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What to consider when shopping for a 5 String?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Metalbasspro, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. Metalbasspro


    Feb 9, 2009
    I have decided I need one. I am playing in a band that tunes to B and I don't like the feel of it with a tuned down 4 string.

    My Drummer who also plays bass says to watch out for improper scale length.

    What is too short and just right? Any other pitfalls to avoid?
  2. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    I would say string spacing and a tight B. 24 frets are overrated unless you do a lot of work high up the neck 21 frets should be enough. If you do a lot of slapping or you have big hands you may prefer wider spacing if you have smaller hands or will be doing mostly finger work the narrower spacing may be better for you. I suggest that you try out as many basses as you can.
  3. lmfreeman9


    Sep 1, 2007
    Some believe that a tight B can only be achieved with a 35" scale.

    I would start with something inexpensive and used. Neck width is essential, many 5 ers feel to big for 4 string players.
  4. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    A low B string is a very personal thing. You can read up on who likes what, but in the end you're going to need to play them to see if you like the feel of the B string.

    I play 34" and 35" 5ers and both feel great to me. But not all are created equal...
  5. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    All my 5'ers are 34" scale. 2 of them sound & feel good with medium round wounds.
    The third one is OK. String thru body is a good feature to help the low B.
    Most agree that 35" scale is best for a low B but
    you can find a decent low B on 34" scales and not fork out a lot of dough.
    The ultimate concensis is Dingwal but you'll have
    to pay for it & get use to fanned frets.
  6. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    Personnally, the best B-strings I've had were all on 34" scales and without string-through-body, so I don't think there's a magic formula. It's case by case.

    You have to try several instruments and pick the one you prefer, without regards to specific features.

    Of course, YMMV, IMHO and many other acronyms apply here.
  7. spector_boogie

    spector_boogie No Limit Honky

    Apr 15, 2012
    The Woodlands, TX
    Too many options for a proper 5'er to garner all the info you need just online. Go out and try as many as you can and go from there.
    Neck profile, string spacing, bolt on/neck through, scale length, etc..
    Having owned/played dozens and dozens of the best of the best 5'ers, there's no "right" answer. I like a lot of different ones for their own reasons.
  8. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    Only you can say what is too short! The pitfall to avoid is to avoid a bass that's not right for you, personally. There are good 5ers with 34", 35", and other, less common string lengths. There are good 5ers with 16.5mm, 17mm, 18mm, and 19mm string spacings. Some people say that 34" or shorter scale 5ers don't have good B-strings, but that's nonsense - it the B is floppy, whatever the scale, it can be replaced with a thinner gauge string.

    My first 5er was a Schecter Stiletto Elite. 35" scale. 16.5mm width. Very nice bass for the money, bui I found that, for me, the narrow spacing relative to standard 4-string spacing (19mm) was convenient for my fretting hand but surprisingly obnoxious for my plucking hand. My second has a 34" neck with 18mm spacing, and that ends up being far more comfortable for me. But it's a personal thing.
  9. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Yeah, these are the two biggies for me, too. I'll add neck profile as well.

    Personally, I lean toward wider string spacing (at the bridge and at the nut), which seems to be opposite the norm, and because that leads to some very wide necks, I pay a lot of attention to the neck's profile as well. For me, wide and flat are where it's at, but everybody's different... you should try as many as you can and see what the ones you like have in common.

    Scale length doesn't concern me very much as there are good and bad examples of both 34" and 35" scale basses out there. Likewise with string-through.
  10. Metalbasspro


    Feb 9, 2009
    Anyone own the Jackson JS3v 5 string? It's affordable and I like the 4 stringers. String spacing being closer together would be welcome with some of the songs I am playing. I also have a guitar and can play it ok and that is a world of difference in string distance.
  11. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    Jackson Dave Ellefson Cbx V
    same electronic but with alder body instead of cedro and passive EMGhz pickups instead of Jackson's

    Small yet sensitive upgrades, believe me:)

  12. Metalbasspro


    Feb 9, 2009
    What difference does the two differing types of wood make?
  13. You shop for a 5'er just like you shop for 4 banger. Strap it on and get a feel for how she sits on you. Get a feel for the neck (string spacing, the width of the neck, etc.), is she too heavy (or light) for you? How does your picking hand rest? If you play without a pick, is their a comfortable thumb rest available (whether you rest it on the base of the neck, pickup or an actual thumb rest)? Is the curvature of the body - where your forearm goes over - comfortable (if you are like me and play with a floating thumb technique)? TRY BEFORE YOU BUY - ALWAYS! Good Hunting!

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