1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Why are 5-string P-basses so rare?

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

  1. hypercarrots


    Jan 28, 2009
    los angeles
    sounds like ka da okay
  2. AJ is a brilliant player, whenever he speaks, I cover my ears...
  3. Monterey Bay-ss

    Monterey Bay-ss Supporting Member

    I’m with you on the decades, but the baseball team in Oakland would be the As without that apostrophe, much as it pains me to use it. Hence the *disclaimer. They’re the Oakland A’s, not the Oakland As
    matante likes this.
  4. a few misc thoughts that may add to (or subtract from) the discussion. My preferred bass is a 4 string PJ.

    The neck pu of a good quality 5 string humbucking J set (in my case the Dimarzio Ultra Jazz) is the closest I have found to 'the p bass sound' on a 5 string. It does not sound exactly like a P. None of the other suggestions I make will either.

    Take note of just how amazingly popular Stingray 5's are. Don't discount an L-2500 either. Either of these might be the real 'best answer' for you, if you are willing to accept 'you don't really want what you think you want' as an answer. I don't have either one of these but you really can't find anyone on this site talk down about either of these two basses and there has to be a reason. For as ubiquitous as the P is, the Ray is more or less the ubiquitous 5 string or at least top 2 if you feel the J is instead.

    the split P needs symmetry. You could get a split P with a 3+2 where the 2 is a larger bobbin, larger pole pieces, and the same wind area/pole surface area as the 3. You could get a 6 string 3+3 split P and position it so the poles are between the 5 strings rather than right under. The first stingray (or a very early one) used a 5 string/5 pole pup for 4 strings, in this kind of way.

    Or you could try a symmetric HB in the P position and see if you like that. One sound I really like is a HB bridge situated where the two rows of poles are the 60s J and 70s J positions, and the other HB situated in the P position where the 2 rows of poles are in line with where the split P poles would be. It sounds not exactly like a PJ at all but a very good sound, it's essentially an L-2500 but not the same positions they rout, and in my case I built it with 2 MM's.

    I am not 100% happy with any of these solutions, not entirely failed attempts but my goal was to have a true PJ, no less, with an added B string. They are not that.
    Monterey Bay-ss likes this.
  5. Monterey Bay-ss

    Monterey Bay-ss Supporting Member

    Max Bogosity likes this.
  6. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    Los Angeles
    It's correct if they were literally A's as in the letter A. "My son gets mostly A's and B's in school" is correct, though you don't have to write it that way. In the case of Ps and Js, we're referring to basses, not the actual letters, so it's more like saying, "The room was full of corporate CEOs." (CEO's is incorrect.)
    Monterey Bay-ss likes this.
  7. Marko 1

    Marko 1

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    I was amazed they did that. Fortunately I got one when they were $299, and it's 8lbs-7oz-- very happy with it.

    I love the B string (absolutely love/need it) but it's adding the J pup that makes it not a P anymore imo. :)
    btmpancake and skyline_01 like this.
  8. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I build and modify basses
    I have seen multiple reviews that say the 3/2 p pickup is quiet. Until someone proves to me that a 3/2 pickup does not buck hum I will continue to believe it does.
    Stevorebob likes this.
  9. GBBSbassist

    GBBSbassist I actually play more guitar... Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2010
    I definitely agree with that actually.

    I'm not much of a 5 string player, but I have a few P basses and a few P/J's. The P/J's with the J pup off do not quite nail the P sound that I expect when I'm using the P's.
    Marko 1 likes this.
  10. Yes, but it's not just because there's two coils.
    There are other design tweaks that must be done beyond that of a 2+2 split-coil design.

    hum-buckers - how they function
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I build and modify basses
  12. Monterey Bay-ss

    Monterey Bay-ss Supporting Member

    Oh, I like you!
    matante and Killed_by_Death like this.
  13. Not sure what the video link was supposed to prove, so I'm quoting the specific part of your statement that I'm telling you is false.
    The reason Aguilar & Nordstrand's 5-string design cancels all the hum is because the coils are the same size. If they're not the same size then other design configurations need to be taken into consideration, like changing the diameter of wire used in one coil.


    It's a 5-string set where both coils are the same length. The reason for this is that the size of the coil affects how well the hum-canceling works.
  14. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I build and modify basses
    I build all sort of basses with all sorts of pickups … they are usually not designed to go together, reverse wound will buck the hum … I had many people tell me that what I did on my bass or speaker cab will not work … but I know it does work because I have it in my hands ...
  15. They cancel the hum well enough that you can't hear it. Put some high gain on it & listen again.

    The size of the coil & the amount of windings directly affects how much noise is induced by EMI.
    If you're shielding the instruments well it shouldn't matter that much, anyway.
  16. Monterey Bay-ss

    Monterey Bay-ss Supporting Member

    I hope all the spirited discussion here convinces some of the budget-friendlier builders that there’s enough interest to give it a go, haha! I have a Spector Legend 5 Classic, and have had an Ibanez ATK-305 since they first came out; both make good sounds, but neither closely match the tone I get from the pointy P-bass-like-object in my profile image (which now has a Lace Aluma-P pickup); that’s what I really want. I will have to look into used Squiers and Yamahas unless my budget unexpectedly increases. As for answers to my original question: it seems from your responses that it boils down to builders pegging 5-string players as seeking more of a hi-fi tone (a generalization, though perhaps a largely accurate one), and split coil pickups in the sweet spot producing uneven results with that 5th string in not-super-high-end instruments.

    It seems worth reiterating that I said 5-string P-basses are rare relative to other types—not that they don’t exist. I know they’re out there.
  17. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    Three truths there.

    I'd agree that the P bass appeals more to traditional thinking players, who will probably gravitate to traditional P bass designs, ie 4 strings.

    I love my Lull PJ5 but I'll admit my go-to for live work is my Sadowsky RV5 Jazz. At home, in the studio and in rehearsals, my passive PJ5 just kills but walk onto a stage and I usually prefer the extra dynamics of an active J5. IMO they just work better in that environment.
    Monterey Bay-ss likes this.
  18. maturanesa

    maturanesa SUSPENDED

    In a Jazz Bass you have 2 coils, both with different outputs and size (bridge/neck), and they cancel hum perfectly...
    P5 offset coil users are telling you that they dont hum...
  19. This has been discussed ad nauseam, please read through the thread.
    Tired of repeating myself.

    It seems to me you're talking about pairing up two pickups that have similar output & similar-sized coils.
    Our conversation has been about coils where one is 33% shorter than the other.
    Reverse-wound will buck the hum to a point, but to perfectly buck the hum, even with high gain, the coils need to be matched.

    In a 3/2 pair, one of the coils might be using different diameter wire than the other.
    I prefer Nordstrand's solution.

    explanation of the >>compromises<<
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
  20. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I build and modify basses
    I prefer this solution

    b 458.
    Monterey Bay-ss and BergerHead like this.

Share This Page