5 string basses should be 35” scale

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bobknowsbass, Dec 3, 2021.

  1. bobknowsbass


    Jul 27, 2009
    Monrovia, CA
    Floppy B strings are intolerable.

    Leo made the modern bass at guitar 34” scale to accommodate 4 strings. It is perfect for that specific purpose. Years ago I switched to 5 string and got an American Deluxe Jazz V. It was beautiful, sounded great, but the low B felt a bit like a rubber band.

    Years later, Musicman Stingray 5. I loved that bass. It was slightly better with the low B. Still didn’t feel right. At the same time I played an Ibanez 6 string for solo bass arrangements. The high C was fun but that low B was rubber city.

    Then I got a Lakland 55-02. Dammit, they got it right. The 5th string is taught, clear, and feels like a natural extension of the bass. It’s big, no doubt. I had to adapt to it but it’s the best 5 string I have ever owned.

    My query is, what’s next? Does Sadowsky make a 35” 5 string? I want to get my high end, forever bass at this point in my life. I have pondered owning a Sadowsky for the build quality and tone. Does the B string sing with clarity? Should I go with an American Lakland? What are your thoughts?
    Direwoof, 6tzguy, Whitebeard and 19 others like this.
  2. nmiller


    Sep 1, 2010
    Rocky Hill, CT
    If your only reason is string tension, you're using the wrong gauge string.
  3. ElectricBass72


    Aug 6, 2019
    If I wanted a 35" scale on the low B string... I'd go multi-scale. No need for all strings to be on the 35" scale, IMO.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2021
  4. A9X

    A9X Inactive Suspended

    Dec 27, 2003
    What strings? What bass construction? What pickups and electronics?
    Making a 2.9% change in scale length somehow makes a massive difference? My experience doesn't agree, nor does it with many other players in terms of tone. Feel is a very particular and individual preference and string properties are most likely to have the most effect here.

    Is Tony Grey a moron because his new headless Fodera 6, strung B-C is 30.75"?
  5. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Now I have to dump my 5 string basses and get the right ones?
    nnnnnn, Dbass35, MynameisMe and 17 others like this.
  6. ElectricBass72


    Aug 6, 2019
  7. bass12

    bass12 Have You Met Grace Jones?

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Regarding Sadowskys: none of the three Jazzes I've owned had B strings that impressed me all that much. The B string on my Sadowsky Modern is, however, great. The B string on my 34" MTD Saratoga is just as good as most 35" Bs I've played. If you are looking for Sadowsky quality in a 35" Jazz style bass then you definitely have options (Lull and Valenti come to mind immediately). I love my 35" Lull M5V (with Sadowsky preamp).
  8. bobknowsbass


    Jul 27, 2009
    Monrovia, CA
    Thanks, I’ll look into that!
    red_rhino and bass12 like this.
  9. SJan3

    SJan3 Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2010
    My Yamaha TRBX5 is 34" scale and the B string feels fine. I'm using D'Addario med/light gauge. No issues..
    FWIW, the Stingray5 consistently gets high marks for it's B string in any 5 string shootout I've read.
    That said, Lakland makes an excellent 5 string, IMHO.
    Geo Monty, Loring, Dave Neal and 3 others like this.
  10. bobknowsbass


    Jul 27, 2009
    Monrovia, CA
    Tony Grey is no moron! I got the privilege of working with Louis Johnson years ago. He told me “The 4 string was never broken, you don’t need a 5!” I said that I need the extra notes, he said “use a synthesizer!”

    My point is that 34” is ideal for 4 strings. I have played wonderful 34” 5 strings, but none stand up the Lakland 35”
    basspraiser likes this.
  11. bobknowsbass


    Jul 27, 2009
    Monrovia, CA
    I never considered multi-scale. I honestly never got my hands on one. I will amend this! Thanks.
  12. For me, the sound of the B trumps the feel. So far, my favorite B string sound is the F Bass BN5. It is an odd duck at 34.5 inch scale. My next favorite is any flavor of Ernie Ball B string. That being said, my Sterling SUB 5 B string sounds epic, especially for the price!

    I don't find any EBMM or SBMM B to be floppy. As for the F Bass, I just wish I could afford one.
  13. baxter_x


    Nov 27, 2013
    My Sadowskys are 34 and they sound perfect to me. Even "better" than my Lakland 35". This scale thing doesn't have much to do with tone IMO.
  14. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    My 33-inch B string on my Ibby does just fine, thank you very much: no flop, good tone, consistent with the rest of the strings, defined in articulation.
    Loring, Dave Neal, RGerhart and 6 others like this.
  15. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Whew! I was worried there. Peer pressure and all that.
  16. bobknowsbass


    Jul 27, 2009
    Monrovia, CA
    Good to know!
    baxter_x likes this.
  17. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Birdsong 5 strings are remarkable. They’re short scale.

    My Kiesel 5 B is as solid as the E.

    It’s not the scale alone. It’s the design and the strings.

    Just saying it’s over simplistic to say the scale alone is the factor. There are a lot of builders making shorter 5 and 6. And it’s equally true there are some floppy B strings out there too.
  18. I've played 34" five-strings since the late 80's exclusively. Yes, depending on the set on a given bass, some may feel tighter . . . . and some looser, as you've experienced. I learned to live with it and forget about it a long, long time ago. All instruments are a compromise in one way or another, and for me it was never a thing. I just play it. If anything, it's easier to bend or vibrato!

    I'd also suggest two things I've found from experience:

    First, the harder the woods, the better B (and overall articulation up and down the neck) you'll find. In most regular instruments, I find an ash body and a hard maple neck are a very good recipe, with a rosewood or better yet, ebony fingerboard.

    Second, regardless of whether it's cheap passive pickups all the way to sophisticated low-impedance electronics, a good setup followed by very careful attention to the pickup heights on the B side can be critical. It's very easy with that big string for it to get woofy REAL fast if you're pickup height is off.

    I prefer 34" over 35" (or more . . . ) as basses are big enough (and I'm not a little guy) and I far prefer the greater string choices available for 34" than 35".

    As seen above . . . . your results may vary.
    direktor, GTHintz, DECEMBER and 10 others like this.
  19. bobknowsbass


    Jul 27, 2009
    Monrovia, CA
    Play what you like! My position is controversial for sure. It’s also purely experiencial. Maybe I haven’t found the right 34” 5 string yet…
    Rod Barchetta, Ggaa and 31HZ like this.
  20. el jeffe bass

    el jeffe bass

    Nov 22, 2013
    New Mexico
    I have absolutely no use for a B string, However, I find myself greatly DESIRING one. I am casually researching five strings. From what I can determine by reading a few threads on Talkbass string gauge and construction can mitigate scale length. That said, when I do finally get a fiver it will probably ether be a Yamaha BB or an Ibanez SR.
    GTHintz, SubNautican, Lothian and 4 others like this.
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