Super-narrow 5-strings?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by craigb, Feb 5, 2002.

  1. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    Hey Y'all,

    I am once again being lured by the siren song of the five string. I've got limitations in what feels comfortable to me on neck dimensions and have found that 1-5/8" wide nuts work very well and I can make do with narrower but go wider and I start to get some hand/wrist problems (although I have not yet tried a 1-11/16" nut width bass - 1-3/4" is right out).

    So does anyone have recommendations on very narrow nut width (with slim profile) fives to try out? I've been investigating the usual suspects and found:

    Ibanez - 45mm
    G&L (my fave 4-strings) - 1-3/4"
    Fender J - 1-3/4"
    Fernandes - 1-11/16"
    Dean - 1-11/16"
    Epiphone EB-3 5 - 1.65

    My personal pref of 1-5/8" (41.3 mm) hasn't been located yet. I want to find a relatively inexpensive stock bass with this dimension, if possible, to check out for a while first. If I like it and can get comfortable playing it then I'll look into either getting a G&L shaved down to my prefs or putting together a parts-custom that meets my requirements.

    So does anyone else have suggestions on narrow nut fives? I've been looking but haven't found the actual measurements on the OLP yet - is the five that narrow? Any others? I can't find nut widths on the SSD basses, Schecter or ESP sites. Any used suggestions? Are any of the old Yamahas that narrow?

    Thanks guys
  2. Graigb, are you sure about those dimensions? My 4 string Ibanez has a nut width of 41mm, and my Casady's nut is 1.625" from the specs at the Epiphone site. I haven't measured it yet, but, my 5 string Yamaha's nut looks almost the same exact width as my Stingray 4. 5 strings crammed into the space of 4? I don't know of any manufacturer that makes a neck/nut with those specs, but, I'm sure someone here will come up with one.

    On a different, but, related note; I was always a fan of Jazz bass width necks, but, for a reason unknown to me, all of a sudden (the last two years) I like wide necks now. Just a suggestion, try to get a hold of a bass with a wide neck and play it for as long a session as you can. I guess from playing BTBs and Musicman basses (in stores) my taste has changed. Now, my 5 string Yamaha's strings feel cramped to me, and a Stingray feels normal. John Patitucci doesn't have big hands, and he plays a six. Try it, you just might like it.

    Good luck.
    Mike J.
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    I haven't seen any nice five-string basses with ultra-thin necks. Obviously, they are going to have to be bigger than a four string neck to support the additional tension. I would be suspect of anything too thin, as I would be afraid the truss would give out over time.

    I played a G&L L2500 for quite a while. The neck wasn't particularly wide, but it was very thick. Certainly nothing I would call comfortable.

    I second the recommendation to take another look at the more conventional spacing for five strings.

    When I switched to five, it took a while to adjust my technique to accommodate the neck, but once I got used to it, I was a better player for it.

    And while a very tight-spaced five might sound sexy for your left hand, it is going to drive your right hand crazy.

    Don't get too caught up in nut width. The profile of the neck can make a huge difference in comfort. My Q5 isn't particularly wide or narrow, but the profile is very comfortable.

    I'd suggest playing as many as you can until you find a keeper.

  4. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    If you're looking for a very tight spaced 5 string, an old Steinberger XM-25 has probably the tightest spacing in a bass I've ever seen. I thought it was a pretty solid bass and they can be had for 600 - 700 on ebay.

    Best Wishes,
  5. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    Yamaha's have a real nice five neck IMHO. I think they are middle of the road in width and not to thick. I am pretty sure my TRB II Five measures 1 and 11/16 inches at the nut, but the strings spread out at the bridge to give you plenty of room to slap and pop. Give one a try.:D
  6. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    Thanks everyone, I went out at lunch today and checked out a couple of fives at my favorite local shop. They were an import Hamer and a Washburn. Both of these were 1-11/16 (I broke out a ruler and checked 'em). Even this is a bit wide for me.

    I played a G&L L2000 with their regular neck (1-3/4" at the nut) for over a year and eventually it started to bother my left hand & wrist when I played for very long. I tried out some other basses and found that basses that were 1-5/8" (MTD Beast, Fender American Ps, Stingrays) were OK. I eventually broke down and tried an ever narrower neck (G&L #6, 1-1/2" at the nut) that had been too narrow for me before that works fine now.

    After checking out the two fives I did today I may need to reconsider a narrow 5. Even with a narrow neck the strings are spaced out more and I'll end up reaching farther (since the B string will be closer to the edge of the fretboard).

    I've gone the opposite way - I originally liked wider boards (the wider G&L neck) but have grown to like (and only be able to deal with) narrower necks. I may have to go with a BEAD four string to get a lower range rather than doing a five. I've got a hipshot coming for my four so I'll see how that does for me as well.

    Thanks for the input - I'll see if I can find some specs on the Yamahas.
  7. Si-bob


    Jun 30, 2001
    Amersham, UK
    Focusrite / Novation
    i hear that the new Brian Moore i5 has a narrow string width. the nut width is 1 & 3/4" spacing, hope this helps

  8. jasonbraatz

    jasonbraatz Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2000
    Walnut Creek, CA
    warwick's normal spacing 5-string neck is about as narrow as they come, but they're pretty big in the backend.

  9. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I don't have the specs, but Smith's Burners/BSRs are some of the narrowest fives I've ever tried.
  10. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia In Memoriam

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    Craig- i maybe nuts here- but what about replacing the bridge with a Hipshot style A bridge that allows you to move the saddles, thus adjusting string spacing to your liking?- you like the beasts - you know i still have the last new 5 for sale! ;)
    i ordered my MTD 635 wuiththis bridge , just so i could have a lower profile and that option to adjust spacing if i ever need to
  11. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    Hey Adrian,

    It's a fretting/left-hand stretch issue for me. If the nut/neck is too wide then my left hand & wrist start to act up after playing for a while. I'm starting to think that I should forget about the five and get a hold of an extra four and string it up BEAD. That would let me have fun with the extra low tones but keep my hand & wrist happy.

    I sometimes wonder if I should have kept the blue beast I sold to Ebozzz and gotten the preamp for it. But then I play my L2000 and am a happy guy.
  12. bertbassplayer

    bertbassplayer Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    Carlsbad, NM
    From the Ibanez Site I got the following measurements for their basses..... BTB has a 47mm, Ergodynes 38mm (really small, I had to do a double take to make sure I wasn't looking at their 4 stringers), SR Series 45mm, GSR5 41mm.
  13. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    Have you considered a Hipshot tuning key with the drop tuning lever?
  14. Whitey


    Jan 8, 2002
    Beckley, WV
    I too have problems with wide necks and for that reason have not considered a 5 string. My hands are somewhat small, I think. Others say their not, but I feel they are. One way around this is if you can't come up with anything fitting the dimensions your looking for on width is to go the direction of thinness. It may be wider, but if the board is thinner I have found I can play it comfortably. In fact, one I played on for a while had a wide neck, but thin, and I adjusted to it to the point I almost had trouble getting used to my Fender 4 string P Bass again. So if all else fails, start looking at thin necks and see if it works out.
    Also, I don't see a problem just stringing up a 4 as BEAD. I think that is an awesome and even though used by some , very unique approach. I would love to make a name for myself as the one who played a 5 on a 4 string soundwise. (strung up BEAD) I don't really think that it would limit anything, especially if your after the lower tones anyway. The point is you can always make it work somehow and be happy if you can be as versatile as the bass itself. Make it Versitale!!!
    Good Luck,
  15. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Craig, you really should try to find an older Yamaha BB5000. I just bought one from Pathdoc2 over at the Dudepit, and it's the narrowest-spaced 5 I've ever played. Almost to the point that I can't play it. It's also a great bass for the money (if you can find one).

    I haven't measured, but it almost feels like a P-bass width neck. I'm at work now, but will be happy to measure it for you when I get home.
  16. The Ibanez Ergodyne does not have a 38 mm wide neck. It is 45 mm at the nut, like the soundgears. The 38 mmm is how wide the 4-strings are. I think Ibanez made a mistake when they made that pat of their site. That said, I wouldn't ever buy either one (i hate tight string spacing).
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