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Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby uselessoldman » Sun Dec 20, 2020 12:37 pm

Hi all,

I am looking for a 5 string Bass guitar for occasional use that suits all genre of Rock and is ok for recording? What are your thoughts views recommendations?

I have considered

Sire Version 2 Marcus Miller M2
Ibanez SR305EB
Yamaha TRBX 305

I have been advised NOT to consider any Ibanez below the SR500 series?? I realise that maybe second hand would be a better buy but looking around considering their condition and price, a new one with warranty and in perfect condition is not going to cost that much more !!

I am buying to keep and maybe all going well would only be replaced with a proper pro one, but that would be in the far away future as things stand. For now its just to get into the Bass, something I have not really played much for 30 yrs !!!
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Re: Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby Murray B » Sun Dec 20, 2020 3:40 pm

in these times it's not easy but have you had the opportunity to play and of the ones you have shortlisted. For me a bass is all about how it feels in your fretting hand and if are using a strap how heavy the blooming thing is :-)

They are all likely to be okay basses, from my experience with Yamaha guitars I would say the price to quality ratio is remarkable and I would always recommend trying a Yamaha instrument in any price range.

However which one feels right to you is pretty much impossible to predict.
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Re: Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby SecretSam » Sun Dec 20, 2020 4:34 pm

A secondhand yammie should be good value. I still have one I bought in 1993.
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Re: Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby zenguitar » Sun Dec 20, 2020 5:06 pm

It's worth thinking about whether or not you need a 5-string. The vast majority of the classics were recorded with a 4 string. When you are on a budget you might find a lot more options with a 4 string, you are spending a chunk of your budget on a string you won't need very often. And for recording purposes you can always detune a semitone or two if you need to get lower.

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Re: Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby blinddrew » Sun Dec 20, 2020 5:58 pm

uselessoldman wrote:I have been advised NOT to consider any Ibanez below the SR500 series??
Odd, I don't think I've ever played an Ibanez that wasn't at least competitive in its price range. And I'm not a big spender so I've played far more budget guitars than expensive ones.
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Re: Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby uselessoldman » Sun Dec 20, 2020 7:03 pm

yes blinddrew exactly that is why I added the question mark. I own and love my Ibanez RG750s, so much so I bought two of them MANY years ago and still own them to this day.

Yes aaaugh the old problem of dealing with those awkward artists who insist on playing their songs out of tune. But then on the bright side, its always a pleasant surprise when you actually some across someone who actually does play/sing in perfect tuning, yes rare, especially when it comes to todays singers I know.

Yes I acknowledge there is a small premium to pay for having that lower 5th string which can also be a somewhat of a irritation to producers when musicians are incapable of playing their own instruments properly. It is a one off cost up front and a hit I am prepared to pay for the versatility it provides. I consider it a case of why not have it rather than why bother. Upfront paying for 5 strings is a little extra, worst case, take the damn thing out but I am used to 6/7 so for me its not an issue !!

If I were to put them by name first, Ibanez would be top all the time, I have an old gripe with Yamaha going back 20 years but I can accept that if they are the best you have to just accept their old mistakes/ill judged decisions deal with today not yesterday.
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Re: Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby Aled Hughes » Sun Dec 20, 2020 8:28 pm

I’ve heard good stuff about the Sire basses, would love to try one out.

Musicman SUB Ray 5 also looks like very good value.
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Re: Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby Fishnish » Sun Dec 20, 2020 8:49 pm

Mrs Fishnish had the Ibanez SR30 5 for a while and liked it a lot.

Pros: She liked the range of sounds, lightish weight, very good fit+ finish for the price, and especially the slimmish/shallowish neck style (common to most Ibanez basses) which suited her smaller hand size.

Cons: She hated the weird angled socket that was really difficult to get a plug in and out of. So much sothat she made up a short traing socket cable so she never had to use it.

It's only gone now because folowing a car accident she has moved competely over to short scale basses due to neck and shoulder problems.
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Re: Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby Music Wolf » Sun Dec 20, 2020 10:43 pm

I have an Ibanez SR500, which is excellent (and, unlike the SR505, has the correct’ number of strings for a bass), but I wouldn’t write off the models below it.
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Re: Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby Wonks » Mon Dec 21, 2020 12:03 am

My very limited experience of 5-string bases is that the bottom B string can often sound very different from the other 4, and that this is more likely to be a problem on a low-end than a high-end bass.

Things may have improved in recent years, but I'd still highly recommending trying before buying to make sure that the one you get does sound the same across all the strings.
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Re: Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby Dave B » Mon Dec 21, 2020 1:21 am

Thoughts :

1. get a regular 4 string bass and re-string it to be B - E - A - D. Years ago an old bass player of mine did that

2. if you don't need to go much lower, how about getting a Hipshot for drop D? Wonks has fitted a couple over the years and assures me they aren't rocket science (although he did one of mine) to fit

3. I had a cheap Ibanez 5 string for years that played just fine. I found that tonally it was a bit bland sounding (very smooth, no bite or grit) but played fine and I didn't lose much selling it on
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Re: Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby Aled Hughes » Mon Dec 21, 2020 7:52 am

I’m not a 5-string player, but I see their advantage being more about having more notes under your hand in one position, rather than the extended range itself per se. I use a Hipshot D-tuner, but it doesn’t offer that same advantage, although it is useful in is own way.

The D-tuner isn’t cheap either, so is a decent chunk of money on top of the 4-string bass.
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Re: Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby jjlonbass » Mon Dec 21, 2020 9:45 am

I have 2 Sire basses - both Marcus Miller V7 types, one version 1 and one version 2, both 4 string. I really like them, but I haven't tried one of their 5 strings.
My favourite 5 string bass is my KSD that I bought in 2008. This has 35 inch scale length which I think is important to get a tight sounding low B.

John
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Re: Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Dec 21, 2020 11:22 am

I would echo many of the comments WRT the low B, I have hand built P-Bass but converted it to 5 strings using a Wilkinson conversion kit*. The low B doesn't sound as good as the other four strings but, as I'm primarily a guitarist, the narrow string spacing suits me and the occasional low C or D is a bonus.

* Completely reversible as it only uses existing screw holes it's very neat and cleverly thought out, and very confusing to look at with five strings but only four machine heads until you work out what's going on.
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Re: Which 5 String Bass Guitar on a budget

Postby BigRedX » Mon Dec 21, 2020 12:53 pm

As someone who has been primarily a 5-string bass player for the past 30 years, I would say in my experience unless you get lucky with your bass like I did any 5-string on a budget is going to be a disappointment.

Unfortunately there is more to building a good usable 5-string bass than simply taking an existing 4-string design, widening the neck and adding can extra saddle and machine head. As the notes get lower the construction of the instrument gets more important in allowing the string vibrations to be accurately captured by the pickup. Good construction costs, which why most budget 5-string basses don't perform particularly well.

I'm an active participant on the Basschat forum where this regularly comes up and the number of players who have stories of owning a 5-string bass for a while, not liking it and ending up selling and going back to 4-strings. In almost all these cases, it's because they bought something cheap and unsurprisingly it didn't sound or play as well as a similarly priced 4-string bass.

Add to this the fact that IMO most low-B strings are woefully under tension compared with the typical EAD and G string tensions, so it's unsurprising that budget 5-string basses end up with a floppy feeling and dull sounding low-B.

From personal experience, the tings that go to make up a good 5-string bass, are a stiff rigid neck that is not particularly resonant. A rock-solid neck joint, which generally precludes bolt-on necks. And a high tension, low compliance B-string.

Increasing the scale length can make a difference, but again IME 35" is not a sufficient increase on its own. All the 35" scale basses I've owned have been disappointing. Any luthier/manufacturer who can make a good 35" scale 5-string bass is also capable of making an equally good 34" scale one. So go for 35" scale if you like the extra stretch between frets but don't assume that an extra 1" longer string will automatically make it play or sound any better.

I have yet to come across a 5-string bass that costs under £1k new that is any good.
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