Help with my quest: a 5 string P bass!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by pickles, Dec 14, 2005.

  1. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I've long wanted to get a bass that can sound and feel like a good P-bass, but with a low B. This has been driving my GAS for too long, and I'm about ready to do something about it :D Here are the basses I've tried, and the ones I want to try ... any comments on any of them would be most welcome.

    I've tried:

    Mike Lull PJ5. This bass was incredibly built, but the 35" scale, large body-to-string rise distance, and narrow string spacing made it not "feel" like a P bass to me. It did sound really good. It was sooooo close, my hands just didn't agree with it.

    Zon Sonus 5/2. I know, you don't think this is a P bass, but the neck pickup is a Duncan split coil right in P-bass land. Real real close to being great, its just the graphite that kept it from being a home run as a 5-P. A great bass in its own right and very versitile.

    MTD 535. Another bass you wouldn't think of, but it also sports a split coil in the "middle" position (right in between where the two coils on my '78P are). This one does a "super modern P bass from hell" tone REALLY well. I love playing roger waters type P bass lines on this bass, it doesn't sound "like" and old P, but it has the right attitude. This is the only one I still have.

    I still want something with a more traditional sound than the MTD. I'm curious about:

    Fender American Deluxe 5 Precision: I've played and like the 4 string version a whole lot, and I was just down playing the 5 string jazz and it was pretty nice. I can't seem to find these in shops. This is my primary target at the moment. Its also nice to have a bass with "Fender" on the headstock ... makes people comfortable :spit:

    Old Yamaha TRB-5P. Only problem is that its a neck-through.

    Sadowsky PJ5. I've had (and loved) a Metro, so this seems an obvious choice. Obviously insanely expensive as well until Roger takes pity on my and adds P pickups to the Metro line.

    Warmoth or maybe Valenti (you out there Nino?). I don't see a P5 routing option on the website, but otherwise this is something I might consider. Drop in the Sadowsky pickups but leave it passive.

    Pick up another lakland skyline 5 and route it for a P pickup myself :ninja:

    Any other ideas?
  2. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    The P bass pickup on a 5 string body is available for an additional charge.
  3. I used to have a fender mia deluxe p 5, it was a really nice bass, if you like the 4-string version you'll probably like the 5. I couldn't tell much of a difference between mine and my friends 4 stringer. That said, I prefer passive p-bass tone and the deluxe just sounds a bit too modern, YMMV.
  4. I can't comment from personal experience but there are folks who will tell you that the Fender Roscoe Beck V can get very, very close to the P-Bass sound.

    It has a number of unique options for adjusting the sound of its pickups and its supposed to be a great bass and a great value.
  5. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I'm a 5-string P-bass guy, so I'll chime in with what little I know.

    Fender Precision Deluxe 5 - haven't owned, but have auditioned a couple. I enjoyed the playability a lot! Nice neck profile. Tone with the P-pup soloed is very Fender-y, that's a good thing. A couple reasons I didn't go for this one: first, the big motherbucker bridge pickup didn't do anything for me. Second -- and this is shallow -- aesthetics. The asymmetrical coils of the P pickup bother me... it also means that the A string polepieces are permanently on the treble coil where they don't belong. Also, the lower cutaway is deeper to accommodate the two extra frets. Finally, I don't like the look of the bridge bucker. Yes, I can be nitpickety about my P-basses.

    Mike Lull P5 - owned one for a couple of years. Mine was ash/rosewood, passive PJ, with Fralin pups. Very nice bass! You have an interesting point about the string rise, it's something I didn't consider. The main reasons I sold mine in favor of the Sadowsky: first, bridge spacing was narrower than 19mm. There's been debate about this... some say that the Lull P5 does have 19mm spacing. Mine didn't. Maybe the adjustable bridge was set for narrower spacing, but with the rolled fingerboard edges there was no room to widen the spacing at the bridge. BTW: the rolled fingerboard edges is a point in Lull's favor: very comfortable! Second issue: neck profile is super slim and fast. I prefer a neck profile with a little more heft: Sadowsky, MTD, Fender.

    Minor issue: the bass coil of the P pickup covers the BE strings only, when it should cover BEA. That can been remedied by swapping the coils... not possible on the Fender. In the Lull's favor: the body shape is authentic P-bass, unlike Fender. I also love the sexy satin finish on the back of the neck.

    Sadowsky P5. As you said, hella expensive. I sold my Lull P5 and Modulus Quantum 5 to help finance the order. I really dig it. Mine's black/black, alder/birdseye. The alder is chambered, so it's very light! Doesn't wear me down at the gig like my RB5 can. The Sad P5 definitely has the Fender look I was going for. Maybe not the headstock, but the Sadowsky headstock is the most graceful of the Fender clones IMO. I ordered P only rather than PJ for a more vintage flavor. Body shape is spot on. Yes, that means the 21st fret is difficult to reach, but so what, true P-bassers don't need that fret anyway. ;) In fact *this* P5 doesn't even have the extra fret (I kinda wish mine didn't either):

    Sadowsky neck profile is thicker than the Lull.... very good thing in my book. In fact the Sadowsky has the most comfortable non-asymmetric neck profile I've ever played on a fiver. The nitro finished neck is sexy, the fret-ends are comfortably rounded. The neck started out satin finish, but didn't take long to wear down to a gloss. It's a little sticky now that it's glossy, but no big deal.

    Tone? Tricky question. The Sadowsky has the Sadowsky tone... a P-bass purist won't confuse it with a passive Fender, not even in passive mode. The Sad isn't as phat in the mids, but that no doubt helps the B string to sound so crisp, clear, and wonderful: it's tied with MTD in second place, behind the Modulus Q5. The Sad also lacks significant dead spots.

    Don't get me wrong, the Sad still has the P-bass vibe. I should mention that the Sadowsky and Lull P5 basses have very similar tone: both are modern takes on Fender.

    You asked for other ideas -- here's one: Benavente 51 model 5-string. I've been on the waiting list for awhile, and hope to have mine soon! I haven't played one, but I dig the vintage look, and was impressed with the sound samples over at James Hart's site.

    P.S. I agree with IotaNet's comment on the RB5! I own that bass and love it to death... it sounds more like a Fender P-bass than the P-bass clones I reviewed above.
  6. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Here are some Benavente 51 models in case you're



  7. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    If it is the overall vibe that you are going for, you might want to take a look at a G&L L2500. I played one for a long time and it always had that P bass vibe to it IMO.

    It also has enough tonal flexibility to cop that sound and still have plenty of others to mess with as well.

    Definately a little easier on the budget than some that you have mentioned.

  8. Wow, thanks... I use to have my basses linked in my signature, I haven't finished any new recordings in a while so I pulled it off.

    Here is my old sig link.
  9. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Thanks for all the comments so far! Good stuff.

    I'm drawn to the Fender Deluxe for the sound (if it sounds anything like the 4 I'll love it), but I also don't appreciate the looks. :( It also has spooky plastic tuning heads, at least on the new ones. I dig the motherbucker tone, myself :D

    I played an RB5 and it just didn't "click" for me. Maybe with better strings it would. I'm not a huge fan of the look on that one either, but maybe I'll go play it again. I'd also think that it wouldn't quite get a P-bass sound, since the neck pickup is farther up than a P :confused:

    L2500 is actually another one I've considered. Hmmmm ...

    The Beneventes look pretty sweet, but not quite what I'm looking for on styling. I'd also be wary of laying out a bunch of cash for anything I can't play first. I don't mind doing that for used basses that I can turn around, but I've recently been burned on buying a new mail order bass that I really thought would be good ... but wasnt :(
  10. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Thats so funny you mentioned that. I almost posted this thread as "Fender Deluxe 5 P vs G&L L2500".

    Is the neck pickup on the L2500 in the same approximate location as a P pickup would be? That seems to me to be the most important thing about a P ... its not a "neck" pickup so much as a "middle" pickup.
  11. Pickles -

    I've made this point already but just as a coincidence, I just received an email from a professional bassist/internet buddy. We were not talking about your request but rather his bass acquision plans for the immediate future. (And he is a staunch P-Bass devotee):

    This is what he wrote in his email:

    " ... I’ve only had one 5 string, and we never really got along. I swore them off after that, but I’m starting to get the bug again, and someone who’s opinion I value said that the Beck is as close as you can get to a five string P-Bass."

    From where I sit, that's a pretty strong endorsement
  12. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA

    The front PU is definitely not what I would consider a "neck" PU. It is pretty much in the middle of the body. All I know is the bass in passive mode with the front PU soloed approximated the P-bass thing very well.

    As Fender RB5s, they are sweet basses. I love them. I have to say that as far as overall vibe, when I grasp one, I think more jazz bass than I do p-bass.
  13. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA

    When I played the Beck, I also thought "J-bass".
  14. same here... nicest fender 5 I've tried, but more J.

    The G&L is one of my favorite "P like" 5 strings. I wish the L1505 had the same pickup position as the old L1000. THAT would be a cool bass IMO.

    The ash Tribute plays real nice for a cheaper bass too.
  15. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    It's true that the Beck is a better J-bass than P-bass. But when I close my eyes and solo the neck pup in series mode, it sounds closer to P-bass than some P-bass clones.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    The Sadowsky P5 is Awesome ! :bassist:
  17. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    I've been waiting for an affordable passive 5 string P-bass for a long time too. I put together a P5 from USACG parts a while back and it turned out nice. You would think with all the Jazz 5 string clones out there there would be at least a couple more P5 options out there. Hopefully someone like Fender or Lakland will come up with something.
  18. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Thanks again for all the comments. Very helpful.

    I've decided the next step in this particular journey for me is a USA G&L L2500! That bass has been in the back of my mind for too long, time to bring it up front :D I'll still keep an eye out for the Fender, and I'll try to play an RB5 again sometime.

    I'm going to buy this amazing looking one from Templar. :hyper:
  19. I love the bowling ball finishes from G&L! Congrats!
  20. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I'd never seen them before ... this one just came out of the woodwork ... I can't wait to see it in person!