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4 vs 5 string

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Marzer, May 1, 2005.


  1. Marzer

    Marzer

    Apr 26, 2005
    I just bought my first bass, a 4 string yamaha bb404, but I was wondering if it was better to learn on a 4 string first, or 5 string, or doesn't matter, or preference?
     
  2. Funky Tune

    Funky Tune

    Apr 28, 2005
    Puerto Rico
    is exactly the same thing,4,5 or 6 or wathever is the same,the important thing is the fundaments of playing and you technique,the numbers or strings don,t have any impact in your ability for learn.
     
  3. There is nothing that makes a 5 string bass inherently just "better" than a 4 string. The two things that a 5 string bass will give you, is access to lower notes, and the ability to play 4th 5th or 6th of the chord pick up notes when playing grooves up the E string. 4 string basses have a smaller neck and can be bought at a lower price than 5+ string basses for the same quality.

    In otherwords, you are trading quality for quantity, unless price is not an object. Don't let me fool you though, I wouldn't go back to a 4 string from my 6 string unless my life depended on it. I think the added strings more than make up for the thin neck--which I play DB anyway, so its nothing--or diversion of quality to added strings--which again, I don't care because my bass is soooo nice, to me anyway.

    To put it more simply:

    It doesn't matter.
     
  4. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    As Funky said, it is not really more difficult to learn bass on a 5 or 6 string. Guitar players learn on 6, and they aren't even tuned in the same intervals to one another, if they can do it, so can you. If you invision yourself playing a 5 string you may as well get one whenever you can. For most players there is a transition period where we can feel pretty lame on a 5 when switching from a 4.
    If 5 strings is not that important to you, and especially if you have a teacher or mentor that plays 4 string, you may want to stick with that. When recieving instruction one on one it is easier to look over and see your instructor playing the same number of strings as you are.
    Good Luck, and have fun!!
     
  5. its best to lean the fundementals on a four string with standerded tunning, your yamaha should be fine for that, once you get the hang of it string a 5 string out at a guitar store.
     
  6. If you're young, with small hands, its probably easier to learn on a 4 string. Once your hands are adult sized, switch to a 5 if you want. If you play a lot, you get used to it fairly quickly. 5 to 6 seems harder for me, but I'm not playing as much as I used to, so that could be it.

    Randy
     
  7. Larzon

    Larzon

    Jan 15, 2005
    If you are a beginner I would say start with a 4, it's easier to handle 4 strings than 5 or 6.
    4 string is the basic bass.
     
  8. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

    Dec 25, 2000
    I hear that, only replace 6 string with 5 string. :D

    I'm pretty much open to playing any style of music, so I'm confident that I can walk into just about any type of gig and be able to cover my parts with the lower register if needed. I don't ever see myself purchasing another 4 string (unless I found a really sweet deal on a really sweet bass).
     
  9. eric234

    eric234 Guest

    Mar 11, 2005
    philadelphia
    that's not exactly true about five strings offers you lower notes you can just tune your four adgc the thing is your range is limited on the top end
     
  10. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    If you want to play five string, it is better to learn on five string.

    The argument that it's better to start with fewer strings is not logical IMO. If it were, then we should all start on one string until we're ready to move to two, etc.
     
  11. Marzer

    Marzer

    Apr 26, 2005
    I like the four string, it's just that I've seen a lot of people talking about 5 strings, and I know a lot of professionals use a 5 string (Mike Gordon)
     
  12. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    I agree with lowphatbass and Fuzzbass.

    If you want to play a five string, no need to wait or 'work your way up'. If that were the best thing to do, we would all start with a one string, right?

    I for one wish that I had started on a fretless five string 25 years ago. My playing has improved so much since that became my main instrument, that I can't imagine how well I could play it if I'd had a 21 year head start.
     
  13. DavePlaysBass

    DavePlaysBass

    Mar 31, 2004
    CO
    The 5 string is definitely a main stream instrument at this point. I saw four rock bands play on Saturday. Three of the four bass players were on fivers. The one player a four string was the weakest of the bunch.

    Once you get past the "how do I play my first scale", a five strings gives you more options and may actually be easier to play.

    On the other hand, if your hero is Marcus Miller and you want to be slap a holic, maybe a four would be better. Many will disagree I'm sure...

    Dave
     
  14. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    I would never suggest that extended range basses are "better": they have advantages and disadvantages. However lots of bass lines these days... even in pop, blues, and country... travel below four-string range. The biggest reason why I encourage beginners to start on 5 (or more) is because extended range bass lines are easier to play on an extended range bass, and the ability to play those lines can be an advantage when it comes to finding a band.
     
  15. WordShaman

    WordShaman

    Apr 26, 2005
    Don't get a 5-string just because you may think it's cool however. I did that with all of my basses. I actually started on a 5-string and I just traded in my Yamaha 5-string for an American Series Jazz 4-string after 12 years of playing and I can fly on it.

    Truth be told--you may not ever use that low string. I know I rarely used it on either of my basses.

    If you're in a band where they constantly de-tune, you might be better off with a 5, otherwise, I'd stick with 4.
     
  16. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Hey man, don't bash my potential future one-string bass!

    But IMO, four is easiest to start, especially with a teacher. A lot of old school teachers play mostly fours and would prefer you do the same, makes teaching easier. I have a beginner who came in with a sixer, and I just couldn't show him where anything was, he was constantly a 4th too low.

    Other than that I'd say play a four til you feel you've outgrown it, then move up. I moved to a fiver after a year and realized it was too soon. Four years later I'm still preferring a four string.
     
  17. I learned on a 4 string, switched to a 5 string after a little over a year of learning the ropes on a 4. It only took me about a month to become as comfortable on the 5 as I was on the 4, and now more years later, I pick up a 4 string (dont even own one) once in a blue moon, and its actually easier to play than my 5, I just require the low B so 5 is the number for me. In short, you wont really notice a real big difference in difficulty untill you've actually become comfortable on both.
     
  18. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

  19. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
  20. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Unless someone has unusually small hands or is very, very young I don't buy into this. I have all seen little kids shred on full sized strats, 4 ft tall kids playing 1/2 sized celli and AB's, even younger kids playing nylon string classical guitar..It boils down to technique!! Technique gets more emphasis when learning other, traditionally more technical instruments, but unfortunately often gets left out when learning bass. I feel that telling someone to START OFF LIMITING THEMSELF is the wrong message here. If guys can play 9+ string instruments where the fretboard is 5" wide at the nut than almost anyone should be able to play a 5 string bass, but I do agree that there are anatomical exceptions, however very few, IMO.