NBD - From the bassist I'm replacing, no less. Fender MB-5

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Neo1, Nov 21, 2022.

  1. Not a true beauty in my eye, but the price was right, as well as the need (maybe).

    I just joined a country band (not my style of music, but they get gigs, and that's what I'm jonesing for). The leader mentioned a few times I should get a 5-string (not mandatory, but "suggested"). I had one that I sold several years ago (neck was waaay too wide for me to tolerate, so I never really played it), and said I'd be sticking with my 4-strings.

    A few days ago band leader showed me two pictures on his phone, and said their previous bass player would sell either 5-string to me for $200 (one was a black Squier Pbass with white pickguard, which looked great; the other was a reddish/purple 90's Ibanez-looking thing that is NOT my style, nor would I think would fit with a country band).

    I agreed to meet with him halfway the distance (he left the band because it was too far to travel for him), and tried both (no amp - I trusted him and I wasn't looking for something to record with, just to see if I could warm to a 5-string). The Squier was great looking (and he said tonally was incredible), but it was heavy and had that extra-wide neck that would not be enjoyable to play.

    Then I picked up the red/purple bass - wow, it was light. And the neck width felt fine. I thought about it for just a little while (it was about 32 degrees out), and made what I think was the wise choice - the one I would actually play. So I ended up with a Fender MB-5 (which I'd never heard of). Fender made them in 1994 and 1995 in Japan (there was a later reissue model from Indonesia).

    It's actually got more purple in the color than the pictures show below, and you'll see damage by the output jack (but I don't really care - I bought it to work out if I'm going to end up playing 5-string, and it doesn't seem like it will spread nor has no impact on my playing). The previous owner also either used a pick or dug in below the E string, as you can see it's a bit marred there. The back has some belt rash, but nothing too bad.

    I think it's great the previous bass player wanted to help me out (maybe that's all they're worth, but I feel like he was doing it to help out the band). I'm not sure if my band will approve of the look of this one, though (they've even said cowboy hats are required), but for $200 I'm satisfied. It plays fine (I have to stop anchoring my thumb, though, as it throws me off). Now, to order some flat wounds (which also don't seem appropriate for this bass, but I like 'em)...



    Last edited: Nov 21, 2022
  2. shirojiro


    Jan 24, 2001
    San Francisco
    Wow! I'd say you got a great deal on a MIJ Fender. It looks a little like a passive version of a Heartfield DR5.

    How does it sound?
    tindrum and BrentSimons like this.
  3. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    I use my B string as my thumb anchor most of the time; I'll shift over to use the E string as anchor when playing the higher strings, but I still keep the side of my thumb against the B to keep it muted. The only time I'm not muting the B is if I'm playing on it. Muting unused strings comes pretty naturally on a 4, but you have to be more conscious of it with a 5/6 and it is really important to making a 5/6 sound good.

    Also be conscious of thumping your fingers against the B string when you're plucking your E. That big string makes a much bigger and deeper "thump" sound which will make notes on your E string sound less defined, and can even cause problems with clipping in your signal chain.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2022
    David McIntire, tindrum and Neo1 like this.
  4. I'd say it's got a "growly" sound (that could be the round wound strings, which I'm not used to). The strings/frets all seem balanced, even the low B.

    I'm enclosing a picture of the nut, which is the most angled I have ever seen (though I don't have a 5-string to compare it to). Maybe that's why it is so balanced (looking from the bridge up the neck to it, it almost appears the neck is tilted, due to how high the nut is on the B string side).

    Also - even though it's a standard (long) scale and a 5-string, it's only 8 pounds exactly (on my electronic bathroom scale).

    Last edited: Nov 21, 2022
  5. sloppy_phil


    Aug 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Not actually named Phil
    Looks like a cool score, enjoy! Always annoys me a little bit when a band gets uppity about the aesthetic of a bass and whether it's "appropriate"; found that eventually you can with them over with the playing and tone, so try not to let them make you too self-conscious. The bass definitely isn't my look, either, but it seems like a neat little rarity.

    FWIW, the bridge saddles need a bit of attention; they should each be level from side-to-side, so as not to rest all the tension on just a single grub screw.
  6. Thanks - I hadn't even noticed that (I'd like to think I would have eventually, but I can certainly be oblivious at times). And, I learned a new term (grub screw), so thanks for that, too.
  7. Bassngtr


    Jul 21, 2007
    Methuen, MA
    I suggest you do what I did when my new band wanted me to play a 5 string. Use it exclusively with the new band on their songs so that it's 2nd nature. Your new band leader is correct...lots of low D and Eb in country.

    Have fun ! I still love my 4s but play 5s almost 100% these days.
    Ricky Rioli likes this.
  8. A Fender for 200 bux?
    What is there to question?
    JRA, Pdaddy1978, One Way and 2 others like this.
  9. Erik herman

    Erik herman Gold Supporting Member

    Sweet bass, those knobs are worth a pretty penny too!
    tindrum likes this.
  10. Looks like the neck blank is extra thick. Looks pretty close to a full inch thick.
  11. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    You can get a baggy of those bridge screws for cheap. Cool bass. It’s fine looking. Wouldn’t sweat it. Have fun and good luck with the new gig.
  12. Mikich


    Oct 12, 2020
    You got a great deal. I would get a good set of strings and take it to a technician for a thorough once over and set up. I have an MB5 and really like it. Reliable and easy to play. In spite of having considered swapping the pickups and bridge it remains stock. If the color is an issue, it was cheap enough to justify changing it. I would strip it and take the body to an auto body shop for a good paint job. (Pearl white? Gloss black? Dunno why I favor those colors) Then take it to the tech for reassembling and setup. Or do nothing and enjoy your good fortune. Like mine, it will pay for itself.
    yodedude2 likes this.
  13. covermego

    covermego Still here....... Supporting Member

    Sep 5, 2010
    Redding, CA
    Now That is a rare bird. Super hard to find an actual MIJ MB-5. Meanwhile, Guitar Center has quite a few of the used Squier MB-5's for sale. Most of them are in the $300 range and the quality is nothing compared to the real thing. You got a screaming deal.
  14. Bargain.

    Feel free to add a country decal/sticker to personalise it.
    JRA and Neo1 like this.
  15. LAST_C

    LAST_C Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2013
    I’m 46 and have had that same bass since I was 19 or 20. I’ve added personal touches. It’s lightweight, the neck feels great and sounds pretty good. Nice score!
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  16. JDLowEnd

    JDLowEnd Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2010
    Norwich, CT
    One of tightest string spacings around! I played a black one for years back in the early 2000’s. My buddy recent gave me a squier mb-4 for free and it’s stupid light and I like the reverse p pickup.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  17. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    Based on the bridge screws, it looks like it needs a neck shim.
    A proper shim will get the action exactly where you want it with the screws right in the middle of their travel, so you can adjust them for quick and/or seasonal changes.
    Looks like a great bass though.
  18. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    san antonio, texas
    i quite like mine. big difference in quality with the m.i.j. model as compared to the reissue. yes, string spacing is tight! i put fender lace sensors in mine and really dig the vibe it offers.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  19. Sid the Kid

    Sid the Kid

    Jun 7, 2013
    The angled nut can be easily repaired during restringing with your favorite flats. Looks like the B string was too large for the nut slot and it pulled the nut along as it went up to pitch. You wont necessarily have to enlarge the slot, but be mindful when restringing to start with the outside strings and your problem should be solved.

    Killer bass and a great deal. You might not think it fits the country motif, but it screams 80’s country to me.
    Neo1 likes this.
  20. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010