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AAARGH all the notes are in the wrong places! (Welcome to the 5-string club!)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Squid-TEGH, May 9, 2017.

  1. Squid-TEGH


    Jun 13, 2015
    Yorkshire, UK
    So I was at the store the other day, one of the dudes who I chat to there (also a bass player) blinks as if remembering and goes "Oh uh, when are you next in? I've got something for you!"

    I'd been keeping him updated on my adventures over the last 2 years with my bass and must have mentioned at some point I was considering going for a 5 string to play alongside my beloved 504.

    Well today, I was next in. He presents me with an unknown model of Stagg 5-string bass type guitaryness. [UPDATE: A bit of research identifies the bass as a 5 string Stagg Fusion bass. Old model - four tuners on one side, one on the other (as opposed to 3+2). Whoa, they sell new for £180, so it's not exactly a "baby's first bass". Nice haul!].

    Apparently he was cleaning the house, came across a bass he didn't recognise, and when he phoned his various buddies, none of whom admitted to owning it, he figured I'd benefit from some time with it.

    "I don't want anything for it" he says, "I don't want it back, I don't remember ever buying this bass, so I won't notice it missing", he says with a laugh.

    I get it back home, tune it up, tune it up again, adjust the action (which was SUPER high), tune it up again again, plug in and turn it up.
    With a soft click-thud the plug pushes the socket into the guitar, and then falls out onto the floor, while I feel a (very loose) volume pot spinning around inside the body of the bass.

    Tools out, open 'er up.

    Unscrewed the amp jack plate, bent the pin that makes contact with the plug towards the neck so that it keeps the plug in. Tightened the nuts on either side of the jack plate down tight, and screwed the jack plate back in.
    Took the volume knob off, out with the mini-wrench and tightened the pot down against the body so it doesn't spin.

    Back panel off just for the heck of it, everything looks okay in there.

    Tighten everything up, check tune, cable in, volume up, amp on. Throw the strap over my shoulder, let go of the bass for a brief moment, WHOA, neck dive city!! Are the tuners made of depleted uranium or something?!

    Put a tune on itunes, and start playing along. On the 504 I can play this tune with my eyes closed while making coffee.
    On the five string? It's like playing Dance Dance Revolution drunk. With an extra leg.

    With a clanging of unmuted strings and a a frequent "kerSPRONGG" as I catch the B string, I manage to stamp the tune to death until it no longer resembles music.

    I mercilessly vandalize another few tunes while committing various crimes against music, wondering where my ability to play the bass has gone. The best way to describe it to someone who's never played a 5 string before - it's like driving your car. Except all the gears are closer together, and you have a 0th gear between Neutral and First.

    There is a good side to this: I'm learning these pitfalls on a free bass. If I'm going to have "*** did I get this for? I want my four string!!" moments, I'd rather have them on a bass I didn't pay £500, £600 for.

    Not only that, but my current muting/plucking tecnique makes it impossible for me to stop all "inactive" strings. I can't mute the strings properly on this five string.
    Why is this good? Because my technique is known to be flawed, but since I could get away - mostly - with it being flawed while playing my 504, I had no reason to work on it.
    Now I have a reason. At the minute, to listen to me playing my 5 string you'd think I'd been playing 2 weeks, not 2 years. It's pretty much back to square one on this thing, and to be honest, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to fix some pretty fundamental tecnique mistakes I was making.

    I'm sure this new bass will teach me a lot. And when I do go and buy a 5 string myself, I'll do so in the knowledge that I can actually play it.
    I don't care if I sound crap while I'm learning to play all over again, because over time I'll sound less crap, and when I do, I'll be competent at the four string basses and the five string basses :).

    Here's my 504 hanging out with its new bunkmate :).


    Doesn't "Bass Corner" look better now it's a little busier? :D


    And you know what? All the above aside, when I do manage to string notes together in the right order on the 5 string, it actually sounds pretty good on my amp :).
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    "Cool story, bro". :)

    (I should add, I did actually read the whole thing. Fascinating. :beaver:)
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
  3. Flaked Beans

    Flaked Beans

    Sep 9, 2005
    lz4005, pbass2, Roberto Nunez and 4 others like this.
  4. Squid-TEGH


    Jun 13, 2015
    Yorkshire, UK
    Sorry, I figured getting a new bass was kinda a big deal :p.
  5. Ignore the flake. I enjoyed the story.
    It's also nice to hear about somebody else who actually likes being kept honest.
  6. Nice bass. Great story,you're a good writer.
    bfields and Squid-TEGH like this.
  7. Squid-TEGH


    Jun 13, 2015
    Yorkshire, UK
    Yeah, I figured I could start work on my technique and become a good player, or I could not work on my technique and be a "decent" player.
    I'd rather be good, but I didn't want to re-examine my technique from scratch.
    Now I have to re-examine my technique because it's the only way I'll actually be able to play the 5 string at all :).

    Ta. I used to do a lot of writing when I was younger :).
    ed morgan and equill like this.
  8. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    A good story made better by a great storyteller! :bookworm: :thumbsup:

    I, too, can sympathize. Last year, I decided to give a fiver a go again, but this time, I had a cunning and subtle plan. nudge__nudge__wink__wink__by_billy_pilgrim_zps0enmquq0. I added a "visual crutch" in the form of a single DR Black Beauty B-string.


    Sadly, I haven't given it as much practice-time as I should have by now, but I've noodled with it enough to see my experiment shows promise. Last time I was learning a new song on it, I wasn't stumbling over the B-string or confusing it for the E-string nearly as much! Yay! :smug: :woot:

    Hang in there, Squid! Who knows? Maybe one day the both of us will be able to play a fiver in public without fear of shame and ridicule. :bag:
    Last edited: May 10, 2017
    Squid-TEGH and Herrick like this.
  9. Squid-TEGH


    Jun 13, 2015
    Yorkshire, UK
    I don't have fear of shame or ridicule :p.
    I can play a tune on the 5 string (not very well, still) on my first day of owning it - that's more than I could do with the 504 :D.
  10. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    The exact same thing happened to me three or four weeks ago when I was trying the fanned-fret Ibanez.
    The fanned frets felt so natural, but the fifth string was screwing me up every step of the way...and I wasn't even using it!
    Squid-TEGH likes this.
  11. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    My first 5'er was also my first fretless. After 3 weeks I knew I made a huge mistake. Had played for 4 or 5 years prior and could not get it down. By the 4th week, I was all over it. Keep going, keep identifying concepts you need work on, and you'll see improvement relatively quickly.

    Side note: Once I went to a 5 full time, I rather enjoyed guitar players not having experience playing with 5 string players and they would get lost during jams because they were trying to watch my fingerboard and not listen. Good times.

    Good Luck OP!
    AlexanderB likes this.
  12. TheBear

    TheBear Bergantino Artist, Vibe9 IEM Artist Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2008
    Austin, TX
    That's a pretty cool way to get a new bass and to test the 5-string waters. Might be a good idea to repay the kindness and/or pass along the good karma to someone else somehow.

    As far as playing the 5, it does get easier with practice. I exclusively played 4's for 13 years before I bought my first 5, and now seven years later a 5 feels like home to me (so much so that I'm trying to sell my last 4).
    Squid-TEGH likes this.
  13. Squid-TEGH


    Jun 13, 2015
    Yorkshire, UK
    Yeah, I think when I get "my own" 5 string, I might pass this one along to someone. I don't know any bassists who could use it at the minute - the nephew plays but he's only had the four string for five months, I think handing him a five string at this stage might upset things. But we'll see how things go :D.

    I spent more time playing the 5 string today, to my surprise I found I sounded a lot better than I did yesterday, I'm even playing around a little and getting (slightly) cocky :p. It's great being able to dive below the root note as well as above it, and when that B string does its thing the rumble sounds so good :D.

    So good in fact that I've been window shopping.

    I know, I know, it's a bit early to go window shopping at this stage but hey I had to go window shopping a little before settling on my 504.

    I quite like the look of this. What do you think, should I make it a christmas present to myself? :D

    TheBear and bholder like this.
  14. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    That's a nice looking bass.
  15. TheBear

    TheBear Bergantino Artist, Vibe9 IEM Artist Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2008
    Austin, TX
    That could be cool to give it you your nephew and keep the bass in the family! I think you're right, it may be a bit early to get him on a 5 but if he loves it and feels inspired by the 5 then it's probably a good idea.

    I'm not very well versed in ESP basses so I can't comment on that one other than to say that I love that blue!
  16. Squid-TEGH


    Jun 13, 2015
    Yorkshire, UK
    I don't know anything about ESP basses either. But it looks pretty awesome, it kinda matches the 504 :).
    It's weird, when I play the Fusion, I feel like I'm "cheating on" my 504 :p.
    It's been my musical companion through 2 years of adventures (and it will continue to be that), but for the first time, it's not my only musical companion :p.
  17. Gab124

    Gab124 The path is greater than the destination

    Dec 30, 2006
    You can't be a talkbass member without always window shopping!!!!!
    BTW - the 5 will come to you pretty fast. I should suggest that if you are not familiar with the floating thumb technique you should look into it. It is not mandatory to play a 5, but it can be really, really helpful
    Robb Fesig likes this.
  18. DukeCC


    Nov 4, 2016
    Thanks for the post! Glad you took a sensible approach to taking on a 5-string. That extra string is really just a luxury--so no need to go down that road if one doesn't need to. Good to try the cheap route first.
    My story--I shopped CL for a cheap bass with a hard case to leave at a practice room. I found a Squier that fit the bill--with new strings to boot, for $140!--and it happened to be a 5-string. I took the B string off and used it like that for a while. When I brought it back home I put the B back on and played it occasionally. A project came up where the other guys detuned a half step, and while using it on that I noticed I was using the B string a little. So I figured it was time to make the switch. So I retired my old Jazz and am going with a new-to-me Stingray 5-er. 1 gig complete and no major issues, so I appear to be well on my way. YMMV
  19. Blackjac97

    Blackjac97 Supporting Member

    May 27, 2012
    The two basses complement each other nicely. Right down to the head stock shape. Nice score!
    Squid-TEGH likes this.
  20. DavC

    DavC Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    i played 4 strg for 20 yrs before getting my first 5ver ... stayed with that for 20 yrs ... the last couple yrs i've been gravitating back towards 4 strings again .. ??

    i started playing 5vers by using the low B only for the extra low notes ... and a great thumb rest ...

    then slowly start using it , low B , more often to stay in the same position ...

    now i've moved on from the low B , and went with a high C string .. ! that's fun also ...

    and i have one of my 4 strings tuned with the low E down to D ...

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