5-string bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by etn, Oct 26, 2001.

  1. etn


    Oct 26, 2001
    Freiburg, Germany

    I consider buying a new double bass.
    I've heard about 5-string basses, and i'm
    interested in buying one of those since i often
    need to go lower than the low E when playing
    orchestral scores.

    What are the advantages and inconvenients
    of 5-string basses ?


  2. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    5 string basses are popular in European orchestras, and the advantage is that you get the low B.
    Most players in the US prefer a C extension. KC Strings is designing a new one that will go down to a low B and say it will be ready in a couple of months. They've got a picture of regular one on their web site....www.kcstrings.com which is the best I've seen. The new one will have individual stops for each note lower than E.
    Most players here who try 5 strings are uncomfortable and get mixed up on the lower strings, but it seems like this would be something you'd get used to. The best one I've ever seen is on Joe Guastefestes bass in the Chicago Symphony.
    Instead of centering the wider fingerboard on the neck, his comes out on the B string side. This puts the G, D, A, & E in the same position you're used to, and you just sort of drop down one more notch to reach the B. It's much easier to finger than a C extension.
  3. etn


    Oct 26, 2001
    Freiburg, Germany
    Thanks for your answer !

    Eventually, I got a chance to try one yesterday
    evening! :) A bassist of my orchestra came to the
    rehearsal with his 5-string bass and he nicely
    allowed me to try it !

    Indeed, i was confused with the 5th string. A low
    E is no longer the lowest string ! Bowing was
    slightly different as well: the height of the right
    arm has to be more accurate to play on a particular
    string than on a 4-string bass.
    I think one can easily get used to that, provided
    he does not keep switching between 4-string
    and 5-string basses !

    Happy playing,