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5 String: B to G, or E to C?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ashtray, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. B to G

    79 vote(s)
  2. E to C

    21 vote(s)
  3. Carrot strings

    5 vote(s)
  1. Just got a 5 string bass in trade. I don’t play 5 string much. Should I string it B to G, or E to C? I have a new 6 string set, so I could go either way. 34” scale. (I need to triple check...)

    Last time I played a 5 string, I was gigging and I used the low B sometimes as I went up the neck - but never used it to go lower than the E tone.

    I do strum sometimes the two upper strings - little chords, etc - when goofing around at home.

    Not gigging anymore, so leaning towards E to C.
    Tony B. Filthy likes this.
  2. nFinnyD


    Oct 31, 2017
    I go D G C F A#, sometimes I lower the high string to A
  3. Bob Clayton

    Bob Clayton Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Philly Suburbs
    I use B-G for a couple reasons
    1) I use B-Eb a lot more than I would use the extra notes the high C would give me so it makes sense to have access to them.

    2) It makes sense to me for fingering position to be able to play the notes on the E and A strings in multiple places, where as I wouldn't really be able to play those notes on a high C unless I was really far up the fretboard.

    3) Resting my thumb on the B string when I'm playing one of the other strings.

    I'm actually considering getting a 4 string and stringing it BEAD
    Element Zero and Zooberwerx like this.
  4. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    Depends what you want to do (my non 4s are both six strings, so I don't have to choose). For chord stuff, the high string is more useful. But for standard gigging, the low string can be more helpful. We do a fair amount of stuff in Eb and D to accommodate a singer
    IamGroot likes this.
  5. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Depends on the genre and style you play most in.

    If you do a lot of melodic runs the high C comes in handy. So for prog or jazz it's a good option having the higher notes more conveniently available.

    With a low B string, I seldom need to go lower than D for the stuff I mostly play. So drop tuning the E string or installing a Hipshot drop D tuner on the bass would better fit what I need to do. But if you're doing metal, worship, or modern country, stringing for low B is almost a requirement these days because those genres routinely call for the bass to go way down low.
    IamGroot likes this.
  6. Well, I strung it E to C tonight, and instantly felt weird. Didn’t realize my brain still remembered how to play 5 string, and it kept thinking the 2nd string was E. And then the high C was new to me. As a guitarist, that 5th string is B. It makes sense on a bass to make it C, but I had to adjust my thinking 1/2 step for that string.

    It turned the whole instrument foreign! Last time I was that confused, I had tried to play a baritone guitar.

    Now I can definitely see the low B string would be vastly more useful in most any band I have played in. I did use a 5 string for a year or so - again, more for the positions than going low, but I might get in to P&W again, and they like to transpose often, so a low B would be good.

    Luckily I can switch the strings around if I need.

    Also, I put on D’Addario Pro Steels - and wow, they are different! Bright. Piano like. Tough to describe but they have a very articular bloom.

    I think I’d like to try a 6 string at some point, but for now, my 5 string will likely go back to B to G within the week.
    Element Zero and saabfender like this.
  7. Geri O

    Geri O Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    There ya go...

    You tried an idea, a good idea, too. But found out that it may not serve you as well as you thought. I would give it a little more time, though, before you swap back to B-G. Might need some more adjustment time. Maybe...:D

    About those Prosteels, yes, they are bright. But they weren’t for me. To my ear, they were missing some hi-mid content that I get with the nickel EXL series. So I went back to EXLs and Power Slinkies.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    All of this. And BEAD 4 string is fun too.
  9. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Heh-heh... I've mentioned this before on TB, but I've been playing 6-string (BEADGC) since 1989, so I always figured if I had to get a 5-string it wouldn't matter whether I got BEADG or EADGC because I was already familiar with both paradigms.
    Got my first BEADG 5-string in 1995 or '96 and as suspected, it made perfect sense to me since I was already familiar with the low B from all my 6-string playing.

    I didn't wind up getting an EADGC 5-string until 2014 or '15 ...and I was shocked at how alien it felt! Despite the fact that by that time I had over 25 years experience playing a bass with a high C string, when it showed up on a 5-string instrument it somehow threw my entire fingerboard familiarity off-track. It was almost comical.

    Nowadays I don't even think of my BEADG basses and my EADGC basses as being the same thing. I.e., it doesn't really make any sense to call them both "5-string basses" because they get used for such different applications.
    eJake likes this.
  10. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    Bass begins with a B!

    and Cs are for sissys :D:laugh:

    eJake likes this.
  11. saabfender


    Jan 10, 2018
    I’ll probably get around to trying that someday. It’s on the list for sure.
  12. mmon77

    mmon77 Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2008
    Southern MN
    I played 7 string guitars for many years, so B-G is natural for me. E-C would be really weird, but I could see where it may work better in a jazz/solo situation.
  13. JB820

    JB820 Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2015
    The music I play requires my B string, so I obviously string BEADG. I have tried EADGC, but couldn’t wrap my head around it. I can pick up a 4 string no problem tho. Strange how that works.
  14. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles

    I’ve never run out of room up the neck on the G-string. But I find the the multiple positions available on the a A-, E- and B-strings very helpful. It’s also nice not to have to retune for songs in drop D. And there are the five lower notes.
    Artman and BassManKK like this.
  15. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    Low B. Being able to play in E from the 5th fret, not having to slack-tune to Eb when everyone else does, the low B thumb rest, etc.
    Artman and craig0316 like this.
  16. bunkaroo

    bunkaroo Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2003
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    BEADG! Though I have a drop C 5-string that goes CGCFBb. Pretty much the whole range of a 6-string bass.
  17. BEADG for me, but then, that reflects the kind of music I play (pop/rock/country covers).

    There is no right or wrong, within the tolerances of the instrument.
  18. TKnights


    Jul 16, 2017
    Bangor , ME
    You have to go with the B . That's why it's called a BASS guitar . I see a lot of bassists playing in the upper register(you know , around the 38th fret) and the song loses it's bottom end . Don't get me wrong . I like a 24 fret bass just to have access to the high G if I should need it . But , I learned music on piano and bass clef brass . which means I like to play songs in Eb and Bb ......................String it B to G .
    eJake likes this.
  19. My basses are 4 strings in standard or BEAD tuning. I think I have like 2 songs that go higher than the 7th fret on the G string..hell, most of my stuff doesn't really need the D string either, so BEADG get's my vote.
    eJake likes this.
  20. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    About 10 years ago, myself and 2 other bass buds of mine decided to try and play some Beatles tunes as a bass trio. 2 5s, one B-G and the other E-C and a 6 string tuned A-F. We had a lot of fun for those couple months. Ultimately, TIME was just too precious of a commodity ie family, jobs, individual bands.

    I opted for B-G. Played the other 2. I could understand how they could be beneficial for jazz cats or solo players. Just not my cup o tea for normal playing.

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