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Starting out with a 4 or 5 string

Discussion in 'Ask Adam Nitti' started by scottie65, Mar 29, 2014.


  1. scottie65

    scottie65

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2013
    Location:
    Colorado
    Hello Adam,
    I am wondering is it just best to start learning to play on a four string bass or should I just buy a 5 string. The reason is that I see most people playing 4 strings and am not sure if there is that much music that a 5 string would be needed for. Can you enlighten me?
    Thanks,
     
  2. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2002
    Location:
    Reims, Champagne, France
    Unless the music you want to play asap requires a 5 string bass, starting with a 4 and even spending your entire life on a 4 is perfectly fine.
    Also keep in mind that a good 5 string bass and the amplifyier to correctly render it are considerably more expensive than a basic 4 string setup. You are likely to be disappointed with a cheapo 5 stringer.
     
  3. adamnitti

    adamnitti

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2001
    i don't think there is a right or wrong answer with this one, per se. a 4 string bass is not 'inferior' to a 5 string, and vice-versa… however, if you have an affinity for learning bass lines from players or genres in which the extra range of a 5 string bass is relevant, then you could argue jumping into the 5 string right at the beginning is a worthwhile move. (a lot of music these days features the 5 string bass, actually, but it depends what/who you're listening to.) the benefit is that you learn to manage the extra muting responsibilities and slightly modified hand positions from the get-go and it becomes a part of your playing discipline immediately, without having to undergo 'modification' if you decide to change to a 5 string later on...
     
  4. scottie65

    scottie65

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2013
    Location:
    Colorado
    Thanks for the advice Adam. Your explanation is the best thus far I have gotten from anyone. Is there any place on the web where I might find out about the muting responsibilities and any of the hand modifications you have mentioned? I had the thought in the back of my mind about the muting because even with a four string as a new player I have seen where you need to stop the vibrations on even a string that is vibrating due to the sound waves put off by other strings. I just do not want to pick up any bad habits that I have to unlearn as many would say.
    Thanks,
    Frank
     
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  6. adamnitti

    adamnitti

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2001
    hi frank-

    this video should help you with a muting strategy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDzRqeS0ruQ

    for more in depth technical studies like these you can also check out my instructional site at www.adamnittimusiceducation.com

    hope that helps!
     
  7. Yehuda777

    Yehuda777

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2010
    Hello,
    If go for 5 strings, take in account what the neck is best for you: regular or broad. For example, if gonna play slap it's better to go for a broadneck. Me now want to switch from 4 strings to 5 and because of my fingers are used to the space of 4 strings, it looks like I'm going to order the broadneck. The same is if you play on the 5 strings and switch to 4 the fingers should switch to the different distance between the strings
     
  8. SturmUndDrang

    SturmUndDrang

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    Location:
    Nashua, NH USA
    I tried both early on and concluded my preference was for 4 strings. Things were going fine and now these guys want to play Swamp Diddy.
    Adam, you don't go lower than D on that do you? I was hoping I could get away with down tuning.
     
  9. adamnitti

    adamnitti

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2001
    hmmm… i think low D was the lowest note in that song. you should be able to play by down-tuning no problem! :D
     
  10. SturmUndDrang

    SturmUndDrang

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    Location:
    Nashua, NH USA
    Thanks Adam, that's what I was hoping for. I'll try to work up a transcription and share it here.
     
  11. adamnitti

    adamnitti

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2001
    awesome!
     
  12. SturmUndDrang

    SturmUndDrang

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    Location:
    Nashua, NH USA
    After a little work, I've discovered some interesting things that still pertain to the OP's question. One can play Swamp Diddy by detuning a 4 string but it would be ideal to play it on a fiver. Why? Because the open strings, especially the E and A becoming D and G change the whole technical approach to the bass line. I will probably use the original track only as a guide for my own interpretation of how to play the song because I don't need to buy another bass at the moment. Eventually I think I will get a 5 string because as this instance has proven to me, some things you just need a 5 string for.
     

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