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5 string curious

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by HelpImaRock, Apr 13, 2014.

  1. I read a lot on here about "good" 5 string basses and "bad" 5 string basses. How there are lots of "flubby Bs" out there. I have no dog in this race, but I am curious what the hive mind thinks. Thanks!
  2. It's not the bass that makes the flabby B, it's the string itself. Larger gauge = less flab. Keep that in mind when buying a bass.
    Generally in a 5 string you look for a 35" scale, but I have a couple of 34" scale 5ers that play wonderfully.
  3. Herrick


    Jul 21, 2010
    Munchkin Land
    I've owned 5 or 6 5-strings and none of them had "flubby" Bees but some Bees sounded better or much better than others. I've never owned or played a 35" scale 5-string.
  4. darrenmt


    Dec 15, 2004
    Generally a 5 string regardless of being 34" or 35" scale can have a tight responsive low B string. Factors mainly contributing to this are construction concepts and electronics/pickups.

    There may be a better chance of the low B on a 35" scale sounding better in general due to the increased tautness but this will also affect the feel of corresponding strings.

    I play 35" scale basses and enjoy them but have played 34" ones with fantastic Bs too. I've found that as long as there is enough distance between the nut and string post, as well as down pressure on the string(string tree or headstock design), it may yield a nice responsive B string feel and tone. There may be a specific/optimal break angle that contributes to this too.
  5. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    that sound dirty to be 5 strings curious ...
  6. Well that's interesting. I would have thought scale did indeed make a difference. I wonder who makes a good short scale 5...
  7. Greg Jones

    Greg Jones

    Dec 1, 2005
    Thornton, CO
    I was 5 string curious a couple weeks ago.

    Then I started browsing the classifieds here on Talk Bass.

    Took me all of 5 minutes to find several really awesome deals ..

    So now I'm 5 string involved.
  8. raventepes


    Jan 7, 2012
    Reno, NV
    I've owned mostly 5-string basses. From my experience, regardless of weather or not it's 34 or 35" scale, bolt on or neck through, the B really depends on the string itself. Some string manufacturers simply make a better B than others. I take this into account when I'm looking at a new bass. If I generally like the instrument, but the B lacking, I'll get it, regardless because, again, it's probably just a string issue. My personal preference for 5-string strings are DR's of every kind. GHS Boomers are good too as an all-round string, though I find that those are the only GHS strings I like. I've used some Rotosound Swingbass 66's once, and they're decent. Ernie Ball Slinky's are just plain awful in my opinion, and I've never been overly impressed by D'Addario or Dean Markley. I stay away from guitar manufacturer strings like Spector and Warwick as a general rule. Usually they're about as good as a Slinky's. Good enough to ship with, but that's about it. A good rule of thumb, (all puns intended), is you get what you pay for. I'm not suggesting you go out and buy a set of Thomastik Infeld's at $100+ a set, but pay a good $40, give or take.

    Just my thoughts though.
  9. Matt R.

    Matt R.

    Jul 18, 2007
    Huntsville AL

  10. darrenmt


    Dec 15, 2004
    Like some have pointed out string choice does matter but IMO that affects or enhances certain characteristics of a bass tonally. If u have a dog that only works with a certain expensive brand of strings, that isn't all that great cos that just makes it a high maintenance dog.

    A well built 5 string should sound good with any reasonable brand of strings, and have that extra oomph with choice strings. I string my 5 string fretted basses with average priced strings... D'Addario nickel rounds and they sound great. Warm, defined and punchy.
  11. robertusf


    Jul 19, 2007
    2012 Fender American Deluxe jazz V- not flabby - currently own
    2008 Fender American Standard Jazz V- not flabby - used to own
    2005 Warwick Corvette 5 - not flabby - used to own. Only thing I did not like was the string saddle was barely wide enough or needed to be filed if you didn't want to use a tapered B string

    That's my experience.
  12. elBandito


    Dec 3, 2008
    Rotten Apple
    I find the B string to be more sensitive of neck relief than other strings. Closer to straight seems to give me better sounding B, but you need the frets nice and level to run the neck straight.
  13. Mvilmany


    Mar 13, 2013
    Upstate NY
    I've been on the fence, myself, as far as getting a five string. On most 34" 5 strings, I find the B too floppy. I don't actually mind floppy strings (I actually like 30" short scale basses) but when the B is way more floppy than the other strings, THAT bothers me.

    I've been satisfied with most of the 35" B's I've played.
  14. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Longer scale lets you use a thinner, more flexible B string. A lot of people think that sounds better. That's why basses aren't 25.5" scale with .250 E strings.

    Super thick B's can have strange sounding overtones at higher frets because they act more like a solid rod than a string.
  15. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I agree. I used to play short scale 4 string but pretty much gave up on a good sounding 5 string short scale for that reason. (Maybe a Kala Ubass would work)

    Generally I find no serious differences between 34 and 35" scales on decent basses. However, that said, let me say that hands down, the best, to die for, B string I own is on my Modulus which is 35" scale. However others such as my Ken Smith are virtually as good.

    Most of my basses are 34" and regardless of cost (except my chinese ABG which has a horrid B string) all are pretty decent on the B string. One of the worst of my basses was my 2002 MIM Fender Jazz. It wasn't horrible just "meh". But new pickups and nut and mods and setups etc. and now it's great. Note that Fender after 2008 fixed those problems that I had to fix myself.

    So yes, floppy awfuly playing B strings do exist, but I just try to sort those out before I buy them if I can. But even my SX basses or my Squier have decent B strings. A lot of it is about what strings, and the setup etc.
  16. Marcury

    Marcury High and Low

    Aug 19, 2007
    Mid Hudson Valley, NY
    I had a girlfriend who was 5 string curious. She ended up leaving me for a G string.
  17. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    we even fullstep dowtune our axes, you figure!

    anyway: I started knowin' them when playin' a 5er (a MIK Ibanez Soundgear back then) and usin' a pick, just because I thought it would fit their requests (they were lookin' for an
    "old school" bay area thrash freak bassplayer) whenever they eventually discovered I was better with fingerplayin' they got so involved in the whole "extended range" thing to both adopt seven string guitars and now the least I can do is to record and play live mostly with 5ers

    a thing I discovered to be effective is that a 35" scale is preferable, especially if you're goin' to downtune, or at least a 34" stringthru bridge scale, 'cause essentially is more a matter of overall tension

    then I step by step also embraced 6 and 7 stringers, but you know this involves the upper register, so "nulla quaestio"

    the thing I like to play the most, even with not necessarily superthick strings, are my Yamaha Attitude limited II tuned
    (C)D, G, C, F which are 34" scale 4er, still holdin' downtune
    quite fine, and cuttin' thru the mix like no other, and no 5er

  18. remainthesame


    Sep 24, 2008
    Welcome to the wonderful world of the low B, I made the transition myself with my 2nd bass and I haven't gone back since.

    Like the other guys have said, I've owned 34" and 35" scale 5 stringers and I've had success and failure on both ends of the spectrum. I'd still recommend getting a 35" scale, but my recommendation isn't because I've worked it out scientifically, I just feel that it better suits me and my purposes on the 5ers.

    Another thing people like to talk about with extended range basses is string spacing. It's not hard to find the typical 4 string string spacing (19mm) on a 5 string. However its not uncommon to find 5 stringers with the strings much closer together such as 16mm string spacing. For some it matters, just something additional to look out for.
  19. Ric5

    Ric5 SUSPENDED Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Actually I prefer a .125 B on a 34" bass. I get more mids out of the B that way.
  20. Ric5

    Ric5 SUSPENDED Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.