Anyone moved away from bothering with a B-string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by topo morto, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Personally I've always felt that (for me) "If it doesn't have a B string, it isn't a bass". But the difficulty in finding a really good B string sound (not just the bass, but the amp/PA system/room/mix as well) is making me consider going back to 'almost-basses' that stop at E until I can afford a really good 5 - at least a Lakland, maybe a Dingwall ABZ or something. And I should be putting my money aside for other things ATM.

    Anyone else decided to KISS and stick to EADG?
  2. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    Yup, about 15 years ago.

    I played a fiver for a few years because a band I was with played a few songs that a five string was helpful, but very quickly decided that I could do it on four.

    I've played four stringers since.
    f64 likes this.
  3. micgtr71


    Dec 4, 2012
    Tried the five string thing a bunch of years ago but I found that a four was much more comfortable. I view the five the same way that I view fretless. Good for the tunes that they are needed for. For everything else, I use the four.
  4. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    Really? What would you call what people like Paul McCartney, James Jamerson, Carol Kaye, etc were playing?

    Whether or not a bass is 4 or 5 string is just a matter of preference. I own 4 and 5 string and use them according to what I need for the song. However, the truth is that you really do not need a 5 because all you really gain are 5 notes in a lower octave. They do sound better in some songs but one problem is that many people who play 5 string use the low B too much and as a result they just "muddy" the sound of the band.
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  6. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Well, the name of the instrument is a 'bass'! But it is my feeling that stopping at E doesn't allow the instrument to quite do justice to that name - coming from a synth background, there is a lot of life in the bass register well below that. The lowest D on a 4 is barely 'bass' really...

    All other things being equal that would be quite a big gain IMO, if those notes could be got sounding good...

    Yep, I've definitely been guilty of that! Though in many cases I think the line would have sounded fine on keyboard.
  7. Yep, I found that 4 is more fun for me. I do appreciate more strings and check out 5 and 6 string basses occasionally but I cover my low note needs via DGCF tuning and a Hipshot.
  8. polyrhythmia


    Feb 10, 2010
    I have a five string bass, but rarely use the B string unstopped. Don't plan on going back to a four string bass, not when I can reach almost two octaves without moving up or down the neck.
    embellisher likes this.
  9. I rarely use the "extra" notes on the B string, but if that low string wasn't there I'd be lost. Same goes for the high C string. I recently had the opportunity to play a very high end Spector 4 on a recording, and I couldn't do it.

    Plus, those skinny little necks feel like they're going to snap...
  10. billgwx


    Apr 10, 2009
    Centereach NY
    I loved having the low B when needed, but my 4-string muscle memory kept fouling me up. Given the choice between working on that, or tightening up my overall bass playing and also devoting some time to electric guitar, I chose to drop the low B almost a year ago.
  11. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    Ditto to this. Nice to have a 5 and a fretless and a shorty, but a long scale fretted with 4 strings and a drop d tuner is my main configuration and probably always will be.
  12. jaxstarke


    Nov 6, 2010
    Having the low B to me, in my opinion, would mean just a few extra notes I'd rarely, rarely ever feel the need to use. I've owned a 5 string for years and I always just kept the low B tuned up to D and even then I used it little more than I would have the B. It's just more of a convenience thing. Not having to drop the tuning and whatnot if the guitar player happens to play in drop D. I haven't played that bass in forever and will probably sell it. Four strings is just the all-around better way to go for me. Doesn't take but a second to tune down for the rare occasion that I would need to.
  13. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    Even though its easy enough to do manually, those hipshot extenders are addictive. I have 6 on basses and one removed from a bass I sold.

  14. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    I play a 5er when I need one, and play 4s when I don't - pretty simple, actually...

    Regarding a good sounding B string, I've had no problem with that by using 5ers by EBMM, Spector, Ibanez, or Schecter - thru amps by either Mesa, Genz-Benz, or G-K, into cabs by Mesa... I'd say to have a good sounding B string, you can't go cheap when it comes to amplification...

    - georgestrings
  15. I use the low B string enough that I decided to get guitars with a low B as well.
  16. sven kalmar

    sven kalmar

    Apr 29, 2009
    ive had a yamaha 6 and a 5 P/J. the main advantage i think is that one can play scales and stuff a bit higher on the neck without moving the hand so much. however ive sold both
    i like the classic feel and sound of a oldfashioned Pbass..
  17. Hounddog


    Dec 2, 2004
    Southern, Illinois
    Sadowsky Featured Artist
    I love my B string. The key is a great Bass constructed so the B string sounds great and an amp that can handle it. I hate to play 4 string basses anymore.
  18. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    I've only gone back to 4 strings because of injuries. When I have a B string, I use it so much I tear my arm all up again cranking my hand around to play it lol...

    So my position on the B is, I simply survive without it. if you can do a 5+ string physically, there's no reason not to have a low B, or the higher strings on a 6+...

    I could do the B-E-A-D thing, but I don't have a bass to sacrifice for that job at the moment.

  19. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    What I tend to find is that the B sounds weak by comparison on passives, while on actives the you can get a strong B with EQ, but that leaves it sounding fake and lifeless compared to the higher strings. You also tend to get weird bell-like sounds on the B string, especially on the higher frets.

    Incidentally I've never had this problem people talk about with a 'floppy' B... it's just the sound.
  20. G On Bass

    G On Bass Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2007
    Ventura County, CA
    I can't say I agree with that mentality, but I am pretty sure I'm stuck on 5 fivers for the foreseeable future. All the B's on my basses are excellent, and I use that B string all the time (though rarely going below the D). As other have pointed out, it's about positioning.

    I also don't agree with the "I don't need 5 because I can do it with 4" bit either (because in some cases, technically, you can't). But 4's and 5's and 6's all have their places, IMHO.

    Now about those 18 stringers....
  21. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Tell me more: I'm trying to get escape from it! :)