1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

A Real Alternative To A Five-String?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Misterwogan, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. I started a thread here last week asking: "Did anyone regret purchasing their fivers?".

    The response was overwhelmingly "No".

    Before I press then button on a five, I want to do a little trial. I do not want to buy a cheap bass to try out. If I buy a 5 it would have to sit alongside my other premium fours.

    Here's the plan. I take one of my four-string basses, say the Am Std P-Bass and tune the strings to B-E-A-D and see how I get on. This avoids me having to trial a cheap bass that be off-putting for other reasons and allows me to get used to the new patterns.

    I might even discover that I don't need a new bass, so long as I can live without the G-string.

    Has anyone else done this?
  2. tomnomnom91


    Dec 23, 2012
    I actually did this just the other day. Personally I think it's a great alternative and I'm glad I didn't buy another bass instead. It's all down to personal preference though, and how much you use the G. Plus, if you're tuning to BEAD it kinda has to be relatively permanent, because you need to get some heavy strings (I'm using 130, 105, 85, 65), which means filing out the nut grooves - if you want to switch back to lighter strings for standard tuning, you'd need another nut. Definitely worth it if you have multiple basses and are willing to have one permanently drop tuned, though.
  3. Ok, I've just done the deed. Any yes, you're absolutely right about he strings. The P has a 8250M set fitted, 45-110 and with the down-tuning the bass is unplayable, the looseness of the strings being far more severe than I was expecting.

    But I am really liking the C Major scale on the bottom string.

    So 130-65 does the trick?
  4. I have a 4 string beater I strung up BEAD.....works fine lasts a long time.

    I have 2 5 strings, a Warwick Corvette $$ 5 and a Lakland 55-01 fretless. I just recently (like 2 weeks ago) bought an American Standard Jazz bass 4 string to use in a blues setting. I see so many pro players using the Jazz and never owned a Fender so I popped that bubble finally. Love the bass. Learning to play a 4 string after essentially learning on a 5 string is a challenge.....Low fret keys drive me nuts. The Jazz neck is so playable that I'm hanging in there despite E/F key madness and open string exceptions.

    If I ever give up on the 4 string Jazz, it'll get recommissioned as BEAD.
  5. Yes....BTW, enjoy consistent fingering positions for every key starting on a B-string fret.
  6. I was just in this situation this past year. I played 35" active 5ers my whole life & after years of 3-hour shows, my neck, shoulder and back couldn't take the weight anymore.

    I BEADed a G&L SB-1. Worked great! Definitely felt strange at first and takes your brain a second, but well worth loosing that weight in scale-length, extra string, on-board preamp, etc.

    Plus, I never played anything super high on the G anyway, so those notes were covered by simply moving up the neck.

    I'd definitely say try BEAD first. You're only out a set of strings If you don't like it. Or get a 5-string set and keep the G. Then just use those on your new 5 ;)

    Also, if you BEAD, just make sure to check your neck as the string tension will be different.
  7. For Blues in the key of E. The root, 3rd, 5th and 6th patterns are a lot easier to do on a 4-string because of the open strings (the 5th and 6th are on the same string two frets apart).
  8. You know you will have to file your nut to accept the larger diameter strings, and reset the intonation.

    Once you have enlarged the slots, and if you want to go back - you will need a new nut. Are you OK with that?

    I know you're a bit aprehennsive on getting a 5er, but you just might like it - you can do a 2 octave scale straight accross the fretboard, and it just feels so natural. If you want the lowest string to be a "C" just capo the first fret.
  9. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    The 5th and 6th are always on the same string "two frets apart" on any bass, and in any key....maybe I'm missing something?
  10. Ok I'm really impressed. Despited the rattling strings, I've played through Foo Fighters - Learn to Fly, and the B, E and F# thing is divine.

    My hand size and finger length means that I can manage 34" scale length in 90% of situations, a real 35" fiver would probably reduce that percentage quite a bit, so I'm really hoping that this approach is workable. Am a bit concerned about the issue though.
  11. Sorry, what I meant was that if you play in position say in G - the 5th is on 3rd string 5th fret and the sixth is on 2nd string 2nd fret and also of course on 3rd string 7th fret - bit that takes you out of position.

    On a four string, playing in E. The 5th and 6th are on the 3rd string and enable you to stay in position.
  12. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I see, because you don't have to fret the open E you can keep your hand in the higher position.

    You know, with the right technique you should be able to play a major(or dominant)scale keeping your hand in the same position. It's easier the further you move up the neck which is an advantage to having a low B string...if you're playing in E you can grab your low E on the 5th fret and pretty much play any note in the scale without having to change positions.
  13. Interesting thoughts.

    Mmmmh, I used to play 4-stringers in the past.
    When I returned to the bass in the last year, I got myself a 5-stringer.
    I just wanted to have the option of the lower notes.

    But my style of playing changed with the 5th string:
    1. my thumb isn't resting on the neck pickup anymore, but now on the B-string. But the thumb isn't "wandering" to the next string when I play on the G-string for example.
    2. I used to play some former deep tunes at the 5th fret now, it makes me play faster and more comfortable.
    3. I used to play the B-string only with the thumb, not only for slapping but also for regular fingerstyle. I watched Sting's playing style and found it very comfortable and logic. I combined it with the few slapping fill-ins I sprinkle in my tunes.

    So - the low B-string was the perfect step for me.
  14. Catbuster


    Aug 25, 2010
    Louisville, KY.
    Drop C (CGCF). You only lose the low B, and an uber high D & Eb...
  15. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I tried BEAD. I thought I didn't need the G string. but that soon proved wrong. I only wish I'd tried Drop C too as I didn't think of that and it seem like a much better compromise that BEAD which trims the whole top string off.
  16. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    A 4-string tuned BEAD is not that similar to a 5-string.
  17. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Not necessarily, as far as filing the nut. I have done it on several basses without having to file the nut slots. Try it first before automatically filing the nut.
  18. Catbuster


    Aug 25, 2010
    Louisville, KY.
    I already play in D standard a lot, and I was short funds for a fiver, so Drop C was a natural progression. And it works surprisingly well
  19. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    The G string (no jokes plz) is my least favorite due to the tone, but it's a necessary evil for me... without it, I couldn't play a lot of cover tunes without extraordinary gymnastics or bass line rearrangements.
  20. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Feb 27, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.