5 String Questions

Hi,
I’ve got a few questions about 5 string basses.

  1. If I want to be a 5 string player, should I sell my 4 string and buy a 5, or buy a cheap 5 string to practice on?
  2. Do you have any suggestions for good 5 string basses? ($300 or less).
  3. If you own/have played a 5 string, how hard is it to play one? Eg, do you have muting problems with the low B?

Thanks!
N.i_T-R_O

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I’ve been playing a fiver since I first started playing bass (and all through the B2B course), so it’s very natural to me. I don’t think it’s any harder or easier to play than a 4 string, you just have to keep in mind that the B string is there and don’t accidently strike it when you were actually aiming for the E string. The biggest challenge (which can also be a plus), is the strings are closer together than they are on a 4 string.
As far as muting, I use the floating thumb technique, which I recommend for anyone playing a 5 or 6 string.
I started with the Yamaha BB235 which was right around $300 as I recall. I now have the BB735 which is considerably more expensive. There are lots of good 5 string basses out there in your price range if you shop around.

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No - in my opinion, it is a good idea to own both. Fivers are versatile, but there is a “purity” in 4-string instruments that I also really like. If you are on a tight budget, you could start off with a cheaper 5-string in the beginning (just remember that they might be harder to sell off later… but not necessarily so :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:)

Harley Benton should have you covered - both for more traditional types (think: J-bass), or more modern ones (Musicman or more like an Ibanez etc). H-Bs give incredible value for your money

As @PamPurrs said it is not necessarily harder to play, but, yes, the strings are narrower together (good or bad, depending) and there is an extra string that can be confusing in the start. The more you play, the more natural it feels.
I have no muting issue with the B string, as I actually mostly have my thumb placed there. That, however, might give you a muting challenge on the E or A string :grin:

One other note: as always, if you can play them to test that is always preferable… pay attention to how the B string sounds - that is kind of the Achilles heel, and some basses might have an issue with flabby, muddy-sounding B strings! Longer scale basses are typically better here, but higher-end medium/short scale basses also have nicely defined B-strings.

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Scott has a brilliant video on youtube entitled ‘why you shouldn’t play a five-string bass’. It’s not as negative as it sounds because its also subtitled ‘why you SHOULD play a five-string bass’. He doesn’t actually answer any of the questions you asked but it’s worth a watch because he does raise some very good points: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rr7XSxq_Vxg&t=746s

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I’ve watched that video of Scott’s a few times, and as is often the case with his videos, I didn’t get much out of it. And like you said, it doesn’t address the questions asked by @N.i_T-R_O

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Thanks! This is all really helpful. I was kinda already decided on an Ibanez- maybe a Gio 5 string. (I also meant if I was selling my 4, I could spend $300 on a 5 string) soooo, any inexpensive 5s you guys recommend?
thanks again!
edit: I have watched Scott’s video :slight_smile:

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My first bass is a 5 string and it took me a few months until I actually used the thickest string for anything other than a great thumb rest. I recommend using them because you will be a better player because you have to focus more on muting, your slap technique will be more dialed in to keep from sounding like garbage. I am now working on scales and having the 5th string is a luxury for economy of motion when you get to playing maj13 chords

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This one perhaps:

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actually, I have more questions…
how wide is the neck on that Harley Benton compared to an Ibanez Gio 5 string?
and maybe this is a dumb question but are 5 string necks wider than 4 string necks (if so how much)?

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I can only speak for Fender basses, but the nut width for a 4-string is 1.5" and for a 5-string it is listed as 1.875"

HTH . . . :slight_smile:

Cheers
Joe

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I really wouldn’t know, as I don’t own either. But, all this info can be found online.

For example, for the Harley Benton, the nut width is given as 45 mm (1.77 inches; roughly 1 3/4 inches).

I would say this is generally the case to accommodate that extra string. To off-set this to some extent, the string spacing is reduced (compared to a 4-string). How much so depends on the models…

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biting tongue

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You won’t go wrong with a Yamaha BB235. You may outgrow it and then want a 435 or 735, but it is still a great entry level bass in a classic line.

Also, buy used. It will really widen your options.

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I started with a 4 string bass and moved to a 5 string. the difference in difficulty is really minor.

I don’t have large hands, and adjusting to the neck on the 5 string was super easy - it is easier to play than my Fender Jazz 4 string. My Ibanez 5 string is far better in the playability category. Diameter of the neck is more impactful on ease to play than one more string.

Muting is no issue, I rest my thumb on the B string instead of the pickup when I’m not using it.

Ibanez has some models in the SR line in your price range. I would certainly look at Ibanez or Yamaha for the bass as both brands have fast necks.

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Yeah, you just have to love the modern Ibanez and Yamaha necks. Not for everyone but definitely for me.

One thing I would say is that the Yamaha BB’s do have thicker necks than the TRB, RBX, and TRBX lines. They are still really comfy though.

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I think the modern Ibby and Yammy necks are something to try out. I bet there is a TRBX 205 or 305 out there

I like the idea of going BB, TRBX, or SR. If you like the bass there is growth in those lines as your skills progress.

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Yep the TRBX305 is a thing and would be a great one to try.

Definitely. I’m a blatant fanboy of all three lines :slight_smile:

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lol, We have a saying in the UK Howard that describes Scott well: ‘He’s a bit Marmite’ which translates roughly as you either love him or hate him. I have lifetime access to Scott’s Bass Lessons and I’d encourage anyone to look at it because there is just so much there it has to be the best value resource for bass, period. But that can also be the problem - there is just so much that it’s like going down the Grand Central of rabbit holes and there is very little structure or direction. After the first few beginner lessons, you are very much thrown in to find your own way through - Scott seems to hold great importance to people writing out their own progress plans but what he fails to understand is that the vast majority of beginners don’t know what they don’t know

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I actually like Scott’s content, I just find he is not the most effective teacher when it comes to information density :slight_smile:

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Very much agree with the general sentiment about SBL… however, I think they have hit unto something good with the Player’s Path - and it is very well implemented too :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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