So oddly enough Constantine posted a Culture Club cover yesterday Time (Clock of the Heart) that uses a 5 string. A happy coinsidence indeed.
So last night I got mine out and learned the tune (very easy and fun btw).
WOW, I can tell you that I have learned a lot about what I like in basses along the way from buying that bass ‘just to have a 5er’.
Tone - I actually think this might be #1 for me - if you can’t get the tone/tones you want, then string spacing, etc doesn’t matter. Tone did not really matter to me at first but since I have been diving down that rabbit hole of late, it was obvious what tones the TRBX305 can make, and which ones it can’t. I did like the lower end, but not the upper end, no matter how I adjusted pickups and tone controls. I will need to try different amp/cab sims but at first blush I wasn’t pleased.
String spacing - yup, super important, a bit too narrow for me, workable, but if I was shopping for an upgrade this would be a big factor, as I and others have already noted.
Neck - Neck shape doesn’t seem to matter much to me, or at least yet, or at least the TRBX305 did not bother me. I am certainly partial to the unglossed necks, and considering sanding the back of the neck on my Squire Jazz as it is quickly becoming the only thing I don’t love about it. Of course, this is not related to 5ers specifically, but something I am learning in general.
Lay of bass on body and in lap - this again is a more general statement. I generally sit when playing, but also stand and note how a bass lays against me, where the neck ends up, how the strap holds it, etc. At the moment its more about where it lays on my lap and what that means to neck access. Same goes for standing but differnt variables at play of course.
I really like the notion of ‘get a 5 string in a 4 string you love’.
Net/net, this will need to be a ‘go and play it’ before taking a chance on a more $$$ 5er for sure. I see buying a better 5er as perhaps the longer journey of picking a new bass, at least for me, as there are a lot more variables. I like a lot of basses already, so picking the 5 version of the 4 your like doesn’t narrow it down as much as needed.
In the end, I guess all the same considerations apply to a 5er as a 4 string, with the added complexity of string spacing.