Would it be possible to put standard guitar strings DGBE on a bass guitar? So it can be played as a tenor guitar?

  • 1
    Why a bass instead of a tenor guitar? Budget constraints? Electronics considerations? Just in the mood for an experiment? IMO you'd be better off getting a tenor guitar than mangling a bass to get it to work the way you want.
    – Stinkfoot
    Dec 8, 2017 at 19:23
  • That is baritone ukulele tuning; you may want to get a cheap baritone ukulele.
    – user46185
    Dec 9, 2017 at 11:53

2 Answers 2


Maybe, but you would have to change the nut to have the correct slot size and depth and you'd also want to adjust the truss rod and intonation.

The problem you are likely to run into is scale length. First, the strings might just not be long enough. Second, you might have to tighten them so much to bring them up to pitch that they break.

A better way to go is to look for individual bass strings that are lighter in gauge and closer to guitar string gauges. There should be some overlap.

Confirmed: D'Addario (just one example) makes bass strings as small as .025, and the D string on a set of 10s for guitar is .028. I would buy a bunch of single bass strings and experiment with tuning and tension and figure out a set that works for you. Then you'll probably need to get a nut cut for those gauges and do a setup on the bass and then you should be good.

  • Well, too-thin strings aren't as much of a problem for the nut as too-thick strings. You could well give it a try and only get the nut after having established that the whole idea makes sense at all. Dec 9, 2017 at 16:03
  • @leftaroundabout In this case the size difference is extreme enough I could see the thinner strings practically rattling back and forth in the nut slot. Maybe. It could work ok with no modifications, you're right. Dec 9, 2017 at 16:06
  • There's normally enough pressure on the nut so even a high E-string in a low-E-string grove doesn't rattle back and forth. Dec 9, 2017 at 16:11
  • @leftaroundabout Having very little mass per unit length, a high E string has a lot less momentum to overcome the static friction created by the tension on it. As the tension of the strings is ideally fairly uniform, and the force of static friction only scales with tension (and the unchanging material properties), but the momentum increases with mass, we may actually expect the high E string to be the least likely to rattle, not the most likely. I have played some badly cut nuts, and strings definitely do rattle in them, even when tuned to standard pitch. Dec 9, 2017 at 16:17
  • @leftaroundabout Maybe "rattle" is a term that implies dramatic visible motion, but that's not what I mean (I guess it's possible). Even if it's microscopic in displacement, string rattle is definitely audible, and of course it just ruins sustain in addition to tone. Dec 9, 2017 at 16:18

Given that the string length of a guitar is around 26" and a bass around 34", it's not going to work too well, particularly if you use standard strings tuned standard DGBE.

The first problem is that the bass is roughly 1/3 longer, so to get the strings up to pitch, they'll need to be 1/3 tighter - 'ping'.

Sticking with 6 strings, a baritone comes to mind, at 28"-30", so a sort of compromise, using a bass would do it, but maybe tuning using a bass D string at the bottom, and working up from there,

Tenors are usually a bit shorter than guitars, at 23", so bass is going the wrong way. They're also tuned in 5ths, which certainly isn't DGBE.

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