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Any old farts make the 4 to 5 string switch?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by phillm47, Dec 18, 2004.

  1. I've been playing bass since 1975. I'm now in my 40's. I have always played 4 strings - period. It always seemed I could cover anything I really needed to on a four string. The five strings I have tried, the string spacing always seemed to cramped. My motto was "if Geddy, Jamerson, Stanley....etc used fours then..." or "when I've MASTERED a four string then..."

    Anyway, I played a five string last night and had a little fun with it. Still strange..but it has me wondering.

    Have any of you 'died in the wool ~ old fart' four string players made the switch to fives later in life? Where you glad you did? Whay advantages did you gain? Glad you made the switch? Only helps sometimes? Did you switch only to switch back to fours?

    I would appreciate hearing your experiences.

    This could be renamed "I'm having GAS for a Roscoe Beck V but am afraid to make a switch"

  2. Bassstud1

    Bassstud1 Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2001
    LaPorte Indiana USA
    I made the switch @ 42. My main problem was string spacing until I bought 5 with wider string spacing. I wouldn't leave my 4 @ home all the time @ first, but eventially you can. Good Luck.
  3. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    I made the switch at about 37. It was a fairly easy process, but more and more, I find myself going back to fours. It just feels right.
  4. I'd been a 4-stringer since the early 70's but added a 5
    string fretless to my arsenal about 5 years ago (at age 42).
    I had so much fun with the 5 string that I later (about 2 years later)
    added a 6 string to my collection. I still have a couple of 4-string basses lying around and I do use them often.
  5. Steelpulz


    Nov 4, 2003
    Inglewood, CA
    Hey Phil, I started playing bass in the mid '70's. I had a 74 fender jazz bass. Then in the 90s, I started playing gospel. A lot of those songs are in Eb, Db, etc. So, I switched to a Yamaha RBX 765A (a fiver). Moderately priced, decent bass. Now I am gassing for a sixer, FBass or MTD. :bassist:
  6. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I'm hittin ole fart age, but switched to 5 back in 91.

    I just wanted to make the point that I have a 4, a 5 and a 6 string currently. They all have the same string spacing.

    (I did make the 6 string jump @ 36)
  7. Raven


    Nov 14, 2004
    Jacksonville, Fl
    At 57, I guess I'm one of the oldest farts here....I started on 4 strings at 10 years old. 20+ years later I went from 4 to 5, then 6 a few years after that. The narrower string spacing on the 6 took more getting used to, but my Carvin 6 is now my main bass..... (only 'til I get my Conklin 9....) :hyper:
  8. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Canuck Amateur

    I took up bass at the ripe old age of 48 two and a half yrs ago and naturally it was a nice little four string (a Godin Freeway). Within 4 months I purchased my first 5-string, a Godin BG-V.

    Playing a lot of gospel left me wanting the Eb. The idea of de-tuners left me cold and the Godin BG-V was easy to transitiion to while I was learning because it has a very slim and fast neck.

    I consider fives to be almost mandatory for my styles of playing. When I play my Fender Precision American Series 4 (which I love) I often find myself wanting the B-string for bits and pieces. I've since added a Lakland Skylin 55-01 to the arsenal.

    The funny thing about the B is that you don't actually use it that often, but it's great to have for that rumble. Nice to know it's there when you need it. Great for doing two string octave jumps and double stops.
  9. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    Old school bass player here, I got my first 5 string (A RB5) three years ago then I got a 55-01 a year ago. While I would go back and forth between 4 and 5 strings it wasn't until i got my FMT V that I could say I would do a gig with a 5 string bass. I will alway's be a 4 string bass player just because I favor the sound of an old school Fender bass, jazz or precision. Oh by the way I picked up 5 string basses at 45 years old.
  10. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    I'm 41 & find I enjoy both 4's & 5's.
  11. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    I started in '74... In late '01, early '02, I took the plunge and bought a Warwick Fortress Masterman 5. Kept it about 3 months swearing that I'd never play a 5 again.

    Visited Sam Ash on a whim in Aug. '02. They had a sale on Green Squier Precision Special 5 strings ($179 IIRC), played it, fell in love with it, haven't looked back.

    I've since defretted the Squier (makes an incredible fretless 5 too) and stumbled into an fantastic deal on a 5 string J type bass with a Warmoth ash body and a custom made Karl Hoyt 35 in. scale neck. The string spacing is pretty narrow, but I've adapted just fine. The B string comes in handy.

    I even bought a 6 string (at a GC sale) which doesn't get played much, but it was pretty cheap.

    I do still love my 4 string P bass, but the Hoyt/Warmoth J5 is my main instrument.

    Eli is our age too and went from 4s to 6s, then moved to 7s a couple years ago. His main basses are a pair of 7s (fretted and fretless)...those necks are W-I-D-E...
  12. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    I just bought my first 5-string...and I'm older'n dirt.

    What's the big deal? I bought a pedal steel back when I was in my 50's.
  13. Granted I'm 17. But I have made jumps from 4 strings, to six strings, back to 4 strings. And now I have a fiver in the mail coming soon. So hopefully I'll stick with this one longer than my crappo sixer.
  14. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    I'm 42, and bought my first cheap 5er a few months back. It's going well enough that I'm starting to look for a decent 5.

    I like having the low B, but my main reason for wanting to try 5s is a minor touch of arthritis. I keep a pair of 30" scale basses around for the days my hands hurt, but I'm finding it's just as easy to play a 5 in second position. I still get easily confused by that extra string, though. In time, I guess.
  15. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    53 ... that definitely qualifies as an old fart in this forum. Started playing a 4 in 63, first 5 in 2001. The only problem I had was a mind game, you wouldn't think that extra string would foul you up so much. Didn't take long, though, to get adjusted. I think too many players give up way too fast.

    Picking up a 6 string today ... that should be interesting ........
  16. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    I bought my first fiver back in 1993 when I was 29. It was a Ken Smith Burner five and I hated to play it. The string spacing made me feel as if I were retarded (you know, fretting one string and plucking on another). Last year, when I turned forty, I sold the Ken Smith (which was a nice bass I freely admit) and picked up a second Sterling which I strung BEAD. That helped me do the five-string thing without the string-spacing problems. Two months ago I received my Bongo fiver and, though I still have coordination problems every now and again, I have much more confidence in my adaptation skills.
  17. Thumper


    Mar 22, 2000
    Syracuse Ut
    After playing 4s for 30 years, in '98 I got my first 5 string and have never looked back. I've found the best benefit is that I play primarily up around the 5th fret, using the 5th on the B instead of an open E. It has done wonders for my rotator cuff problem and pain level now that I don't have to fully extend my arm except to tune.

    I never cared for the difference in tone and lack of control you have over an open string, and I only play them for effect.

    The bottom line for me is that 5ers have extended my playing years, and at 52, I'm able to play in 2 gigging bands.
  18. Eldermike


    Jul 27, 2004
    I switched to a 5 at age 45, then switched back to 4 a few years later. I play 4 live (I use 2 stingrays) but I record with a 5 string warick. I rewrite everything I record to keep from using open sting notes. This might not be good form, but it keeps me from making booming notes while recording. It's better for me to depend on consistent performance rather than to allow the engineer to destroy the tone with limiters and compression. I have considered going to 6.
  19. billbern


    Sep 11, 2004
    Daytona Beach, Fl
    Endorsing: Inearz In-ear Monitors
    I'm 50, started on a Pbass in '66. Switched to 5 string 6 months ago. Now that's all I take to gigs.
    55-01 NTMB
    BTB 1005 fretless
  20. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I'm 46 and switched primarily to 5 bangers 'bout 5 years ago. I'm more sensitive to the weight / balance issue than the addition of a 5th string. As a result, all my fivers now sport Hipshot Ultralites (Modulus, Lakland, Status) as does my Warwick Streamer LX 4. I've got my eye on a Zon Vinny headless 5.

    I strap on the Warwick only occasionally; it always feels like I've forgotten something. Dum-de-dum-dum.....oh crap, where's the damn low D?!?