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4 string bass after playing 5'ers?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by GRoberts, May 21, 2005.

  1. GRoberts

    GRoberts Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    I was in a local bass shop the other day and picked up a 4 string bass to check out some amps since they didn't have a 5 string bass worth a sh*t in the place. I realized after jamming out on the Fender Jazz 4 string bass for a while that I could play some riffs with ease that I don't on my 5 string Basses. I was having FUN!

    I haven't played a 4 string bass to speak of since I made the transition to 5 string basses several years ago. I no longer own anyhting other 5 string basses. But, for funk and some other styles, I don't use the B string much, so it seems like a 4 string bass would be a really cool funk rocket!

    Does anyone play both a 4 string bass and 5 string bass? I'm guessing if I pick up a 4 string bass that I will really miss the extra string and the extra octave.

    Just looking for words of wisdom from the brethren. Thanks!
  2. LA


    Oct 17, 2001
    At one of our recent practices, I realized I forgot my bass - left it at home, as usual - and was forced to play my old Yamaha BB400. It was fun. My collection consists of entirely 5-strings, but if I pick up an acoustic bass, that might be a 4-string.

    Actually, I don't think you lose a whole octave with a four. More like half an octave.
  3. I play five string because my guitarist tunes down a whole tone and plays in keys like Eb. Otherwise, for the kind of swingy blues stuff I do a four string is better. More fun. More groove, it seems to me. But the advantage of being able to play in any key with ease dictates my current choice!

    There must be a reason that fender only made ONE great five - the RB5. That whole ethos is 4 string oriented.
  4. ster


    Oct 18, 2003
    New Jersey
    I just went through the same dilemma and I ended up going back to being a four stringer full time after 2 yrs of being an exclusive 5'er and an occasional 6'er. At first, my switch had more to do with the sound and feel of my actual bass than the fact that it was a 4 stringer. I bought a Spector Euro 4 that smoked the rest of my basses in feel and especially sound. After a while I noticed that I liked the string spacing and the neck radii on 4 stringers better. I also liked the fact that there was more left hand movement as well to reach for higher notes where there used to be low ones and to me it sounded more musical. Just like you I was having more fun. I started playing my 5er's and my 6er's less and less so I sold them. Do I miss the 5er? Sometimes. When I want to lay down a fat groove or throw in some low octaves I tend to miss it. But on the whole, I have more fun on the good ol' 4 banger. :bassist:
  5. clouddead


    Jan 15, 2003
    I have played a 5 string since day one. I usually use it as a thumb rest as i find im playing mainly funk and jazz, which does not take advantage of the B string usually. My teacher plays a 75 reissue with emgs and it sounds awesome, got me thinkin about a 4 banger.... hmm...
  6. 'JC'


    Mar 14, 2000
    I have a 5 because it's a neccessity, I have a 4 because it's fun.
    Not that I don't like them both.
  7. i have two four strings a 5string and a 6stringFretless, I like them all, depending on what kind of sound I want, my one four string is tuned C/D-G-C-F which gives me unsual options with differnt open notes, a vintage '79 inbaez four string E-A-D-G with tremolo(thnx jondog :D) which has a differnt tone then all my other basses and has tremolo for a nice effect, then my 5 string for standard B-E-A-D-G which can handle most stuff, and my 6 string fretless for a fretless tone or extended range, I use all of them!

    Don't limit yourself to just a four or a five string if you can afford the additional basses, it's great to have options.
  8. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I'm right in the middle of the 4/5 transition. I'm finally comfortable enough on the 5 to take it to any gig. I thought I was actually going to use it exclusively, but then I had to return it for repairs and use the 4 again. I think both have their plusses and I will probably continue to use both. A 4 seems easier to handle (probably because I've been playing it for close to 2 decades) and more fun, but experimenting with the B string opens up a whole lotta doors. I like to do a lot of sliding and whirring when I'm playing and I can really have a lot of fun from the E on down.
  9. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    I play both 4 and 5 string basses with 4 string basses being my favorite. I switch back and forth and alway's practice with both but I feel more at home with a 4 string.
  10. Fealach

    Fealach Guest

    Apr 23, 2003
    Gone to a better place
    I switch between fretted 4, fretless 4, and fretted 5. The band's full length set is thankfully structured around the bass needed. I am by no means proclaiming myself to be a great - or even good - player, so if I can manage it anybody can. The songs written on the 5 need the 5, and so on, makes the transition easy since I'm not trying to adapt a song to a different instrument. The 5 string songs tend to be slower, dark and ploddy, the fretless songs somewhat more blues/classic rock like, or just plain odd, where on the fretted 4 I can let loose more.
  11. Simball


    Mar 26, 2005
    Portland, Oregon
    I've been playing for 17 years and try to be as versitile as possible. After 6 years of playing I switched exclusively to 5 stringers. Owned a Warwick fortress 5 that had a killer B string and a Tobias basic 5 quilted maple NT with a not so great B string. About 5 years ago I sold the Tobias (needed the $) and picked up a Fender Jazz 4 stringer. I have not played a 5 string bass since. Thought I needed the B string but I don't miss it at all!
  12. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    First off, I'll say 'Hey' to Simball!! Great to see another Oregonian on the board!! Now on to the post...

    I switch between four and five for my two current gigs... I use my Jazz V in the horn band, though for the most part a four would do fine. It is nice to have the Eb and D at my fingers when needed, and for some reason, some songs are easier to play on it even though I am using four-string fingering...

    I have my P set up with flats and fairly high action for the roots/rock gig... A lot of the stuff that we are playing falls into the Blasters/Hollisters/Romeo Dogs vein, and these songs scream for that P-Bass tone... On this gig, I'll also pull out the Danelectro Longhorn or Musicmaster, just 'cause they're so much fun to dabble with!

  13. I play about 80% Fretted 4 string, 5% fretless, and 15% 5 string stuff....HOWEVER.....I MUCH prefer 4 string fretted (I can get a VERY good fretless sounding sound on a fretted 4 when really needed) I usually carry a 5 to EVERY studio gig I do just in case (rarely need it)...I NEVER carry a 5 to a live gig (sometimes I wish I had one for the couple of spots I could use it for but NOT worth the risk of damage, theft, etc..) I carry my NYC Vintage 4 Sadowsky to EVERY GIG I do PERIOD! (its THAT good!!) For what its worth, I just ordered another Sadowsky 4 banger a couple of weeks ago!! (a AAAA Caramel Burst Swamp Ash/Maple 4!!!! insert smiley here!) I may wind up getting a Sadowsky 5 (just in case!! LOL!!) and then I am DONE!! I LOVE MY SADOWSKYS!!!!

    Edit: I should have mentioned that I have been playing 4's for over 33 years and 4's and 5's for almost 20 of that......Never bought a 6 (figured they would call Nathan East for that!! LOL!)...played one a few times but never really wanted one.....


  14. I started on 4's and then started playing a 5 string for a while.

    After I picked up a friend's 4 stringer, I realised just how much more fun it was to play.
    Long story short, I don't have any 5 string basses anymore.
  15. When I first noticed 5 strings in the 90s, I thought that the low B string was nice to have, but not necessary; I have since changed my mind.

    I bought my first 5 string four years ago this June. It took most of the summer until I felt comfortable on the 5er, but now when I play any of my 4s, I feel cheated, restricted. I ask myself, "Why can't all basses come with 5 strings and a 24 fret board?" I don't live on the B string, but love the freedom it gives you having the low D, C and B notes.

    I don't slap, so any argument about string spacing doesn't affect me.

    I don't think I would ever sell my Ibanez Musician, Jack Casady or Stingray, but my 5s get the lion's share of playing time.

    I can even forsee a 6er somewhere down the road.

    Five years ago I would never have thought this way.

    Live and change. ;)

  16. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Misc thoughts:

    I played 4-string for over 20 years before getting a fiver in Y2K. I now play nothing but fives. I can still play fours, but feel limited when I do so.

    In short, five strings is Just Right for me... I wish I'd started on it 28 years ago. I've sold almost all of my fours, even a MusicMan Cutlass that was my primary workhorse for over 20 years. I've no interest in basses with 6 or more strings.

    I have a strong preference for "wide" fivers. Because I played standard fours for so long, I can't quite get comfy on any bass with less than 3/4" (19mm) string spacing at the bridge.

    I encourage everyone else to play both fours and fivers (or even more, if desired). Me, I prefer to stick with five. :)
  17. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    I use both a 4 and 5 string, but primarly stick with the 5. I made the switch to a 5 recently (later last summer). I initially had some early problems with goofing up and being on the wrong string. Then I struggled with spacing. After a Yamaha 5, a G&L 5, etc, I've finally found a 5 that suits me. It's a LeCompte 5 with a big wide neck and wide spacing. Very chunky. I have big hands and I love it. Now when I go back to my 4, the neck feels like a toy!

    I do use the 4 sometimes. It's great on songs where I beat on the E string hard. Overall, I give the slight edge to the 4 in terms of ease of playing. It still feels a bit easier to play but I LOVE the versitily that the 5 offers. Oh, I also use the 4 on the occasional tune that I still do in drop D, cause that's the way I learned it before switching to the 5. Some of these songs just sound better on a 4 in drop D than a 5 and a couple are a bit easier to play that way (less reaching for the note). I also don't think that the heavy B string "rings" as good as an E string tuned in D (but that's just my opinion, maybe yours too?).

    I don't think that I'll ever give up the 4 string entirelly, but it don't get much use....
  18. Jugghaid


    Jun 28, 2002
    Denver, CO, USA
    I play mostly 5ers, fretted and fretless, but for slapping I still prefer the feel of a 4 stringer for some reason.
  19. Robear22


    Sep 28, 2004
    Zion, Ill
    I started out on a four and about 3 years in I tried a 5 and gave up on 4 strings. I thought I really needed the low B and it gave me a little more verstility in the type of music I play(Gospel, R&B, Jazz). I then moved on to a 6 string and finally a 7. Got rid of the 7 and went back to a 5. Now I finally have a 4, 5, and a 6 in my collection. I really enjoy playing the 4 now because of the string spacing and I understand the bass as a whole now. When I need range I go with the ERB's but just for good old fashioned funk and fun, nothing beats a 4. ;)

    I used to believe that I only needed one bass at a time but since joining Talkbass I see that having different types of basses just gives you more versatility.
  20. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Ijust came from checking out an amp with a Cirrus 4 and i had a ball slapping stuff with abandon since there was no B string to dodge. I have been playing 5s for 18 years and although I can slap on them just fine, I still enjoy just having a four.

    Right now I'm on the markert for a backup to my SR5 and although it makes sense to get another 5 because it would allow me to replicate all the notes on the SR5, I am really tempted to get a four because I just enjoy going full blast doing my crappy Marcus Miller/Larry Graham imitations. :D :bassist: :D

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