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5 String Advice?


Grouse
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I don't have short fingers but a narrow string spacing is important for me, too.  I have a MM Sterling 5, Yamaha BB425, Fender MB-5 and Hohner BV - all these have slim necks with tight string spacing, especially at the nut.  I found that 5 string Fender P or J generally have wider necks or are too heavy for me.  Can't comment on Ibanez as I haven't tried one.  I am sure there are plenty of others.

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I had an ESP LTD, such as this one:

https://www.bax-shop.co.uk/right-handed-bass-guitar/esp-ltd-b-205sm-ns-electric-bass-guitar-5-string-natural-satin?gclid=CjwKCAiA-KzSBRAnEiwAkmQ156cBGCpD454gys32lugMWrGYQkfBqfbkSUHG9Ijo3XZfnQaNCcNoPRoCqx4QAvD_BwE

Mine was fretless and the neck was really good and fast IMHO. As @lownote12 has suggested, I found the string spacing too narrow. 

You do really need to try out some basses. The answer might be to send off for some on mail-order and send back what you don't like; which might be all of them.

Don't feel bad about doing this - they have to honour this under EU legislation. The mail-order companies have under-cut and driven high street seller out of business, so its the service they must now offer.

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Another thought - I don't know your playing experience, but when choosing a 5-string, don't forget, a 5 is predominantly played lower down the neck. If you watch Gary Willis you'll see he rarely ventures up to the 3rd fret. So over all the playing experience is simply different.

Edit: for lower - read that as "nearer the body"; so actually it's higher up the neck

Edited by Grangur
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6 hours ago, Grangur said:

Another thought - I don't know your playing experience, but when choosing a 5-string, don't forget, a 5 is predominantly played lower down the neck. If you watch Gary Willis you'll see he rarely ventures up to the 3rd fret. So over all the playing experience is simply different.

What an interesting point.  Never thought about that...

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5 minutes ago, lownote12 said:

What an interesting point.  Never thought about that...

Edit: for lower - read that as "nearer the body"; so actually it's higher up the neck.

Yes, the whole thing of a >4 string bass is not having to move about so much.

Anthony Wellington will tell you: "A 4 is the hardest bass, 5 is easier, 6 is easier than a 5, 7 is easier than a 6."

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On 02/01/2018 at 17:31, Grangur said:

Edit: for lower - read that as "nearer the body"; so actually it's higher up the neck.

Yes, the whole thing of a >4 string bass is not having to move about so much.

Anthony Wellington will tell you: "A 4 is the hardest bass, 5 is easier, 6 is easier than a 5, 7 is easier than a 6."

ive only just woken up and im suffering from man-flu so excuse me if im being dumb but how does that work? i mean doesnt depend entirely on how the instrument is tuned? for example, if its a 5 with a low B then surely you would spend more time playing nearer the headstock to use the "new" notes that you access to ie the B, C, C#, D and D# on the B string?

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Ne.  In principle you're right but the real world usefulness is to be able to access low D, Eb and E but that little bit higher up. Not necessarily the low B and C.  With a six in particular you can gallop straight across one set of frets without having to dog leg back and fourth like on a  4.  The ONLY thing I hate about 6s is losing the plot on so many strings. Life may be easier on a 6, but the pictures and string spacing are easier on a 4.  5's to me are neither fish nor fowl.     

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For an example of the playing difference between a 4 and a 5, go and play a 2 octave G Major scale on a 4 string. Start using the G on the E string and go up 2 octaves. To do this you will then end on the G at the 12th fret on the G string.

If you do this same on a 5 string bass, you can, of course use the same E string G. As an alternative you could use the 8th fret on the B string. A is the 10th fret on the B and then drop to the E string for the next 3 notes etc.  You can complete the entire 2 octave scale between the 8th and 12th frets. 

So, provided you like the attack tone of these notes for the song you're playing, most of what we play on a 4 string bass can be played between the 7th to 12th frets on a 5 string.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 1/1/2018 at 23:25, Grouse said:

Can anyone recommend a bass with a slim, fast 5 string neck? I have short fingers and find thin necks better but am not sure how 5 strings stack up. I'm thinking Ibanez but not sure?

I've just bought a used Ibby SR605.

Fastest neck I've ever owned.  I haven't particularly short fingers but I haven't had years of stretching exercise to help span the first four frets equally well with each finger either.  It's easier on this neck somehow.  I think the string spacing is about right for me.

I am happy to recommend you try one for yourself.

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  • 2 months later...

I have a Bass Collection SB 5er, which has pretty much the perfect neck to fit my weirdly-shaped hands (biggish square-ish palm, short-ish fingers). 

So comfortable that half the time I forget that I'm even playing a 5. Mind you, I have the 4-string version of the same and the neck on that is stupidly slim.

Which is all welcome to digits that are as often as not used for (whisper it!) guitar-pickin'.....'

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/2/2018 at 12:29, Grangur said:

Another thought - I don't know your playing experience, but when choosing a 5-string, don't forget, a 5 is predominantly played lower down the neck. If you watch Gary Willis you'll see he rarely ventures up to the 3rd fret. So over all the playing experience is simply different.

Edit: for lower - read that as "nearer the body"; so actually it's higher up the neck

C'mon guys..the magic is in the B..actually the open B..

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  • 1 year later...

IMO if your hands are big enough to play a 4 string bass they are big enough to play a 5 string bass. I've seen guys making this change  struggle because they are not good at adapting. All you have to do is rotate your left hand a little more to reach the B string. Don't be put off, it's only a small adjustment to your current technique. Your hand should already be "animated", ie easily moving up and down the neck.  A 5 string just means that you have to be equally "animated" and move across the neck.

IMO it's a good idea to keep the same string spacings as you are used to on a 4 string. Most of your playing will be on those strings so keep the changes to a minimum.

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  • 1 month later...
On 16/05/2018 at 10:31, Saved said:

C'mon guys..the magic is in the B..actually the open B..

I went into the shop to pick up a Gretsch that was being worked on, while waiting a 5 string winked at me, it got plugged in and I just had to pluck that fat string. 

The heavens parted. I muted the string because I was overloading. Other guitars in the room were still singing and some racking was still rattling. There were three of us in the car on the way home.

Its all about the B.....

Edited by CANADA PETE
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