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4 string or 5 string

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Memphis101, Jul 21, 2004.

  1. Memphis101


    Apr 2, 2004
    Cary, NC
    hey i was wondering how many of you prefer 4 string or prefer playing on a 5 string bass. Right now i play on a 4 string and can do pretty well with it. I'm thinking about getting a new bass sometime soon and don't know if i should go to a 5 string when i'm already comfortable on a 4 string. tell me what you think.
  2. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    This question has been dealt with so many times before on this board. Please take the time to do a search.

    My opinion is don't switch if you are getting everything you need out of what you have. This is unless you have a burning desire to try something different. Play what you want to play. Neither 4 nor 5 strings are a requirement. So, pick what interests you the most.
  3. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I switched to five after playing fours for 20 years. Now I play fives exclusively.

    Now, what's best for me won't necessarily be best for you or anybody else. My point is simply that if you're curious about five string bass you should go ahead and try one. Also, you don't have to switch like I did... lots of bassists play fours *and* fives (and sixes, etc).
  4. GRoberts

    GRoberts Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    I agree with Fuzzbass. I played 4 string bass for over 20 years also, then switched to a 5 string a few years ago. It took a few months to get comfortable and a bit longer until I really had the grasp for all the extra notes on the 5 string bass.

    Now, I can't imagine going back to a 4 string. It would be like something is missing. I still have a little trouble slapping aggressively without letting the B string flap around. But I'm getting better at it. Just takes a little more finesse. - Gary
  5. The more strings you have the trickier it is going to play. I would say only get the number of strings you think you need. I use 5 because I got tired of dropping my tuning and I also realized that with the bands I play in the lower notes would be really helpful. Some people play 6 cause they feel they need the higher notes (which I hardly touch) and some people feel they need 8 to really get everything they need.

    Only buy what you need.
  6. I pretty much echo what Fuzzbass says, but I must add that once you find that low D note there, all the time, begging to be played, you may look at 4 stings as having a little something missing.

    I prefer a 5er.

    No right, no wrong.

    Mike ;)
  7. Then you have guys like Les Claypool who actually play a ONE string bass from time to time, and do more with one string than many of us do with 5. Hahaha!
  8. You will always feel comfier on a 4 than on a 5er, but as said before if you feel that 5 strings may help you to do a lot more things on a bass, go ahead!! you'll need a week to get used to it
  9. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    It's all in what you want.
    After playing 6-string for the last 3-yrs. I've gone back to 4-string.
    The number of string makes no difference.
  10. kyo


    Jul 6, 2004
    i play strictly 4s, i really dont like anything other than that
  11. AB53211


    Apr 15, 2004
    I personaly like 4s better, most of the music I play doesn't require 5s
  12. GRoberts

    GRoberts Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    Since no one else has said it yet; "Jaco only needed 4 strings" :oops:

    That said, I still love those low notes on the B String.
  13. Jaco didnt only use four strings, hes had fives before.
  14. kyo


    Jul 6, 2004
    yeh but by the same token, hendrix played left handed, doesnt mean guitarists should play lefty
  15. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    I have been playing bass for 12 years and geetar for about 27 or more. I started on 4 strings and eventually got the 5'er fever and bought the Lakland 55-94 you see in my icon pic. That bass is on tour with Destiny's Child some were. I played the 5 for about three years and found it difficult to back and fouth to a 4 for a while. But I did notice how much faster and easier and punchier a four string was, of course that is comparing a 35" scale witha 34" on the 4 string. Not all fivers are 35" scale like Sadowsky. My experiance was after the three year spurt I started playing the fours which all have drop D detuners on my basses and that's what I use today. I am not fancy and don't slap much, just in the pocket music, rootsy. I wouldn't mind having a different five sometime, and the Lakland was a superb instrument, it just got to me after a while and my old body of smaller stature wasn't digging the noticably thicker and longer neck. The strectch was just enough to aggreivate my joints etc. I'm going to try my buddies Sad 5 string (34") scale and see if I like it. I'm cutting down on gear again since I usually just use one bass most of the time. I have two beautiful Laklands but usually just play the Osborn USA passive. My 4-94 Deluxe has flats on it and sounds superb, but I rarely play it so I might sell. I have another four coming today as a matter of fact that will either become my main bass or a cool backup, which I always have at least one.
  16. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    2-string electric upright wombat kazoo, that's my choice.
  17. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Heh! Well, this goes to show that there's no way of knowing until you try. Like Gary, it took 3 months for me to get comfortable on 5, and longer than that to play it like a 5 rather than a 4+1. Some take to 5 quicker, some are slower.

    That said, I am *much* more comfortable on 5 than I am on 4. As Michael said, 4 feels limiting to me. So many people say "get a 5 only if you need the low notes"... that is so incorrect. The beauty of playing 5 (or more) strings is having a greater range of notes available in each fingering position. There's a lot more to the B string than those 5 notes below low E: most of the time I spend on the B string is at or above low E!
  18. I personally had trouble having a 5 string and a 4 string in my collection and switching back and fourth, especially with my band where I had to adjust all the positions in the songs. My cure, sell the 4 and get another 5. Now I have two 5ers that I can use anywhere and not get all mixed up.

    I also use the low B as a effect/enhancement tool,... meaning there's nothing like playing the bridge of a song in the quiet low register and powering through the chorus up an octave. Dynamics.
  19. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Hell, Gregory Bruce Campbell plays a 9 and a 3 string. I figure that's gotta be worth something.
  20. GRoberts

    GRoberts Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    I also use the low B as a effect/enhancement tool,... meaning there's nothing like playing the bridge of a song in the quiet low register and powering through the chorus up an octave. Dynamics.[/QUOTE]

    Well said! I find there is a tasteful way to use the B string. Both for enhancement and dynamics. I also have found the addiditonal finger positions and extra notes above the "E" are extremely useful. - Gary