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"Begrudgingly" taking the plunge to 5 string ;) Advice needed!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by KristinD, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. Short version: I feel uncomfortably uneducated when it comes to the vast number of options available for choosing a bass and understanding which style and options may best fit my personal needs and limitations. Would be very grateful for any help any of you can give! Looking for recommendations on a decent 5 string, $400 or less, not overly heavy, can accommodate what I feel is a narrower palm width though I'm 6 ft tall so neck length is not an issue. Playing modern country and rock. I'm going to go and try a bunch out and see what feels good, but any direction or advice would be very welcomed. I know very little about what brands have the best quality basses at that price point, things to look for, etc. I'd be happy to buy used as well, once I know what I'm looking for.

    Extended version: I started playing bass again about a year ago when asked to help out a small town local country/rock cover band. My only other experience was playing electric bass in my high school jazz band 15-20 years ago. I always really loved the bass but my husband and I were married young and with having 4 kiddos and living life, playing bass was sadly lost in the mix. I didn't play bass in college and have never owned my own. I played the school's bass which I don't remember the brand, and my band teacher's various Carvin basses (he was a bass player as his primary instrument.). I remember the Carvin basses (a fretted and a frettless) playing great, but being VERY heavy. When I was asked to play in this band I picked up a $250 - $300 Dean Edge 2, 4 string at the local music store. I didn't really have time to look around or put a lot of thought into the decision unfortunately.

    I do like my Dean and it plays pretty nice but not having anything to compare it to, I'm not sure if something else would better suit my personal needs. I do feel like my hand width is narrower which makes a 4 fret spread difficult in the lower positions. I'm 6 feet tall so the neck length feels comfortable otherwise. My husband plays guitar and it strikes me that even though he's shorter than me, his palm width is such that his fingers are straight when setting them on the neck over 4 frets vs my fingers flaring out quite a bit to reach that same spread. My bass playing band teacher's hand was the same and I remember being frustrated with how much easier it was for him to reach certain notes and play certain phrases. SO! Are there options I "need" to or can consider that might better accommodate what I feel is a narrower palm width? Or do my husband and former band teacher just have abnormally wide palms? :) I feel like I end up "jumping" my hand around a bit more than I feel like I should...

    And yes, I feel a bit begrudging about this purchase. I'm somewhat of a traditionalist who would be happy to play 4 string or ideally upright in a lot of the songs that we play, but the band is moving into much more modern country and even 5 minutes in the store this morning with the 5-string Dean Edge Pro ($700 so out of my price range), made it clear how much easier it would be to play some of the progressions the way I want to with the lower B-string in the mix.

    I really appreciate any thoughts or recommendations! Thank you!
  2. Inara

    Inara Fretless Femme Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    Ibanez basses have notably slim, fast necks. I also much prefer 4 string basses, but have both a fretted and fretless 5 - both are Ibanez Soundgear models. My personal advice would be to find a used SR505. That's my fretted 5 string, and I got it for under $300 off of the Guitar Center used gear site. They are really great instruments for the money. Good luck, whatever you end up doing!
    Bassstud1, TinIndian, DavC and 8 others like this.
  3. Rezdog

    Rezdog Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    T.Rez, Canada
    Greetings from the North,

    REMEMBER 'A' is in the middle! Remember that and you'll be fine.

  4. Bass Man Dan

    Bass Man Dan Endorsing Artist: Ned Flanders' Bass-a-Reeno Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2017
    I agree with the above. Check out some Ibanez. Nice, smaller necks. I had a SR405 that I got off of Craigslist for $75 and it was fine.
    KristinD likes this.
  5. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Ibanez, as others said, and Yamaha TRBX series. I like the TRBX505, and the less expensive models are similar. They're usually light, and have narrow string spacing similar to Ibanez models.

    Also, you might be able to find a G&L Tribute L-2500 or M-2500 in your price range. If so, either one could work. They have fairly narrow string spacing, and humongous tone.

    If possible, try before you buy of course, but if you're not able to do this, make sure you're getting a 34" scale. Many fivers are 35" scale, which you probably wouldn't like because it requires slightly more finger spread. The Ibanez, Yamaha and G&L are all 34" scale.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
    DavC, KristinD and lowdownthump like this.
  6. Real Soon

    Real Soon

    Aug 15, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Careful with the Ibanez scales, though: the SDGR basses are 34", but they sneak some BTB 5-strings in that are in fact 35" scale.

    It's really hard to go wrong with any of the above, though depending on how much of a traditionalist you are, it may be worth checking out the 5-string Fender offerings. As I understand it, you see quite a few of those in Nashville studios. If you get a chance to play & vet it, a well-made Squier might get you the sound for a nice, small investment. Funny I'm saying that, given that my 5 is an Ibanez SDGR....
    Nedmundo and KristinD like this.
  7. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    If it's just the low B you need/want, you could just switch your 4 to BEAD tuning with a set of strings. Or, if the stuff you're doing just needs range down to low D here and there, you could get a Hipshot de-tuner for your e string. Lotsa players cover extended low range needs in these ways.

    Personally, I like 5s 'cause you've got two full octaves available with only a minor shift in postion - you can play more across the neck rather than up and down the neck. But if you're more comfortable on a 4 and the music you're doing doesn't technically demand a 5 (i.e. lotsa fast notes across two octaves), no need to change.
  8. Tvrtko


    Dec 27, 2002
    South of the USA
    Yamaha BB235, Squier vintage Modified V bass or Peavey Millennium 5 will satisfy all of your requirements.
    KristinD likes this.
  9. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Supporting Member

    Ibanez SR series
    KristinD likes this.
  10. lowdownthump


    Jul 17, 2004
    Not everyone likes the feel of the small Ibanez body or slim neck . Try before you buy.
    If you find you prefer a larger body try a used Sterling Stingray 5 import model .
    Not the SUB import model .
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
    The Ryantist and KristinD like this.
  11. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Good point, and Ibanez now has a couple of fanned-fret multi scale basses which further complicates things, though at least they're easy to identify! I played one last week, and found the neck extremely comfortable.

    BTW, while on the subject of Ibanez, I tried a Talman fiver recently and was very impressed with the B string quality and tightness. I'm not sure which one I tested, but it was great:


    KristinD likes this.
  12. Thanks all! This has been very helpful!!

    Went out to a local music store within driving last night (we live fairly rural so not a lot of options). Tried out what they had but no SR that I saw. Towards the end when I was talking with one of the store employees my husband handed me an SR805 he found in the back upper level of the store. I wasn't even paying attention to what he gave me since I was talking things through with this employee, didn't think they had what I was looking for, and was pretty much ready to leave the store and call it a night...with how good it felt right off the top, I assumed I was playing a 4 string until I looked down. Felt really comfortable and fast like you mention. Out of my price range, for the 805 but definitely going to look into the 505. @Inara What was your experience like with buying used off of GC? I think that may be my only option. I can't find any 505's local right now, but we have a GC close enough to not be a horrible drive and I could do ship to store. Are there any differences in the various ages of the 505's that I should consider as I look for one in the online used section? The pictures always seem so crappy it's hard to tell what you are looking at sometimes. And I'm pretty sure one of the stores has a 405 listed as a 505....the pick-ups and knobs are all different, etc. Doesn't make me feel real secure, but I don't know that there are any other great options out there. Thoughts?

    I thought about this too as I remembered that first bass I played back in highschool was a fender. I tried a Fender MIM last night but it just didn't work well for me. I think it was how big the body was that perhaps made it hang different on my shoulder or something, but the neck felt short for me and my wrist seemed to be tweaked in a weird position no matter how I adjusted the strap. Maybe also a matter of the neck being thicker... I actually like the sound I got out of it and it seemed like a solid bass, but it just wasn't comfortable. I'm sure there are perhaps better options for me than the MIM but what I tried last night didn't seem to fit me well.

    I thought about tuning down or trying the hipshot de-tuner as well, but the ease of playing certain songs and having the extra room to work is quickly turning into my main motivator. I have a few songs I am working on that were written for a 5 and trying to work out the modifications was really frustrating me with the 4 string. The lines just felt awkward and did not fit with what I naturally wanted to play. I could "make it work" but I was never happy or comfortable with that part of the progression. I threw my headphones on for 5 minutes in the store, with the first 5 string I'd ever held, and it's like I've been playing that same song for years. It was just so intuitive and clean to play it on the five given the chord structure of the song. We don't have a ton of songs like that, but we are doing enough of them and I could see the band continuing to add more in the future. I realize that the average crowd won't know the difference or care if I'm playing high vs low or the bass line isn't quite how I want it.... but as a mother of 4 youngish children who is still working through a learning curve and doesn't have multiple hours a day to practice, the ease that 5 string gave me was pretty appealing. Definitely felt worth-it in the moment :)
    LowActionHero and Bass Man Dan like this.
  13. Bass Man Dan

    Bass Man Dan Endorsing Artist: Ned Flanders' Bass-a-Reeno Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2017
  14. I'll check those out, thank you! And good to know on GC. I'll confirm the policy with my local store, but it would be nice to have a bit of a safety net just in case.
    Bass Man Dan likes this.
  15. wizerd


    Jan 5, 2012
    Prone to ranting, episodes of moral outrage.
    Another shout for Yamaha TRBX series. The neck felt very comfy to me with lots of tonal options to play with. Ibanez always a good choice too.
    KristinD likes this.
  16. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    Ibanez. And find a used one through GC as others have stated. 45 day returns and it truly is no hassle.

    ETA: also, you can always call the store that has the item you’re interested in and have them describe it to you if you have concerns. And their shipping on used stuff is very cheap. New stuff, shipping is free.
    KristinD likes this.
  17. lowdownthump


    Jul 17, 2004
    I’ve bought several used basses from GC online as well as Music Go Round.
    GC has a great 45 day no questions asked policy.

    You get a lot more bass for your money buying used. Don’t be afraid to haggle . If the bass has been there a while they’ll drop the price for you . And be sure to ask if it came with a case or gigbag. I never pay the listed price on used stuff from GC.

    I see a lot of new country and rock players using Stingray5. If that’s the sound you are after , try one of these



    Here is a great sounding Ibanez. The neck might not work for you but it’s worth a try. It takes time and trial and error to figure out what feels best and sounds like the bass sound in your head. Different fretboard radius & materials , bindings, body sizes, scale length , Woods, pickups , all make a difference.

    It’s best to get something that not only looks and sounds good to you but is comfortable in your hands and playing seated and on a strap .

    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
    KristinD likes this.


    Feb 10, 2016
    Michigan USA
    Don't be scared of a 35" scale. After all the 1" difference is spread over 20-24 frets. I don't notice any fretting issues between 34" and 35" scales on my basses.
    Jim Carr, Bassngtr and KristinD like this.
  19. zZippy


    Oct 13, 2018
    British Columbia
    My 5 is a Fender Standard Jazz V (MIM). Great sound, easy to play neck. Maybe a bit heavy?
  20. BassAndReeds

    BassAndReeds Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2016
    String spacing.

    16mm is tight IMO. Most basses in the cheaper range have tight string spacing. So be wary.

    Buy used.

    Good luck.

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