Anyone here comfortable switching between 5 string basses with different spacings?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Cyborg, Jun 20, 2019.

  1. Cyborg


    Jul 7, 2007
    Lowcountry, SC
    Anyone here comfortable switching between 5 string basses with different spacings? It seems that reading here on TB most prefer wide or narrow and some are fine with in-between spacing but I have yet to read or talk to someone who is like, "yeah I'm good with my Ibanez at 16.5 mm and my 55-02 at 19 mm".

    Some background information:

    I've been mostly a 4 string bassist over the past 20+ years. I've dabbled with a few 5 string basses over that period but ultimately went back to 4 strings. My conclusion is that it was really because I didn't woodshed enough with them. So now I'm back needing a 5 string bass for some material I'm working on.

    Currently, I have a Lakland 55-60, which has 19 mm spacing. It's definitely wider than what I've used in the past and it feels it too. I was surprised because I thought the spacing would feel more like home (using mostly 4's) than something with tighter spacing. It might be that I'm just not acclimated to it yet and that's fine.

    Although, I used to have an Ibanez SR505 with 16.5 mm, Ray35 with 17.5 mm spacing and a Fender Jazz V, which I think has 18 mm spacing. I was fine with the spacing but I only owned one of those at a time, none at the same time.

    Ultimately I was looking at Schecter Stiletto, which I think is 17 mm and a SR5 which is 17.5 mm.
  2. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    I do it all the time between Fender, Music Man, Ibanez and Yamaha. For whatever reason, it's not string spacing that messes with my playing, but rather scale length. Through significant trial and error over the years, I've learned that I'm at home on 34" – and 34" only.
    lowdownthump, Ggaa, roccobass and 2 others like this.
  3. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    Both my basses are 18mm at the bridge. Everything else can change, but that's the measurement I need to be constant.

    IMO a 1" difference spread out between 22 frets is way too small to notice.
  4. Spent


    May 15, 2011
    Upstate NY
    I couldn’t tell you what spacing any of my basses are. I regularly switch between a Carvin LB76, Yamaha TRBX505, Fender Deluxe Fretless Jazz, Spector Euro 4LX and Spector Legend. I have another 15 (severe GAS) including a Tacoma Thunder chief which I play occasionally. In my previous band I used a Ric 4001 and Spector 2000/5 depending upon the song. Scale length or string spacing, none of that ever mattered to me.
    Bass Man Dan likes this.
  5. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    I actually don’t care about the string spacing itself. I’ll rock em anywhere from 17mm to 19mm.

    BUT, I generally detest the way the wider necks feel, due to the necessary girth, especially near the joint to the body. The 19mm Basses all just feel unwieldy / klutzy. I can rock em; but won’t own them. No thanks. 18mm is just fine.
    son_of_mogh likes this.
  6. I am neither affected by string spacing nor radius. In general, I prefer 35” scale, but I still enjoy my EBMM Bongo HS 6 which is 34”. At the moment, I don’t own a 36” scale, but I have a Carl Thompson Semi-Frills 6 Fretless in the works which I’ve planned to be 36”.
  7. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I regularly go between a Mike Lull 5-string (19mm, 35” scale) and a MM Stingray 5-string (17mm, 34” scale). No issues that I’m aware of.

    I think besides getting used to each bass’s individual characteristics, you can get used to making the change back and forth.
  8. Basehead

    Basehead Now with even more synthy goodness... Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    New York NY
    I go between 2 Ibanez Premiums at 16.5mm, my Ibanez Cerro 5 at 18mm, and my Fodera Emperor 5 at 19mm. No problems going between them, just depends on what I feel i want to play for that gig.
  9. beaglesandbass

    beaglesandbass Think first, then post? Staff Member Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Philly Suburbs
    I’m not sure exactly what the spacing is on my Ibby SR2605 and EBMM Stingray 5, but they’re definitely different. They both feel fine to me. I think people get too caught up in numbers instead of how a bass feels while playing it.
    viper4000, Geri O and Afc70 like this.
  10. Afc70

    Afc70 We’re only immortal for a limited time Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2004
    Northeast Arkansas
    Yes, my Roscoe has 18.3 mm spacing (I believe) & my Curbow Petite is 20mm, (I have it adjusted down to 19mm)
    I have a 95 Modulus Quantum 5, that is pretty narrow, it’s possibly 18, perhaps a little less. I go from bass to bass without any problems at all. I will say that my basses are all setup with low action & feel very similar in that regard though.
  11. klaymaster


    Jun 10, 2016
    It feels weird for me for about 5-10 minutes
    gebass6 likes this.
  12. onda'bass

    onda'bass Supporting Member

    Sep 5, 2010
    Buffalo Ny
    yea It's weird but just play each one consistently and the weirdness goes away quicker. I like different spacing for different reasons but tend to favor 19mm overall.
  13. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    String spacing at the bridge is the main thing I need consistent. That's why I can't play Horner style basses comfortably.
  14. Aloe


    Apr 10, 2016
    when I was introduced to 5-strings, I thought, I want a wider spacing, but in fact going 19mm to 18mm was harder than I thought. or it was an extra string, IDK.

    after a few years I got a 16.5mm 5-stringer and it felt like home, no problems switching from 19mm or 18mm. for my surprise, slapping on 16.5mm was as easy on 19mm, but the 18mm one is harder for my hands.

    now I'm back at fours, but still have the 18mm 5-stringer. I think, if I chose solely by string spacing, I should have left the 16.5mm one, but I'm really comfortable at both and liked how 18mm sounded better.

    this said, I don't really like 19 or 20mm for a 5-stringer, like too wide for my right hand.
    son_of_mogh likes this.
  15. Maynjo


    Jan 28, 2014
    Jacksonville, NC
    I used to play exclusively with a pick, and it would take some time to adjust. Now that I play with my fingers there’s almost no issue switching string spacings for me. The only issue I do have is I don’t like overly wide fretboards as I have short stubby fingers. I did have a Roscoe for a short period that had 18.5mm spacing and it was super comfortable, but the fender jazz V I had that was 19mm felt way too wide.

    If you’re a slapper, you might have some trouble with thinner string spacings.
  16. mikecd1

    mikecd1 Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2009
    New England
    I'm okay now going from 19mm spacing on my Fenders or Lakland to 17mm on my SBMM MM5, but originally had a 15mm spacing bridge which I had to change out to 17mm, just couldn't do the 15mm. That bridge has been for sale here on TB for ages so I guess folks agree with me.
  17. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    It is an odd thing. My 5ers are all narrow spaced, I had them made that way. Switching between one of those and my P doesn't phase me at all. Trying to play a wider spaced 5, suddenly I'm fumbling and missing strings and genarlly screwing the pooch.
    son_of_mogh likes this.
  18. I'm a novice at playing the 5-strings. Just bought a Sire 5, which has a narrower spacing than my Fender Jazz V which is 19mm. I wish all manufacturers would include this measurement in their specs; I knew the nut was narrower so I figured the spacing would be narrower at the bridge, as well. It is, but I don't know exactly what it is as I haven't measured it.

    For me it's a bit difficult but I'm putting that down to being new to the fivers in general. I'm hoping that a bit more woodshedding with both of them will make it easier for me to move between them. I hold this hope because I had difficulty going back to my four string at first, but now I'm finding it easier to move between that and the five.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  19. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    One of my first fives was a first-generation BB5000 Yamaha: 5 strings crammed into an 1.5" nut width, as they essentially adapted a BB2000 from four to five strings. Really tight. I've had other fives since, spacing all over the place, and I never think twice about it if it's a bass I like. The human hand is remarkably adaptable, and this has never been a 'thing' for me. I realize that this seems to be a big deal for other guys, though. For me, though, if overall I like it, I can make it work for me.
  20. I can feel it and don't like switching.