4 Strings vs 5 Strings - Help needed for modern Praise & Worship

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by jowes, Feb 8, 2017.


  1. jowes

    jowes

    Jan 2, 2017
    I am a new bass player currently playing in Church. Our church focusses songs primarily on Hillsong, Bethel and the early Hosanna/Vineyard stuff. I have only played a ESP LTD B10 (which appears to me to be a precision style bass) 4 string guitar and the tone seems awfully inadequate for this stuff. While for some songs it does sound well, for the most I am struggling to get the right mix of treble and bass and of course this makes everyone else disturbed!

    Now I have decided to upgrade to a Squier Jazz Guitar, either the VM or deluxe variant. Now my question is, will the $ spent for a 5 string be worth it? I've searched many forums and they all seem to talk about added benefit for a E-flat scale with a 5 string. In my playing of songs in C, D, D#, I have not felt the need for a 5th string most of the time. However I do feel limited when playing in E or F scale. For Eg. our church plays '10000 Reasons' in F scale and its always a struggle to do a 'F, E, D' note sequence when I play F note in the 4th string.

    So my question is - Do gospel bassists play F scale an octave up usually? If not how do they handle the F to Dminor chord sequence? An answer to this will help me to take a call on whether a 5 string is worth it.
     
  2. brianmharrison

    brianmharrison

    Oct 11, 2007
    Atlanta
    Having the low B string adds to your range and makes it easier to play some riffs without shifting positions. However, a lot of 5 strings are heavier, have a wider neck and/or have tighter string spacing. So it is a trade off.

    FWIIW I had a 5 string, sold it due to the tight string spacing and built my own 4 string. I found I could not play as fast as I wanted to due to the string spacing tripping me up. When I played in a worship band I found I rarely used the b string except for a low D on occasion.
     
    Anders Barfod, allenhumble and jowes like this.
  3. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    I find that for P&W that a 5 (I even use a 6) string is a pretty valuable thing. Not just of the low notes, but for doing tunes in different keys, sometimes at the drop of the hat. That said, many people do just fine with a 4 string. They are usually cheaper for a quality bass. With a 5, you need to spend a little to get a good B string.

    There are Sundays where I don't touch the B string (other than as a thumb rest which is nice) and some where I use it as often as is appropriate. Last week, a 4 string with an octave pedal would have been a good option. I almost always play with a keyboard so there is no lack of low end potential.

    There's nothing wrong with playing - 10,000 reasons for example - up an octave. It still sounds good. You can also tune your E string to D for a few specific songs. DADG isn't that hard a tuning to play for one or two songs. With tuner/mute pedals you can do it pretty quickly, and for many P&W songs, bass doesn't come in until the 2nd verse or chorus or something anyway - especially in the style of music you list. We do a lot of that as well.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
    JLY, G RICH 5, basspraiser and 2 others like this.
  4. I use a 4 string for my Praise music. My F pattern is at the 4th string 1st fret. I do catch the E pattern at the 4th string, 12th fret - I could do this 3rd string 7th, but, don't --- and for that reason I doubt the 5 string bass being of value, to me. Why do I say that? I've stuck pretty close to the 4th string for my patterns - and if it ain't broke, why fix it.

    I use flatwound strings and foam rubber at the bridge for the sound I like. The 4 string does everything I need.

    I think this is a matter of want more so than need. If you want a 5 string, buy one, it is not going to hurt, or cause any problems IMO.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2017
    jowes likes this.
  5. To me, if you want an authentic sound for modern gospel, you need a 5 string. If you wanna do "Black" Gospel, it's essential. Yeah I suppose you can get away with not having one (nah, not really), but if I'm the MD and you can't come correct when it comes to the music, I will find someone who can.
     
  6. brianmharrison

    brianmharrison

    Oct 11, 2007
    Atlanta
    I think gospel and praise/worship are two distinct styles. I would agree on gospel.
     
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  7. FunWithBass

    FunWithBass Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    I use my 5-string for praise and worship. It gives me a few different locations to play a song while staying in the same octave. The tone will be different in those locations and that may help you with tone issues you mentioned.

    I have played a friend's 4-string once and it was heavier than my 5-string, so it really depends on how the bass is made. I would think that applies to string spacing as well.
     
    G RICH 5, etorgerson and jowes like this.
  8. jowes

    jowes

    Jan 2, 2017
    Thanks for your comments. It sounds reasonable to me and I got to try. I have so far played the F, E, D sequence as F and E on 4th string (1st fret and open string respectively) and D on the third string 5th fret, but to me this method hasn't appeared to flow naturally with the song.
     
  9. Is it like the difference between AOR and Funk? lol
     
  10. Chinchano

    Chinchano

    Jan 18, 2015
    Atlanta, GA
    I personally only use a 5 for P&W and Gospel. Low octaves add so much more to the music.
     
    G RICH 5 and basspraiser like this.
  11. FunWithBass

    FunWithBass Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Something else to consider is changing the strings on your current bass may make it easier to the tone you are looking for. Just by changing string category (round wound, pressure wound, flat wound, etc.) can make a big difference in your sound. I didn't know that until recently.

    The TB bass strings forum here was helpful for me.

    BassStringsOnline (Welcome to Bass Strings Online - A Bass Store for Bass Players!) allows you to search by category which makes it easier to sift through the endless varieties of strings out there. If you request VIP status on their website, they give you extra discounts on some items.
     
  12. Pirate Captain

    Pirate Captain Elitist Jazz Snob ********

    Dec 22, 2016
    Upstate, NY USA
    get this!
    washtubj.gif
     
  13. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I would play a five. For the eight group where they wanted a vintage four string Fender look, I'd play a P or J strung BEAD. Those low notes, especially the Eb, are really important when you play with keys.
     
    G RICH 5 likes this.
  14. 39-Bassist

    39-Bassist

    Jul 7, 2010
    Florida
    Endorsing Artist for: Brace Audio; Duncan Pickups; Line6, Hipshot, GHS Strings, Somnium Guitars
    It really doesn't matter 4 string or 5 string.
    I use 4 strings and have no problem with any music....BUT I do use a Hipshot D tuner....and that makes things easier too.
    All I can say is that if you are comfortable with a 5 play it. If not then don't...there is no wrong or right on this question.

    Also if you want to still play the ESP then maybe just upgrade pickup (if you really like that bass) or even add a D tuner

    Just my 1-1/2 cents...
     
  15. darwin-bass

    darwin-bass Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2013
    Salem OR
    After playing a 5 for a while in church before I realized that the music does not demand it. Live is different than studio. The low notes just don't add that much for the listener. I often run sound and when other bass players play the low notes on their 5 string basses, I don't even notice them. If they do nothing for me as a bass-savvy listener, then I'm sure the rest of the congregation is clueless.

    So these days it is 4-string only for me and I concentrate more on the music than on the notes. If I'm playing 10,000 Reasons and need to do an F / E / D run, I'll play it up an octave in the 5th to 7th fret area.

    That said, I do have a D-tuner on my bass and will use it for songs in D.
     
  16. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    I play in our P&W Group at my Church and think it got this one for you....

    I am a new bass player currently playing in Church. Our church focusses songs primarily on Hillsong, Bethel and the early Hosanna/Vineyard stuff. I have only played a ESP LTD B10 (which appears to me to be a precision style bass) 4 string guitar and the tone seems awfully inadequate for this stuff. While for some songs it does sound well, for the most I am struggling to get the right mix of treble and bass and of course this makes everyone else disturbed!

    You can do yourself some good with maybe just string change. A nice set of flat wound strings might be a good help. Certainly worth trying before pulling the trigger on a new Bass.

    Now I have decided to upgrade to a Squier Jazz Guitar, either the VM or deluxe variant. Now my question is, will the $ spent for a 5 string be worth it? I've searched many forums and they all seem to talk about added benefit for a E-flat scale with a 5 string. In my playing of songs in C, D, D#, I have not felt the need for a 5th string most of the time. However I do feel limited when playing in E or F scale. For Eg. our church plays '10000 Reasons' in F scale and

    A 5 string is a step. I play one, and for P&W it has it's advantages. I wouldn't get one just because of tone issues. Lots of people play a 4 professionally and have great tone. You might be able to get a preamp pedal that will help you dial in a better sound. Maybe try a sansamp BDDI or (I use a) sansamp PDDI. An MXR M81 might be a good one to look at. These things basically provide eq options to change your tone to something more usable.

    its always a struggle to do a 'F, E, D' note sequence when I play F note in the 4th string.

    It's not going to be the most beefy sound, but you can play all those notes off the D string (end on open D). I play BEAD 4 string, so I hear you, the Low F on the B string is handy and sounds way more substantial than the one way up on the D string.

    So my question is - Do gospel bassists play F scale an octave up usually? If not how do they handle the F to Dminor chord sequence? An answer to this will help me to take a call on whether a 5 string is worth it.

    Am sticking to my answer from before on that, anyone else feel free to jump in with a better answer. One idea might be to play the D off the 10th fret of the E string and then E on the 12th and F on the 13th. I'm at work and can't envision how that would actually sound IRL, but maybe....

    Hope this helps!!!
     
  17. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    A 5'ver will give you fingering options above the 5th fret (playing across instead of up-down) that don't exist on a 4 string bass. In my opinion thats half the reason for having a 5.
     
  18. stringtapper

    stringtapper

    Jun 24, 2009
    Denton, TX
    I think the OP used the term "gospel" a little loosely. If he's playing Hillsong and Bethel then that's "praise and worship" or "contemporary Christian." In other words "white." As in everything basically sounds like U2.

    For actual modern gospel music (i.e. "black") I would agree about having a 5 or 6. If it's old school gospel then I would think a P with flats would be prudent.

    As far as the "white" stuff goes, I find that using a 5-string helps a lot with transposing idiomatic lines in order to minimize octave displacement.
     
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  19. I have the Squier Vintage Modified 5 string Jazz bass and play it for worship music every week. It's been great. I don't use the B string a whole lot but it's nice to have for the occasional low D or C note.
     
  20. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Yep. U2. Lots of "The Edge" reverb. Drives me crazy.
     
    stringtapper likes this.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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