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5 Strings or drop C?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sten, Nov 19, 2003.

  1. Sten


    Nov 18, 2001
    First of all, I'm not sure if I got it into the right forum(was thinking "Setup" for a while).

    [I realised now, I made this post a bit too long, but since I didn't know what and how to cut down atm, I left it this way]

    Here's what's bothering me. I currently own a very low end Rockwood precision type 4-string bass guitar. For it's price, it actually sounds rather good(I've even had some more experienced people saying that). The thing is, it's rather good in Standard tuning.

    The two bands I play in currently have guitars tuned differently - one uses drop D and the other drop C on both guitars. At the moment I am using drop D tuning in both of these bands. I think you can imagine, not having the low C in the one band is quite an headache for me(this means that basslines following the guitars[which use quite a lot low C] have C or C# in the next octave). In drop D my bass sounds decent - I could live with that, but in drop C it does not.

    Short story made long ( :p ) - I need the low C, and it will not be from my current bass guitar for its rather bad sound when tuned down that much. Therefore I am planning to buy a new(better) bass. From your personal experience, logic, knowledge - do you recommend me to get a 5-string bass guitar or a 4-string bass guitar and tune it to drop C. The thing is, for the same price - the 4-string would be better probably(because same 5-stringed versions of the same model cost more).

    Also I have a low budget(actually atm I even do not have one, but that will change hopefully). It doesn't make much sense to ask for certain models, since the availability is very weak here in Estonia, but taking something more common for example - an Ibanez EDC710 4-string costs about as much as a GSR205 5-string here. That is also about as far as my best hopes about the price range go.
  2. try putting some heavier guage strings on your current bass. doing so should allow for lower tuning
  3. Mikemike

    Mikemike Miscreant

    Jun 18, 2002
    Minneapolis, Minnesota
    IME, a 4-string tuned to drop C can never sound really good, I'd definitely recommend getting a five string.
  4. I'd definitely recommend buying a 5-string. IMO Drop-C tuning sounds horrible. The strings become way too loose.
  5. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I personally would recommend five string! But if you got a second bass, you could tune one to DGCF and the other (with heavier strings) to CFBbEb. But get the fiver! :)
  6. redneck2wild


    Nov 27, 2002
    Memphis, TN
    You could use the lower 4 strings of a 5 string set on your 4 string and tune BEAD. Then you would have both the low C and low D notes.

    What might be even better would be to use medium or heavy gage strings for a 5 string and tune ADGC. This would give you an open D (2nd string). The low A is also helpful for dropped D as the A is the fifth.

    You would probably need a .145 or .140 gage B string for the low A to sound decent. I use this tuning on one Bass (with .145 B for the low A). ADGC tuning is just BEAD tuned down a whole step - thus the need for heavier strings.
  7. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    I second (third, fourth, fifth) the 5-string.
  8. 5 string.
  9. I've always been a four-string fanatic myself, claiming that "jaco only needed four."
    But recently I bought a five-stringer, and I have to admit; I love it. It's great to have that b-string to drop into once in a while. And it sounds huge on my warwick corvette too. I think the thing about the low string is to not abuse it, but just to add that extra power when needed, if you understand what I mean. That's just my opinion, though...
  10. kutz


    Mar 19, 2003
    Get a 5 string and tune it up a half step.
  11. It seems you're on a tight budget, so I would definitely second buying a 5-er set of strings and string your current bass BEAD with the bottom four in the set.
    It's the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to solve your problem.
    And indeed try a drop-A or a full ADGC tuning, dropped tunings are pretty fun(ny), until the novelty wears off anyway...

  12. drop C sounds utter crap but if you gotta use it for your band fair play to you. altho most people recomend the 5 string for you...i personaly thing 4 strings is good enought...also if you stick with 4 you will get a [hopefully] better sounding bass that can handle the tuning more. the other thing you have to consider is 5 strings have a comeplty diffent feel to them, some people can switch between 5 and 4 no problem...but 5 strings have a diffent feel to them :] and some people like them some don't i persoanly reckon 4 is enough 5 is alrite and 6 and above is askin for trouble :).
  13. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    Mostly I agree with redneck and EZ.

    If you want a 5, get a 5.

    If you want a 4, string it BEAD and tune up a half step to C. That's my personal preference for the increased string tension. Plus, B tuning sounds like crap. ;)
  14. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    5 string! I hate that detuning crap!
  15. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I say get a 5 string. But you are the one who needs to make the decision. Go and play some 5 stringers, and see what you think.
  16. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    I would go with the 5er personally. However, I've been able to get pretty decent tone out of both my SX P and Ibanez BTB in drop C (playin' to Thrice). However, I've got fairly heavy strings on both axes. Go for whatever feels and sounds better to you. And what you can afford.
  17. incognito89x

    incognito89x ♪♫♪ ♪ ♪ ♫&#983

    Sep 22, 2002
    Royal Oak, Michigan
    I'd see no problem with getting a thicker string gauge. That would remove most problems with low tuning on a 4.
  18. Sten


    Nov 18, 2001
    Thank you for all the replies. Until I get the money for a new bass, I think I will try out how the BEAD tuning works for me. Just one question - could I have problems fitting the higher gauge strings to the current nut?
  19. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    Only if you have one of those basses like a Ric or a Spector, where the string sits all the way down inside a slot. If you have a standard nut it shouldn't be a problem. You will definitely need to adjust your truss rod and bridge. Have fun!
  20. shikee


    Dec 26, 2002
    dallas, tx
    i play in a band and the guitarist insists on tuning to some weird open C tuning he got from a soundgarden song. i started out buying a set for a 5 string in a really light guage and tuning drop C and throw out the G, then bought a 5 string and tuned standard then raised the B to a C. it was kind of weird getting used to at first because of the bigger neck, but i get a much better tone now, and when i play in my other band which uses standard i just drop it back to B and i'm all set. to answer your last question i was putting them on a bass with a plastic nut and the B did not want to fit so i just got an old B string from a friend and used it lke sand paper sliding it through the groove until the string would keep from popping out.

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