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34" 5 string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tooned, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. I'm considering finding a 5 string jazz type bass. I'm wondering about the scale length and what significant difference it makes.

    From what I've read, 34" B strings are floppy and 35"s are better but the longer scale is tougher to get used to for some(plus I can't afford a Lakland right now :meh:). To me the point of getting a 5 string is for the B string and if it sucks why bother getting one?

    I'm thinking I should get a less expensive (even cheap) jazz V to see if I like to play them before I invest in a nice higher end version such as a Lakland Skyline or Sadowsky Metro(Valenti?). A possibility would be something like a Squier Affinity Jazz V. Maybe a MIM Fender Jazz V.

    Since Fenders/Squiers are all 34" scale, is there a way to make the B string better on a 34"? Say with a different bridge or tuners? If I were to get either of those basses above I may upgrade the bridge/tuners anyway. I guess heavier gauge strings might do the trick but I'm also unsure of what difference that would make to playability for me without buying several sets of strings to try out.

    I hope the collective wisdom here may have some insight.

  2. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    Construction makes as much (if not more) difference than the 3% or so increase in scale length you get with 35". All my 5'ers are 34" scale and the B is fine on all of them.

    Especially the Stambaugh I'm selling here on TalkBass:bag:
  3. Double Agent

    Double Agent

    Mar 10, 2006
    Lakeland, FL
    Try the Squier Deluxe Active Jazz V and report back. Best cheap 5er I've ever played.

    BTW, it IS possible to get a good 34" low B. There are lots out there. You can also find 35" scale basses with floppy low Bs, especially the lese expensive models. There is more to a quality 5er than scale length IME. The rigidity of the neck joint and quality of the setup are very important factors as well.
  4. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    String tension also plays a factor. Hex core strings generally have a higher amount of tension than do round core strings. I played a G&L L2500 Tribute for a while and the B was fine. I think what made the difference on that bass was the six-bolt neck joint and string-through-the-body bridge.
  5. Marcus Willett - Nice bass but I'm not sure I'll like playing a 5 string so I don't want to spend that much just yet. Though eventually I could spend that on my next bass.

    Maybe the Squier to test the 5er waters!

    Thanks for the feedback people. :)
  6. My general rule of thumb has been that you can get a good low B in 34", down to 32" with Cliff Bordwell, but the good ones ain't cheap. 35" is a pretty easy way to make it sound good. You can tune your a drummer's top toms to the floor tom, but it doesn't have the same effect if you know what I mean.
  7. +1 on hexcores. I had a Toby Pro with one of the floppiest B's I've ever seen. I could hardly even play it. I tried all sorts of string types but the moment I restrung it with some Sadowsky SS hexcore strings and raised it at the saddle just a bit, it was perfect. I mean, if you want a really nice and tight B you're gonna have to pay the really nice money but for a playable budget bass I'd say get some hexcores and raise the saddle just enough.
  8. Mrdak

    Mrdak uber bass geek baby!

    Feb 1, 2006
    Middle GA
    Yeah Yeah ...... The Sadowsky strings are killer..... Same for Labella. They make Sadowsky strings.
  9. Raising the saddles can help reduce flop, but the high action can potentially make it difficult to fret the bass. The additional tension created to bring the string down can really throw off the intonation. The overtones tend to jumble notes, making the low B less usable elsewhere. I've played a few basses with a high low B where it was basically too jumbled above the 6th fret.
  10. Correct, that's why I used the words, "just enough."
  11. Here's a different angle: having owned/played many 5-strings over the years, I'd agree with what's already been said, but...a few months ago, I tried a bass that solves the possible problems associated with 5-strings AND provides even string tension from B to G...One word:

    Dingwall...They have scale lengths from either 37" to 34", or 35" to 32" (the SJ5 jazz-type one!), which all sounds odd but totally works when you're playing and best of all, they're about to bring out a more affordable model.

    Yes, the fanned frets look weird, but are a non-issue when you're actually playing...

    Rather than go on about how much of an ear-opener Dingwalls are, my advice would be to try one out for yourself...The SJ5 may be out of the price range, but keep it in mind...just my two cents...or pence, as we say over here...
  12. There are 35" scale basses with good and poor low B.
    There are 34" scale basses with good and poor low B.

    It's not the scale but how well the bass is designed and constructed.

    Sadowsky basses have phenominally tight B strings and are 34" scale.

  13. Thanks for the feedback people!
  14. King David

    King David

    Dec 13, 1999
    My Warwick is pretty tight. A reinforced neck is essential in my opinion. Also heavier gauge strings are a piece too. The Warwick has a taperd B and that may play a part. Hex strings may affect the feel (not really the tension). A solid bridge is important to. Playing toward the bridge on the B can make a difference too.
  15. swamp2


    Feb 27, 2008
    Ok, they're both cheap basses, but... I have a Yamaha RBX765 34" which has a solid B string. I have a DeArmond Pilot V 35" with a weak floppy B string. There's obviously more to it than the scale. Based on the comments, I am wondering about the effect of changing strings, may give it a try. But, I pretty much went back to 4 strings so I really don't care that much anymore...
  16. Flintc


    Aug 15, 2006
    My experience is that the construction of the bass, and the gauge and architecture of the string, make more difference than the inch of scale length. But I also don't notice any playing difference between 34" and 35" anyway. Many other more important factors dominate the playability of any instrument.
  17. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I Grow Organic Carrots
    A 5 string bass with a 34" scale is not a problem ... most 5 string basses have a 34" scale ... I have 13 5 string basses and a 10 string bass and none of them is 35" ... they all play just fine ... unless you have really big hands then don't worry about a 34" scale bass ...

  18. I'm a pint sized bassist who has played 35" scale basses since day 1. I use a 35" scale Conklin 6 a lot and the B is absolutely positively massive. Even within Conklin, Bill thinks the scale length doesn't make a difference while Mike does.

    Obviously, fanned is the best and I will be ordering one soon.

    In the 34" scale department, Curbow (R.I.P) was the best I've played and heard. Sadowsky was great, but Curbow blew my socks off.
  19. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    I know you don't want to spend a lot on a 5,but to get a good 34" you probably will have to spend a little bit. I had a Squier active 5 which wasn't bad. Actually pretty good. I think you can get some excellent 34", but if you buy a low end model with questionable construction, it may not give you a good chance to see if you really like playing a 5. Might also try and find a used Stingray sub 5
  20. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I Grow Organic Carrots
    a good inexpensive 5 string bass is the ibanez ...


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