5 string or D standard tuning?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SlapPopBass, Jul 13, 2013.

  1. D standard (DGCF)

    43 vote(s)
  2. Get that 5 string

    114 vote(s)
  1. I felt the need to get a 5 string to better suit my upcoming rock gigs, but upon stopping at my local guitar shop, it was closed. So I stopped by one of pal's house to try and borrow his 5 string, unfortunately for me, he was taking it out to a gig soon. So he told me, "try playing in D standard DGCF. I think it can work" So i tried it, and lo and behold I had a whole new tuning to jam on that sounded nice and heavy, perfect for rock. So now I've had that tuning up to now, and now I don't really feel the need to buy that 5 string.

    Do you still think a 5 string is necessary? Just for that low B that comes in handy for playing D, is it worth it to get a whole new bass or just tune it down to D standard? What do you guys feel? Lemme know, cuz I think I can get away with sticking to D standard tuning for now.

    (I feel I'm gonna become a 4 string purist soon :eek: )
  2. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I bought a 5 string bass a few years back, and never felt comfortable with it. Never needed anything lower than the D anyway, so set up one of my basses with heavy strings and tried BEAD. Didn't like that either, so tuned up to DGCF, and that's where it's been ever since, (several years). I'm using a .125 gauge D string, but you'd be fine with a .110, and normal heavy strings from there. I had to have my nut filed, (ouch), and a set up, but it's been solid since.
  3. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses
    D standard works until you need the low D flat or low C ... etc ...

    Also 5 string basses are addictive ... you can play 2 octaves without going way up the neck ... and playing in F E Eb D Db or C takes on a whole new dimension.
  4. Ajak


    Mar 31, 2012
    Bern, Switzerland
    I play in 2 bands where we play a lot of the songs in D. The guitarist (the same guy in both bands) plays in dropped D DADGBE. I used to play in dropped D as well but I just ordered another 4-string that I play to tune to D standard DGCF because I can play more freely in standard tuning. I really couldn't imagine playing these songs on a 5-string.
    In the other band on the other hand I play a 5-string. I could imagine playing on a 4-string but I kinda like to play the low D fretted and sometimes playing the low C (even if the song's in D) can sound really nice.
    I'm not sure why exactly but it makes a difference to my playing style whether I play the low stuff open or fretted. The songs itself feel kinda different and of course there's the differnce in string spacing etc.

    I'd recommend to get a 5-string, let yourself get used to it (if possible) and then decide what you like better. Getting new pespectives on your playing can't hurt.

    rock on
  5. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Commercial User

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder/Owner: Wing Instruments
    I was on the drop-D 4-string thing for a long time, then got back into 5's because a 5 offers a lot more than just lower notes. You can play in more comfortable positions up the neck and you could easily get back into 4-string mode if you want by using the B-string to anchor your right hand thumb.

    The caveat here is that you need a bass with a nice clear low-B.
  6. MasterMonkeyMan

    MasterMonkeyMan Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    Thumbs up on this advice. I definitely favor 5 strings for all these reasons plus they just fit my hands better. Especially the left (neck hand). I have big hands. 5 string necks just feel more natural and comfortable and left hand muting just feels easy. I also think the extra neck wood adds nicely to the solid tone of that bass.
    Just my 2 cents.
  7. nicopiano

    nicopiano Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    Levis, Quebec, Canada
    I would prefer the 5 strings, for all the reasons mentioned before, and also for personal preference.

    I would go for E drop tuning in D, but I would never down tune all my 4 strings more than a half step.
  8. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    I bought a 5 string bass in 1991. Now I have 4 of them.
    Some B E A D G and some E A D G C.
    And like AJ said when you're not using that B it's a great thumbrest.
  9. rolandm

    rolandm In search of the lowest note.

    Aug 8, 2010
    Peoria, IL
    I play a lot of dance stuff with my 5-string, a Fender Jazz V, and octaves that used to be pretty tough on my wrist, like the G and F in "Hot Stuff" are now much easier with the 5. I think it greatly depends on how you approach whatever style of music you play, but the 5 was a godsend in that regard. Especially considering I bought it for $175. ;)

  10. rolandm

    rolandm In search of the lowest note.

    Aug 8, 2010
    Peoria, IL
    Oh. And D'Addario Balanced Tension medium light roundwounds with a low B of 135 feel pretty good too, and are nice and bendy when you need them to be.
  11. srayb


    Oct 27, 2010
    I've played 6-string basses for a long time, but recently had a Squier VM Fretless - played it in the store and loved it, only realizing when I got home it was tuned DGCF! Had a great tone and feel that I liked better than EADG (maybe less string tension helped too). I agree that more strings offer more options, but if you love your 4, stick with until you get the itch for a 5 (or 6 or 7).
  12. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    There have been a few others who have admitted to tuning in D standard and loving it lately. I think you are in pretty good company. It gets you the two notes that I find most useful below the traditional low E without eating up much of your "G" string. B standard works for a lot of folks who don't like five strings but I am surprised that D standard doesn't get more "press" here since it is a useful compromise between B and E standard. People who love fivers will tell you to get one. People who tune in fifths (like me!) could tell you to tune in fifths. But if D standard works well for you just go ahead and use it. If you really finding yourself needing a low B now and then a Hipshot extender key could be your friend. I have one set up to flip between A and C. It works well, I just never have needed to use it.

  14. Exactly. I played in D standard for years, until I found myself in a band with songs in drop C#. Got a 5-string and haven't looked back. Low D is cool, but being able to approach that note from below is cooler.:cool:
  15. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    Adopt a Hipshot bass extender on D string of your D, G, C, F tuned bass so that you can reach a low C note and get back to D with the flick of a lever

  16. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I like to say "there's a lot more to five string than the five notes below low E". The biggest advantage is having greater range in each fingering position -- and that's true above the 5th fret, where all the notes are in 4 string territory.
    gebass6 likes this.
  17. FourBanger


    Sep 2, 2012
    SE Como
    It depends...

    I might guess if you play a lot of music rooted on the open D then a drop D or standard D (or down to C if the music requires it) on the four stringer will fell more natural.

    If you play music that is not always centered on a root of an open string the five-stringer seems to get the nod for the versatility of extended range within reach anywhere on the neck.

    Personally, as you might guess, my musical tastes require nothing more than the simpler dropped tunings, either D or C,with the occasional excursion all the way to D standard. Were I to have mutliple basses instead of some fours and some fives I'd probably start with one tuned E standard, one tuned half-step down standard, and one D standard and with HipShots on all three. That would cover it for me, but YMMV. I'm a FourBanger for life.
  18. kerrycares

    kerrycares Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2006
    Get the tools you can afford then if you change your appetite ,flip it.
    I play a lot of music that feels better on a five, some better on a 4 ,and some better on an upright.
    Trying different options is part of the fun of playing the bass since 1976.
  19. georgestrings

    georgestrings Inactive

    Nov 5, 2005
    This - I fought against playing a 5er for years, using lower tunings on 4 strings... It's been around 6 years since I started playing 5ers, and I wish I had done it much sooner in my playing career - I play alot of music that requires lower notes, and for me it's more convenient, and sounds better than making a 4 string do it...

    I still play both 4s and 5s, and switch back and forth as needed or for convenience - and don't see myself changing anytime soon... When I play with a band that does the half step down, Eb thing(which is rare these days), I just set up a bass to do so - the rest of the time, I either play in E standard, Drop D, or use a BEADG tuned 5er - it just works better for me... With my current band, I take a 4 string and a 5er to gigs, and I'm good to go for whatever comes up...

    - georgestrings
  20. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    Westchester, NY
    I also prefer a 5er for playing lower notes.