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4 or 5 string

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Devildog, Jan 2, 2001.

  1. Devildog


    Dec 14, 2000
    Hello All
    I must say this is a great board to gather information. I have been reading the posts for about a week now and finnaly dicided to jump in. But anyway back to my dillema.
    After a decade of waiting I have finnaly dicided to pick up a bass again and take some lessons. I have dicided to make my first purchase a MIM jazz bass they seem to have a good reputation and I like the traditional fender look. But I don't know if I should go 4 or 5 string. It seems that many of you like them for the extended range but is it something a biginner should start out on or is it something you only need if you plan on playing a perticular type of music???
    Forgive my ignorance but I figured I'd ask those in the know.

    Thanx in advance for any advice.
  2. Domino


    Dec 5, 2000
    I would recommend starting out on a 4 string for sure. Once you absolutely master the 4 string, then move up to a 5 string if you feel you really need the extra low end.
  3. fat jonny

    fat jonny

    Jul 8, 2000
    Columbus Ohio
    I would also suggest starting with a 4 string. Once you get a good feel for it and learn the fingerboard, the transition to a 5 string is easy. BTW, good choice on the MIM jazz, I just got one and I love it.
  4. membranophone


    Mar 19, 2000
    Madison, WI
    You should play both the 4 and 5 string basses and decide which one you like more. Since you've played bass in the past, you probably have some clue about what you like in a bass, so run with that. There's absolutely nothing wrong with starting on a 5 string, and no, you don't have to "master" the 4 string before you can upgrade to 5.

    If you are totally divided on which bass to buy, I'd say get the 5er because you have 2 octaves of range in each hand position. This is the main advantage of a 5 string bass, not the extra 5 low notes.
  5. Many of the major rock players have played four strings and in a band situation they work well. If you play a lot of covers tunes five strings are better as they can go as low as some synthesized bass lines.
  6. Yeah....go with the 4-string....I´ve played for 11 years and only 5 days ago I got my first 5-string. But damn...the fiver is fun.
  7. BasketCase


    Jan 1, 2001
    I seem to have done it differently than you guys. My first bass was a five string, then when I got my first four string, I think working with the 5 so much made it way easier to play. Thats just me though...
  8. oo0o00o0oo


    Apr 30, 2000
    I wish I would have started on a five string, but I think you should choose whatever feels more natural to you.
  9. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Who has mastered the 4 string? John Patitucci? Anthony Jackson? Alain Caron?:)

    These are great bass players who play 5 and 6 string basses and I guarantee you that all of them will never say they have mastered the 4 string. No offense, but this is a silly concept, much as telling a beginner to start with a fretted and once he's mastered that to get a fretless.;)

    Last time I checked, there was no such thing as a beginner upright bass with frets. :rolleyes:

    Devildog, it is up to you. Do you feel like the 5 string would be too much of a challenge? Does the type of music you want to play require the extra range, or does the idea of having those extreme low notes available sound like something you like?

    Go to your local music store(s) and play some 4 stringers and some 5 stringers, see what feels comfortable, see whether you like those 5 extra notes or the fact that you can play songs in F at the 6th fret of the B string or the first fret of the E string, whichever you like.

    Good luck in your decision, and welcome to Talkbass! :)

    I for one wish I had started on a 6 string as a kid. It is much easier to go backwards than it is to learn all of your technique on a 4 string and move up(IMHO).
  10. I would start with a 5. Find one that is comfortable to you and go with it. If you do decide to go 4 down the road, it is going to be easier to make the transition down, rather than having to learn how to ADD a string. (does that make sense?). But that's just me.
  11. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    Dont settle with 5 Strings!!!
    Go for the FULL 7 Strings!!!
    I think that is better if you start right out with the 5 String.
    I wish I started with the 6 string, but I got it really fast (6 hours) when I switched from my 4 String.
    I have never looked back since.
    I even feel that having a 5 string fretless is a little "limiting", but thats just me.

    My advise is GO WITH THE 5 String. There is no such thing like:"Start with a small car, then go to a station wagon, then to a full Van" Start with what you need.
    You can learn to fly... and in the process you will learn how to walk and run. That´s my way to see it.

  12. Domino


    Dec 5, 2000
    Well, every bass player I know has started on a 4 string. Also, they have always felt that beginners should start on a 4-string and only move to a 5 string after they've mastered the 4 string. I don't know anybody that has started on a 5 string right off the bat.
  13. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I know! Why not start with a 3 string? Or maybe a 2 string?

    Heck, let's make it REAL easy and start with a 1 string.


    Anyone shoud be able to master that in a few weeks or months, then you can move on up the the 2 string model!:)[​IMG]
  14. oo0o00o0oo


    Apr 30, 2000
    Domino: You can NEVER, not even if you have Jaco's talent and 1,000,000 years 'master' and instrument!!!
  15. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    Hehe Emb, I'll go do that :cool:

    No wonder geetarists suck; they have to start on six :D
  16. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    Although I can play most songs on either... The songs I learned to play on a 4-string, I can still play better on a 4-string. The same goes for 5-string. If you wait until you have "mastered" the 4-string, you will be waiting for a very long time.
    membranophone nailed it earlier... "you have 2 octaves of range in each hand position. This is the main advantage of a 5 string bass, not the extra 5 low notes".
  17. Devildog


    Dec 14, 2000
    Hello All
    I would like to thank you for all the help.
    When it is all said and done I ended up buying a fender
    jazz 4 string with the active pickups. I tried the 4 and 5 string basses and the 4 just feels more comfortable in my hands. Maybe somdey I,ll try a 5 but for now Im in love with my candy apple red MIM jazz bass.
    Thanks again
  18. I play in a hardcore band and we tune to B...I started on a 5 string Fender, it was nice but way to heavy, so I bought an Ibanez 4 string and tuned it down. Way more lighter and easy to play, but it lacks the fat low end the 5 string had, so I'm probably going to get a 5 next
  19. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000
    A lot of you argue that you should "master" the 4 string before you go to 5. How do you "master" the instrument? I could be wrong, but I don't think Jaco had "mastered" it! And besides...how does the concept of "mastering" the 4 and then moving to 5 work? It seems to me just like embellisher said...it's much easier to start on something bigger and then have the ability to downgrade if you want. Actually, if I would have had my choice, I would have started on a 7 string. If you can play one of those monsters, you really oughta be able to play a 4!!!
  20. I'd most definately say to get what you find comfortable. I started with a 4 string, then I moved up to a 5 string. I still love the 4 string, but the 5 string fits my playing style more. I don't regret starting with a 4 though.

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