What company made the first mass-produced "low B" 5 string bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bassheart365, Jan 2, 2016.

  1. Bassheart365


    Oct 19, 2014
    Northern California
    "A good bassist determines the direction of any band." - Ron Carter
    Searched on TB and still no definitive answer. Music Man? Yamaha? I know Fender produced a 5er in the 60s but it had a low E, not a low B.
  2. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I believe Alembic made one around '76 but I wouldn't consider that "mass produced". The Stingray 5 came out around '87. Maybe Fender came out with one before that but not sure.
  3. Bob Clayton

    Bob Clayton My P doesn’t have flats or tort Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Philly Suburbs
    According to Wikipedia...

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  4. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I think Wikipedia is right. Like a number of TBers, I was around then, and I do not remember a BEADG five before the BB5000.
  5. LanEvo

    LanEvo Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2008
    I would have said Ken Smith. Not sure if that counts as "mass produced" exactly.
  6. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    To me, mass produced means a Mom and Pop store in smaller markets could easily stock it.
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  7. Jeff Scott

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

    Apr 11, 2006
    I almost bought one in the Summer of 1987 but instead, I bought its headless cousin, the BX-5!
  8. TinIndian

    TinIndian Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2011
    Micco Florida
    I know Ibanez had the RB855 in either 85 or 86. I know that 5 strings in general were gaining favor in the late 80's.

    I had no idea about the Yamaha bass. Pretty cool.
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  9. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    According to ONLY my personal recollection, Yamaha.
    I have no proof, but Yamaha was the first manufacturer with a mass-produced five string that I was aware of.
  10. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    This topic came up a month ago. Alembic did it first at the request of bassist Jimmy Johnson, then Yamaha was well after.
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  11. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    yup, full context ...

    The earliest five string was created by Fender in 1965. The Fender Bass V used the E-A-D-G-C tuning, but was unpopular and discontinued in 1970. The common low B five string was created by Jimmy Johnson as a custom instrument in 1975. He bought an E-A-D-G-C 5-string Alembic bass, replaced the nut, and used a new, thick low B string from GHS to accommodate the instrument accordingly. Steinberger made a 5-string headless instrument called the L-2/5 in 1982, and later Yamaha offered the first production model as the BB5000 in 1984.
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  12. I thought it was Carl Thompson and it didn't turn out great.
  13. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    He made one for Anthony Jackson, and AJ said it was unplayable.
  14. I recall that it was basically a dud. (Without cheating and looking things up) I think it also had a lap steel pickup because regular bass pickups weren't wide enough.
  15. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    I wonder if you're conflating Carl Thompson's 5-string with the 18-string bass that Modulus Graphite built for Tom Petersson (and that later wound up in Allen Woody's hands)?
    Or wait, maybe I'm the one conflating those two? I definitely remember there were issues finding off-the-shelf pickups for that Modulus monstrosity, as well as finding strings (iirc they resorted to banjo strings for some of the highest pairs).
  16. I wasn't familiar with the Modulus. It wouldn't surprise me if Modulus was also using lap steel pickups for such a beast back in the day.

    I imagine the logistics of pickups and strings were a nightmare initially.

    Edit: I have seen a few old basses with a ton of strings use 2 bass pickups similar to a precision pickup to get all of the strings covered.
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  17. MarkoYYZ

    MarkoYYZ Commercial User

    Jan 31, 2012
    Hammersmith Music
    I had a first gen Ibanez RB855, which I believe was an 85 model. It must have followed the Yamaha pretty quickly... anyone know if the 84 BB models from Yamaha were made in the FujiGen factory where the Ibby was?

    It was super comfy to my recollection. Narrow compared to today's tastes, but I don't have big hands so it worked well for me, even though the B string is a thumbrest 90% of the time.
    TinIndian likes this.
  18. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Maybe I'm too close minded; but Alembic, Smith, and Modulus don't qualify for "mass produced" in my set of definitions.

    Yamaha sounds maybe right. When was the first SR5? That's the first I played that would qualify. Edit: OK I see the SR5 was introduced in 1987.
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  19. Jeff Scott

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

    Apr 11, 2006
    IIRC, wasn't Anthony talking about a 6 string bass Carl made for him?
  20. My Steinberger shipped in late summer of 1983. I ordered a 4-string and a 5-string was shipped...I was so excited to try this "wonder" bass, that I didn't notice it was a 5...my best mate told me, "that thing has 5 strings!", and it WAS strung as a low B. Phone calls ensued and Steinberger said, "our mistake...it's yours if you want it..." and a little jam session was held. I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep it but I was scheduled to attend MI in the fall and my only other bass was a custom fretless Gibson Ripper! Keep it I did and Tim Bogert was teaching and playing a Tobias 5...as far as I knew hardly anyone was playing them but Tim offered some great tips and comforting words. I played it for years in LA in a load of bands and realized it really didn't change much for ME, other than make me the "5-string dude". I eventually went back to 4 and haven't missed it, other than it was a very nice bass. But in it's day, it sure was cool when somebody noticed.."HEY! that dude is using a 5-STRING BASS!!!"
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