45/105 to try it. I don’t know what key/ tuning you’ll be getting at a proper tension but sure is a better idea than modifying the current strings then having to buy another set anyways. Or better yet look in to Doogal.

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Hi @Al1885 !

I am not sure I understood everything - I’m a foreigner :slight_smile:

So, the original gauges are 125-105-85-65 and that sounds fine to me, so I want to stick with it.

But I will change the standard Blackstar bridge to a Fender Hi Mass Bridge IV Brass, and I foresee some issues with string length, as the Fender bridge position is a little different (more towards the end of the body).
So I might need longer strings. If not, at some point in the future the original strings need to be replaced. So I start thinking about it early on ^^

I don’t follow your “dead strings” argument as well as the “right tuning” argument as

a) The nipple will be screwed very tight AND will be soldered. It should therefore be massive and comparable to the original ball solution.
b) I do not change the string at the end of the headstock, so that should be fine.

I admit, there are some “shoulds” in my statements.

I am looking at Fender 7250/5-M strings, which are .045, .065, .085, .105., 125 and cost about 20€ (= about $20) in Germany. I would not use the .045, of course…

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Alternative to the Fender: Dunlop STAINLESS STEEL FLATWOUND MEDIUM SCALE BASS STRINGS 45-125 | 5-STRING

Those are medium scale flatwounds…

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Ah! You are not modifying your current strings but the future purchase strings. Well it’s not expensive and if you want different string you may give it a try. It seems like a lot of work, lol.

You could look into Kala SS string it should produce good tone at the regular gauge. I had it on my Ubass before. The string set I remember was much longer than the the 20” scale Kala Ubass so there’s plenty of room.

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Incidentally, I own the Kala Journeyman that I used for sofa playing before I got the Blackstar. The Jouneyman has very thin strings, nothing compared to the Blackstar.

So, anyway, I ordered the Dunlop Flatwounds now, as Amazon made a pricing mistake and sold them for 30€ instead of 100€.
Never had flatwounds, so let’s see how they feel.

If nobody has good reasons against it - I wil cut & solder!

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Heres an option for you. Kalla ubass is a solid body ukelele bass approximately 21inch scale length. They sell a set of round wound strings for it. They are expensive at 32dollars american. But chances are you wont need to modify anything to get them to work. I have them on my ubass and it hits prety low. Also the string tension is lighter than standard bass strings, so it will be easier on your bass’s neck.

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I really don’t think you’d need to solder. I can’t see how this is much different to the allen screws approach on a headless bass, but maybe I’ve not fully understood how headless bass strings are gripped.

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I have looked at those strings. They are to light.

I have the flatwounds and the nipples at home now. Just need to find the time to DIY the hell out of them :slight_smile:

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Yeah! I abandoned the idea of soldering now as I found some interesting nipples that should not damage the strings at all. I will use shrink tubing to keep the strings in place - a necessity as I choose to go for flatwounds, whcih makes my project a little harder…

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Have a look at my nipples :slight_smile:

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Those look like the business so long as the hole isn’t too big for the smallest strings.

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OK, news: I tested various nipple screws and IT DID NOT WORK!

Either the nipple screws were aesthetically pleasing and small - but could not hold the tension. Or they were big and ugly - and did not fit.

So, cutting strings at the ball end makes no sense. I destroyed some perfectly great strings for nothing (except learning something :-))

But I had two interesting findings:

  • I like flatwounds. Never had them before, but they sounded magical (as long as my “solution” kept the tuning). Also I liked the feeling on my fingers…
  • I (ab)used my Ken Onion Edition Knife and Tool Sharpener to grind the strings to a smaller diameter, so they would fit the nipple screws. I found out that this is a very simple and clean way to remove the outer threads very gently. I wish I had known that before as I could have used the grinding method to remove threads at the headstock side, in order to make strings thinner.

It’s kind of depressing that I had to destroy the Dunlop Flatwounds as I really got to love them.

I hope that nobody needs to make my mistakes after having read this!

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:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Yeah yeah! But now I KNOW :slight_smile:

Thinking about trying another set of strings and shortening them at the headstock side.

I just need to find out how to reduce the diameter without having the threads unravel. Maybe soldering? Hmmm…

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Are you sure the cut strings simply won’t fit in to the tuners? I have cut down extra long strings before to fit a long scale with no issues. The taper is nice but usually not required to fit the tuning machines.

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