I'm looking to buy a bass. But i need a little guidance from the experts.
I haven't been playing very long but i feel like its time to move up and get something better from what i have.

originally i was going to buy a fender jazz bass which is a safe bet for anything.
But i was also looking at a 5 string ibanez sr505. and i was wondering what the difference is between 4 and 5 sting, other than the obvious extra string.
Is there much of a sound difference or is it really as simple as adding an extra string?
I haven't played that particular Ibanez, but they tend to have a pretty standard 'modern bass' sound; very versatile and adaptive, pretty good for anything.

As far as 4 vs 5 string, I'd say there's no actual difference in sound on the 4 strings they share, but that the 5th string does have a difference tone to it, beyond the difference in pitch, obviously. I wouldn't call it a positive difference, but it's not a deal-breaker, to me. I find it tends to be darker, and much more prone a boomy sound, but that it tends to sit fairly well in a band mix regardless of how it sounds on its own. It's also not too hard to eq around this.

I've played cheap 5s ($5-600), and expensive ones ($3000+), and they all seem to do this. Although if anyone knows a way around it, I'm all ears...
it should have no real change. if you played the higher 4 strings on a 5 string jazz and a regular 4 string jazz, any differences would be miniscule, excluding those caused by string difference, tonewood, etc.

the 505 is a nice bass, but it is very quiet in a mix without serious EQing, somewhat boomy. a jazz will punch through and sit upfront a little more, if that's your thing. some people don't want to be totally in on the mixing.

that said, Ibanez necks seem to get worse and worse. I've seen a few of them come in new terribly warped or with finish/knot issues. make sure you play it beforehand, and look down the fretboard for straightness (you should do this anyways, but especially with Ibanez basses).
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I like the sr505. For a long time, the sr505 was THEE only 5 string i liked. But, a few months ago when i needed to purchase one for a gig, i did what i'm gonna tell you...


The big difference in 4 vs 5 strings is the actual string spacing. This TOTALLY affects the comfort and ease of playing. But, you won't really know this till you have the bass in your hands.

I'd HIGHLY reccomend buying used. Ibanez in peticular had some AWESOME things going for them in the 90's... but as of late their stuff has been less-than-stellar. The Squier Active 5 is a great sounding bass... but for ME the string spacing was too wide.

FWIW: I ended up settling on an Ibanez, myself... the rare, only made in 1992 CT Bass...

But... i wouldn't have known how awesome it was, or even KNOWN about it, unless i tried it myself.
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yeah thats definately gonna be the difference between a 4 and a 5. string spacing. I played a 5 string jazz and it seemed to have very similar string spacing to a normal jazz which beefs the neck out a bit (which I like). other brands tightne up the spacing to make a slimmer neck.
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I've both a Precision V and a Jazz they both have the same string spacing as the 4 string cousins.

EDIT:I forgot to add that I own several Ibanez 5 strings as they are modern instruments they tend to have narrow string spacing.
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Last edited by dark Mass at May 26, 2011,