4 strings - threatened species?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Funkateer, Nov 11, 2002.

  1. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    Was in Gelb Music this weekend shopping for a 4 string and overheard their bass specialist saying that he doesn't keep many 4 string exotics around because everybody seems to want a minimum of 5 strings. Are 4 string electric basses becoming a collector's item for historically minded R&B and rock players, with 5+ strings becoming the norm for 'forward-looking' bass players? Seems like most of the 4s they had (Mike Lull, Lakland) are designed to appeal to the Fender crowd.
  2. I got relatively bored with 5 strings, and prefer 4s. I can incorporate the B into what I play, but I've always felt more comfortable on my 4s.

    I keep it because I need it for some stuff. I don't drop D, so I'll use my 5 for drop D songs. Other than that, it just sits and looks nice.
  3. Most retailers I've seen on the web and locally, are receiving less 4 stringers each time. I think 5 will definatelly become the standard number of strings in the future.
  4. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    i still prefer 4 strings. fell beter with 4 strings and i have a more "eccentric" style playing a 4.
  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    The price difference between 4,5 and 6-string versions of a boutique bass is usually pretty small.
    So a 5er is a good choice, not much more expensive than a 4, not as hard to handle as a 6 or 7, and you get a low b, which becomes more and more a necessity.
  6. ashtray9


    Aug 1, 2002
    Tempe Arizona
    I have no need or desire for a fifth string, so I will always prefer a four. I think they look better, too.
    Also, going to five limits the choices for strings. I love flats, and most brands are four string sets.

    When I have completely mastered the electric bass (probably not for a LONG time), I may consider adding to my range.

    Who wants to hear an amateur fumbling around in sub sonic mud?
  7. I get pretty tired of hearing this fallacious argument. Nobody has ever "completely mastered" the instrument, not even Vic Wooten.

    A bass guitar is a tool, and a five-string is a more versatile tool. Given the proliferation of super-thin necks and wide string spacing on fivers, if you have more difficulty playing a five-string than a four-string, you either haven't played many basses or your technique's lacking.

    Now, having a low B isn't always essential. I myself am purchasing a fretless four because I don't need that extra low range for jazz and quiet/spacy rock tunes.
  8. I don't know about them being threatened. They've sort of had a run of popularity over the past few years, though its starting to fade. Not that they're any less viable, but fewer are using 5-string basses. They've stopped being a fad and instead are actually being used by people who can utilize their potential, rather than by boneheaded rap-rockers who detune them and don't play much higher than the 3rd fret. Like JMX said, the price difference between a 4 and a 5 isn't that large so it kind of makes sense that if you're serious enough to plump down $2000+ for a bass, you probably want it to have everything you might want.
    4-strings won't disappear, they're too much of an institution. If you really want a nice 4, you can always have one custom made.
  9. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member


    IMHO the 4 will probably always be around, but i think that the 5 is here to stay, and will eventually replace the 4 as the most popular configuration.
  10. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    I ran a thread on 4/5 that to me was very informative and I truly appreciated the feedback I got. It was instigated by my wonderfully talented yet wise-ass guitarist who felt that a 5 was the only real deal-(He was just givin' me static!)
    I've played "old-school" 4 for 30+ years, and of course the feel is new, and hard to teach an old dog, etc. Taking up the 5 is a challenge I will enjoy .
    The lack of a B (or high C for that matter) in NO WAY limits or lessens the challenge of playing the beautiful 4-string bass-NOT!
    There is no limit whatsoever that has been attained on the instrument, be it 4 or 5.
    If the added string/intervals/depth, etc can expand the players' range and he/she finds it happening, so be it-Yet if I keep on keeping on my P-Bass-
    Don't worry about it! I can & will amaze!
    (figuratively & hopefully speaking-ah! you know what I mean!):cool:
  11. grackle


    Sep 27, 2002
    Washington, D.C.
    One advantage of 5 strings is the option of being able to play patterns across the fretboard without having to shift to open position or having to move up and down the neck as much.

    I would like this about my 5-string even if it didn't have the lower range.
  12. superphat


    Sep 30, 2001
    4 strings are great.
    5 strings are great.
    6 strings are great.

    no need to compare them to each other.
    no need to playa-hate on any of them.

    i think basses go through trends and cycles, just like everything else in this world, but in the big picture of things, IT'S ALL GOOD.
  13. Is Bass specialist at Gleb music the Bass God?..I figure he said this because most bassist that are into expensive exotic basses play 5 or more strings. That doesn't mean that 4's are out of style or will become a theatened species. I a have a bunch of 4's and only one five, For me that low B string is nothing but a thumbrest most of the time....4 strings just work better for my playing.

  14. BassAxe


    Jul 22, 2002
    Culpeper, VA
    If the day ever comes when you need a 4 and only fives are available, just get a five and take off one of the strings. :rolleyes:

    Actually, considering how often I bend a string off the edge of the fretboard, I just might get a six and remove the high C and low B just to give me more neck room. :p
  15. Not for me: 4 is it!

    And with so many bass icons primarily using the 4 I don't think it's endangered.
  16. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    I like this post.

    I'll add:

    7 strings are great.
    8 strings are great.

    that's all I can comment on.

    I am revisiting the 4 myself lately, & finding that I enjoy it immensely.
  17. I'd say one string basses are a threatened species.

    Everything else seems to be doing fine.
  18. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    I don't the "standard" won't change to 5s... 4 strings will always be there..

    Jaco didn't need more than 4
    Jamerson didn't need more 4
    Stu Hamm doesn't need more than 4
    Wooten doesn't need more than 4
    Manring doesn't need more than 4

  19. superphat


    Sep 30, 2001
    let me ask you guys a question about drums... i'm curious because i'm not a drummer.

    is a 5 piece drumset "standard"?
    or would that be a 7 piece set?
    what about single-bass drum?
    or is the double-bass drum standard?

    maybe this argument happened with drummers way back in the day when 3-4 piece drumsets were "standard"??

    geniunely curious...