5 String the future of bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MCBTunes, Jan 20, 2005.

  1. Well, I was wondering... 4 strings were it way back 30 years ago, all the old pros played 4 strings and many still do because ti is what they are used to... BUT, we have 5 strings now, perhaps people buying their second, or even first bass should look into getting 5 strings instead of 4 strings?

    Will the 4 sting become obsolete soon? Is the 5 or heck even 6 string going to be the future of bass?

    I ask this mainly because I am in the market for my second bass... a Bongo, and I play a 4 string, but maybe it would be wise for me to start playing 5 string instead.
  2. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Get whatever you prefer, but as far as the future goes, I believe that fives will become the bass of choice in the future (if they're not already), at least for a while. The historical dominance of the four-string isn't long enough to say it'll be the ideal forever (I'm sure back in teh 17th century, there were those who thought their seven-string fretted uprights would be the standard forever), and fives seem to be selling more and more than fours, at least beyond the beginner's level.
  3. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    11 is.. *cough* Al Caldwell *cough*... I think he might get sued by Roy Wooten, because I'm going to start calling Al "Future man" :p
  4. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    Don't buy a five just because you think thats what everyone else is going to be doing. There is definetly no chance that four string basses are going to become obsolete. The number of four string basses in the world is far higher than the number of fives. Even if every bass company stopped selling fours, it would take quite a while to overcome 40+ years of four string dominance.

    Yes five's are definetly growing in popularity. I play five's exclusively, but thats only because thats what was available to me when I started playing.
  5. pdusen


    Aug 18, 2004
    The question you need to ask yourself is, "have I ever felt the wish for lower notes?"

    In my case, the answer is an infinitely rare "yes". Only once or twice within my memory have I ever wished I could go lower than the E, and every time I find some way to make up for it.

    My first two categories for choosing a bass are Tone (especially Growl), and neck Shape. That's why I'm GASing for a Geddy Lee Jazz Bass, which I've tried several times and loved both on. If I could ever find a 5-string with a comfortable enough neck and plenty of growl, I'd probably give it serious thought.
  6. Hehe, no way are five strings going to become 'standard,' not in a hundred years. Call me close-minded but 4 is more than enough to groove (I play a 6 btw, started on 4).
  7. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Well, I'm considering a 5, and I even considered it when I was picking out my first bass - my favorite band played it and I liked the lower well, string (although I could easily buy a 5 string set and go with the B, never use the G anyways)...just more bass for me...

    sorry if that didnt make any sense...
  8. EB Stingray or Sterling 5........just a thought
  9. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Mark Sandman showed the world that two strings is more than enough to groove on-that has nothing to do with instrument popularity or evolution.
  10. 4s will never become obsolete but the bass world is/will become more open minded, be it 5-11 strings.
  11. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    Heres a post I made in January this year about my rpedictions for the "future" of bass:

  12. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    The ever-growing popularity of the five-string since it became readily available to the public, which wasn't even until the nineties, makes it seem to me like it could easily overtake the four-string within the next 20 years. Who knows-it might not even be around then anymore.

    There's something to keep in mind here that Michael Manring spoke of in his recent interview on Tim Cole's bass website. Manring, a predominantly four-string player, said that he didn't know if electric bass would last or die out. He said it could easily go the way of the lute-highly popular at one point, but now it's considered an antique instrument and usually only played on specialty pieces.

    This really is possible. Electric basses have only been around four a little over 50 years (mass produced ones, anyway). There may have been a lot of four-strings made in the past 50 years, but the population has also grown with it-and its extiction is easily possible. For all those thinking, "gee, there's no way electric bass could go the way of the dodo," there was probably just as lutists thinking the same thing a couple centuries back.

    Oh, and Pdusen, I've never had to ask myself if I need the lower notes. I rarely play below low D on my fives. It's the extra string that allows far easier pattern and position playing that is the best reason to get a five to me. Not to mention you don't have to reach down to 1st position to play those low notes if you don't want to-they start at the fifth fret of the B string-which is a far easier reach with less finger stretching to use a one-finger-per-fret technique.
  13. I think 5 strings will eventually overtake 4's as the bass of choice. But no, 4s will never die because that's where the history lies. And many old school people will always prefer 4s to 5s.

    What I DO see happening more and more is that people are expanding their musical envelopes and aquiring more 5s, 6s, and other monsters (7,8,9,10, 11???) to stretch themselves. In addition, fretlesses have also gained immense popularity and it is great to see so many people giving it a go.

    The bottom line is this: Everyone has preferences, and this will hold true always.
  14. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    4s won't die, but i could see 5 becoming either a "co-standard" or just replacing the 4 as the standard. In my area-there seems to be a pretty defined split-there's the people who think "4 is plenty for me" aka more traditionalist, and then there's the people that are more along the lines of "let's see where i can take things....." those people are the ones IME that are more open to playing a 5+ string bass.

    Here's what I have observed comes in. I know i'm not the best bassist in the world-however, i have made an impact on how bass is played at my school. Yeah-this isn't that big of an area, but hey-hear me out. I have played 5 string basses for my entire high school career. I've been asked questions/told things such as "I thought 5 strings where the standard until i went to the stores" b/c well-all the little kiddies that have been influenced by me think that 5s are what "everyone" plays. My replacement in training-plays a 5 b/c he's saw what i do with a 5 and decided that he wanted to play one too. A kid that will be starting lessons with me soon asked "i only have a 4 string bass, can you still teach me?" my answer was-"yes". I still own 1 4banger [excluding my upright] and it's a Fender Jazz w/flats.

    So long story short from that-for the kids at my high school-many of the ones just getting started are getting 5s straight out of the gate b/c they have seen me playing a 5 and not a 4. However, there's no chance that this small area will have an affect on if 4s will become obsolete. Just for my area-more of the younger cats are playing 5s.

    WoW-that was long. With all that being said-i would like to try/own a 7+ for a while to see if i like that more/better than my 5.

    That's all
  15. well, I played my first 5 today, it was a stringray 5... I have tiny little hands, so reaching the E string was my biggest concern, but that didnt bring too much problem. however, when i decided to use a pick and play some chords it turned out to be a little difficut because I ususally play them on the D ang G string, that B got in the way.

    Why do you say do you want lower notes? Doesnt the B string add higher notes? It did seem like the notes were growlier at E and A than on the 4 string, but why would that be?

    I'm not interested in anymore than 5 strings, thast even a stretch, what kind of music is a 5er played with usually? I like funk, rock, punk type stuff... so basically growly grooves by myself, and cutting rock when I'm jamming with the guys.
  16. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000

    I play all the above on a 5er. A stingray5 at that. To me, a 5 is the norm. So like-my technique, feel, etc has been developed on a 5.

    I'm not sure how familiar you are with the tune Donna Lee-the low b can be helpful to play that song, however, IIRC most of the bassist that learn it-learn how to play it on the normal 4 strings. Partially tribute to Jaco, partially b/c it's what everyone else has done. There has been numerous times in my study of this tune where-using that low B would be mighty handy. I think i copped out and used it 1 or 2 times. After i get it learned with just the E A D & G strings-i might learn it with the B string being used too.

    That's all
  17. did you find it easy to learn on a 5? i mean tabs and stuff are all written in 4 string, and i imagin most music teachers are mainly running 4 strings.

    However the versatility of a 5 I imagin would make you a good prospect to a company to back someone up, or even to a future band.

    I just want to be the best and most versatile bassist possible...for some reason i see the 5er being bluesy and the 4 being more of a rock/punk oriented istrument.
  18. mashed potatoes

    mashed potatoes

    Nov 11, 2003
    i don't see myself switching to a 5-string anytime in the near future. i play mostly jazz and funk i've only had one or two instances when a Low-B string could be of use to me.
    on the other hand, a High-C would come in handy quite often, but i don't think i'll switch to the big 6-string neck for it. maybe the rock players these days are really thumping on that low B, but I don't see much use for it in my style of music :meh:

  19. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    IMHO if 5-strings aren't already the standard, they will be in the future.

  20. bassjus


    Mar 30, 2004

    couldn't have said it any better myself.