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4 or 5 string to start with?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Abemas, Dec 16, 2005.


  1. Abemas

    Abemas

    Dec 15, 2005
    I'm trying to decide what I want to purchase for my first bass. I want to go middle of the road in quality and I was planning to get a 35" scale 5 string (Schecter seems to be the most popular) but I have been warned that its much easier to start on a 4 string and progress later if I still want to. I'm not new to stringed insturments (used to play acoustic and cello) so I am leaning towards 5 string both because I would like to have the extra range and because the lead guitarist who I would eventually be playing with (church band) likes it when they have a 5 string in the group...Can anybody give me any insight regarding this choice as well as recommendations for brands? (Looking to spend $400-$600)

    Thanks!
     
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I don't think it's any harder to learn on a 5 than a 4, and if you're going to play in church, you will definitely need the low B string. Lots of good 5's in that price range on the market. Fender, Ibanez, Spector, Hohner, Peavey, just to name a few.
     
  3. bad_andy

    bad_andy

    Sep 21, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    FWIW, you may in fact find it easier to start with a 5, because you have more notes in one hand position on the neck. What may be difficult is going back and trying to play a four string without having your intuitive fingering choices relying on a string that's missing. I went from 4 to 6 after my first year, played the 6 exclusively for a couple of years then bought a Jazz bass and found it hard get around on at first.

    On the other hand most beginning bass books are written for 4 strings, so you may learn how to throw the switch in your head that allows you to use a B when it's there and forget about it when it's not. That's what I do when I switch between my 4 and 5 on a gig. Clear as mud? :smug:
     
  4. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Many will say starting on a 5 is fine. I think if you start on a 4, later in life you will appreciate a 5er much more and understand the advantages better. Plus the low B strings on cheap 5ers stink.
     
  5. Sean Baumann

    Sean Baumann Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2000
    Livin' in the USA
    If you are going to be learning from books/videos. Most of them only cover 4 string bass. If you start on 5, be sure to put extra effort into incorporating the 5th string.
     
  6. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    If you are planning to play a five, you might as well start with one. No need to 'work your way up' as some will say.

    If you are going to play church music, you need a B string.

    I am not a big fan of Schecters, mostly due to the narrow string spacing. If you learn on one, it might not be a problem for you. But I would play as many five stringers as possible before buying one.

    Even if you can't play one yet, just holding it, getting the feel of the neck, and plucking around on the strings might help you determine what is comfortable for your hands.
     
  7. The Lone Strang

    The Lone Strang

    Jun 28, 2005
    Why do some of you say that if one is to play in church they need the low "B?"

    Justa wondering.
     
  8. Sean Baumann

    Sean Baumann Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2000
    Livin' in the USA
    because you'll play in keys where a Low D, Eb, or even B is necessary. Blame it on the piano! You could just detune a 4, but 5 keeps it consistent.
     
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    There are tons of newer gospel songs that are written around the lower notes. Hey, I don't like 5's any more than a guy who hates 5-strings. But it's a fact of life in church pretty much.