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5 String Sound Out Of A 4 String

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Stampy, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. Stampy


    Jun 30, 2008
    Would this be done by using an octave pedal or like a phase shifter?
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    OK, I'll bite- what is a "5 string sound"?
  3. rcubed


    May 8, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Tune BEAD. No pedal required.
  4. (b)Assman


    Jun 22, 2008
    Champaign, IL
    BEAD is prob not going to sound all that good on a 4 :p

    But it depends I guess.

    You could go drop C and get real close...
  5. hills1234


    May 6, 2007
    If you're wanting to get some of those low notes that are below the E-string, then an octave pedal would do it - in some circumstances.

    Before I got a 5-string, there were a few songs in my band's set that needed the low B, C, D or whatever. On my 4-string I played the notes an octave up on the A string, and kicked in the octave pedal function on my Boss GT6B as required, to drop them down the octave. This worked pretty well as they were generally long, sustained notes.

    If you were playing the low notes as part of faster passages, or needing to jump around the fretboard a bit, then I suspect it might be a little more ticky and would depend on how good the tracking is on your octave pedal.
  6. Why not? :confused:
    I've been tuning my P-basses B-E-A-D using a five-set of strings (discarding the highest one) for years, haven't had one problem and it sounds amazing. A lot of players do this.
  7. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Plus there are plenty of 34" scale 5'ers out there with a fine low B. Like, I don't know, Sadowsky for example? It's all about build quality, proper string choice and setup- and you have complete control over those last two with any bass.
  8. Stampy


    Jun 30, 2008
    Yeah I don't have enough money for a 5 string bass yet so thats why I was asking. Almost all of the songs I play are in standard tuning. But I am looking to experiment a little bit to get some super low.
  9. I say go out and get yourself a decent five-string set. Don't go too heavy or you'll be faced with set-up nightmares due to the huge change in string tension...even tuned low. Try to keep the new string that will be tuned to E close to, if not exactly the same as, the heaviest string on your bass now. You may need to raise your action a bit and widen the grooves (WIDEN, not deepen) on your nut. If the majority of the stuff your playing is in E, no worries...your E string will still be there, there will just be a nice, heavy B above it. You'll be losing your high string but really...how often do you use your G string anyway? :D
  10. Rando McNally

    Rando McNally

    May 21, 2008
    +1 on that. My only 4 string is a P bass set up just like this and it is AWESOME!
  11. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO

    BTW, I think you mean "pitch shifter" (ala the Whammy) but either way, I don't think you'll get the results you want.

    I've used an octaver (100% wet, 0% dry) to play certain lines, but only when I wanted an artificial, somewhat synthy sound. You're much better off detuning or restringing.
  12. JanusZarate

    JanusZarate Low End Avenger Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    Petaluma, CA, USA
    I think (b)Assman was thinking of pure drop-tuning to BEAD without restringing, which most people would never do... :D

    Anyhow, back to Stampy. IMO, neither type of pedal would get a convincing 5-string sound. It'd be too artificial.

    I'd suggest either getting a 5-string set and tuning to BEAD (not using the G, of course), or getting a 5-string bass. If you do convert your 4-string bass, you'll need to make a few setup and nut adjustments.
  13. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    You get five extra notes with a five string. The most important one is the D, in my experience (yours may vary). I'd consider a Hipshot D-tuner/bass extender.

    BEAD tuning would be cool, too. And it's cheaper if you don't have to change the nut at all.

  14. CyberSnyder

    CyberSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I Endorse Alien Audio Basses
    I had a Steinberger with a TransTrem that you could drop and lock in a 4th below. Not a good solution unless you like the sound of rubber bands. There really are no shortcuts to getting the low notes. Restring BEAD or get a 5 string.
  15. For the cost of a pedal that will do a decent job of dropping down a 4th or more, you could buy a cheap (though probably used) 5-string, which will do a better job if 5-string is what you're after. Cheap analog octavers (like the danelectro or arion, both of which seem to be pretty well-rated) tend to get confused once you get lower than about C on the A string IME (which is actually only with the boss OC2), and their octave-down sounds very warm and fat, but not a lot like your original tone - so the low notes on switching it in would not sound like the rest of the notes you're playing.

    To get tones that more closely resemble your original tone, you're looking at a whammy ($199), Micropog (~$200), POG/HOG (>>$200) - digital pedals. These all do a lot more than just emulate lower tunings though, so if those effects are also of interest, go for it. But there are cheap decent 5ers out there (Squier and SX spring to mind, although I haven't played the specific models people often recommend) which you might get used (or even new) for not much more than you're looking at spending on the above digital pedals.

  16. My Ibanez SR is tuned to CGCF - it has the lows (almost) of a 5er, and the slim neck of a 4banger. I use a "custom gauge" set of SIT Powerwounds [50 / 70 / 90 / 110] ($18), and no need to remodel the nut; just a light setup - perfect tension IMO (I like lower tension anyway being the bender I am). It's the best of both worlds.
  17. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Banned

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada

    It does, believe it or not. I had my P/J tuned BEAD till I got a 5 string J/J

    The 5er I speak of above: its an SX. I love the tone/playablity. I did move the bridge to get better intonation, but that more cus I felt like it than feeling like I had to.

    Either way, I don't think you will get an octave down to sound like a 5er. I tried putting a capo on my 4 (which worked out well BTW) and ran it thru my ┬ÁPOG, but it sounded nothing like my 5er. Nice Synth sound tho :D
  18. Rando McNally

    Rando McNally

    May 21, 2008
    It's pretty easy to get a 4 string bass to accommodate BEAD stringing, especially with a plastic nut. Just get some tapered strings and pull 'em through a couple times, the grooves will widen. BUT, then you can't go back.

    My P bass has this setup (as I mentioned earlier), and I can take the thicker strings and tune up to EADG pretty well. The result is a lot better than drop tuning EADG to BEAD.

    If you go this route I would recommend the lightest gauge strings you can and working up to thicker as you think necessary. You can always shave off more of the nut, but you can't put it back once you take it off!
  19. +1 - A great point for anyone planning to do this.
  20. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    +1, I have not been convinced of any octave effect's "tracking time" to sound natural enough, maybe get you by at best.

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