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5-String or Not?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jefft54, Sep 4, 2005.

  1. What are your opinions? I'm primarily a piano player who took up the bass 6 months ago. Love the instrument and currently own a MIA 4-string Fender P-bass. I have a 5-string on order from G&L. My question is, is it worth learning a 5'er if I'm mostly playing bass recreationally. Eventually, I would like to learn bass well enough to maybe play some pick-up gigs but I don't really see myself playing it at gigs very often, if at all. Should I just shut-up and stick with the P, get the 5 just for the versatility, or order whatever I want because I can?
    :crying: :help: :rollno:
  2. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    Order whatever you want because you can.

    You can always sell it later, having had the opportunity to explore and experience it first hand.

    Personally, I am a 4-banger. I own a 5'er that I rarely play. I bought it to play in Eb on some songs I sing.

    I think that if you can you should explore all possibilities. I know if I could afford it, I would. I think the 5's are a bit dissapointing but would love a 6'er! ...Uh...I think.

    JUST DO IT!!!


  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Good question. Me personally, I could do every gig I do on a 4-string. But I have one for that once-a-year gig or session I do where it would come in handy. But you have to decide for yourself whether it's important to you enough to get one. If I were in your shoes, I'd probably just stick with the P, which is plenty of bass for recreational use. But if you really really want to play a 5, get it.
  4. I'm a 4 banger dude as well, but I play tuned CGDA (Like a cello). This gives me the flexability of a 5 string in a 4 string package. Plus, it's easier to play cello music which can be EXTREMELY challenging and fun. I love Bach, so the cello suites are my friends.

    Anyways, I love my different tuning and it really does have a lot of practical advantages.

    Also, you may not feel like you need 5 strings, but a lot of 5-string guys say they don't know how they got along without the extra range. It just gives you that many more options when you play. That's why I love tuning CGDA. I have more range than a 4-string in each direction!
  5. Thanks for the opinions. Any 5-stringers with opinions? Once you've had a 5, would you go back to 4? :eyebrow:
  6. Bates


    Aug 10, 2005
    Austin, TX
    I haven't even thought about going back to a 4 since I got my 5.
  7. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    I play only 5ers/6ers. Once I switched I never looked back. Even if I'm not using the B/C, I still have the EADG there, so I'm not LOSING anything, and GAINING plenty. Just MO.

  8. Sure, if I had the money I would get a nice 4-string, no doubt. One of the main reasons though would be to have a nice bass for slapping, my 5 string (warwick thumb 5) has very close string spacing and I like the strings thick and tight which makes it a very tough bass to slap with. I would still use my 5-string 95% of the time, even for situations I know i'll never use the B string.

    All-in-all i'm very happy playing a 5-string, one thing i've never heard mentioned that I serious believe is that the E-string on mine and other 5-strings is a little tighter and thicker in tone than on most 4-strings. You mention that you have a 5-string on order, it will take some getting used to the extra muting needed but it's not a big deal and it shouldn't require much extra effort. If you're worried about the extra "musicianship" on a 5-string, don't worry about it. Play how you do on your 4-string and learn to incorporate the B string as you learn.

    Also, get used to guitar players you're jamming with trying to learn something by watching you and having them get confused and pissed off playing things on the wrong string :)
  9. I own one of both and play each equally. My 4 string MIA jazz has the jazz sound, and my 5 string ATK does the stingray sound so I have both the sounds I want. It all depends on what the song calls for. I see that you don't play with anyone so I suggest that you go try as many different basses as you can and see if you even like a 5'er it took me a while to get used to it.
  10. tiredman9


    Aug 15, 2005
    New York
    Well i just play the Eb on 6th fret of my a-string and have never really seen a need at all for a 5 string. Hows this--string your 4 string BEAD and she how you like the B.
  11. bstringrandy

    bstringrandy Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    Jacksonville, FL
    I played 4-stringers for 20 years or so until I got into a more alternative rock group about 6 years ago. The 5 was great for drop-D and lower register stuff. I would play a 4 until we had a song come up that needed the 5.

    Now, I'm in a classic rock band where the 5 isn't needed as much, but my approach is just play the 5 all night to cut down on swaps. I've found that the B-string makes a great thumb anchor. :)

    The 5 also came in handy for some church related orchestral gigs because of the key signatures that they got into. (lots of E flats).

    Anyway, like the others have said, play what you want to play. It sounds like the P-bass would be completely adequate to cover recreation or gigging. However, you might try the 5 and find that you like the increased versatility.
  12. :eek: Hadn't really thought about it in those terms but I'm sure that has a lot to do with it. :meh:
    I do play keyboards for classic rock and southern blues weekend gigs but took up the base with an eye towards getting back into jazz/blues.
  13. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I played 5 string exclusively for 3 years and went back to a 4 and I'll never play a 5 again unless I absolutely positively really need it.
  14. For me, I always play my 5, mainly because the extra string doesn't get in the way and its always nice to be able to throw in some bowel rumbling notes here and there!
  15. Why is that? Also, it seems that so many of the "boutique" buyers here all seem to order 5+ strings.
  16. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I switched to five and lost interest in four.

    I like to rattle the windows with the occasional low note, but I also enjoy having a greater range of notes in each fingering position. Perhaps the coolest advantage is that it's easier for me to play songs that have been written in or transposed to flat keys to make things easier for horns or vocals.
  17. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Five string isn't for everyone. But it is true that most boutique players order 5 string basses. 5 string will soon be the standard, if it isn't already. That doesn't mean it's "better" than four, but it does mean that extended range basses are here to stay; they aren't just a fad.
  18. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Sarcasm: Just ONE of the many services I offer! Gold Supporting Member

    I played 4's for a while but found that the 5 was just much more efficient for me - I could play across the neck, not just up the neck. In addition, having the ability to do a low Eb or D was really nice since I play with horns a lot. Now it has been so long that I feel funny when I play a 4. The converse is that slapping SOME stuff is easier on the 4 than on the 5.

    All in all, I REALLY reccomend the 5, rather than a 4.

    Dan K.
  19. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    You knw what Dan?

    As far as playing across the neck goes, I know EXACTLY what you mean...but I am the opposite.

    I played the guitar for many years and got my fill of playing across the neck. Now I enjoy (and have for the last 5 or 6 years) playing up and down the neck of the bass.

    Here's to different strokes!!!!


  20. I'm mostly a 4 guy too...

    I've got a 5-string to save me from de-tuning to drop D if I ever have to (the Chilis "By The Way" is a good example). The strings are closer together which can be a pain in the arse when slapping (I got long fingers...)

    I've got a fender mustang bass as well as my 3 jazzes, and I gotta say with the mustang having narrower string spacings, its easier (I find) to switch from the mustang to the 5-string jazz than it would be from a 4-string jazz or precision...