A few 5 string questions.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Mike M., Feb 18, 2010.

  1. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    Hey, gang.

    I got my first 5 string bass this past December. Love it, love it! For as fast as I made the physical transition, the "mental transition" is taking a while. I'm even "testing" myself by chosing random notes and trying to name them as fast as possible. But some days it's like...:rollno: :help:!!!

    How long before you felt totally at ease with the mental aspect after you switched from a 4 to a 5 string? It really bothers me when I now have to stop and think about what note I'm playing.

    Any tips for learning the slap technique on a 5 string? I must admit that for what ever reason I never really tried to learn that technique in the past. Sure I messed around with it here and there a bit in the past, but not seriously.

    Any tips or video's for 5 string slapping? Can this old dog learn some new tricks?
  2. sackvegas


    Dec 1, 2006
    Slapping on a 5 string is no question more difficult due to string spacing, which varies greatly by make. Add to that slapping a B string usually sounds like a$$. I would stick to the 4 string for slap bass technique.

    As far as learning the notes on the string, that's simple repetition, start by learning all the natural notes. Then move on to arpeggios with the root on the B string, then work on your chord inversions, if you do that enough eventually it will all be second nature.

  3. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    I just learned B-C-C#-D-Eb and play the rest of it as if it were a four string:p. Not completely true, but largely true.

  4. This is actually a good point. Not necessarily with all extended range basses...but (low B) 5 strings in particular have a very different tonal quality. The low b string is a thick gauge, and notes played much above the 5-7 fret tend to get muddier anyway. Naturally, this depends on the quality of the instrument (and many other factors). Dont be afraid to use that low B sparingly...and to fill out low tones on common notes like the C, D and Eb.

    As for slapping...i started early, and on a 5er. Ther hardest part wasnt getting the notes to sound...but getting the others to SHUT UP! Get used to muting the B string with the palm of your hand...and keeping your right hand controlled. Slapping often requires a lot of motion in your left hand...so it wont be as easy to keep the strings quiet. Even then...something with string spacing smaller the 17mm is going to be rough no matter how you cut it...especially with big hands like mine.

  5. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    I'd agree the muting is harder when slapping on a 5, but it's do-able. I use the heel of my hand on the low strings when I slap the high strings, and cover the high strings with my fretting fingers when I slap the low strings. The big idea is that you use both hands to mute.

    It took me about six months to get comfortable on the 5, but after that a 4 felt like it was missing something.

    Norm Stockton's advanced video has some good lessons on slap--he's using an MTD 535. I got a lot out of Ed Friedland's video, too. Nice explanation of left hand pats.

    IME, if the B-string sounds good fingerstyle, you can thumb it. A light touch is best, though. All my 5s are 35" scale, so I dunno if a 34" would work. I use medium gauge (45-130), myself.
  6. DrSmaggs


    Oct 15, 2003
    Endorsing Artist:
    My Sadowsky basses have more room (string to string) than a typical cookie-cutter five string bass... I didn't realize many years ago the varying degrees of spacing from different manufacturers.

    Here is a pic of one of my basses... check out the 19mm spacing


    It might be hard to tell in these pics... but the following Ibanez bass has a much smaller string-to-string spacing.

  7. DrSmaggs


    Oct 15, 2003
    Endorsing Artist:
    My example sucks.
  8. It doesnt suck...those SR's have string spacing in the 16.5mm range...no?
  9. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    I used to think I liked a more narrow string spacing, but after playing a couple wider basses, I find I like the feel of the wider spacing.
  10. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    As for learning the notes, you'll eventually just have to memorize them, but for now just remember the shape of an octave: you're always just two frets behind the same note on the A string.

  11. Lync

    Lync Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2004
    I play double and electric (and lately mainly 5'ers). I find you have to stick with the 5 as much as possible to get over that mental gap. It also helps if you learn to play without looking at the fretboard.
  12. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    +1. That was a good example.

    FWIW, the string spacing matters a lot to me. I need the 19mm (Fender) spacing for the slap/thump and the pop, both.

    My first 5 had narrow string spacing, and I was all thumbs <rimshot> playing slap on it. Switched to an MTD KZ5, and I came to understand how much string spacing mattered.
  13. DrSmaggs


    Oct 15, 2003
    Endorsing Artist:
    I was just referring to the fact that the pics don't make it really clear... but there are some manufacturers out there that just jam those strings right in next to each other, huh.
  14. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    Thanks for the tips, gang. Yeah, I guess the key IS practice, pratice and practice for both fretboard memorization and for the slapping technique.

    Hate to admit it, but I always felt rather clumbsy when I tried the slapping technique in the past. But some good advice was given here. Thanks again for your time.
  15. Billnc


    Aug 6, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    5 string has a more elegant two octave fingering pattern (diagonal) than 4 ever dreamed of. My keyboards shot (this is taking a looong time to type and correct) if you have any questions ask.
  16. bbmagic


    Jan 28, 2009
    I prefer not to slap (and I was never any good at it), so a 5-string was a perfect fit for me. It opens up the fretboard (the biggest bonus for me is the ability to run two octave scales in the same position) and string crossing is easier, although not at first. It takes some time getting used to the closer strings!