sound of E string on a 5string bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by SummerSoft, Jul 4, 2005.

  1. SummerSoft


    Jun 17, 2005

    I noticed that on evry 5string bass I've played an E string sounds differently from an E string on a 4string bass (I guess that's because a B string is thicker and has stronger effect on the neck than an E string). :eyebrow:

    So, I would like to know if there is some luthier's trick to make an E string on a 5string bass sound as close to an E string on a 4string bass as possible?
    Is making a stiffer neck the clue? Is it the only clue?

    Thanks in advance
  2. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I'm going to resurrect this question because I too have noticed this phenomenon with 5 strings. The E string is kind of thunky. Not as clear as a 4 string. I currently have a Musicman Classic 4 and 5 string and it is quite apparent. I've also noticed it on a G&L USA 5 string and a Squier Jazz V. I haven't tried every 5 sting bass out there but if it's noticeable on a Musicman then I'm relatively sure it's not the quality of the instrument that creates this.
  3. In my experience the E string actually sounds better on a 5-string.
  4. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    The more strings the more stress on the neck. More stress on the neck makes the bass sound more live. I noticed this a lot with the 10 string bass that I used to own.

  5. +1
  6. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 EBMM Nut

    Jul 5, 2010
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Sounds fine to me.
  7. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    In what way?
  8. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I can't say I've ever noticed a difference.
  9. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I understand that this issue doesn't exist on some basses or doesn't bother some players if it does exist. I'm looking for possible solutions from those who do notice it.
  10. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Have you tried subbing different guage E strings in with your set? If you buy some singles of the same type, you could experiment and see if a particular guage sits better with the others. If you find one that works well, you could look for a stock set that uses the same guages.
  11. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
  12. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I did try an A string in place of the E and it still wasn't great. I will try taking the B string off to see how that affects things.
  13. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Regarding trying the 5er without the B string mounted, I wouldn't expect presence or absence of the B to make any partcular difference in the sound of the E.

    The fact is that a 5er has a wider, and therefore both more massive and stiffer neck beam. This can be expected to vibrate differently, and lend a different tonality.

    I find that in general 4s are punchier and woodier, by which I mean that they have a quicker decay characteristic and more midrange emphasis.
  14. I think the nature of any relationship of strings means, like others have said, one will effect the others in ways you don't expect. I remember a big name player commenting on this some years back in BP mag and at the time I couldn't figure it out, but I do now. I'd try different strings like Lo-E said, but at the end of the day, no two instruments are alike anyhow, so a lot of it is your ear and expectations. I took me a few months to get used to my Stingray5 after a number of years playing a P mostly. In the end, I just got used to it being what it is. Although I have to say, the B string is more what I find less pleasing, not the E.
  15. Meatrus


    Apr 5, 2009
    Could it not be the player rather than the bass? You may be sub consciously plucking the string in a different way on a fiver to avoid hitting the low B at the same time. On a four string you may feel a bit more free, which could result in a different sound for you personally. Just an idea.
  16. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    Are we comparing 34'' to 34''?
    Or to 35? Or all 5 stringers?
  17. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I'm comparing 34" 5 stringers.
  18. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    What I have figured out is that using a lighter right hand attack diminishes the effect that I am referring to.
  19. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Took the B string off and the E does indeed vibrate more freely and with greater clarity. I'll adjust my technique and make peace with the E.
  20. J Lund

    J Lund

    Aug 6, 2008
    Omaha, NE
    Could the difference possibly be in the pickup pole pieces? On a five string, I wonder if the pole pieces under the B and A strings affect the E, whereas on a 4-string, only the E and A pole pieces have a magnetic pull. The magnetic fields might not be large enough for this to make a difference, but I'm just that idea out there.