Do I have 5 String envy?
I am so totally tempted to go for a five string bass (or six) but just cannot find one with a satisfactory B sting. I cannot tell if it's the basses I've tried or just the b string itself: seems all wobbly and when not fretted, just "farts." (kind of like a drunk chick) Seems like the readily available string sets have humongous b stings that just dont cut it for me.
Am I missing something? I know the 5 string would allow me better access to lower notes, and keep me from having to dip below the 5th fret for "standard" notes.
Does anyone ever tune the 5th string to D instead?
I like bassists who stick to 4 strings (Entwistle, Dusty Hill, Mcartney, Jamerson) but also 5 stringers like Lesh and Gordon...Plus, the older I get, or rather the older my singers get, the less likely they're able to sing somehting I dont have to tune down for.
Why not tune a 4 stringer to BEAD?
The B string varies greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Dingwall has the best I have seen as the 37"+ length allows the notes to be clear with sustain all the way up the neck. Carvin has an amazing open B but it does get overtones around the 12th fret (their 35" might be slightly better I don't know). Ibanez SR and GIO are meh but BTB is alright. EBMM and Fender are meh. Warwick is decent, some Epiphone are decent. (import)Peavey and Yamaha are some of the worst I have seen, granted I haven't played high end offering from either only up to around the $1200 range. Those are all personal opinions, I am sure some will differ with me.
I love 5 string basses. The whole key to a good low B is usually a good setup. Make the neck a flat as you can and usually the low B works better. Also a good set of strings. Some string manufacturers don't make good low Bs. Da'addario and DR are usually good sets of strings for a 5.
Also if you don't like 5 string basses try D standard tuning. DGCF
Seems like you have the perfect reasons for going 5! Six-string I don't know, do you want to do chording, soloing, or just staying in position when using higher notes?
Finding a good low B can be hard, and they are easier to find with high-end (and thus expensive) basses, but some cheaper ones can be good too. The B on my Drozd is fantastic, but I have a cheaper Cort Artisan too that has a decent enough B.
Of course, a B-string is never going to feel excactly the same as your E-string, just like your E also doesn't feel like the A. After all, it's a thicker string...
So there is a bit of getting used to, no matter how good the B.
Also important to consider with 5-strings: string spacing, as this can be narrower than 4-string. This depends on your personal preference and the techniques you use (larger string spacing often better for slap), so make sure to test some different basses out and see what you find most comfortable.
I am happy with my Yamaha BB415. Took a good set up and DR strings though.
I floated the idea in the Technique forum about tuning a fiver to D standard, basically a step lower than a five with the high C: DGCFBb i think it was.
My idea was to give me the lowest note I use on an open string, like ai get from drop D, while keeping the same string intervals. I could even get away with doing a D standard four string, but I thought the idea cooler and the high string might give a little more freedon when transposing from E standard on a four.
It would also allow a much thinner string than a typical D string, something like a .110 or .115 should work fine. Companies even sell drop-specific sets and a 55-115 set plus a 35 for the high string would be easy to come by.
One could play most of the music, except for metal, that is played on a five or a six using the higher hand positons. I thought it was a good idea.
I got zero response.
The 5th string requires a lighter touch than the 4th string. Otherwise, it will sound much like you described. A .125 gauge on the B string works great on my Spector's with a 35" scale. I get great definition and plenty of low end.
As already mentioned, the spacing on the 5 string bass is typically narrower than your standard 4 string. Some can cope with this while others will struggle or hate it (me!).
Sadowsky and Warwick have wider spacings available. Spector offers a little wider than the 1.75" nut width which most 5 strings are based on.
Music man Bongo has a decent b sting.
the best B sting I have played was on a MTD Kingston Z bass. Sounded amazing.
The Yamaha BB1025X I owned had a good-sounding Bee to my ears. It was nice & defined. No wobbly feel or sound. I only sold it because it was heavy & I wasn't too happy with the looks.
As a four-stringer who's been making forays into the five- and six-string world in the last year or two, I'll say that there are very few B-strings that I've been really happy with. It seems that stuff you can get away with in the construction of a bass and still have a tolerable E-string doesn't fly with a low B. More mass, lower frequency -- it needs solid contact with a good, firm platform upon which to vibrate and through which to transmit vibrations efficiently. A mushy neck, bad bridge, bad setup, bad neck-joint etc. won't fly.
That said, the right strings and a good setup can make a big difference, not just in how the bass feels but in how the B-string performs. I had an Ibanez sixer (for sale in the classifieds now, but not by me -- I don't own it anymore) which, when it arrived and with the strings it had on it, was disappointing. The B felt tubby and unresponsive compared to the other strings. Switching to a more balanced-tension set and giving the bass a good setup yielded a very respectable (but still not perfect) B -- nice tone and much more "bouncy" and responsive.
As for tuning a fiver to "D" (I assume you mean D-G-C-F-Bb), I've wondered about doing this myself. EADGC tuning is not that uncommon for five-string players, and a lot of four-stringers have tuned their basses down a half-step to Eb standard or a whole step to D. This combines the two. If you're happy with the resulting range, the only real drawback I see is with the potential difficulty of switching between that and a standard "E" tuned bass. Notes/tunes would lay differently on the fingerboard and you'd end up crossing strings in different places, too. How big a deal this would be would vary from player to player, I'm sure. Would have to try, myself, to see how I'd cope...
Probably a little easier to get a satisfactory low D than a low B.
As for four vs. five, sometimes I like one better than the other. Four forces me to think more creatively about voice-leading and alternate positions for things. Five obviates the need for some of that. There is more, of course, but that's been discussed at length in other threads...
Haven't owned a six for awhile, but have thought about trying it again.
This posted while I was typing my long-winded response. I'll add that I've found Circle-K strings good for all kinds of funky sets -- he can make you something for more or less whatever tuning at whatever tension you want.
Part of it, for me personally, might be one part of my brain's way of doing this behind the back of the other part of my brain that wants to avoid a 'real' fiver.
I've gotten by with D-tuners, but I am uptight about my low string feels. When I have had D-tuner equipped basses I feel I am compromising either the E or the D position with my low string size choice. Also because of this feel phobia I have never taken to fivers tuned to the typical B, the feel is more than my feeble brain can handle.
The DGCFBb tuning would make my personal issues go away, then it is simply an issue of learning the instrument.
I did know a guy in high school who had a five string tuned DEADG. He thought it was cooler than detuning the E. I could not play that one.
All the warwicks Ive played have amazing B strings. I wasnt too impressed w the fender and yamaha fivers
Started playing bass in 1976, and I've never even touched a 5-string bass.
5 string envy ? maybe so. me too.
I've always lusted for that perfect 5-string.
Owned a few, high end basses.
They were nice, but I have yet to find that perfect 5'er.
I still play 4-string mostly. But still keep looking for Mr. 5'er.
Is it me ?
As for tuning the 5th string to d Yes it works but you need to get a 4 string set with a slightly heavier e string not a b string
I've use all types of whacky tunings. There is no law that says you have to tune a certain way. With some basses i even go outside the of the normal 4ths and dropped bottum string box. On 4 strings I've even used octave tunings like aadg and ddgc so the two lower strings are an octave apart. I've mostly had 5 strings but they were all tuned in 4ths to f#bead, beadg, eadgc, with the exceptions of aeadg, and dadgc, my 7 string has even been in three different tunings; beadgcf, f#beadgc and g#beadgc. The g# tuning is my main tuning lately. Our guitars players tune to b with 6 strings and g# on 7 strings. My bass is like a 6 string bass with a lower "alternate" string. This allows me to use a different string gauge for the low b and low g# so the g# isn't floppy from tuning down a lighter low b and the low b isn't super tight from tuning up the heavier gauge. I use daddario XL strings. The gauges are 145,130,100,80,65,45,32. with the tuning i use, the reach to the low b string is about the same as any 6 string. if i play the low g# string its normally only on the first few frets. I really like the way the 7 string neck fits my hands but I definetly acknowledge its not for everyone
You can do all kinds of fun stuff. If you want to tune a 5 deadg go for it. It actually works better than using a hipshot bass extender because you can use two different gauge strings for the e and low d. Tuning a 5 eadgc is fun for Soloing, for example its great for jazz noodling. It's also nice for chords and tapping but the negative is the reach to the e string is going to be a little more. For some people (like myself) that extra reach is no big deal. But for others it is to far. Hands come in different shapes and sizes so there's a lot of opinions of there. I'm a fairly big guy at 6' 240lbs and built like an nfl linebacker. I wouldnt say my hands are abnormally large but maybe slightly larger than average. So someone who is 5'4" with small hands would probably hate my 7 string. At the same time I can play anything but I actually fatigue faster on 4 strings and 5s with small necks.
My Carvin LB 75 is great. I down tune to C and it is still very clear and crisp.
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