Help with a 5 string
I'm in the market for a 5 string and hoping you might be able to give me some insight.
Here are the models I am currently considering in no particular order:
G&L L2500 Tribute
Fender Deluxe Active Jazz V
ESP LTD B5E*
The above are all active and I hadn't really considered passive, but I'm not sure how much I touch the controls on my current active 4 string, so honorable mentions would be:
MTD Kingston Saratoga*
*Have not tried
Let the comments flow.....
Instead of blindly picking a bass that is someone else's favorite, I will give some design criteria to look for:
1) At least a three-piece neck for stability and damping of resonances (dead notes).
2) 2 (B&E) + 3 (ADG) tuner arrangement so the B string is up farther on the headstock so the string doesn't bind over the nut or around the tuner, but has enough space for the string leader to wrap the post properly and tune the B string smoothly.
3) Lightweight Hipshot, Gotoh or Schaller tuners.
4) The "neck" pickup in proportionally the same position as the D-G segment of a Precision bass pickup to get the proper balance of fundamental and overtones on the B string.
5) Longer upper horn to balance the bass against neck dive.
6) Clean broad-band hum-cancelling electronics, whether active or passive, because Jazz growl doesn't necessarily equal clean when it gets to the B string and P thump doesn't necessarily mean solid fundamental and sustain.
There are many basses on the market that meet these criteria, from my $279 on sale Ibanez SRA305 to the multi-thousand dollar offerings of Dingwall and Little.
Shop a lot. Play a lot. If you see one you like, put it down and walk away from it and come back a couple of days later to see if you feel the same way about it then.
Notice I did not say anything about nut width, bridge spacing, scaling, neck contour or body wood. This is because these are all personal preferences and good basses are out there with all variations on these themes.
G&L L2500 Tribute - Ibanez SR505 - Yamaha BB425x
The three I mentioned are, by far, the best in both personality and versatility.
And remember that Ibanez SR505 is easy to mod to turn it active/passive (convertin' mid switch to on/off, while Bartolini mk1 pickups are very good passive soapbars) and G&L L2500 Tribute sport same hardware and electronic of USA models so you can switch between active/passive - serial/parallel mode.
YamahaBB425x are simply among the best passive 5ers (AlNiCo split pickup + ceramic bridge single) in their price range
The SR505 has a VERY poor B string. Avoid it. :(
The L-2500 is a great instrument! The string spacing at the nut is a bit wider than most 5 strings and can require some stretching, though.
The Active Deluxe Jazz is an amazingly versatile instrument! Find one with a light weight and you're golden!
The Yamaha BB series are nice, too. A little focused on their sound and the look is quirky, though.
I can't comment on the rest of your list, as we don't have any of those dealers around.
Also, needing a 3 piece neck for stability & dampening is bollox. My Active Deluxe had a 1 piece neck and I NEVER had to adjust it unless I severely changed string tension. It also had no dead spots anywhere on it. The dead spots are more likely to come from a twisted string, which is easy to fix by loosening off the tension & untwisting the string down its length to match how it sits in the tuner.
Here are my opinions:
L2500 Tribute is fantastic.
SR505 is not my cup of tea, largely because of the forced active electronics.
Active Deluxe Jazz Bass V is another great instrument, but again, not my thing because of no passive mode.
BB425X is not one I have played, but I owned its predecessor, the BB415. Phenomenal bass for the money, and I am sure the BB425X is equally awesome.
LTD B series is ok.... but I think you can do better in the above choices. Of the two MTD Kingstons I have played, I was absolutely not impressed because of the electronics - very noisy.
G&L or Yamaha. I've played/owned both. Great basses.
If a string twists, that says more about the person installing it than it does about the string.
Congratulations on having a 1-piece neck that doesn't have the dead spots. You are a special person, indeed. But for the rest of us mere mortals, a 3-piece neck, because of a whole bunch of reasons that mechanical engineers like to fill up bandwidth explaining, will consistently be better. These are my observations from almost 40 years of playing bass for $$. YMMV.
All those basses will feel different to each other in terms of string spacing, balance and ergonomics in general so try what you can.
iiipope's list is useful. While my experience differs on some of the points, I think the symptoms are good things to watch out for - dead notes, poor balance, tricky stringing, bad sound. (My 4+1 passive P/J 5er with regular hardware doesn't have these issues - must be the 3-piece neck, pickup placement and long upper horn!)
Yes, congrats to me and EVERY other owner of a Squier or Fender 5 string. How about a Sadowsky, Lakland, Lull or Spector Coda? Need I go on? A 3 piece neck is nothing for stability over choosing a good piece of wood to use.
So, before you patronize me for disagreeing with you, do your research and have a better argument other than some vague reference to engineering & 40 years of pan-handling. :spit:
SR505 B String
Comments on the SR505's I have tried thus far:
These seem to be hit and miss on the B string question. Some do just fine, while others are floppy and/or sound hollow, if that makes sense. Running at about 50% now. All I have tried are brown. Well friends, brown does not rock. I have seen some more interesting finishes available online that are far more appealing. I have also seen several used examples where the finish has worn away.
Otherwise though, on the "good ones", they have been very good.
One thing to bear in mind when you're trying out 5-strings and encounter a 'floppy B': don't write the bass off straight away. They typical set of bass strings has much lower tension on the B (and to a lesser extent the E) than the higher strings. If you attack the B the same way as the other strings it's likely to feel quite loose. If trying a bass in store you may need to lighten your touch and play closer to the bridge - then take it home and put a thicker B on! :)
I'm not convinced the tuner arrangement really matters, my Modern Player Jazz has 4 + 1 tuners and has a great B string, as does every Musicman I've played yet the Ibanez SRX305 with the 2 + 3 had a horrible B string. I think the strings play a bigger part in it, 125 feels great on my MP but other basses I've had needed 130 or 135.
@ the OP: Do you know what string spacing you like?
Thanks for all of the replies thus far.
On the passive vs active question, how much do you find yourself fiddling with the knobs to change settings? Do you tend to find a sound you like (your sound) and leave it there for the most part?
On the String Spacing question. I had one 5 string bass, a starter type guy from Schecter. I would say the spacing there was wider than Ibanez, but not as wide as Fender. That was not really an issue. I think I personally struggled more with the 35" scale and the fact that it had horrible neck dive rather than spacing. I'm pretty much a blank slate on spacing as I'm a relatively new player and not deeply set in my ways.
The Schecter did allow me to learn how to get around on a 5, but I sold it and am in the process of trying to sell my 4 to help fund this project.
Spacing is the biggest issue for me. I find 18/19mm too much, but 16mm to 17mm is just right. Anything smaller is too tight to play.
On the topic of scale, a 35" scale is more likely to give you a solid B string than a 34" scale. That's not to say that there aren't 34" scales with good B strings. Don't be intimidated by a 35" scale, though. Think about it this way. That 1 extra inch is divided among ALL the empty space & frets on the bass. So it's only a VERY small difference in fret spacing.
I think you should give the Lakland DJ 5 a try!
I am really finding myself leaning toward the MIM Jazz Deluxe or the G&L L2500 Trib. They have some great tonal possibilities and, this is superficial, but they look more "rock" to me. Why is it that when companies go beyond 4 strings, the feel the need to make the bass look like a coffee table?
Anyway, the downer is that I don't have the ability to compare these head to head in my area. The only way I was able to try an L2500 in the first place was that Sam Ash got a used one in. I would have bought it if it had not been so homely looking. It looked like the floors in my old house....but sounded and felt great.
I suspected that I would not like it because the neck is so much more "substantial" than what I'm used to with my Ibanez 4. But, it surprised me. It felt like the neck actually put me in a more technically correct position.
The both have their merits....
But wait. I own a Tribute L2500 too. Active or passive, with plenty of knobosity. Chunky neck and really agressive kick-butt tone. Again NOTHING else quite like it (except of course my MIA L2500 G&Ls) These are NOT for everyone. Very unique basses. Right now they are my main axes. I LOVE these basses for what I'm doing (blues etc). But not for everyone. Too many knobs and switches for some, too agressive for others.
But wait. I own a Fender MIM Deluxe V too. much milder than that G&L and while the "mid" control gives you more tonal range than a passive Jazz, it's much more limited than the G&L. But it's authentic "old school". Nuff said. When only a Fender Headstock will do, it is the one! But note I had to replace the pickups (replaced factory with Fender SCN) to get the tone up to snuff.
But wait. I own a ESP LTD B206SM. It is a VERY NICE "modern" active bass. Has the best feeling neck of any factory bass I ever played. PRice was right. Tone is active-modern, but not as "rock" as an Ibanez. It's heavy. But a killer bargain for an active kind of modern bass. Great looks. Great tone. Great Feel.
But wait! Do I own a Yamaha? No I don't. But I can tell you I've played them in the stores MANY times and came "that" close to buying one! They are TOTALLY underrated basses. You would be very hard-pressed to go wrong buying one.
The bottom line here is you haven't a clue what you are doing. You have given us a list of the 5 most popular cars on the road and then asked "which should I buy"? There are only two answers to that dumb question: The first would be "buy the Red one!" and the other would be to do what I did: Buy one of each! :D
I think I completely get you
Think that Squier active deluxe Jazz V works a bit like Ibanez, down to electronics
Three band equalizer and midscoop switch, but Squier shape and weight rock more
The neck is hugely substantial (a hair more than G&L L2500, so pay attention to it) the output is almost there with Ibanez and
so's the B string
The G&L L2500 is way more versatile, infact I play it passive and in serial mode for regular parts (and it tears walls down) while I opt for active and parallel whenever soloin' or slappin'
Do your homework:
a Squier active deluxe Jazz V if you want an Ibanez SR kinda sound with "muscle and blood" of a Fender Jazz bass
a G&L L2500 if you want the 5er of your life
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