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Getting too comfortable with 16.5 string spacing


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Do I need more space or should I just get used to swapping between 19mm, 16.5mm and double bass? 

I mainly play double bass, so I am used to pretty wide string spacing. I do play electric though and have a couple a good 4 string bases, Jazz and Wilkes. I have just recently purchased a beautiful Ibanez SRH 505 Fretless five string bass because I wanted a piezo sound.  It sounds lovely and plays great, but it has narrow string spacing 16.5. I am now considering selling/swapping the 5 string for the SRH500 four string fretless with 19mm spacing. 

Maybe I need to just get over it and move between spacings, or maybe I should sell my 4 string basses and stick to the narrow spacing? The more I play 16.5, the better it feels. Moving over to 4 string is now feeling too spacious. 

This is all happening due to me not having any gigs and having way too much time to think and no opportunity to just play. 

 

Edited by adriansmith247
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If I think about it too much I can convince myself that switching from DB to a 5 string electric is going to be a problem.

In reality, after the first few notes, it is usually fine for me.

I'm sure you'll be just fine switching between them!!

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It doesn't matter what the string spacing is, as long as you get your muscle memory right you'll be fine with wide and/or narrow.

I'm lazy. I decided to stick to 18-19mm with all my basses (one string spacing to rule them all!) , because then I don't need to spend any time adjusting. All the basses I've played and am ever likely to play have come in those widths.

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1 hour ago, Beer of the Bass said:

I find double bass is different enough that whatever spacing or number of strings I'm used to on electric bass doesn't really affect it. I'd find changing between two different feeling bass guitars more challenging, I suspect.

I'm inclined to agree. 

It's taken me a while to become fully comfortable with a new (16.5mm also) Ibanez. Yet I already own a similar instrument. 

More so than to-ing and fro-ing between 5 string EUB, Chapman Stick and other basses to which I am accustomed. 

I think it's something to do with our expectation that because it's a bass guitar, it should feel like X, and when it's not quite what you expect, it throws you a bit. This applies also to neck profiles,  and (I find) the way a bass sits on its strap. 

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I've never really understood how people find going between spacings so difficult. I mean maybe gong from 14mm to 20mm or vice verse might take a few minutes to get used to, but at the end of the day it's all a minor difference! It's like saying you can't drive any other car than your own because the pedals are 5mm further away or the gear stick is 3mm lower down, you adapt almost instantly to these things! 

I have a few basses with varying spacings including one with 16mm and one with 20mm, it's really no problem! I know it's all subjective, and the above is just my personal opinion! :)

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I know I like Fenders & Musicman spacing, but no idea what it is. I’ve recently found a liking for Jazz necks after years of Precisions, and aside from in a couple of the more complicated songs where my fingers can trip over each other I find them easier to play. But what the numbers are, no idea!

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Some sensible points made, thanks. I am certainly overthinking this and am also throwing in a healthy dose of GAS

In my mind I can see a nice 5 string fretted with narrow spacing to go with my fretless. Although I will probably just keep what I have. I agree that you get used to whatever you are playing. This 5 string feels so nice to play

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6 hours ago, binky_bass said:

I've never really understood how people find going between spacings so difficult. I mean maybe gong from 14mm to 20mm or vice verse might take a few minutes to get used to, but at the end of the day it's all a minor difference!

Hardly a minor difference, it's almost 50% more. In your example it is like getting in my car and the pedals are now 4 foot away.

in reality it is more like playing a mini key keyboards vs a full size one. Obviously, I could play both, but if I want to do something fast or intricate it is going to fall apart on the mini keys, it's why they don't have them in concerts.

I can go from 15 to 18 pretty well without problem, although 18 is pushing it, but a 19mm 5 string frankly is no fun to play. Yes, I could play it but if there was anything else there to play it would get played instead, so it would be useless to me.

so yeh, I wouldn't buy one because I know I would just end up selling it.

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6 hours ago, binky_bass said:

I know it's all subjective, and the above is just my personal opinion! :)

And this is why I put the above 'disclaimer' at the end of a lot of posts!

Edited by binky_bass
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2 hours ago, TheLowDown said:

It's always good to stay fluid so that you can switch between different basses more easily. It makes you a better and more versatile bassist.

Certainly makes you more versatile - does it make you better?

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7 hours ago, Woodinblack said:

Certainly makes you more versatile - does it make you better?

Under unusual circumstances, possibly?

If, for some reason,  you end up borrowing a bass at short notice or sharing one at an open mic night, possibly depping for someone at very short notice..

The bass you get "stuck" with is less likely to cause you issues. (That said,  it's most likely to resemble a Fender!)

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This is such a personal thing - I owned an Aria SB700 for many years, but I was never comfortable with the narrow string spacing however much I tried to adapt to it. In contrast, I felt immediately at home on a Fender-spaced bass when I tried one.

That's just me though, I'm sure other people have different experiences.

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 I've never even thought about string spacing when I buy a bass. I think there are more important things. My Sire V7 and Roscoe LG3500 both have 18mm spacing, but the Roscoe feels easier on the right hand. My Shuker Singlecut 5 feels huge compared to my F Bass BN5, yet they both have 19mm spacing. 

Switching between electric and upright is a much bigger jump than just switching between electrics.

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I never thought string spacing would be a problem.  You would read here about people discussing different specs on basses and I never understood it and thought it was just people moaning for the sake of it.  I only had my Thumb 5 for years and just played that.  Later I got a Stage 2 5 with the same string spacing and never got understood this problem.  Then I got a Stage 1 5 broad neck and finally I got what people meant.  I did notice the difference quite a bit and how much more comfortable I was with the smaller spacing.  But I just looked at it as two different things and found a way to adjust and I like both now.  

I would say just keep playing and you will get used to it (hopefully).  

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3 hours ago, Lfalex v1.1 said:

Under unusual circumstances, possibly?

If, for some reason,  you end up borrowing a bass at short notice or sharing one at an open mic night, possibly depping for someone at very short notice..

The bass you get "stuck" with is less likely to cause you issues. (That said,  it's most likely to resemble a Fender!)

Yes, I agreed, more versatile, but better? I mean when you get a concert violinist whos left their stradavarius at home and borrows one from the local school and doesn't sound as good, does that mean they are not a good violinist?

I mean, that jaco was a rubbish bass player, I never saw him playing a dingwall!

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IMO a great sounding bass isn't much use if it doesn't feel good to play.

I know this is a first world issue, but as I said before, my preference is to buy great sounding basses that are of a similar spec, rather than having to work at changing my playing style for every bass. If anyone wants to call that a lazy attitude, then I'm happy to agree with them.

I'm mostly attracted to Fender style instruments, so I really don't have to look too far for excellent basses that fit my preferences.

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13 minutes ago, chris_b said:

I know this is a first world issue, but as I said before, my preference is to buy great sounding basses that are of a similar spec, rather than having to work at changing my playing style for every bass. If anyone wants to call that a lazy attitude, then I'm happy to agree with them.

Same here - on the 'what do you do if you turn up at a place and someone gives you a P bass to play', then yes, of course I would play it, and it would be fine. Seeing as I was obviously not expecting to play anything obviously they are presumably not expecting a virtuoso performance, so it will be fine.

But at home I have other basses that I prefer to play so it wouldn't get played, so what is the point of buying it?

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13 hours ago, Woodinblack said:

Certainly makes you more versatile - does it make you better?

Better is quite a vague word open to interpretation.

It doesn't make you better in that you will automatically mentally absorb scales and modes like a boss and become magically adept at walking basslines by playing it, but it will mean that it helps force your mental processes stay alert as you have to remap the fretboard for your playing. Better than becoming a 5 string box squatter.

 

 

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7 minutes ago, TheLowDown said:

but it will mean that it helps force your mental processes stay alert as you have to remap the fretboard for your playing. Better than becoming a 5 string box squatter.

Remap the fretboard? hardly, the strings are just a bit further apart. It is an inconvenience yes, but no real difference apart from the muscle memory of location.

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Just now, Woodinblack said:

Remap the fretboard? hardly, the strings are just a bit further apart. It is an inconvenience yes, but no real difference apart from the muscle memory of location.

The OP is talking about going between 4 and 5 string due to adjusting to different spacing. I refer you to this: " I am now considering selling/swapping the 5 string for the SRH500 four string fretless with 19mm spacing.".

This is what I'm referring to, not to the difference in string spacing of basses of the same number of strings.

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1 hour ago, TheLowDown said:

The OP is talking about going between 4 and 5 string due to adjusting to different spacing. I refer you to this: " I am now considering selling/swapping the 5 string for the SRH500 four string fretless with 19mm spacing.".

This is what I'm referring to, not to the difference in string spacing of basses of the same number of strings.

Oh ok, sorry. I have no real problem going between 4 and 5 strings, just the spacing.

As much as I only play 5 strings, and the 5 string fretless ibanezes are great, i never really found the B string on fretless all that useful. They don't seem to work well as flatwounds and they are a bit flappy on roundwounds!

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