5 string ain’t easy

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by el jeffe bass, May 17, 2022.

  1. el jeffe bass

    el jeffe bass

    Nov 22, 2013
    New Mexico
    I recently got a five string after 25 years of 4 string bass exclusively. It is a bit of a challenge. Starting mostly with blues and country and western. For the first fifteen minutes or so I’m doing ok but after that I’m kinda fumbling. I have pretty considerable cognitive impairment due to M.S. so the going is rather slow. The reason I’m changing over to the five string is because of spasticity in my shoulders and hands, the shorter reach to the lower notes (low E on the B string @ the 5th fret) should be helpful. Also the mental challenge might prove to be helpful in the long term. This is proving to be quite interesting. Wish that I would have done it earlier but it’s never to late to learn a new skill. Please wish me luck, looks like I might need it.
    Last edited: May 17, 2022
  2. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    The thing that works best for me is to think of it as a 4+1 string bass. The b-string is a tuneful thumbrest. There's still a 4-string in there.
    jazzenfunk, jre5, Carl320 and 27 others like this.
  3. bass12

    bass12 Have You Met Grace Jones?

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I would think that it takes most people a bit of time to make the transition, but you'll be okay. Even a year after making the switch I'd still have "four string moments" - and possibly still would today if I played fours more often. Come to think of it, the last time I gigged on a four I had to remind myself a couple of times that my lowest string was not a B. :p Anyway, have fun with it!
    tindrum, Gyver, groovepump and 6 others like this.
  4. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    It takes a while to feel comfortable when switching to 5 string. Common
    icefly, Phlipper, Dr. Cheese and 2 others like this.
  5. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    No problems for me switch between 4 or 5 string.
    The only issue happened on my fretting finger if I offen play the B string more than G string, once switch to 4 string , I just felt those string like guitar string.
  6. Tori2013


    Aug 28, 2015
    Play it exclusively for a few months. Include the low C and D in your playing.
    srayb, timendous, tminus10 and 9 others like this.
  7. Seano76


    Apr 10, 2018
    I just ignored the B at first and then slowly started adding a low note here or there. Play easy stuff at first, ballads or basic blues.
  8. Keep practicing and hang in there.
    GlennRH, el jeffe bass and Dr. Cheese like this.
  9. Swipter


    Sep 7, 2009
    It took me a while but I don't really play it right anyways. I read you're supposed to move up and down the neck to lengthen your playing up and down but I really only use the first five frets.

    I will admit it took me a while to get that and stop playing a D for the G in the next string.

    You're doing great
  10. J Wilson

    J Wilson

    Apr 22, 2022
    An Undisclosed Location
    It's like anything else:. The longer you do it, the more familiar it will become.

    I find it easier to not think of it as a '4+1 string' bass: It's a different animal. The reach across five strings is wider. You may probably have to mute differently. And you tend to play across the fingerboard rather than stretching up and down the neck for bigger intervals.

    I'd also have to say setup is important on a bass that's just going to feel bigger and different. More to fight if it's wrong.

    It sounds like what I call the 'combined' position around low E on the B-string may work better with your physical issues. It covers a lot of ground and is handy to play from in either direction.

    I changed over while I was gigging in the 80's. I'd chicken out back to my four string, then realized I'd never get anywhere doing that. So I'd simply suggest the same, play only the five, and little by little it
    will come to you.

    Good Luck,

    Last edited: May 17, 2022
  11. Started playing in 1985. I got my first 5 string in 1990. Played that exclusively for about 15 years. Now I switch back and forth between 4 and 5 and I never think about it. It's like anything else. You'll get used to it.
  12. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    One thing that will make a big difference (at least it does for me) is to get the Nashville Number System down. If you don't know what that is it's looking at the notes of a scale as the interval numbers instead of notes. It's important to know where notes names are on your fretboard but if you use the numbers then playing is just a pattern of intervals.

    If you're interested I can explain more of how I use it. I play at my church and the worship leaders love changing keys at the last minute. With the numbers I generally just need to adjust where I am on the fretboard based on the new root note but the pattern is the same.
  13. Snert


    Oct 3, 2021
    Plenty of luck and wishes that you keep playing, playing well and enjoying it. The last is most important.

    I have no doubt you'll be fine with practice.
  14. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Just an idea to start... with a sharpie, put a line on the neck extending the fifth fret. Now play it like the B string is an E string, and that fret with the marker line is your nut. You just have to push down those frets unlike the open string thing, lol.
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Sorry you are dealing with MS. But you will get it. It does get easier the more you do it.
  16. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Try to stick to it…..complete immersion…you’ll eventually find that playing a 5 is so much easier than a 4.
    groovepump, zenrad, Ggaa and 5 others like this.
  17. Bass Man Dan

    Bass Man Dan Endorsing Artist: Ned Flanders' Bass-a-Reeno

    Oct 20, 2017
    As others have said, stick to the 5, hide your 4s away. You will slowly get it.
  18. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Sussex WI
    When I switched to 5 string after playing 4 string for 40+years I had to leave the 4 in the case and under the bed. I mostly use the B for accents, turn arounds, and endings. stick with it, you’ll get it
  19. No worries.. 5,s will mess with you but then it will just ''click'' and away you go hair straight back rocking it..
    I had a real love hate relationship with mine, I wanted to sell it, or smash it, and light it on fire, but after a course of time and determination i will never part with it ,and I am proud to say i can jump back and forth between fours and fives without causing a brain meltdown...(most times):smug: sorry about the MS. sending positive vibes to you.:bassist:
  20. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    If I could only own 36 basses what would they be?
    Just play it and you will get used to it

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