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Taking a step into the world of 5-strings

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BinxTheBassMan, Jan 15, 2003.

  1. I've been a self-taught bass player for nearly two years now, and I think it's about time I try to tackle a 5 string. I've had my Squier P-bass special for awhile and it's definitely been a great bass, but I want to play some songs written for a 5 string. Before I go ahead and sell it to buy a new one, I was wondering if you guys can give me some advice on what to buy for a 5. I'm looking in the $300 to $400 range for one with great sound, playability, and a b-string that isnt floppy. Lately I've been looking on ebay and had my eye on the Les Paul 5 strings. I don't know anything about them other than I really like the looks of the black one. Can anyone tell me about the Les Paul or any other bass worth buying?

  2. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    Hi! Im a self taught bass player as well (playing for 3 years). Let me answer some questions that will cover lots of things when it comes to 5 strings.

    Do you really need a 5? - Let me ask you that question first. Do you really need a 5? Yes, 5 string adds that lower B string and what not. You can ALWAYS tune your bass BEAD on a 4 string and play it like that. I personally would tune a bass BEAD and play it like that (some people can back me up on this one). IME, it was alot easier to find a good b string from BEAD tunings rather than BEADG tunings. i don't know why, thats just my experience. It is really up to you.

    If you do need a 5 string, finding a 5 string without a Floppy B string in a $300-400 Range - This is a hard one. You will definitely have to try those basses out to see how the B string is. I would definitely advise looking for a Used MTD Kingston 5 if thats your range. But be advised, MTD Kingston 5s have a 35" scale. I've heard nothing but praises on the Kingston when it comes to the B string for the value. Definitely try out some 5 strings in your range to see if you like the B strings. Some people like Fender Vs and some people HATE them but if you search around, there are Fender J Bass Vs used in that price range (400 ish). I would definitely advise you to look for a used MTD Kingston 5. Just make sure to get used to a 35" scale. (Some people have trouble on a 35" when they are used to 34", which is a standard scale length)

    Different Techniques in a 5 string compared to 4 - You should definitely learn a different technique when it comes to moving from a 4 to a 5 both Left hand and right hands. This might be a little bit of a pain but once you get it, you will be able to move to a 6 and so on without much of a problem. For example, on both hands, you will definitely need to get a different muting techniques compared to a 4 because of the additional string. I would definitely advise the "floating thumb" technique on the right hand. If you want to know what a floating thumb is.. Here is a Thread on that


    Good luck to you! Really think about it though, some people do not like 5 strings, some people do. Its all personal. I personally like 4 strings alot more than 5s. All the luck to you and keep us updated!

  3. Stephen S

    Stephen S Member

    Apr 10, 2002
    San Bernardino, CA
    I got a Squire 5 string for 200 bucks at Guitar Center and I love it.
  4. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    That sounded eerily like you've been talking to me, and actually paying attention, DM. :eek: Creepy...
  5. Wow, definitely a lot of good information in there. To answer your first question, I think a 5 would work out good for me. Recently I've taken a lot of interest in a band called Novasonic. For a lot of their songs they use the fifth string, and I really would need the range of a B string to a G string since the bassist will often go pretty high up. I have played a bass before tuned to BEAD and I really didn't care much for it, but like you said, it's different for every person. I do like being able to have the range of BEADG that way I will be able to play in almost any situation.

    Also you're very right on the differences in techniques, and one goal I have is to be able to expand on my techniques. I used to play with only a pick, but then I started using my fingers and working on that. Now I'd like to pick up some slap bass and try that also. I'm not too sure about a 35" scale. It's pros are that it makes that B string nice and tight, but the con would be wider spaced frets.

    I will be sure to look into the basses you mentioned and hopefully I can decide what works for me and make a good decision on my next bass. Thanks a lot.
  6. hujo


    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    I wouldn't worry about the 35" scale if I were you, for me it was barely noticable... And if you have a 5 string, you can play most things higher up the neck on a lower string..
  7. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    Agreed with Hujo.. Most people get stuck on the 34 -> 35" thing when they play in one position and on the lower frets since obviously, there are more spaces between frets.

    From what I heard though, just because you have a 35" scale doesn't neccessarly mean that you will have a tighter B string. same thing with "if you have the B string tuner where the usual A string tuner is, it will be tighter" theory. Its all basically in the construction of the bass and how the "neck" is. The "Tightness" of the B string can differ from a Bolton to lets say a Set neck or a Neck Through and different tonality from those as well.

    Good luck on the 5 string world. Im sure you will be able to handle it!

    I've played this Zon 5 for a year and I still can't play it flawlessly, my left hand cramps up pretty badly. I have TINY TINY hands. really sucks.. I hope I can somehow trade it for a Zon Legacy Standard 4 or a Sonus 4 of some sort

  8. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I switched to fiver almost three years ago. I realize it isn't for everyone, but I wish I switched twenty three years ago. I personally would recommend the MTD Kingston 5, but I encourage you to play as many as you can and decide for yourself.

    I always suggest that new five players learn new songs on their five rather than re-learn ones they've been playing for awhile. New ones were easier for me because there was no "muscle memory" to unlearn. But really, steady practice will help you adjust regardless.
  9. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    Since you are enjoying your present Squier, I'd heartily recommend the Squier Precision Special 5. I bought a new one at Sam Ash for $179.

    The neck is wonderful, thin and wide fits my four string friendly hands quite well. The string spacing is familiar. The body shape is tried and true P Bass. The electronics are tried and true J/J pups with vol,vol, tone. It has an amazingly stout bridge (cast) for a budget bass. The fit and finish is excellent. The tone is wonderful. It's the bass that I usually reach for first (ahead of my MIM Deluxe Active J5, MIM P, 6 string Soundgear and MIA Fenders). I can't say enough good things about it.

    I'm a tinkerer when it comes to instruments, but the only thing that I changed was the strings.

    Try it, you'll like it!!!
  10. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Also, take a look at the Brice 5 strings available at ww.rondomusic.com - that's what I'd buy if I were in your shoes. See the latest pages of the "Essex Megathread" (should it be renamed the "Essex/Brice Megathread???") for information on Brice guitars.
  11. Well guys, I've checked out some of your suggestions. The MTD Kingston 5 is one fine bass. More expensive than I'm looking for since I want one fairly soon and don't have much, but it does look pretty sweet. I like the style of it and from what I hear the sound is great too. I looked up some guitar reviews for the MTDK5 and it has gotten some really great scores, better than the Les Paul 5 string I'm looking at (Anybody ever play the Les Paul 5?). Also the Essex bass looked pretty nice too and is very low priced (could that be a bad thing making it lesser quality than other choices?). Any other suggestions for a good 5 string ($300-$400)?

    Thanks again ^_^
  12. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    if you want the quality for the $.. Just go for the MTD Kingston 5..

  13. Yeah, that's what I'm starting to think. Anything that's going to be good and worth it, is definitely going to cost money. The MTDK5 seems to be exactly what I'm looking for. Now I just need to figure out how to come up with the money for one. Thanks a lot for the help DM. Rock on.
  14. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    Anytime.. Everyone goes through it :) Why not start them off well? They will be that much ahead.

    On another note: Why not get a better bass now, which will last you longer than buying a cheaper bass, which you might not like as long etc.. Trust me, the Kingston will do you good for a LONG while :)

    Keep Rockin on! PM me or IM me on AIM If you ever need to talk about anythin.. im always open

  15. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Phil smaks his head.....

    Dean makes some really nice basses in your price range. I have an Edge 5 fretless that I absolutely love. I got it for about $420 at a local dealer a few years ago, and it's my most played bass (out of 6) in the last few years. (largely because it's fretless and I need the intonation practice). Here's a really cool picture of it:


    Not bad, huh? I think it's beautiful. Sounds and plays great, too. Check out Deans, they're really nice.
  16. Well I've made my final decision, which is to just wait a few months longer and save up for the MTDK5. With that said, can anyone go into more detail on the Kingston? I'm curious about the playability of it and how it sounds. The sound of a jazz bass is kinda meh to me, but I really like the punchy sound of a good p-bass. I'm also wondering about the action on it and if there is ever much of a problem with fret buzz and maybe how compatible it is with effects pedals. I can't wait untill I get my hands on one and try it out (I'm thinking a red one would look nice :)). Until then I can just bug everyone with questions :p jk
  17. safebuster


    Sep 5, 2000
    NY, NY
  18. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Playability is very nice on the Kingston, thanks to the assymetrical neck profile. It feels very comfortable in your hand.

    The tone is somewhere between a P bass and a Musicman. A lot punchier than the bridge pickup soloed on a Jazz, and punchier than the 'both pickups on full' tone as well.

    As far as fret buzz, these basses have above average fretwork for an under $1000 bass, you shouldn't have any problems with buzzing.

    Effects? It should work as well with effects as any other passive bass.
  19. I had a Gibson Les Paul Special 5 string. The sound was pretty good, same pickups as a Thunderbird with a Bartolini preamp. Though the neck was kinda chunky, it was narrow (which I like).

    Plusses: Good sound. Good looks. Reasonably tight B.

    Minuses: HEAVY. And with the Les Paul shape, very off balance. Had to get wide leather strap to prevent neck dive. Battery to preamp is tucked inside back cavity plate--screwed in, so forget quick battery changes. Oh did I mention it was HEAVY and off balance? :D

    Epiphone makes a bolt-on neck copy, but I would recommend the Gibson version...if you like HEAVY and OFF-BALANCE basses.

    P.S. Mine was the true solid-body version, I believe they also made some semi-hollow body versions.
  20. Thanks for the info on the Les Paul 5 string, I do agree they are very cool looking basses. Even though I'm going to get a Kingston, I wouldn't mind trying one out someday.

    Now for some final questions on the Kingston (I think ;) ). How good is it for playing slap? I haven't learned slap yet, but that is one thing I'm hoping to accomplish at some point. And also, should I keep the MTD brand strings on it or are there some better sounding ones? Currently I'm using Ernie Ball Super Slinkys on my p-bass special and I really like the sound of those. Nice, punchy, and sound like the low end of a piano. And with strings what gauge should I use for the B?