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4 vs 5 string when upgrading

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jeff3298, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. Jeff3298


    Mar 15, 2008
    Concord, CA
    I currently play a 4 but wanted to get a nicer bass and I see alot of used 5 string basses for sale on CL, very few 4. Are 5 becoming less popular hence more for sale? Pros and Cons on 4 vs 5 string basses. Thanks
  2. El-Bob


    Oct 22, 2006
    Hamilton, ON
    there's no real cons for a 5er IMO. even if you don't use the B, what do you lose? where with a 4 you may find yourself wanting the B and not having it. that's my opinion anyway
  3. I changed to 5 about 4 years ago. I will confess it took me about 2 years to "remap" my brain from 4 to 5 but I personally haven't regretted it at all. One nice feature about the B sting for me anyway is the ability to play a fretted low E. Hope I described that correctly. Up until then when I would play a low E it was always as an open note and if I wantd control of it I had to deal with string to mute it as I hit it. No more so now I can do both. The open E is great for a sustained note or just that woe feeling of an open plucked string, but a controlled E is very suefull as well.

    I find I use the low D a lot as well and finally if you are playing on the D string but a ways up the neck you have the ability to reach under your note for a lower octive with almost no travel.

    I recently got a 4 string to play on for back up and now realize that I don't want to play a 4 string anymore.

    All of these thoughts are just my own reflections on what works for me. You may and will have different views.

    Good plucking....
  4. El-Bob


    Oct 22, 2006
    Hamilton, ON
    ^lots of good points there too.
  5. I recently switched to a 5 string. I did not have a problem adjusting to it. musicman7722 makes some good points. I would like to add Economy of motion and you can play 2 octaves in position.

    The only con I see is the strings are a bit more expensive, but that shouldn't be a a deal breaker.
  6. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    Don't get a 5-string just because it's the popular thing to do.

    Pros of 5-string:
    • More positional options (can play 4-string range in 5th position, etc...).
    • Additional low notes down to low B.
    • Don't have to detune to play stuff in Eb or D.
    • Can cover everything a 4-string can and more.

    Cons of 5-string:
    • Wider neck/not as easy to play as a 4-string (con for some, not an issue for others).
    • Have to adjust technique to make sure B-string doesn't ring. It will have a sympathetic ring if you do not mute it.
    • On many basses, you need a lighter touch on the B-string to balance the sound between the other strings.
    • Some feel the slap sound is not as good as a 4-string.
    • Many manufacturers are going to a 35" scale length for their 5-strings for added definition on the B-string. That may or may not be an adjustment you feel is comfortable or want.

    I personally prefer a 5-string. I initially started playing 5-string because I was hearing those lower notes and wanted to incorporate them into my playing. All those items I have listed as cons are not issues for me.

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