How much does string spacing matter to you on a 5?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by baddarryl, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. baddarryl


    Oct 26, 2008
    Cape Fear!
    Hi all. I was hell bent to get a 4 as a back up until yesterday. I tried several USA Fenders and just don't like the feel of 4'rs any more. I think it has to do with the spacing. I have a Peavey Foundation V that has 16.5 spacing at the bridge. I find it very easy to move around on with my small hands. I want to get another 5 and have been doing some reading regarding good B strings. If I go with something like 19mm spacing will there be a noticeable difference switching back and forth? I used to think a 4 was more comfortable and natural, but not anymore. I will be searching for a used MM, Lakland, G&L etc. Which 5's have that narrower spacing? The only issue I have with 5's is keeping those strings quiet which is betting better. Thanks.
  2. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    19mm (or 18.3) for me, because that is normal's the same you find on a 4 string. Feels the most natural and it's easy to go from fingerstyle to slap with ease. It's personal preference really, I just can't deal with narrow spacing. If you want narrow spacing look at Music Man, G&L, Peavey, and some Ibanez (not BTB). If you want normal spacing, look at Lakland, Roscoe, and MTD basses. Some companies like Spector and Carvin offer both.
  3. Bridge spacing is very important to me. Some people have no problem switching between different spacings but I don't like that.

    Currently I like narrow spacing even for slap. Though my tastes have gone from wide, to narrow, back to wide, and are now at narrow again.
    mindwell and son_of_mogh like this.
  4. BassAndReeds


    Oct 7, 2016
    I can't play anything less than 19mm. I play 5s most if the time, but I take a G&L tribute SB2 (4 string) around for practice a lot, and for slap, cause o can't slap a 5. I've Never an issue switching between 5s and 4s. 4s feel so thin after playing 5s all the time.

    It may take time to adjust to a 5 string bass, if coming from a 4, but not much. I play cover bands, top 40 and/or country. I can't tell you how much people appreciate the 5th string, even when I hardly use it. I think I've gotten gigs cause I bring a 5er, so to me, the effort is worth it if you like working.

    To the question, what 5ers have tight string spacings: I vaguely remember Schecter Stillettos and Ken Smith Burner Basses to be terribly tight. I promptly put them back on their trial stand at the local music shop.
  5. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    This topic has been kicking around on TB for at least a half dozen years, if not more.

    Where it has gone is that most luthiers now offer either 17.5 mm spacing or 19 mm spacing; and I believe a lot of that has to do with neck blanks that are commonly available in the supply chain. A few builders, like Ken Smith, do make 18 mm spaced designs; but, those seem more the exception than anything.

    I became interested in this, because I’ve been gigging two 5’s, a 19 mm Sadowsky and a 17 mm Tobias; and, like Goldilocks, not really liking either one. For me, the issue isn’t so much about any right hand techniques. At all. I’m comfortable with any of the right hand techniques on either of those spacings. For me, it is more about how the bass FEELS on the strap. The 19 mm Sadowsky simply FELT too big for what I want in a 5. My 6 string is actually a little wider, but feels just right for what it is. Hard to put my thumb on it, but there is a sweet spot for me in terms of the neck dimensions relative to string count for what I think a bass should feel like. I know that’s highly subjective. The Sadowsky is sold and the Tobias is available.

    So, I have commissioned a 17.5 mm build and am hoping that is closer to a sweet spot for me. I think 18 would be dead on; but, there aren’t builders I want to work with in that space.
  6. BassAndReeds


    Oct 7, 2016
    Why can't you find a builder that'll install a bridge with 18mm for you?

    Hipshot Type A comes in 18mm.
  7. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    Fender spacing 18.3 mm spacing is darn near perfect (although I've been leaning towards 17.5 and liking it) 19mm is too wide, so yes, I'm a string spacing nerd and I'm not about to change anytime soon.
    ShirazBop, MYLOWFREQ and bucephylus like this.
  8. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    17.5 for me. The 19's on a five are too much of a stretch since I have girly hands.
    mindwell, Doug Parent and smogg like this.
  9. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    Right. The bridge isn’t the issue. It’s the neck taper. You can put an 18 mm bridge on the 19 mm taper neck. But, that doesn’t address what I’m looking for. The 17.5 mm taper necks can’t quite take the 18 mm bridge; though I believe the HipShot A is adjustable; and that is the bridge going on the bass in construction right now.
  10. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Fortunately, there are enough choices available nowadays that most players can have what they want. As for me, I can switch from a Fender 4-string to a Musicman 5-string without thinking about it.
    7dollarbologna likes this.
  11. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    I like 16.5mm to 17.5mm on fives, but love my four string basses with wider spacing. I've owned 19mm fives, and they're just too unwieldy for me.
  12. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    A lot
  13. Sixgunn


    Jun 6, 2012
    Colorado Springs
    I don't wait 30 minutes after eating, to go swimming.
    I own and play a few different spacings and I don't have a preference. I fall in love again each time I switch.
  14. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    19 mm spacing on all my 5 er's.
  15. laneline

    laneline Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2006
    North Jersey
    5 string MM's and G&L's at 17.5 ( also their respective off shore counterparts ) Ibanez SR's are 16.5 Sire 5 strings are 18mm, depending on how much you want to spend I also highly recommend Maruszczyk, I have a Jake PM that is 17mm and is as comfortable as my MM's. So there are plenty of options available, good luck in your search.
    son_of_mogh likes this.
  16. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    I like skinny with a flat neck and wider with a more rounded one. I think my Jag is 18mm, but has a 9.5 radius. It’s pretty comfortable.
  17. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    I've played 5 and 6 string basses for so long that I find I prefer a tighter spacing. I just picked up a 5 string Warwick and G&L this year but while looking I played a broadneck Warwick and a fender USA jazz special 5 and didn't like either due to the spacing. The fender sounded great but it just wasn't comfortable for me.
  18. guitarflinger

    guitarflinger Not all who wander are lost Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2013
    Front Range, Colorado
    I prefer 17.5 spacing over 19mm. I have Pedulla MVP's with both, and I prefer the narrower neck. Easier to finger when I am in a hurry.
    son_of_mogh likes this.
  19. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Bootlegger guitars : S.I.T. Strings Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Florida USA
    17.5 is my preferred spacing (music man)
    But can and have gotten used to 19 mm (reverend)
    And 18 mm (status)

    It's more about the neck profile on a five than spacing for me
    smogg likes this.
  20. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Mike Lull GK Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups Darkglass
    18 MM is perfect
    That is what Lull's are.
    Arthur U. Poon likes this.