1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

4 or 5 string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Poop-Loops, Mar 9, 2006.

  1. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    I still haven't bought a bass yet. I had my mind set on a 4 string bass just to start out, so I don't get in over my head. But I am seeing lots of 5 string basses, so this makes me think they are nothing special.

    Are they harder to play or learn how to play on? If I see a nice one in my price range, should I just get it?

    Any pros or cons to 4 vs. 5 strings?
  2. puff father

    puff father

    Jan 20, 2006
    Endicott, NY
    4 string works for 90% of what I've played over the years. 5 extends your range either lower or higher depending on how you tune it. Most people tune the bottom string to low B, the other four are the same as a four string bass.

    Consider what kind of music you like (and are apt to learn to play).

    For learning..., 4 is probably fine. Personal preference really.
  3. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    I shouldn't shy away from them if I see one that I like, though?
  4. absolutely not! Play what you like/want!!!
  5. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    I cut my teeth on a 4, but I always wanted a 6. I now play all 3 sizes. I think I'm starting to lean towards only playing 5.
  6. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    Ok, thanks everybody. Next week I will scoure the pawn shops for a bass guitar and bass amp. If I don't find anything I want, I'll go to GC.
  7. You should check out mulepods thread: "Now I understand the 5 string". It's all about the pros and cons of a 5er. Well, it's more about hand position and how a 5 can actually make playing easier.

    Basically a 5er lets you play further up the neck. For exp: on a 4 string the low F is the 4th string 1st fret, on a 5 you can play it 5th string 6th fret. It opens up more options and it's easier to play up the neck. I've only been playing a 5er for about 3 months now and it has opened up a whole new world of bass for me.

    It's really up to you, I don't think a 5 is any more difficult than a 4. You should play on both and decide what you like more.
  8. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    As a 4 stringer for many many many years, I recommend starting on a 5'er. I see no logical downside to this.
  9. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    If I find a 5 string bass that is BEADG, but want it to be EADGC, do I need to buy new strings or can I just tune the strings that are on there higher? Will they stretch out that far without snapping?
  10. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx

    Absolutely do not do this, way to much tension on the neck.
  11. E=Fb

    E=Fb Guest

    Jan 28, 2006
    Melbourne, Australia
    I started learning on a 4 and had a little trouble adapting to the 5er. Dunno how starting to learn on a 5 and moving down to a 4 would work.
  12. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    So I'd need to get different strings to change the tuning?
  13. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    Anybody have any tips for scouring pawn shops? Like, I don't want to pay $150 for a used guitar that goes for $200 new. Unfortunately, I don't which bass guitars go for how much off the top of my head.

    Also, this will be my first venture into a pawn shop. Do I haggle? What are some buzz words I can say so that I don't seem like a total n00b talking out of my ass (which I am), so they will lower the price?
  14. g00eY


    Sep 17, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    i would go for a 4-string first, then after awhile upgrade to a 5 (if you want). in my case it took a little over a year. i bough my first 5 on the spot, with about 5 minutes to think about it. it's hard to go back to 4s sometimes now. some songs just require those extra low notes to sound right.
  15. PotsdamBass8

    PotsdamBass8 Supporting Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    If you want to convert it from BEADG to EADGC, you need to get new strings AND get a new nut cut. Otherwise the strings will rattle in the nut. And a setup would be necessary too, since the change in tension would affect it.
  16. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    The choice of professionals is the 5-string. Nobody's playing fours any more.
  17. AxtoOx


    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    I play both, you need to tune down for all the new Rock. I don't know what you play. With the B string you don't have to change tunings between songs. On new Rock, I play my 5. Anything Grunge or later.
    For classic I still use my 4's.
    If your going to tune your low string to E, I'd just get a four if it was me.
  18. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    I see. My ear isn't developed yet, so is there another way to tell if it is EADGC or BEADG? I don't want to get the wrong one...
  19. AxtoOx


    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    BEADG is the norm, I've yet to see one the other way though that's not saying much. The main reason people get a 5er is for the B. That's why they were developed. Unless it's been converted or custom made, you won't see one, but the low B is pretty obvious.
  20. unity bass

    unity bass

    Dec 15, 2003
    Modesto, Ca.
    Do your research of the used market. Visit Ebay and sort by price, buy it now and by brand (and on and on). You can choose from thousands instead of 10 or 20.
    Also, Talkbass classified, Harmony central classified, bassgear.com, gbase, bassnw, rondo music, the list goes on.

    If you do live in an area with a strong local music scene, you can and do find great choices in the pawn shops.

    Look for cracks and repair work. Ask to plug it in (don't be shy). Turn all the knobs to see if they work. Look at the fret wear. Stand the bass up vertically, stand over the bass and look down the neck to see if you can see a twist. The list goes on.

    If you know anyone who has been playing bass or guitar for a while, take them with you.

    If I were buying my first bass (total n00b) I would get a SX Jazz bass.


    Best of luck with whatever you decide.