Extendos for Drop-Tuned Electric Bass Guitars
A simple solution for electric bass guitars that need to use extra heavy strings to be drop-tuned to a lower pitch
If you want to drop tune your electric bass guitar, you might run into some problems.
The bass I just worked on is tuned down, so that the low string, which would normally be tuned to E is now tuned down to G. The 3rd string is tuned down to C (instead of A) and so on.
Those two strings have to be extra thick, otherwise there would not be enough string tension to prevent fret buzz. Extra thick bass strings are wound with tapered ends - at both ends of the string.
Here's the problem... two problems, actually...
At the bridge, if the thin part of the tapered string extends far over the saddle, into the playable part of the string, you will have noticeable intonation issues.
And the other problem is at the nut. The tapered end of the string should be the only part of the string that wraps around the tuning post. However, it turns out that the thick part of the string also wraps around the tuning post, on a 34" scale bass with a rear loading bridge.
So, what is the solution?
The solution is to simply shift the entire string south, so that the tip of the tapered end falls right across the saddle and the thick part of the string goes through the nut, but does not wrap around the tuning post.
Extendos were invented, developed and fabricated at the Guitar Quackery Lab.
They basically shift the entire string south, so that the tapered end does not extend too far beyond the saddle, into the playable part of the string. This solves intonation issues.
Since the entire string is shifted south, this automatically prevents the thick part of the tapered string to start wrapping around the tuning post.
Like most great inventions, the concept started in the mind of the inventor, then was put down on paper and then a prototype was made. What you see on the picture above are the prototypes (these can be improved). What you see on the picture below is the sketch that was made before the Extendos were made.
If you want to make your own Extendos you have almost everything you need on this sketch. You will need to buy a brass rod, item # 8953K162, from McMaster Carr and you will also need access to a lathe and a milling machine.
In the spirit of open source collaboration, I am sharing the blueprint here. Alternatively, you can contact Guitar Quackery and have a set of Extendos custom made for your bass.