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Why are 5-string P-basses so rare?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Monterey Bay-ss, Apr 11, 2019.


  1. Monterey Bay-ss

    Monterey Bay-ss Supporting Member

    I can’t be the only person who would like a 5-string P-bass, but it seems like those who make them aren’t making many, those who have them aren’t parting with them, and new ones don’t come cheap.

    (For my purposes, “P-bass” means split pickup in the “sweet spot” on an instrument with a non-skinny neck; I’m not anti-Fender, but I’m not wed to a name on a headstock, either.)

    We have 5-string J’s for days, and no shortage of 4-string P’s, but why so few 5-string P’s?*

    *an apostrophe does not ordinarily make a plural, but it does in this case. There: I feel better.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2019
  2. Sid the Kid

    Sid the Kid Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2013
    Illinois
    Traditional TB logic is that a 5 string P bass doesn’t sound as good as a 4 string because of the difference in the pickup windings.
     
  3. Monterey Bay-ss

    Monterey Bay-ss Supporting Member

    I didn’t find much on the subject here. Could you please point me toward the threads I’m not finding? And could you elaborate on the winding issue?
     
  4. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    Here's a genuine Fender: American Professional Precision Bass® V | Electric Basses

    Here's a review: https://www.bassplayer.com/gear/review-fender-american-professional-precision-bass-v
     
    Leo Smith and Sam Dingle like this.
  5. Philonius

    Philonius Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2009
    2k W of the Duwamsh
    Odd then that the Bill Lawrence P45 which is built to accommodate either 4 or 5 stringers are generally acclaimed here. I happen to have one (or that a set?), and love it. I am hardly an expert but still....
     
    Stumbo likes this.
  6. A split--coil pickup is designed to have equal halves to buck the hum.
    A 3 + 2 pickup is more difficult to balance.
     
  7. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Maybe, but there is no scarcity for quality 5-string P pickups that perform superbly.
     
    Uncle Jibber, gebass6, Joedog and 2 others like this.
  8. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    The P pickup position is not ideal for B-string clarity. Having a bridge pickup to blend remedies this some.

    I have a Fender AS Precision Bass. It performs well, and delivers that P tone. But it is not my best performer on the B-string.
     
  9. Monterey Bay-ss

    Monterey Bay-ss Supporting Member

    Oh, I know they’re *out there*, but I don’t see even a fraction of what we see of 5s with jazz, MM, HB or similar pickups, particularly in the used market. I know Bartolini (for one) makes split coils in soapbar housings, so it’s possible to get there aftermarket without rerouting, but it seems like few models and few *of* those models have a stock split coil, and I’m just wondering why that is.

    … well, not just wondering: I would like a 5 that sounds a lot like my 4, haha.
     
  10. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    I suspect @Killed_by_Death nailed it in post 6. Although you can make a humbucking 3+2 pickup, perhaps it's actually a different design that sounds a bit different. Sort of like comparing a stacked J pickup to a single coil.
     
  11. Monterey Bay-ss

    Monterey Bay-ss Supporting Member

    That makes sense. It seems like there’s a place for a P/J setup with 5s, then, but I don’t see many of those, either (some, yes, but again, not many).
     
  12. chris_b

    chris_b

    Jun 2, 2007
    I have played a Mike Lull PJ5 for the last 5 years. It's a beautifully made instrument, great sound on every note and all the "issues" being put up here are totally absent from this bass.


    ps Not that it matters much, but I've just worked it out to 8 years. Doesn't time fly!!
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019 at 5:44 AM
  13. Sid the Kid

    Sid the Kid Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2013
    Illinois
    Both halves are equal. He designed that pickup with 5 pole pieces on each half to have a wider magnetic field to operate well in 5 and 6 string applications.

    Problem is that they won’t directly replace the 3+2 route that most common P fives have.

    Carvin/Kiesel’s split coil pickup is the same idea. They use the same pickup in their 4, 5, and 6.
     
  14. Sid the Kid

    Sid the Kid Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2013
    Illinois
    Who knows what coil configuration could be lurking under a soap bar cover. I bet PJ fives are more common than you think, but without the Fender look.
     
  15. That's all I have played for years and, having tried most other setup, have no intention of changing. Though I usually run full P, dialing in "a little J" makes these the most versatile setup I've ever had. No ground I need to cover that I can't.
     
    Monterey Bay-ss likes this.
  16. InhumanResource

    InhumanResource

    Dec 28, 2012
    I believe Bart mk1s that came on a whole lot of 5 string basses are split coil.
     
    Monterey Bay-ss likes this.
  17. Rabidhamster

    Rabidhamster

    Jan 15, 2014
    Fender makes a 5 string USA P bass that looks just like the 4 strings. They’re pretty nice, I picked one up used not long ago.
    IMO the only thing that sounds different about it on the EADG is the G has less string length behind the nut and feels maybe a little snappier or more immediate like a stingray
     
    MattZilla and Nevada Pete like this.
  18. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    If I were to get a P5 it would be a Lull for the reasons you stated.
     
    Geri O, bunkaroo and chris_b like this.
  19. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Philadelphia
    As for P5 pickup design, I know I’ve seen some that have equally sized halves like a 3+3, but with only two sets of polepieces on the half for the D and G strings. That seems like the best solution to me, but it’s less visible because Fender does 3+2.

    EDIT: Nordstrand does equally-sized coils, and those designs are used in Ibanez P/J fives. There are some examples in post #30.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2019
  20. Roland GR 88

    Roland GR 88

    Sep 16, 2013
    Whitby
    I think the answer is that P's appeal to traditional thinking players much more than other models and the sales of P 5'ers have always been correspondingly low.
     

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