Famous players that only use four string?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by earlofmar11, Dec 11, 2013.


  1. earlofmar11

    earlofmar11 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2012
    I've been playing bass for about two years now (after more than 35 years of guitar) and only played 4 string basses until now. Recently I've been getting gas for a 5 string. So I'm trying to convince myself that I don't really need it. Restriction can be a good thing...

    To support this, I've been thinking that there must be quite some famous bass players that stick to 4 string basses. I may be mistaken, but I think that some of my favourite players never use anything else: people like Chris Squire, Mike Rutherford, Geddy Lee or Pete Trewavas...

    Is this correct? Do you know other famous examples (speaking of course of the time since 5 string basses are widely used)?
  2. bassteban

    bassteban

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2004
    Location:
    Northern California
    Flea, Sting, Entwistle(RIP)...
  3. ToP fan

    ToP fan Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Jamerson, Prestia, McCartney..............
  4. seang15

    seang15 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    Location:
    Cary NC
    Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten mostly four. Jerry Jemmott, Duck Dunn etc.
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  6. jloftin1

    jloftin1

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    Aug 7, 2009
    Location:
    Carrollton, Ga
    Jaco (someone had to be the first to say it) and justin chancellor.
  7. deernaes

    deernaes

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2012
    Location:
    Louisiana
    My opinion has always been that if you can't do it on a four string, you definitely can't do it on a fiver.....
  8. natw42

    natw42 Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2009
    Location:
    South Jersey/Philly
    Some of the people mentioned so far have used 5 strings at times - Geddy, Flea, Macca.

    An instrument is like any other tool - use whichever one you need to get the job done.
  9. 6stringpanda

    6stringpanda

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2013
    Actually the question should be who doesnt play 4 string.

    Multi string basses are not more common than 4.

    I have always played differently on a 4 string-as a 6 and 7 string solo player-I see them all as different instruments.

    I also see the 6 and 8 string guitar as completely different instruments and I play them differently.
  10. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    i guess i don't play 4 strings.
    at least when i can get around it.
    if you waved your magic wand and said the words, and my remaining two 4 string basses are turned into 5ers, i'd actually thank you. It's hard to get the sound of my vintage P fretless from a modern instrument, so that's the only 4 i play occasionaly.
  11. bassteban

    bassteban

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2004
    Location:
    Northern California
    Disagree. Assuming for the sake of argument we are talking EADG tuning on a four, and no detuner, hit a low B, C, C#, D or D# on one. Slap in any of these keys.
    Some basses can absolutely do things others cannot.
  12. activebass

    activebass

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2013
    Location:
    Singapore
    +1 for bassteban.

    I enjoy playing on a 4 string, but during my days in two cover bands playing 6 nights a week for over 2.5 years, a 5 string was absolutely essential. The low B string just gives you so much more options and some songs would simply sound lame if you could not play a low B or D and had to play them on the A string.
  13. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    Location:
    Milton Keynes, UK
    Famous players that only use 4 strings? Probably most of them. I say this as a 5-string player.
  14. activebass

    activebass

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2013
    Location:
    Singapore
    Krist Novoselic, Duff McKagan, Jeremy, Davis, Brian Cook, Alan Woody, Robert De Leo (has a 5 string signature model, but I can't remember seeing him use a 5 stringer)
  15. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2003
    Location:
    Newport News, VA via NYC
    Disclosures:
    Kohlman Bassworks
    I'd bet there's way more 4 string players than extended range bass players. I play my 5 string only when I need to, I much prefer to play my 4's!
  16. russpurdy

    russpurdy Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2013
    Most bassists you see playing straight ahead rock will be playing four stringers. Not to say that there won't be a five string in there but four is still the standard it seems. Just off the top of my head here are a few...

    Matt Freeman
    Mark Hoppus
    Tony Franklin
    Dee Dee Ramone
    Stu Hamm
    Steve Harris
    Herbie Flowers
    Pino Palladino
  17. russpurdy

    russpurdy Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2013
    Rick Danko
    Kris* Noveselic
    Nate Mendel
    Billy Sheenan
    Allen Woody
    Geddy Lee
    Nikki Sixx
  18. 1960jbass

    1960jbass

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2013
    Location:
    Appleton, WI
    Jack Bruce
    Geezer Butler
    Dusty Hill
    Steve Harris
    Glen Hughes
    Greg Lake
  19. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2002
    Sheesh!

    Will Lee
    Marcus Miller

    IME the 4 with the Drop tuner will cover any club gigging cover band playing tunes that are popular. Notes below Low D are not required.

    4's vs 5's: there are trade-offs. The lower notes on the detuned E string use a longer string length vs same note on the 5 and sound less compressed to my ear. The 5 lets players nominally play with fewer position shifts. However, a mature player eventually figures out that position shifts are required anyhow to execute lines not written for bass guitar. So, this rationalization is less important to me.

    I personally will play the 4, 5, or 6 depending on no particular reasons I have to explain to anyone. However, I find the 4's to be generally useful in most situations and not at all displaced by the 5. I do have the HipShot on all my 4's. Even my 62 J.:D
  20. SteveC

    SteveC

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Forks, North Dakota
    This is a big thing in the debate for me. I have been playing 5's for a long time. When I play a 4, I play differently. Not better or worse, just different.

    I am finding that while I occasionally use B and C in church, for MOST of my playing, a low D covers 99% of my needs.

    I am debating going to or adding a P bass to my tools. I have been listening to Pino and Jamareo Artis (Bruno Mars) lately and they lay down some ridiculous groves and licks on their passive 4 string, 20 fret P basses.
  21. therhodeo

    therhodeo

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2011
    Location:
    Owasso OK
    Plenty of stuff requires notes below D. Even modern country. That may not be the case IYE but I would say that that has more to do with the breadth of your experience and less to do with what reality actually is.

    And as a "mature" player who also sings alot (lead and BGV's) that "rationalization" is quite valid as I see no need to jump all over the fretboard to play stuff on a 4 when I could be in one position on a 5.

    And yes I own both 4's and 5's. And if I don't know the set before hand or need to be flexible or need to sing I'm taking a 5.

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