Open string, or fretted 5th which do you prefer?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by xdanxx, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. xdanxx


    Mar 12, 2008
    Theoretically they should be the same exact note, but ive found hitting the fretted 5th to be much warmer on my bass.

    Which do you prefer?
  2. Legault


    Jan 22, 2013
    I would have to agree with that, gives a fuller sound to me ear and I also find it running through scales and stuff a lot easier then using an open.
  3. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I honestly never thought about it before as a "preference". I generally play the note in whatever position seems to make physical sense at the time, and am generally equally comfortable playing fretted - or open. :meh:

    Only time I might make a real point of hitting one over the other is when/if I want a specific tonal timbre for a specific portion of a specific musical piece. That's it.

  4. floppybass


    Aug 31, 2010
    Lyon, France
    In most cases, i prefer to play 5th frets, because the sound is indeed warmer, but if you start studying jazz, you will see/hear upright players often using open strings in their walking basses, comping, or even in their solos. For them it's much easier to stay in tune if they use open strings.
    I also found that if you want to play jazz on the electric bass, using open strings helps you to grasp that "upright fashion" style of playing.

    My two cents...

    Ps: First post on TB, yay!
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  6. fearceol

    fearceol Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2006
  7. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    I generally prefer the fretted note, all things being equal, for the consistency of tone. But the open string is great for an expressive effect. They do sound different. The best one is the sound you want to hear.
  8. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    I prefer position playing. And seems like I have fallen into the trap of placing my position on the 4th string only. Do need to use the 3rd string more.
  9. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    I also find the fretted 5th to sound slightly different but my preference on whether to play the fretted or open note depends on what I am playing and where the next note is.
  10. Liam76


    Dec 28, 2012
    I prefer fretted notes, but I do enjoy yanking an open string and letting it ring at the end of a verse.
  11. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Depends where I am on the fingerboard on any given occasion. Nothing wrong with playing an open string in the interest of "conservation of energy". "Gimme 3 Steps" uses (or can use) open strings in the riffs & runs. I do find it a bit harder to mute an open string note but my righthand technique leaves a lot to be desired.

  12. Depends on several things, mainly what effect I'm trying to achieve. Basically I try to keep both options in my "toolbox." Don't cost nuthin' so why not:)
  13. Both, depends on what I am playing and what notes are next
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Back in the day (for me, 1972)...about the only Electric Bass book available was the Mel Bay Bass Method. Somewhere in there, it sez, "...the advanced player will not use open strings...the reasons are obvious". Or something to that effect.
    There was no explanation, though. So, for years, I just ran with that.

    Eventually, though, I realized open strings could be used...and should be used in certain circumstances. A great example is the walking bass mentioned above by floppybass.
    I used to kill myself trying to play the bass breakdown from "All Right Now" without using the open "A"-string.
    Another: Try playing "Liberty City" without open strings.
    For a chromatic climb A-A#-B-C... back in the day (by the gospel according to Mel Bay), I woulda played a fretted "A" on the E-string & then shifted down to the "A"-string for the open "A" works great in lieu of "the shift". ;)

    Anyway, Open "A" & vs. a 5th fret/E-string "A" sound different...but so does a an E-string/8th fret "C" & an A-string/3rd fret "C", etc.
  15. RadioRob

    RadioRob Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2012
    I like an open string sound but I found that moving to country music with my side band, its easier and makes more sense to play fretted for two reasons. One is key changes and the other is country uses allot of the same paterns.
  16. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    On bass guitar I usually prefer an open A but prefer to fret the D and G. On double bass I use open strings a lot more, although I prefer to stop the G on the D if it's practical. My open G seems to ring a bit.
  17. most of the time i play in the first five frets.
    i always prefer open strings as it makes 16th runs easier and they sound more special. i like having more colour in my playing.

    but if i need consistent tone i dont hesitate to use fretted notes.

    also it depends heavily on the style im playing. i wouldnt really use open strings for reggae or funk (except the low e) but i for jazz, soul, latin i always prefer open strings to fretted ones.

    i realized, the more you practise incorporating open strings the better they soudn and the less negative difference there is to fretted notes. ie more consistency
  18. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Fretted 5th. Opens are OK once in a while for effects,i.e. Red Barchetta riff,
    but a lot to control when being played in faster sections.
    Jim K's comment on "...the advanced player will not use open strings.
    One reason for that is recording, i.e. over ringing.
    Studio cats have to play very clean.
  19. Open for bombs, fretted for everything else. Having a low B helps!!
  20. It all depends on what's happening in the song, and what's easier for me. Often, I'll try both, see which is easier/sounds better to me, and go from there. I also have a 5 stringer, so if it's in a standard tuning, I'll try different positions and see how it feels.
  21. iovar


    May 7, 2011
    Chania, Crete
    Most of the time I don't think about it at all and play whatever requires less motion. As complexity of a song goes up though, my preference starts gravitating towards fretted notes. That's mostly because it seems that open string notes interfere with my memorization process.