Hi there! Congrats on your purchase!! That's a jewel for sure
About the neck through part : It doesn't really affect things. You get more sustain then with a bolt on bass, but you don't really notice something ''dramatic''.
About the strings : I think it's a good idea to get some heavier gauge on it, like your 5 stringer. I don't know if there is something around in your town, that sells thick string gauges. Try otherwise strings from Pyramid or from Circle K. They both produce high-quality strings and are both specialized in heavy string gauges.
Something like this might do the trick for you : http://schneidermusik.de/shop1/produ...oducts_id/8063
String gauge from high to low : .030 .045 .065 .085 .110 .140
I think with the 35 inch scale length, it will give you a good sound when tuning down, without getting fretbuzz or such.
Good luck with it, tell me what you strings you bought and share your experience here when you performed on stage!!