NBD: Does Sire live up to the hype? - Sire P7 5 String - A skeptic's perspective

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SleepyShark, Aug 22, 2020.

  1. Warning: Long post - summary at the bottom.


    Recently I decided to buy my first 5 string bass that I'd call my own. After years on a 4 string, I was ready to spice things up a bit. I won't drag on with the background, but I'll say that I'm primarily a Fender Jazz and Rickenbacker 4003 guy. I was looking for something different, and I even convinced myself that having a Precision pickup would be a huge addition to my stable - something I've had no interest in until recently. I don't hate P basses / pickups; they were just never my kind of sound, no matter how much I loved hearing them on recordings. It wasn't without compromise, though. If I was going to have a P pickup, I wanted to have a J pickup too.

    Why the P7?
    So I did what all of us do when we're narrowing down our search, and asked myself how much I'm willing to spend. I recently unloaded some gear on reverb and I decided that my budget was anything under $700. Luckily, the mid-range segment of the market is super competitive with some great options. Then, I compiled my "wish list":
    • 5 Strings
    • PJ configuration (or humbuckers if I have to settle)
    • If it's active, I want the option to go passive
    • Slim neck
    I spent some time researching and Sire just kept coming up. I had heard about them, but hadn't given them much attention. It just seemed like another new budget instrument brand, which is fine, but there's so many out there already. Looking at written and video reviews, value seemed to be at the core of every positive opinion. Some YouTubers disclosed that Sire had "sent over" their basses, which always sets off a red flag for me. I'm always glad when they disclose that they were sent an instrument, but it certainly means your impressions will be more positive than they otherwise might be. I was ready to shrug my shoulders and move on.

    Luckily, TalkBass has some very helpful people in the Sire club. After reading through an amount of the 600+ pages that I'm not proud to admit, I asked some questions and got some helpful answers. It really seemed like people loved these things. There were other great looking options from other brands, especially Yamaha, but I decided to take a chance. If there's any year to do it, it's 2020.

    The P7 looked like it had everything I wanted, but I really don't like Precision-style necks... wait a minute - it ships with a Jazz-style neck! Huzzah! Let's do it.

    I got lucky with shipping: it was set to arrive Friday (the end of the work week for me, so I'd have plenty of time to groove on it), and it arrived a couple hours after I got home. It was packaged well (box within a box), though I'm not a fan of packing peanuts. After taking the bass out of the protective sleeve I was really surprised with how good everything looked - the sunburst has a nice gradient to a red-ish brown, neck binding is always nice, and it's even go a string-thru body bridge. Then my eyes hit the inlays. Uh oh.

    Two of my block inlays looked like they had stained, faded, or were cut from a bad piece of material - they had this strange yellow/gold/brown color across three-fourths of the 5th and 7th inlays. "Not the end of the world, but will it bother me enough to want to send it back? I'll have to see." It was really distracting while playing, but I've since given the neck a wipe-down a day later and whatever was on the inlays came right off without too much trouble. Success!!!

    I'll also say that this thing had the most aggressive pickguard plastic I've ever seen. There's still some of it under the knobs around where the pots screw into the pickguard. I'll get to that at some point.

    Okay, okay, how does it play?
    This thing feels stellar and sounds fantastic. While in passive, I can roll over to the P-pickup and get that great Motown thing going, especially with a foam mute at the bridge - it just thumps! Blending to both pickups is a good compromise between round and sharp, and the Jazz pickup at the bridge is the same Jazz pickup I'm used to (what's up, Jaco?).

    B String
    The B string feels great, though admittedly I'm not that picky. It's a solid 34 inch scale B string - if you "ride or die" for that 35 inch scale, there isn't any magic that will pull you away from that. I'm really surprised more of the P-bass community hasn't embraced the 5 string thing. The extra low notes sound killer coming through the P pickup. I know you guys are out there, but 4 strings seem to dominate the P scene.

    The preamp that people go on about is actually pretty darn great too. At the moment I have it set for more bass and a slight mid cut. It rattles the stuff hung on nearby walls! I'm obsessed with how great the low C comes through, even more than the low B. Is that strange? Anyway, if you aren't aware, Sire ships the same preamp in all of their basses, from $369 to over $1,000. I haven't been using it full-time, but what a great option to have available.

    The "2nd Generation" Sires have a rolled-edge fretboard and neck, it it feels so flippin' good compared to a lot of basses in this price range. No sharp fret edges, and it's got the feeling in the hand that it's been played for a while. Super nice touch. Having a Jazz neck on this is perfect for me, sorry for those that love the P neck profile. Apparently they planned to offer a P neck as an option, but it hasn't happened yet.

    Not much to say, it's a bridge! It's got a string-thru body option, which I love. I'll admit it isn't necessary, but it's another thing that's rare at this price point. Some extra saddle grooves to adjust spacing would be nice, but this gets the job done.

    Knobs and Tuners
    Two central criticisms of Sire are their tuners and knobs. The knobs certainly feel just "okay". They get the job done, but I'll probably swap them out at some point. The rubber-like texture isn't really my thing. I like a more noticeable divot for the middle position on blend knobs, but that's something I can also address through tech work. The tuners are working just fine for me, but I can see why people might dislike them. They don't give you that firm turn you'd expect from a higher priced bass, but again, it's under $700. So far they're getting the job done fine.

    Final Thoughts (tl;dr)
    For $669 brand new for a 5 String, this is insane value (that's out the door, with shipping and all). You can probably do even better on the used market if you're patient, though I'd recommend making sure you're getting a 2nd generation model. Great passive PJ if you want it, and a great preamp available behind that for an extra punch. It was the only brand offering everything I wanted, and then some, so I'm glad to took the gamble.

    Does it stack up to my American Fenders? Well no, but it gets closer than it has any right to for it's price. I'd definitely recommend looking at the models Sire offers the next time you're looking for a bass.

    Last edited: Aug 22, 2020
  2. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Last 4 notes on a 5-string are how I evaluate a 5. Eb AND low C my fave. Congrats!
    Herald Becker, JoshS and SleepyShark like this.
  3. Bassaga


    Sep 4, 2015
    I've always felt this is an underappreciated aspect of a good bass for metal.
    DirkP, VoodooJazz, dune and 7 others like this.
  4. :roflmao::roflmao::roflmao:
  5. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I dipped into the Sire pool briefly with a V7. Best part of the bass is the preamp. I'm used to Lakland profile necks so the Sire neck felt chunky. I was not a fan of the tuners as 1 failed and was replaced with a Hipshot. Lastly the bass was heavy. That was the killer for me. Sires are a gamble.

    Thanks for your review though. Hope it works out for you.
  6. Ah, too bad it wasn't a fit. I've played a few Laklands at the bass shop in my city over the years. Those things are so great!
    Mr_O'B likes this.
  7. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I had the earlier Sire V3 bass and also the M2. I sold both a while back, not because I didn't like them, but I wanted the second generation with the rolled fretboards, just haven't gotten around to actually getting one yet. Not really into the style of the M2, but the V3 even though it was the cheapest model Sire had, it was still unbelievably good. It was lighter in weight than the V7 if I remember correctly. Now they have the V3 in orange and light blue with matching headstocks? I guess I know what I'm getting next. :)
  8. theguy316


    May 4, 2018
    Santa Cruz
    Hey buddy, I have a second generation P7 5 string fretless if you want any info. I only have one "complaint"; my mid sweep stack knob is a little sticky, but that might have been some slight damage that occurred during shipping.

    I actually had to evacuate my home because of CA's wildland fires; out of my seven basses, the P7 is the only one I took with me.
    mb94952 likes this.
  9. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I love the detail of your review, thanks for the information.
    zapped777, kwdhsk, Bent77 and 3 others like this.
  10. Thanks I’ll keep you in mind if I ever want to have another swing at the fretless thing.

    Really sorry to hear you’re evacuating - I hope everything works out for you and your community. I love visiting California and the news breaks my heart.

    As for the sticky stacked knobs, someone pointed out that the tinier top knob can be slightly lifted so that there’s no contact with the knob beneath it. It created a nice solution for mine, even if I’ll be swapping the knobs out soon.
    puff father, bholder, mb94952 and 2 others like this.
  11. Thanks, Professor Cheese! That means a lot.
    mb94952 and Dr. Cheese like this.
  12. theguy316


    May 4, 2018
    Santa Cruz
    Family, dog, paperwork and baby pictures are safe. Everything else can burn, thanks for the well wishes. :)
    Firefighters are laying it all on the line, this world isn't good enough for them.
    Haroldo, JoeWPgh, Ggaa and 6 others like this.
  13. A pleasure to read my friend. Extremely well written.
    mb94952, Dr. Cheese and SleepyShark like this.
  14. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! DHDIK? Sweet Treets. Supporting Member

    I just returned home after evacuation Wed. It's frightening.
    My prayers are with you and yours , and my deepest hope that all is well.
  15. DeepHz

    DeepHz Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2017
    Clifton Park NY
    I needed a fretless after selling a Tony Franklin and Roscoe fretless 5er. So I too took a chance on Sire. Very happy with my decision. Great price and great feel. Knobs are a tad cheesy........
    mb94952 and Dr. Cheese like this.
  16. nilorius

    nilorius Inactive

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    That is the best and most believable text review i have ever read. Thanks and good like with Your Sire !!! :thumbsup:
    mb94952 likes this.
  17. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    Thanks for a very detailed review, SS. Glad it seems to be working for you.

    I still have the creeping feeling that Sire is following a classic marketing model common in the Far East: Introductory-generation models were deliberately sold at barely break-even prices, and as time goes on, prices on following generations just start creeping steadily northward. Nice bass, but at $669 it's aligning itself with other choices and competition, and then I seem to see over and over about this or that feature when talking about Sire that 'it's good enough, but I'll change it later'. Hmmmm . . . . . . .
    wizard65, Bassaga and DWBass like this.
  18. pappabass

    pappabass Inactive

    May 19, 2006
    Alabama !! Roll Tide
    Beautiful bass, but SIRE is too close to SQUIER for me. I would be correcting people all the time.
    Smooth_bass88 likes this.
  19. Benjamin Earl

    Benjamin Earl Commercial User

    Dec 31, 2008
    Lake Hiawatha, NJ 07034
    Fretboard Visualization Author
    I had an M7 for awhile, but I sold it. The quality was nice. The many controls eventually turned me off. Sometimes I felt like I spent more time messing with the knobs than playing.
  20. Leonid Nidis

    Leonid Nidis

    Jan 1, 2018
    Im not a big fan of the basses but im a fan on how the company works.
    Every time the price went up they actually tried to explain why(materials,features).
    Even at current prices they are cheaper than the competition and give more value IMO,a p7 second gen was better and cheaper than a deluxe mex fender.
    mb94952 and RattleSnack like this.