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I'm not sure I could ever get into more than 4 strings..

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by glocke1, Nov 3, 2018.

  1. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002
    I've debated getting a 5 string for awhile now, but every time I go into a music store to try one I am always left feeling "meh".

    The B strings generally feel floppy and sound undefined/muddy to me is the largest issue I am running into. Granted most of what I've had access to in the stores are Fenders/Ibanez 5 string basses.

    There have been a couple of 5 string basses on Reverb that have caught my eye, specifically some G. Goulds. I can't try without buying but I am assuming these would be leaps and bounds better in terms of B string sound/feel over what I've tried.
    mikewalker likes this.
  2. RickyT


    May 29, 2015
    Dee Why
    Firstly most guitars hanging on the wall in a store are not set up well and have the wrong gauge strings on them. You'd be surprised at how nicer a 130 or 135 B string sounds. It gives it just that little bit more tension.

    Secondly it takes time to fully utilise the extra notes on a 5 string. Don't think of it as 5 "extra" notes, think of it as being able to play in different positions on the neck. Play a G on the 8th fret instead of the 3rd, play an E on the 5th fret instead of an open note.

    Third thing is the string spacing. Going from a 4 to 5 can feel like the strings are on top of each other. Especially on Ibanez SR basses, the string spacing is super tight. My first 5 was an SR505 and I hated how tight it was. I later got an ESP LTD B205 And the string spacing was around 17mm and so much nicer to play.

    If possible get an entry level 5 that has a comfortable string spacing for you, change the strings, get a set up and play it non stop for a few months.

    You'll love it (maybe not, but you gotta give it a shot).
  3. biguglyman


    Jul 27, 2017
    Rochester, NY
    Try looking for a fiver with a 35" scale too. That tends to tighten up the b-string sound. And believe me, once you grab that low D a few times, you'll be hooked!
  4. I'm with you... I‘ve had several basses with more than 4 strings over the years - a regular 5 string, a 5 string with 35“ scale length and even a 6er. I gave ‘em multiple chances but I kept going back to my 4 strings and selling off the 5ers and 6ers with a loss (money-wise).
    Sometimes I think to myself that my playing would really benefit from leaving my comfort zone and getting into 5 strings. But I have some great (for me) 4s that I really like and I‘m afraid that when I give em another go, it‘ll end just like it always ended.
  5. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002

    Yeah I get the whole lack of setup thing and try to account for that in my evaluations but still Haven’t found one that works.

    As for entry level instruments I’ve always been kind of “meh” on them. I suppose at some point I’ll just order something off reverb that’s a step above entry level and hope for the best.
    RickyT likes this.
  6. Stinkoman20xx


    Oct 19, 2003
    I feel the same as you. For me personally I had many 5 string basses from cheap to boutique with not much improvement after a good set up. The 35 inch scale recommendations, might help but for me personally made no real difference. The only only one I ever loved and made a difference was on a dingwall that had 37 inch scale b string.
  7. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I’m the opposite. I said the same thing “4 stringers for life” after trying fives that just left me flat. Until I tried a Lakland and A 35” scale that is. Their necks just fit my hand and never a floppy B just a workhorse bass. I love playing in several positions on the neck that I could not do with a four.
    I now have a hard time playing a four, they leave me sayin..meh.
  8. SpazzTheBassist


    Jun 20, 2006
    sounds to me like you are interested in taking the plunge but need a little more push into actively doing so......... I think almost every 5-string player (including myself) went through this initially.......heres the thing: theres no right or wrong - if ya just dont have enough "ooomph" to pursue it, thats perfectly fine
  9. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    May 3, 2009
    N.E Illinois
    Those who buy them generally have a musical concept of what they can do with it.

    Most don't go to a store having no need for it, pick up a five or six,and then expect to get inspired.

    You go in with certain needs and THEN you buy a five or six string.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
  10. bordinco90

    bordinco90 Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2011
    SW Louisiana
    I've given 5ers a fair shot. I just have not bonded with them. Not hating on 5 string basses, but they are not my thing. I have heard some nice b-strings in some bands that I have listened to.
  11. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i've never owned/gigged a five string but i sure do see/hear the advantages. i think about them, realize i need to practice what i have (4's), and then forget about them until these threads come up. :laugh:

    same with short scales: think, not think, forget. :D the gas going 'latent'. :laugh:
  12. EdwardofHuncote

    EdwardofHuncote I Still Dream of Jeannie Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    I wouldn't do it. You already tried it, and the first impression was "meh".

    If you want to experiment on the cheap (or at least cheaper) buy a set of whatever your favorite strings are for a 5-string and set up your bass for B-E-A-D play for a while. If it doesn't work for you, change it back.
  13. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    Heh. I'm on my third try with a five, and now I'm reconfiguring where to play what. What I like most so far is that there are places where, for example, instead of playing D-Bb-A-G-F and reaching for the F on the first fret on the E, I can just play the G and the F on the B string. Easy-peasy. I'm thinking about trying it on a few tunes tonight. Still got a long way to go--there are a few transitions where my fingers have not yet worn a path to the right places--but I'm hopeful, which I wasn't on my previous two tries.
  14. Roger Sadowsky says that a 35" scale gives you a nasal G string up the neck. He's right. It's all about compromise and payoff. You can set up a 34 with a tight B.

    I have a five, and I play it. Four's more fun, as I just love zipping up and down the neck and digging in, so unless I actually need the five I stick with the four.
    Quantized Harmonic likes this.
  15. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    My "Aha!" moment on a 5 string came when I stopped trying to play it like a 4 string. I am a lover of short scale basses and when I realized that playing on a 5 string around the 5th fret instead of down near the nut was far more comfortable, I then felt at home with the bass.

    5 strings are still a minority (2 out of 14) at my place but I do think that the next purchase will be either a 5 or 6.
    gebass6 likes this.
  16. I don't know...I love my 5 string but I had a conceptual idea going into it...I like using the B..up high on the neck...awesome to utilize and you get used to it fairly quick
    Quantized Harmonic and gebass6 like this.
  17. Hippwahh


    Jan 2, 2018
    Felt the same way about 5 strings. Finally ended up buying a 5 string Schecter and fell in love with both the sound and feel. Took a little while to get comfortable with it, but now I play it as much as my 4 strings. Play my 5 string almost exclusively at rehearsal. Once you find the right 5 string, you will learn to enjoy it. Give it a chance.
    cheechi likes this.
  18. Manticore


    Feb 27, 2016
    I feel the same about five-string basses...so I play a six.
    nnnnnn and gebass6 like this.
  19. I’ve owned everything from 4-7 string. Currently own 4 and 5 strings. Everyone’s different. I think I’ve played 4 and 5 strings so much that while I had fun playing the 6 and 7 strings they weren’t really my style. Could be the same situation for you if you’re that used to a 4. The 5 string I have is a dingwall and it’s the bass i gig the most. Which brings up another thing to consider. Most cheap 5 strings do have the issues you mentioned. My dingwall has a great sounding and very playable low b string but like most of the 5 strings I’ve bought over the years, it wasn’t cheap either. So additional money for a good one is a con to 5 string basses imo. On a lot of affordable 5 strings the low b was an afterthought and it sounds and plays like it was an afterthought. Another money factor to consider is the cost of strings. I just spent over a hundred dollars on strings for different basses this week so I was once again reminded of that. It’s not too hard to find the 4 string sets of strings I like for $20, one of the 4 string sets I bought this week was on sale for $15. The nickel rounds I use for my 5 string are considerably more expensive, normally $35 a set. . So if you change strings often it’s something to consider. Also where 5 strings really shine imo is when you’re playing a gig with really good pa support and you hit a low note that lights up the PA subs. If you’re mainly playing at home or small gigs you likely won’t feel that the same way. May sound like I’m trying to talk you out of it lol. Not really the case. I just think a lot of people try a cheap 5er and then decide from that point on that 5 strings suck. I think if you played a good one you’ll want it despite any of these cons.
  20. Afc70

    Afc70 Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2004
    Northeast Arkansas
    Having played 4’s for many years, I bought my first 5’er in 2014- it was a Modulus Quantum.. All I own now is 5’s, to me they have a thicker, beefier sound than my ol 4’s. I believe it’s due to the added mass of the 5’s.. And if you ever play a Modulus Q-5, or Roscoe 5 string, you will not find a floppy low B I assure you. Tight, thick, well defined & clear. The main advantage I find with a 5, is more available notes in any given position. Not everyone will want or even like a 5, & it’s cool we have so many choices of 4, 5, 6 & beyond today. 5’s just work best for me.
    PsyDocHill and wmmj like this.

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