First 5-String: Ibanez or ESP?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JennySuzuki, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. JennySuzuki


    Dec 18, 2013
    So(1), after several months of dinking around with my Gretsch Junior Jet II, (which I got because I was told that the short scale would make it easier for my "little girly hands" to transition from 6-string to bass) I'm ready for (as Tim the Toolman would say:) More Power. I want a long-scale 5-string.

    My problem is that I live in a dinky town where I can't just go down to the guitar store and pick out one I want. And I've listened to YouTube videos, and read reviews, and I've narrowed my choice down to two: Ibanez' BTB 675, or ESP/LTD's F-5E.

    I'm interested in other people's opinions of these two guitars, and opinions on which would be better for a late beginner / early intermediate player (whose hands aren't really that "little girly" after all). Explanations of your opinions would also be great. I live in my head a lot.

    (1)Have you ever noticed you can tell a geek right off from the way they open with "so" even if they're not concluding from any previous statement? Yeah.
  2. chubfarm2001

    chubfarm2001 Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2010
    St. Marys, Ohio
  3. AmmoSki


    Dec 16, 2013
    Maple Valley, WA
    I have the ESP F-414 and love it. It appears that the one you want (other than the string count) is about the same instrument…different pickups is all. It isn't too heavy, sounds great and has pretty decent sustain. I find the 35 inch scale to be a bit big, but I'm a newbie, too, so I'm learning to cover the fretboard well enough.

    So(2), based on that, I'd say ESP.

    (2)I was concluding my recommendation. ;)
  4. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
  5. JennySuzuki


    Dec 18, 2013
    Okay. So the message I'm getting here is that ESP players have an opinion and are willing to discuss why they feel that way. Ibanez players just toss out their opinion and move on.
  6. Ibanez, because i own one and its sexy, and sounds like angels frolicking.
  7. Fwhole


    Dec 18, 2013
    Endorsing Artist: Headway Audio, Kala uBass
    If it's your first five string all I would say is make sure you are happy with the string spacing. My first 5 string was too widely spaced. I ended up with tendinitis in the middle of a six month tour. I now have one with narrower spacing, but it feels clumsy when I slap.
  8. JennySuzuki


    Dec 18, 2013
    Dr3thepooner, that's a surprisingly powerful argument. :cool:

    Douglas Adams wrote of Mark Knopfler that he had the ability to make a Fender Stratocaster hoot and howl like a gang of angels let out of heaven on Saturday night for a beer. I've always been jealous of that description!

    So, which of the BTBs do you have?

    The luthier at the shop in town (which doesn't carry either Ibanez or ESP) was trying to talk me into one of the SR models instead of one of the BTBs, because he said that every SR he'd ever handled came out of the bag ready to play from the factory; that they needed the least set-up of any bass he'd ever handled.
  9. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I've been playing bass for over 30 years but only within the past two years made the move to 5-string.
    Between your two choices, I would opt for the Ibanez, the ESP/LTD is pretty thick and awkward for a fiver- no, it's not just the width of the thing, I find the neck awkward circumference-wise. My hands just got more tired from trying to play the LTD.

    Electronics on the Ibanez are better, quality seems a tad better, also the B string seems less "floppy". If I had a choice though between the Ibanez models, I would opt for the SR series- but that's just me.

    I have since moved on to different brands - I have a Fender Jazz V (heavy, very wide) and a Squier MB5 (my practice 5'er with very narrow string spacing- not slap friendly as Fhole mentioned with narrow spacing)
    If you live in a small town like I do, you can always order online at GC and have any used instrument shipped to you for $25. I found that to be the best way of getting basses cheaply.
  10. There are lots of reviews here on TB, especially for Ibanez. Some models seem to be known for having better/worse B strings than other models.

    When getting a first 5, IMHO, there are a couple of things that you really need to figure out, regardless of brand.

    -Scale. 34" vs. 35" Some say you need a 35 to get a good B. That is not always or even usually true. I own several 34" 5'ers whose B strings are every bit as good as the 35's I once owned. Though of the crappy B strings I've played, all of them have been on low-budget, 34" 5'ers. Look for reviews on TB!

    -String spacing. Perhaps even more important. Spacing can run anywhere from 15mm to 19mm between strings. IMHO it makes all the difference in the world as to how successful some folks are at making the switch. There is no right or wrong spacing, just a preference (though some slappers like wider, some pick players like narrower).

    -Weight. Fivers can get heavy. Mine run anywhere for 8.5 to almost 12 pounds.

    Of those 2, I've not played either of the 2 you've listed, so all I'd have to go on is cosmetics and specs. Based on those, I'd take the Ibanez, as I don't care for 35" or basses that have pointy things in odd places.

    Good Luck!
  11. JennySuzuki


    Dec 18, 2013
    My impulse toward the BTB is based on the through-neck construction. Am I being misguided here? Does it not make that much difference?
  12. CRich0205


    Feb 17, 2013
    Ibanez. I played a BTB 405QM for 8 years that was a bolt on. Really nice solid bass after a setup 6 years into owning it, it played wonderfully. I was just a bedroom player and didn't know about serious. I have since traded for a Carvin XB75 and I miss the wider spacing the Ibby had but the neck thru shape makes upper frets much easier to get to. I have not played any ESPs though so I can't comment on those. Good luck either way.
  13. Andy_D


    Nov 28, 2009
    Corpus Christi, TX
    Beware that BTB's have rather large Necks (I've owned 2 of them). That said You may want to also consider an Ibanez ATK. The 805's are supposed to be very versatile (I have a 305 and love it), or a G&L 2500 Series. Great quality on either one of those and lots of usable tones.
  14. CoarseBass


    Dec 28, 2002

    It doesn't make that much difference - but I like it, and I've owned two.

    I have massive meat mitts. I have trouble buying gloves. I really like the long scale and wide string spacing on the BTBs - it feels like I can let my fingers run a little. I also think they look and sound great.

    SRs don't appeal to me visually, and they were a fixture in my high school beginner days - so I've got some nostalgia there, but it isn't positive - it's remembering the fumbling of my friends, crappy starter pack combos, poor playing instruments.

    You can get a SRs that sound a lot like BTBs, but are smaller, lighter and have amazingly fast necks. I'd look there first if I have 'little girly' hands. They're great basses, and every GC spanking of a 505 or 755 has always been fun. Not my preference, but nice basses, and fast players.

    ESPs...similar sense of negative nostalgia, but with pointy black memories. I've never met an ESP I thought was more than passable, honestly.
  15. ProgRocker


    Mar 25, 2011
    Why only those two basses? Other companies make 5 string basses too.
  16. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Okay, I'm sorry I just tossed it out ;)

    Thing with Ibanez is, that the BTB series can handle every situation. Yeah you must have heard that 1000 times earlier, but believe me, the BTB is like no other basses. It's neckthrough design that gives it more sustain and the wonderful Monorail IV bridge, which gives each string a independent bridge (saddle) plus it eliminates the string crossing with vibrations..
  17. JennySuzuki


    Dec 18, 2013
    Here are my criteria: I want a 35" scale, 5-string bass with a natural wood finish, for less than a thousand dollars. Ibanez and ESP get particular attention from me because they're both Japanese companies, and for some reason :rollno:, I feel an attraction to Japanese companies.
  18. Ah. Now it gets easier.

    Even if the basses are made in China, Korea, Vietnam or Indonesia?

    If you can get past the whole Japanese-company-only thing, IMHO it would be very tough to beat a brand new Natural Lakland 55-01. I have owned a couple of those and they are absolutely stellar basses, especially the Indonesian-made ones that are plekked at the Lakland in Chicago. If you are OK with used, you can find pretty much any of their Skyline series for under $1,000.
  19. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Be warned that BTB's motto is big body, big tone. Expect a heavy bass, something that will suck at 1:30 a.m. and make you loathe load out even more. I liked my BTB 676 but I would not want it on for a full night set, it was probably 12 pounds if not more. If you are a bedroom player this doesn't really matter.
  20. JennySuzuki


    Dec 18, 2013
    I'm a princess (hair-flick) I don't have to make sense. (hair-flick). :D

    All seriousness aside, I do know that only the very top end of their guitars (either company) are actually made in Japan, but there's still an emotional appeal to me. And I'm not, by any means, saying that I'll only consider guitars by those two makers, or even just from Japanese companies.

    Another part of the problem is the hick town where I live. I can at least drive a couple of hours to a Guitar Center and pick up an Ibanez so that I sort-of know something about them; things like the (very interesting; thank you for the suggestion!) Lakland you mentioned don't even fall into that category, alas.