1. Welcome to TalkBass 2014! If you're new here, we just went through a major site upgrade. Please post all concerns and bugs to the Forum Usage Issues forum. We will be monitoring that forum. Thank you for all of your feedback.

    The TalkBass iphone/android app is NOT WORKING currently. We're working on it. Tapatalk IS working, so if you need to use an app, use Tapatalk. Try using your browser though - TalkBass is now 100% responsive to your phone/tablet screen size ;)

    Please read the TalkBass 2014 FAQ for lots of great info on the new software.

Does the "E" string really sound better on a 4-string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by taylor16, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. taylor16

    taylor16 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2012
    Likes Received:
    1
    This is something that Paul Turner mentioned in an interview and considering I only have 5-string instruments, I'm wondering if I'm missing anything by not playing 4-string basses. What do you all think?
  2. sotua

    sotua

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2004
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'd wager that probably falls into the realm of "stuff only Paul Turner notices", and file it just alongside Stu Hamm's "I switch my pickguards because they give me different sound".
  3. spade2you

    spade2you

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    Likes Received:
    0
    I used to have a bunch of Peavey 4, 5, and 6 string basses. I didn't really notice a difference in E strings between any of these basses.
  4. the ombudsman

    the ombudsman

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2003
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't know, but to me, a low D sounds much better on a dropped-D 4-string than on a 5-string.

    Not that it's supposed to be relevant or something.
  5. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2006
    Likes Received:
    0
    It's going to depend on the bass you play. I have noticed on Spector's, Stingray's, and Fenders - the 4 string model usually sounds different than the 5 string above it. The 5’s have more oomph in the 30-150hz category (or something similar) when compared to the 4 string model directly below it. I feel 4 string basses have a different sounding E string when compared to the same model 5 string. 5’s usually contain bigger bodies, a different neck, and different pickups. It is not an even playing ground. However, this is mostly what I hear on stage, in practice, in person and so on. Once you get the band mix together, start recording, adding EQ/effects, the differences will likely not be heard.

    Are 4 strings better with the E string? It’s all in your head man! Play what sounds good to you.
  6. mmbongo

    mmbongo Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Likes Received:
    11
    Oddly enough, I've always felt that 5 string basses had a better sounding E string. My Spector NS2J is about the only 4 string I've found that has an E string as powerful as my 5 strings.
  7. CrashClint

    CrashClint I Play Bass therefore I Am Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2005
    Likes Received:
    0
    There is more head mass on a 5 string so I tend to lean toward a 5 string having a better sounding and sustaining E.
  8. spade2you

    spade2you

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    Likes Received:
    0
    I keep a lot of my 4 strings in dropped D and with a thicker low string. It simply made sense to leave them in dropped D if I had 5 strings with an E string.
  9. jasper383

    jasper383 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2004
    Likes Received:
    0
    There is a real anti- five string bias in the very limited musical circles I run in, and I have heard that argument used a couple times.

    I think it likely depends on a lot of factors, and can't be narrowed down to the number of strings on the instrument. I think the E sounds fine on my Stingray 5 basses.
  10. VanillaThundah

    VanillaThundah

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    Likes Received:
    0
    Don't know if it sounds better, but I can tell you that a lot of the 5'ers I've played have had E strings with less tension than their 4-string counterparts. Some people prefer that, I kind of like tighter tension on mine. Totally personal preference though.
  11. mellowinman

    mellowinman

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2011
    Likes Received:
    9
    What about the G string? Is it better on a four string, a five string, a three string, a two string, or a stripper?
  12. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Likes Received:
    1
    +1 Ridiculous.
  13. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Likes Received:
    1
    This is literally impossible. For a given string at a given length, tension is constant when tuned to a given frequency.
  14. electracoyote

    electracoyote

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Likes Received:
    0
    I routinely vacillate between four- and five-string electric basses. 34" to 35" scale. I am equally adept on both and sensitive to any minor variances between them.

    IME, there is nothing to indicate that the E is weaker on my fivers, or any significant difference for that matter.

    On a well-made, properly set-up five-string, I'm having trouble imagining why this would ever be the case.
  15. ga_edwards

    ga_edwards

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2000
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would wager that this is because you're comparing an open string to a fretted string. Open string notes sound 'richer' and cleaner than the same note fretted IMO.
  16. Marihino

    Marihino

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Likes Received:
    0
    One thing I know is that Paul Turner is by no means "anti 5-string". He's got at least four 5-string basses that I know of, and is soon getting another, after me, and one more of his bass playing friends, recommended the same bass to him unbeknownst to each other. Having said that, I vaguely recall that interview. Will have to ask and maybe suggest a blind test :)
  17. Lucky Strike

    Lucky Strike Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2008
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm not sure, but I do know that 5's have much better low B's than 4's.
  18. two fingers

    two fingers Loud Mouth Know It All Blowhard Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would love to know what model bass that Paul used to compare an exact matching 4 and 5 string when coming up with the ridiculous statement. Because without comparing apples to apples how can he even claim this?
  19. lz4005

    lz4005

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2013
    Likes Received:
    2
    One more factor: When playing a 5 with your fingers, they'll hit the B after you play the E, which is a different sound than playing the E on a 4 where there's no B string to hit.

    Not better or worse sounding, but audibly different. At least in my playing.
  20. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think scale length makes a difference in timbre. I love what a 35" scale does for my B string, but prefer how 34" scale E-G sounds, especially open notes. Not a huge difference, but I always seem to notice it.

    Different strokes, some players prefer 30", 32", 33", etc basses. I think these preferences are at least partly due to a fundamental difference in sound caused by scale length.

Share This Page