5 String DB`s ??

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by davegr8house, Aug 9, 2002.

  1. Hello All,
    I have checked around and have found very little spoken of 5st DB`s. I do not want to step on any toes of anybody but it seems as if 5`s are somewhat shuned in the DB world. If much of the Classical Music is sometimes written to the Low C, why is this? I have heard that 5`s do not project as well, Is this because of the added Mass of the Bass. I assume that the Low B would be Earth Shaking Arco but what about Pizz? Thank you for your time and Good Day...


    If the world didnt suck we would all fall off.....
  2. Thank you Ed,
    If I may ask another question. Are there any respected Jazz Bass Players that play a 5 string. I can not think of any but I do not have a vast knowledge of Jazz as yourself. If so do you have any reconmendations of that said Bass Players recordings...Thanks again


    If the world didnt suck we would all fall off.....
  3. Patrice Caratini plays a 5-string DB in the performance with Stephane Grappelli ("Stephane Grappelli in New Orleans") - see thread passim. I understand 5s to be more popular in European orchestras, whereas over here (USA) they tend to be fewer and further between. My teacher has a beautiful Pollman 5 which he uses for orchestral work - incredible sound, but when he plays jazz gigs, I've only ever seen him play a 4 - although, come to think of it he also has a 5-string EUB which he uses in his "world music" band.


    - Wil
  4. saw the BBC symph recently, their basses were four extensions, three 5str. Principal (forgotten his name, but impressive player) play a 5str. fairly new instrument, kinda looked like a Pollman without busseto corener (dont know if they make these, just guessing) but it projected clearly over the section in f, ff passages and had a lovely sound.
  5. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    talkbass's own rob w plays a 5 string peter elais with the toronto symphony. i had the pleasure of seeing him perform beethoven's 7th some time back, and the bass section sounded great - granted all the other players had 4 strings with extensions.
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I almost bought a 5 string DB once, but it had a high C string rather than a low one. I've played quite a few basses with low C's available, and of the ones I've sampled, none of the low notes sounded very good to my ears when played pizz. Arco is another matter.
  7. Thanks Guys,
    As far as the C extensions. Are these costly. Do they lower the value of the Bass.I assume there is much work on the Scroll. I have been considering a 5 for sometime now after my Teacher suggested I give it thought. I also Play EB and he knows the Low B is no stranger. I have found no Information on Strings..."Low B strings" that is. What bothers me is the string spacing on a 5. I have never played one and I could see where Arco would be more difficult. As far as the Low B being weak sounding...not sure I understand how. The pure mass of the string with the obvous string hight needed for it one would assume it would be very strong pizz....hummm. Again thanks for your input and good day..


    If the world didn`t suck we would all fall off....
  8. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    I'd like to address the tonal issue: It is very difficult to build a bass with adequate strength to support the extra tension, while keeping the structure flexible enough to produce good fundamentals. Most of the 5-stringers I've experienced were lacking in bottom because the bass bar is stiffer and the top is thicker. The best way, I think, to address this problem is to make the whole thing bigger, as in 4/4 or 5/4 size. Unfortunately, that results in a bass that is unwieldly to play. As Ed mentioned above, the 5-string is popular in European orchestras, but not in the U.S. There are significant differences in neck size and bow crossings (due to narrower string spacing) that make the transition a difficult one. BTW, I never modify a scroll when installing a C-extension (which is a workable but imperfect solution to the low-C problem). The only major change is that a hole is generally drilled.
  9. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    I agree with AES. There is a consensus that it is rare to find a 5 str. that plays evenly through its register. There is always some mushiness going on. They feel differently across the pond-five strings abound there. They also don't believe in using bridge adjusters. But they're just gol-darned f'erners anyway.

    Extentions can generally run from $800-1200 and usually do not affect the overall tone of the bass if done correctly.
  10. Thank you for the information Guys....


    If the world didn`t suck we would all fall off....
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I was watching the Proms on BBC TV last night and they had the Kirov orchestra from Russia, playing Shostakovich's 4th Symphony at the Albert Hall.

    The camera focused in on the bass section towards the beginning and it was pretty clear that a lot of them had 5 string basses - no extensions apparent?

    I wondered if they might be higher or lower "extra" strings; but at the end of the Symphony there is a long slow coda that fades to nothing over a long period of time (seems like it anyway) - which is basically a held C Minor chord.

    The basses were playing a rhythmic figure, but just on one note - low C - which was quite audible and clearly below bottom E - a fantastic sound and quite magical in the circumstances. So there is a use for the 5 string bass with low B!! The crowd loved it and there was huge applause after this.

    I do have a recording of this symphony, by an English orchestra and have never noticed this part before - maybe the 5 string DB is more popular with Russians? Anyway it was certainly worth it just for this part which really "made" the ending of the Symphony.
  12. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    5 Strings are more popular in Europe, think. In north america, most people use C-Extensions to get low notes. I personally would rather have a 5, cos the extension seems impracticle. Then again, I play 7 string electric. I'd really like to see a 6 string upright that sounds really nice.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    There's a guy called Ratzo (?) who plays 6 string Double Bass - he uses his chin - there have been articles in magazines featuring him.
  14. About a year ago I visited the Concord Group (Christopher basses, that is) booth at a trade exhibit. They had a bunch of their basses, laminate, hybrid and carved.

    I was really impressed with all the basses except for the one five-string, which was a hybrid. The other basses, even the laminates, had a nice woody growl, but the 5-string said, "Thud."

    Like Ed said, its all about the sound.

    As far as a C-extension's affect on the value of an instrument, I would say that on most working basses, it would raise its value. However, a 5-stringer appeals to a more esoteric market and would be harder to sell if the need arose.

  15. Wouldn't a set of strings such as corelli 370F's or spirocores , or d'Addario thins remedy this?
  16. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Ratzo Harris-many are amazed by his technique[not me!]
  17. As I understand it the five stringers don't project as well for the same reasons that the four stringers didn't project as well as the three stringers - not mass - but the extra tension of five strings pressing down on the top plate. The top just doesn't vibrate as freely.

    I picked this explanation up from some excellent historical discussion in "A New History of the Double Bass"
  18. While I agree with with my friends Arnold and Jeff about there not being many good sounding 5 stringers, I have to wonder if the reason for that is that we (as makers) don't know enough about them to make good ones. We're all on solid ground when it comes to making a 4 stringer, but when we venture into the land of 5 stringers a lot of guessing goes into the process. How much does the graduation have to change? What about the bass bar, etc? I would love to get the opportunity to take Paul Warburton's Bohmann apart sometime just to see what that maker did (inside) that could account for it sounding and playing so much better than the usual 5 stringer. Surely it wasn't an accident that it plays the way it does.