Undeniably 80s five string basses.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by two fingers, Jan 28, 2022.

  1. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    This thread got me to thinking.
    Name that Carvin bass! Please? | TalkBass.com

    I'm an 80s kid. (Born in 71 but was a teen in the 80s.) I LOVE 80s stuff. I own a couple of basses that are very 80s aesthetically.

    But I play mainly 5 string basses.

    I would love to snag a "totally 80s" 5 string. There's an Aria Pro II RSB Deluxe 5 on Reverb. But I would like to see your favorite (or even if you think they are cheesy) 80s 5 string. Honestly, I'm more concerned with appearance than actual date of manufacture. So if we creep into the 90s, but look totally 80s, I'm all for it. (I've even been thinking about a pink or blue or green swirl Dingwal NG3 to satisfy both my 80s and multiscale itches.)

    Bonus points if the thing is for sale. I'm kind of in the market.

    Short version: 80s looking 5 strings. Post 'em!
  2. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    Loved the 80s! Especially my Tune basses. Still with me, still playing them out.

  3. You don't get much more 80s than an NS-based Spector... ;-)
    There's also the Yamaha TRB... Those have to be my favourites.
  4. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    The main 5’s I recall in the 80’s were Smith, Tobias, Pedulla, and Modulus. FWIW
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    And there's always Spector holoflash finishes. Screenshot_20220128-084648_DuckDuckGo.jpg
  6. pepj


    Mar 25, 2021
    yep, and there weren't that many because the B string was an issue, ime.
    Now, you can get cheap 5's like Sire that sound ok but early 90's it wasn't a given and buying blind was fraught.
    Fenders were very up and down back then on 5.
    That's why Tobias and Smith sold..because they dealt with that.

    I commissioned a Custom 5 in 91 because of that reason because the luthier guaranteed he would build a better bass than i could buy. He pretty much did.

    So, hopefully, the ones from the 80's that survived are decent.
  7. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    Yamaha BB5000.
    rojo412, MrWalker, andruca and 20 others like this.
  8. The string spacing on those were crazy-tight...
    tindrum likes this.
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yeah a lot of them were back then. It's because the way many of them dipped their toes into the 5 string world was to make a 5 string bass using their standard 4 string necks.
    rickwebb and Winton like this.
  10. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    Yamaha BX-5 was my '80s bass. Bought it new in 1987 at Westwood Music in L.A.
  11. wazzel


    Dec 27, 2007
    Cypress, TX
    In the late 80's - Heartfield DR. I still have mine.
  12. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    The Ibanez RGB305 is essentially a 5-string reissue of an ‘80s bass you seemed to like, @two fingers


    Looks right at home next to the Peaveys, eh?

    I don’t want to oversell it—while it’s at least a step up from a budget bass, it’s not fancy—but I’m thrilled with mine. It displaced the Jackson 30th Anniversary Ellefson signature that cost me almost three times as much (and which will apparently never sell :facepalm:). Added bonus: ‘80s look with modern (~18mm) string spacing :thumbsup: they only come in matte black but they’re probably paint-able.
  13. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    5 string basses in that era were mostly REALLY expensive - 3K and up and we're talking 80's dollars. I had what I'd consider a quintessentially 80's 5'er - a Carvin. It was just under a grand (again in 80's dollars) - I go it, because I couldn't see myself putting a Pedulla on a stand, siting at the bar, a turning away to have a drink - at that point, $3K was a LOT of money to me.

    One feature of the Carvin that's very 80's (and somewhat impractical) - it had 5 on a side tuners, and a nice point at the end of the (excessively long) headstock. I didn't play it that many times, but I was always poking things accidentally when I did.

    A 3 + 2 headstock is far more practical (there's even a bit of spare room in a case), but don't get one of those - a 5 on a side headstock is VERY 80's. At this point in my life, I play much larger stages, with space between people, so the point wouldn't be as deadly.
  14. jim nolte

    jim nolte

    Oct 26, 2006
    When did the first EBMM SR5 come out ?
    andruca and Low8 like this.
  15. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    Guild Pilot, preferably in pink played by a dork with a mullet.
    son_of_mogh, pmcd, jmlee and 8 others like this.
  16. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    Come to think of it, that Jackson is technically a reissue of a 1990 model, but it also fits the bill because of the 5-on-a-side hockey stick headstock. Plays like a dream, and sounds like Ellefson with those EMGs. I dig it, but I find myself reaching for the Ibanez instead. Again, I hope you like black. Mine’s even for sale :smug:


  17. TrevorR


    Oct 3, 2015
    Near London, UK
    I always think of the Wal 5 string bass as being a bit of an 80s touchstone...

    BassBuzzRS, andruca, Winton and 16 others like this.
  18. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    For something completely different but undeniably ‘80s, Steinbergers come in 5s.
  19. StephenR


    May 21, 2009
    SF Bay Area
    I got my first five-string in 1984, a used 1978 Alembic Series I, the neck is extremely narrow with tight string spacing. In 1988 I bought a new five-string Modulus Quantum bass, it is the only bass I own that was made in the 80s. Got a good price on it, $1,400. I didn't care for the Bartolini pickups so before closing the deal I had the shop call both Geoff Gould and Alembic to make sure I could get Alembic pickups and electronics for the bass. Geoff had already sent molds of the pickups he was using to Alembic since he was considering having them make pickups for him but never followed through. Originally I didn't want to drill holes in a new bass so I got a simple Alembic circuit with a volume control and low-pass filter. Finally in 2017 I had Alembic add a Q-switch for the filter and their asymmetrical bass and treble controls. This bass has seen more use than any of my other basses over the years but the narrow necks and tight string spacing on both this and the 78 Alembic are not to my taste.

    Subsequent five-string purchases I own have all had much wider necks that are more comfortable to play. As pointed out it took many years for manufacturers to realize that simply adding a fifth-string to a four-string neck was a poor approach. Despite the narrow necks on the early Modulus basses they were conceived and designed to be multi-string instruments, my neck-through Quantum bass has the punchiest and tightest B-string of any of my basses.

  20. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    Just google-images-ed “80s bass guitar” and the first fiver was a Jackson being held by Dave Ellefson and it was after a loooooot of scrolling that I came to the second: an Aria RSB D5.

    I think Sheldon would be pretty into doing a custom with this body silhouette:

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