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5 Strings

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DON'T WORRY, IT'S NOT ONE OF THOSE THREADS.

I want to try to get my head around using a five string. Does anyone have any suggestions for a cheap one to give a go? I play various Jazz's so one that has the same kind of neck profile etc would be great.

Edited by dmdavies

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I would aim for a Yamaha BB425.  I tried *loads* of fivers and this was the cheapest but by no means the worst.

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Yamahas are an excellent starting point. My stable includes the likes of Dingwall, Sadowsky and pre-CBS Fenders, and my three Yamaha basses hold their own.

My two fivers are a Dingwall Super P5 and a Yamaha BB435. They’re both fantastic.

Bonus if you get a secondhand one at a fair price: if you decide to move it on later (either because you don’t like fivers, or because you do and want to upgrade), you’ll probably get your money back.

Edited by therealting
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I'd suggest getting a 5 with the same string spacing at the bridge as your 4. Is there anywhere local where you can you try a Squier or Sire? Whatever you buy get a good set up and it will be easier to play.

If you want to give a 5 a fair go you need time to develop a new muscle memory and muting technique.  Put your 4 string basses away and only play the 5 until you get over the "it's different" and "uncomfortable" stage.

At the start I tried to switch back and forth between my 4 and the new 5 and caused myself a lot of confusion. Then I put the 4's in the case and by the time I got to the comfortable stage with the 5 string I never went back.

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All good advice. I've got my muting down on the 4. Thumb up and down like a good 'un. I don't think I'd ever use the bottom range, but the extra flexibility higher up the neck will come in really useful I think.

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2 hours ago, dmdavies said:

DON'T WORRY, IT'S NOT ONE OF THOSE THREADS.

I want to try to get my head around using a five string. Does anyone have any suggestions for a cheap one to give a go? I play various Jazz's so one that has the same kind of neck profile etc would be great.

As I always say don't buy a cheap 5-string unless it's a bargain second-hand bass.

There is a lot more to making a good 5-string then simply taking the standard 4-string model and adding a wider neck to accommodate the extra string. The most important thing is the stability/rigidity of the neck and neck joint. Unfortunately most of the budget models don't take this in account. Also don't be tempted by 35" scale length unless you like the extra space between frets. The additional inch does nothing and you are always better off with improved neck/neck joint construction. Any manufacturer capable a making a good 35" scale 5-string bass is also callable of making a good 34" one.

This leads to bassists trying a cheap 5-string and hating it, and so they should because invariably it won't be any good. As someone who has mostly played 5-string bases for the past 30 years (the other basses were either fretless or short-scale bass VIs) I can honestly say that IME the entry level for a decent 5-string bass is at least £1k new. Unless you are lucky anything cheaper will be a disappointment.

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I play 4 string  jazzes and sandberg , and I bought my first 5 earlier this year , it’s a Yamaha 415 , really nice neck profile and a 40-41mm nut , and a nice B string, I would recommend one of these , or similar, if you want a good place to start  🙂

CC3E16DF-0972-4091-A3CA-D0F32D0ED3F9.jpeg

Edited by Reggaebass

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14 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

As I always say don't buy a cheap 5-string unless it's a bargain second-hand bass.

There is a lot more to making a good 5-string then simply taking the standard 4-string model and adding a wider neck to accommodate the extra string. The most important thing is the stability/rigidity of the neck and neck joint. Unfortunately most of the budget models don't take this in account. Also don't be tempted by 35" scale length unless you like the extra space between frets. The additional inch does nothing and you are always better off with improved neck/neck joint construction. Any manufacturer capable a making a good 35" scale 5-string bass is also callable of making a good 34" one.

This leads to bassists trying a cheap 5-string and hating it, and so they should because invariably it won't be any good. As someone who has mostly played 5-string bases for the past 30 years (the other basses were either fretless or short-scale bass VIs) I can honestly say that IME the entry level for a decent 5-string bass is at least £1k new. Unless you are lucky anything cheaper will be a disappointment.

I agree with most of this except the assertion that buying five strings under £1k is a lottery. That isn’t necessarily true any more. I know loads of pro players rocking five strings from Yamaha, Sire, etc and sounding great through them. My Yamaha BB435 is spectacularly good and would be at three times the price.

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53 minutes ago, therealting said:

I agree with most of this except the assertion that buying five strings under £1k is a lottery. That isn’t necessarily true any more. I know loads of pro players rocking five strings from Yamaha, Sire, etc and sounding great through them. My Yamaha BB435 is spectacularly good and would be at three times the price.

Just my personal experience. I have yet to play a 5-string wth a new sub £1k price tag that I liked the feel and sound of.

To the OP you should try 5-string basses at all price points to work out what you like and don't like about them.

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3 hours ago, chris_b said:

I'd suggest getting a 5 with the same string spacing at the bridge as your 4. Is there anywhere local where you can you try a Squier or Sire?

 

This.

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On the price issue...as someone who has only ever bought one 5 string that cost less than £1k, the one I did have was perfectly fine

It was an ESP LTD, and while I sold it on because it was a bit too light for me and had cheap-feeling hardware (YMMV), the neck was incredibly thin and easy to play, and the pickups were EMGs which may not be everybody's favourite (and ultimately weren't for me) they do work brilliantly for a five string

There's a big difference in mass when you go to the low B string, and not all pickups handle it very well - there can be a significant shift in tone.  I've certainly played a few which have a nice sharp, clean sound over the other four strings and then an uncontrollable boomy distortion coming from the low B.  Partly that's to do with the set up, partly to do with playing technique, but also the pickups.  EMGs have a much more balanced tone and it was easy to get a "good" sound out of them without needing to make too many other adjustments.

That said, even if you are struggling to get a good tone out of the low B, playing with the p/u height, possibly the action, and working on your playing style can tame it, so don't discount a cheap bass just because it doesn't instantly sound great if you're not used to playing a fiver

 

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After playing a Mustang for years, I got a Sterling by Musicman Ray 5 for a hip hop band I joined. It sounded great and was a good intro to 5 strings. They're also reasonably priced second hand. That wasn't a super budget nor super expensive way in to 5 strings.

I only moved it on because I got a Dingwall as an engagement gift from my fiancée.

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I'm seriously considering one of these for my first foray into the world of 5 strings. I don't want to spend too much because a) I'm skint, and b) I might not take to it.

Forget the name tag. These things look stunning, and the reviews are outstanding! At around £265 for a bass that looks and sounds this good (seriously, look them up on YouTube), I don't really see how you can go wrong. 

https://www.thomann.de/gb/harley_benton_bz_5000_nt.htm

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Just now, therealting said:

@Newfoundfreedom Then I’d strongly recommend going secondhand. That way if it doesn’t work out and you have to sell, you won’t lose money, which is especially important if you are skint.

Yeah I've considered it. But where I live there's zero second hand market, and everything that does come up is massively overpriced. Buying second hand from the UK is a risk, because if there's damage in transit then there's no comeback. Plus, I've never seen anything in that price range, even second hand, that comes anywhere near the level of quality of the HB I posted above. I'm not a brand snob (I actually can't stand Fenders) and at that price range, I don't really care about resale value. 

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Yep just get out and play as many as you can.

Don't personally agree you want the same string spacing as your 4 string but we're all different - you just need to see what feels right.

I took a punt on this £108 workhorse as my main back up, totally servicable and playable.. 

Getting your technique off to a good start is as important as the bass. This lesson also worth a look 

 

Edited by Drax
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10 hours ago, Newfoundfreedom said:

Plus, I've never seen anything in that price range, even second hand, that comes anywhere near the level of quality of the HB I posted above. I'm not a brand snob (I actually can't stand Fenders) and at that price range, I don't really care about resale value. 

I have had an HB (jazz) and it was great apart from the weight. It had some cheap parts as you would expect but it really was above its price level in playability.

 

I am one of those people who has had many 5s (mostly 5s) and never really noticed a huge difference between cheap ones and expensive ones. My favourite 5 string is a sub £1k bass.

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When trying out a 5-string for the first time, I took a punt on e-bay, on a bass not too far from me  - Fernandes Gravity, bit knocked about but played really nicely and sounded good. From that, I learned that 5-string worked for me. 

When I decided that I wanted an active 5'er, I picked up a Bass Collection to pair with my BC 4-sting, and the Fernandes sat there for a while...until I thought I might like to try fretless, so I had the frets taken out.  From that, I learned that I could handle a 5-string fretless.

You can see from this that I'd recommend picking up a cheap second-hand but decent 5'er as a test bed for your experimenting. Even if you decide that it's not for you, you can sell on and it wouldn't cost you too much.

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Ive always stuck up for Sire basses. They are very good value and have lovely necks. Quite a few come up for sale on here. Ive got a gen 1 V7 and love it......or at least I did until i got a cheap Yamaha 425 (as has been suggested above). The Yamaha's are really easy to play, and the necks seem almost like a decent sized 4 string rather than a cricket bat. They might look boring and plain (they do to me), but the term 'Decent' can definitely,  be used with these basses, even though they don’t have the price tag that makes you feel you have a decent bass. 

Having played quite a few 5 strings over the years (and always gone back to 4's), my Yamaha 425 is by far the cheapest, and while it doesn't have active electronics/exotic woods/bells and whistles etc, its a very, very decent player and can hold its own with any of my previous basses as far as playability goes. In fact I'd take this over a couple of Dingwall ive borrowed, and a Lakland DJ5 I owned. Not saying the 425 is better all round, but it has character and power, which the Dingwalls I borrowed lacked. That might of course be a downside if you don't like the tone, and the pups on the older low end Yamaha's aren't easy to replace. 

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On 18/12/2019 at 23:43, Newfoundfreedom said:

I'm seriously considering one of these for my first foray into the world of 5 strings. I don't want to spend too much because a) I'm skint, and b) I might not take to it.

Forget the name tag. These things look stunning, and the reviews are outstanding! At around £265 for a bass that looks and sounds this good (seriously, look them up on YouTube), I don't really see how you can go wrong. 

https://www.thomann.de/gb/harley_benton_bz_5000_nt.htm

Only thing that might cause issues is the very narrow 16.5mm string spacing. Might be an issue, might not, but be aware its quite a drop from the usual 19-20mm 4 string spacing. 

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1 hour ago, dave_bass5 said:

Only thing that might cause issues is the very narrow 16.5mm string spacing. Might be an issue, might not, but be aware its quite a drop from the usual 19-20mm 4 string spacing. 

Obviously this depends on what you were used to. I would call 16.5 normal string spacing and 20mm extra wide, unless you are embedded in the fender world, where these sort of widths would be more common.

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47 minutes ago, Woodinblack said:

Obviously this depends on what you were used to. I would call 16.5 normal string spacing and 20mm extra wide, unless you are embedded in the fender world, where these sort of widths would be more common.

Never come across a 16.5mm 4 string. I know they exist of course, but I'd hardly call them normal. 

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