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String spacing preference with 5 string basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Green Lantern, Dec 24, 2012.

  1. Green Lantern

    Green Lantern

    Nov 3, 2011
    4 string bass guitars have standard 19mm string basses that Fender created a long time ago. Most company's seem to follow with that spacing. Wen I moved to a 5 string I bought a G&L which has more narrow string spacing. I loved it because if your into jazz and your playing solos, it is easier on your hands to reach the strings. I did find slap a little harder since the strings are a little closer together, but I got used to it and over the years is was a non issue.

    This year I purchaed a Fender 24 fret 5 string. The string spacing is at the 19mm which means you have to stretch your fingers more when playing a solo. Ugh. In seeing Victor Wooten or Stanley Clarke their 4 strings neck are very skinny and easier to play as they have more narrow string spacing. The Carvin Brian Bromberg bass also has more narrow string spacing. But in doing some investigation it seems most company's use the standard 19mm spacing. The logic is you want the spacing the same on a 4 string or 5 string model. It makes the switch from 4 string to 5 seem more natural since the spacing is the same. I get that and it makes sense. But soloing with that spacing is more difficult. Not sure if I want to keep my bass....thinking about getting the Bromberg bass instead. However I like the sound of my bass that came with Seymour Duncan jazz pickups and active electronics. Playing below the 12 fret is not much of an issue so I am thinking maybe just keep it. People like Anthony Willington actually like the 19mm spacing on this 5 string and his hands are smaller than mine.

    What are your thoughts on string spacing on 5 string bass guitars?
  2. philtoler


    Dec 3, 2009
    My whole bass playing life up till last year I was totally convinced that I needed to have 19mm spacing on both my 4 and 5 string. However I bought a couple of short scale basses recently, one with 16mm and one with 14mm spacing and I was genuinely surprised (and relieved!) at how quickly your fingers learn and adapt to the tighter spacing. Also not as hard as I thought it would be switching back to 19mm again.
  3. whatever the spacing on the sterling by musicman SUB 5. thats the neck profile and spacing I like
  4. I like 19mm, but that's just me.
  5. Just practice more! :) Our body is extremely capable for accustomizing.
  6. bgartist


    Feb 4, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    I prefer 19mm but its been my experience that most manufacturers use the narrower 17.5 or 18mm spacing. They may have 1 or 2 models that have 19mm. Many are offering the wider spacing as an option when making a custom order.

    By the way... the Carvin Brian Bromberg model is 19mm.
  7. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    19 mm is too wide for me, on 4 or 5 string basses. I prefer something like 17 mm.
  8. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I prefer 18mm spacing, but my two current main players are 19mm.
  9. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005

    You sure about that???


    - georgestrings
  10. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    19mm is the only way to go for me. Anything less and the neighboring string just gets in the way.
  11. devilman666


    Apr 23, 2011
    manchester nh
  12. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    My G&L L2500 has 17mm string spacing, which is perfect for me. The other bass I play is a Fender P bass. 19mm is fine of course, but I prefer the 17mm on a 5.
  13. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    FWIW, the spacing on EBMM's 5ers works well for me - same thing with Ibanez's sr Series 5ers...

    - georgestrings
  14. Just like everything else, string spacing is pretty subjective, IMO. I agree with Magnus that we could get used to anything, but I do prefer wider spacing. My main players are my Fender Jazz V and Precision V, perfect spacing for me. Narrow spacing is one reason I got rid of my USA Peavey Cirrus 6... 16.5mm I think? Chris Stambaugh built me a 6 with 18.5mm spacing and it's awesome. It's an airport runway and I love the space! :D

  15. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    I tried an Ibanez SR505 for while, great bass but I could not adjust to the 16.5 mm spacing. I recently got a used (2000) Fender MIM Standard V which comes with 17 mm spacing. The neck is wide enough to go 18 or perhaps 19 mm though so I have jammed four pennies between the bridge saddles to bump it up to 18 mm. The jury is still out, I like it better than 16.5 mm but I am not loving it yet. The thinner (I think) and asymmetric neck of the MIA Deluxe Active V seems much better when I play one in a local store and it can adjust at the bridge to at least 18 mm so if I get to the point where I can love the MIM I have I might try the MIA when I can afford it.

  16. sevdog

    sevdog Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2008
    Is there a thread somewhere on TB that lists string spacing on different manufacturer/models?

    If there isn't then someone should start one, searching for that info has proven pretty difficult for some basses and recently I've come to realize what I like and dont so I'm actually paying attention to it when shopping.
  17. Interesting. I didn't think the MIM's and MIA's would have different spacing... Maybe it's something to do with the way we have them setup? Both my MIA's (Jazz V and Pbass V) have 18mm spacing.

  18. willsellout

    willsellout Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2002
    Key West, FL
    I prefer 17mm spacing on everything. It's just easier.
  19. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    I've grown to prefer the Music Man 5 string spacing. Is it 17.5 mm? It's not much of a difference from the standard Fender spacing, when you look at it on a scale, but I sure can feel the difference.
  20. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    I've looked at a variety of Fender/Squier basses in stores and there is quite a variety. The MIMs I have seen are 17 mm, some Squiers are 17.5, the MIAs are 18 (sort of), and the Squier Deluxe Active is 19 mm. Now the MIAs I have seen have "threaded" bridge saddles and can be adjusted, perhaps between 17 and 19 mm though the ones I have tried have been set up at 18. Except for my 2000 MIM these observations are made on basses within the last year. It is possible that Fender production varies from these values in the past, or even now. Look at any thread where spacing is discussed and you will see a variation in reported results for the same brand and model bass, which makes it hard to come up with definitive numbers.