5 vs 6 string

Discussion in 'Ask Anthony Wellington' started by funkybass, Jan 19, 2014.


  1. funkybass

    funkybass

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2006
    Location:
    Indiana
    Hi ant. I'm wondering why you choose to play a 5 with a low b instead of a 6 string bass? I'm trying to decide if I want to move up to a 6 or stay on my 5. I do like my 5 with 19mm string spacing, and thinking I might feel cramped on a 6. I'd love to hear why you play a 5 string.
  2. Ant Wellington

    Ant Wellington

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Location:
    Maryland
    Yo FunkyB,

    I wish I had a profound reason to give you but I don't.

    I went straight from 4 string to a 6 string the I restrung from E to high F(like a 7 string with out the B string). Then I went to a string fretless(my 1st custom bass) and then to a 5 string fretted.

    But I knew that I would end up a 5 string player for 1 simple reason,...

    I needed to cover the bassline on the song Flashlight that came out in '78. That bassline went down to a low C on the synth bass and the line isn't as effective an octave higher.

    That's it! That's why I started playing a 5 string bass.

    The 6 string wasn't for me because I still think of myself primarily as a bass player who is fulfilling the role of bass. An extra high string doesn't fulfill that role(for me). And I don't want to play an extended range bass just for looks. I'm not that insecure that I need to look like I can play by having a lot of strings, especially strings that I'm not gonna' use on most of the songs. If I were soloing on every song it would be a different story. But I'm playing baselines 99% of the time. A 'C' string isn't necessary for that.

    But I own a lot of basses so I can choose the bass I need for the situation. But my preference is to play bass.

    Coincidently, I still think of myself as a 4 string player. A 4 string player playing 5 string out of necessity.

    peace,
    anthony
  3. Bassman197835

    Bassman197835

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Do you use the B string a lot Ant ? Since Ive swapped Ive looked for places to fit those notes but to me! My inexperienced ear.. They dont seem to fit that often.. I find myself using the B as a thumb rest more than a string.
  4. Ant Wellington

    Ant Wellington

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Location:
    Maryland
    Hey Bassman,

    I do use it a lot. I'm like Jamerson, I play the root and go 'down' to the 3rd a lot.

    -anthony
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  6. marcblum

    marcblum

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Aachen, Germany
    went from 4string to 5string (with low B) to 5string (with high c) to 6string (with low B and high c)

    found out that switching between 5 and 6 strings only leads to geometrical confusion and stage accidents

    decided to focus on one string configuration, in my case the 6string

    that's all
  7. Ant Wellington

    Ant Wellington

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Location:
    Maryland
    Yea, it can lead to confusion. That can only be overcame by practice on all string 'configurations'. It definitely can be overcome.

    As a teacher, I chose to mirror what is across from me. So I keep 4, 5, 6, 7, fretless, piccolo, tenor, upright, guitar and keyboard at Bassology. And even though I don't advertise as an upright, guitar or keyboard teacher, I routinely teach them all.

    It's just a matter of practice.

    peace,
    anthony
  8. Rev J

    Rev J

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2012
    Location:
    Berkeley, Ca.
    I know you were asking Anthony but from my experience going from 5 to six it helped to have both. I made the transition by playing the 5 for about 55 minutes a a day then the 6 for 5. Then I'd play the 5 a little less and the 6 a little more until I eventually played the 6 full time. By the way my main axe is a Fender Steve Bailey Jazz s I kind of have a soured up classic sound. I also joke I love the six because I'm lazy. In one position I have two octaves and a fourth without shifting it simplifies things a lot.
  9. KristinBidwell1

    KristinBidwell1

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2013
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Disclosures:
    Professional Bassist, Private Instructor
    6 string bass is AWESOME!!! It allows me to play higher pitched chords, notes, and harmonics with the C string. Having the low B is a lot of fun as well. 6 is also great for practice! The more notes you play during daily exercises, the better you become...I'd practice with a 12 string bass if my hand could reach all the notes :) 5 is fun as well, but symmetrically a 6 makes more sense to me. That being said, bass is the best instrument on the planet, regardless of how many strings it has!
  10. Ant Wellington

    Ant Wellington

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Location:
    Maryland
    Funny, 5 string is symmetrical to me. Perfect 2 octave modes and pentatonics in 1 position.

    1 string in the center on the dots and 2 strings on either side.

    We all define symmetrical differently. And that's great!

    -aw

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