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4 stringers, why not go 5? .......DB and EUB only

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by bobsax, Apr 8, 2014.

  1. bobsax


    Jan 16, 2011
    Southern Oregon
    I'll be getting either a BSX Allegro or Eminence EUB and I'm looking for advice on whether to get a 4 or a 5 string.

    5 seems like an obvious choice with more note possibilities but lots of people seem to prefer the 4.

    I'm only a DB player so I have no BG experience .
    Is it just easier to switch from DB to EUB when both are 4?
  2. Waiting for Paul Warburton... He's got a classy 5er.

    There's a cool Wilfer 5er at Gage in NY, but I'd need to win the lottery first to buy it.

    Sorry that I've no experience/advice to offer you, but thought I'd bump the topic as I'm interested in it.
  3. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2011
    Torrance, CA
    I had considered buying a 5-or-more stringer since I picked up the upright. Many people whose opinion I respected discouraged me. Probably best summed up by my luthier who said: *it's awkward to reach around that extra string and it makes the neck very wide, plus a low-B it not very useful and kind of floppy. A high-C gets too much into the guitar's territory*. I don't know if all of that is accurate but that's the explanation I got and much of it seems plausible. I do know that I rarely wish I had a note lower than low-E and I’ve never wanted a note higher than the high-G at the end of the fingerboard. The time I really longed for a high-C is before I learned to play in thumb position.
    I have purchased a 5-string EUB and my experience is that it took me a fair amount of time to not confuse the B string with the E string when I look at the neck. I think I find it useful to have, but not a category killer. Would I buy another 5-stringer? Probably not because IMO it's not worth the extra hassle or expense for the occasional low-Eb or added flexibility to reach a low note in the middle of the fingerboard without having to travel all the way back to the nut.
    I’m sure you’ll get lots of well-experienced opinions pro and con. Just my two cents.
  4. tcl called it: Big. Ass. Neck.

    I put in years on five-string slabs so the low B on my EUB wasn't intrinsically confusing. In fact, it's a lot of fun through a big PA, especially with the stick. But having 20% more wood and metal for the left hand to deal with is a lot.
  5. leona1

    leona1 Supporting Member

    May 27, 2009
    Ron Carter, Buster Williams, John Patitucci, Mingus, Ray Brown, etc.............. 4 strings, it's all there.
  6. Wow. Is there any love for the 5?

    I've got big hands, so I'm not worried about extra wood on the neck; Mind, I've never had the chance to play a 5-string DB (and I tried literally nearly 100 at Shanghai Messe a few years back and don't recall any 5er DBs, didn't look at EUBs).

    At least with a 5, you can avoid a C extension.

    Another option is the Hipshot Droptuner mechanism for double bass. You could have a 4-string and then drop the hipshot device down to D or even C.

    Hopefully a proponent of 5 will chime in soon.
  7. I have a 5-string DB and EUB with high C. My hands are not big and my DB has a 110cm scale.
    I'm always mixed up when I play other peoples 4-stringers at jam sessions. It got better after practicing a bit on a 4-string Stagg EUB (my 4-string DB was stolen many years ago). But it takes more time to be able to play on a 4-string too. Not so much of a problem with a EBG, you almost always can carry it with you, but flying with a DB is no fun.

    Low B might be a bit easier, since the solo stuff is the same like on a 4-string.

    The hipshot droptuner could detune your other strings too, since the tailpiece is not fixed. And some strings don't like to be detuned that much too often.

    The EBG standard is 5-strings now, but DB is still 4-string. Think about that you need to play other peoples DB on festivals, sessions and when travelling long distances. It is hard to impossible to rent/borrow a 5-string DB where you need it.
  8. Bigmuffdiver


    Mar 28, 2014
    Why I don't go 5.. Never really thought of getting a five string. Most probably I'll never get a 15" speaker, so the low B's won't be too good anyway.
  9. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Digital Brand Development and Product Development at GHS Strings
    Proponent of the 5 string right here.

    That's bull. The 42" scale of the low B string on an URB or an EUB make it VERY usable. It will still be looser feeling than the other strings (mainly because of the frequency it has to vibrate at), but it's usable. And bowing a low B is just awe-inspiring. As for the C string, oh please. The only reason it gets into the guitar's territory is due to the limitations of the player.

    I have a CR5-M EUB, that's strung with a low B. I mainly play in musical theatre pits, and the trend for the past 10 or so years with these new scores is to write URB parts that need either a C extension or a low B string. So for my needs, it fit the bill rather nicely.

    It does take a bit of getting used to, but I've found overall that adapting to a low B string is much easier than a high C. Usually with the low B, you're already used to the top four strings, so adding the fifth isn't anything major. Putting a high C on there screws it up a bit, only because at that point your highest string is not the G anymore.

    Not at all. I'm an endorsing artist for Phil Jones Bass amps, so I run all of my basses through little 5" speakers (or in the case of the Double Four, 4" speakers). The B string handles it fine. But then again, Phil designs everything from the ground up instead of companies that just throw a speaker in a box and call it a bass cabinet.
    maestrovert likes this.
  10. scojack


    Apr 1, 2009
    Eberhard Weber used a 5'er..

  11. Mark Gollihur

    Mark Gollihur Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 19, 2000
    Mullica Hill, NJ
    Owner/President, Gollihur Music LLC
    In the electric slab bass realm, I'm a huge fan of "more strings." I have 3 six-strings, a few fivers, and even this monster:

    For upright (and EUB), though, I guess I'm kind of a 4-string purist. Mostly because the arched fingerboard gets more complicated, and bowing is more difficult, as the angles are closer - it's much easier to accidentally double-stop. But, as Jon noted, for modern pit orchestras, that low B can come in handy.

    I'd say it's a personal choice, for sure - and you should try to get your hands on a five string before you jump to any conclusions. You may find that the transition is easy for you, and the extra range is worth it. But I would not discount, wholesale, either option.
  12. remainthesame


    Sep 24, 2008
    very common misconception. i play a 5 string tuned down to Ab and i play through 10" speakers. my Ab is nice and thunderous.
  13. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    On EBG the standard is still 4. Since most people still play 4 string EB although there are a lot of 5 stringer also of course. I have played 6 string EB for 6 years (after playing for 4 years on 4 string) but eventually sold it and went back to 4 string. On upright I prefer 4. But sometimes it would be nice to have a high C string. But I also like to play really high in thumb position. I am afraid the high C will make me lazy and 'prevent' me from playing in thumb position on the G string.
  14. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Digital Brand Development and Product Development at GHS Strings
    True, although I'd say the actual tuning of a EBG is getting hazy. Lots of 4 string players are tuning BEAD, Drop D, and all of the variants in between, over the "standard" EADG.

    Can you explain that a little more? I'm trying to see how having a high C string, and having the option of playing the same passage in two different registers will make you lazy. You may prefer one option over the other, but that would be more about the context of what you're playing over anything else.
  15. bass_case

    bass_case Maintain low tones. Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2013
    Miami, FL
    Whatever it takes to serve the music. One, or no strings if you use a synth.

    edit: oops, just saw this is a DB thread, feel free to ignore.

    I recently picked up my first bass with more than four strings, a $99 SX Ursa 6. It's pretty cool, at this point I'm mentally processing it as a four surrounded by two ones. The width is less of a problem than I thought, my right hand has more trouble with the string spacing, maybe a tighter radius would help. The weight sucks. Can't see playing a long gig with one of these. More strings means more weight and more $ for strings, etc., other factors being equal.

    I still prefer four strings (they just look right!) but nothing wrong with having more. Or less.
  16. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Maybe lazy isn't the right word. But when you go high on a 4 string you have to go into TP on the G-string. I can imagine you take the easy road and don't go into TP and just play it on the C string which can make your TP practice 'lazy'. You can of course go in TP on the C string but that is not really necessary for most of the classical repertoire. You will move to cello territory when you go high on the C string which can also be nice I have to admit.
  17. John Burgess

    John Burgess

    Nov 28, 2011
    I have both a 5 string DB and EDB, with high C strings. The fingerboards are identical in width to my 4 string.

    Some people may not like the feeling of the strings being so close to the edge of the fingerboard. To help with the bowing clearance, you'll definitely want to avoid flatter fingerboards, and the action will need to be consistent to get an even clearance from string to string.

    Very long and thin metallic strings give a distinct sound. My spiro mittel high C is thinner than cello strings, and so there is a special touch when it comes to pizz and arco. Probably not the best choice for a thumpy tone. The arco however is extremely clear and delivers a brilliant tone.
  18. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I've never played a 5 string upright or EUB, but I think I would go 4. I have no reason other than that is a traditional upright and if I'm playing upright I'm playing a "traditional" type of gig.

    Not to say you can't use a 5 or 6 string upright for any kind of music, just that for me, I'd go traditional 4.
  19. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Digital Brand Development and Product Development at GHS Strings
    I guess that all depends on the player.

    Since I usually play my CR5-M in a seated, cello, position (due to spacial issues in small theatre pits), I'm usually in TP a couple positions earlier than when I hit the octave. And since the CR doesn't have a heel at the D for reference, there's nothing telling me I can't go into TP, if it makes playing passages easier. And depending on the piece(s) played, I may not go into TP until past the octave because again, the CR makes it possible to play everything in regular position if you want to.
  20. bobsax


    Jan 16, 2011
    Southern Oregon
    just to clarify, There are many threads in BG land on 5+ setups so the DB and EUB in the title is really to prevent BG players from chiming in.
    This thread is in the EUB forum so I was really just thinking the topic was for EUB's. Lots of them have 5 strings and usually not much more expensive then 4.
    However there has been some great conversation on the option of a 5 string on a DB. I am a huge fan of Paul Warburton.
    My research lead me to believe that it was pretty hard to get a low B on a modern bass. Mr Warburton's is one of just a few that were made a long time ago.
    I recommend his duet CD with Dale Bruning.

    I never thought about how the high C would be confusing but the comments on it are very enlightening.
    Adem Ben Ezra uses it very well and the things he does don't allow for thumb position .
    maestrovert likes this.