Any recommendations on how to mute the b string in a 5 string bass?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Daniel Panus, May 27, 2021.

  1. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    There's a reason why low B / single string dampening devices do not exist. There's no substitute to make up for poor technique. It would be akin to having stabilisers on an adult's bike because you don't want to ride it properly.

    That said, I never really explored the 5 string properly when I played one exclusively for many years, I played it the same as a 4 string with a few lower notes. However, I developed my floating thumb technique well enough to keep the low B muted.

    Perhaps it's time to reconsider whether you're a 4 string or a 5 string bassist. I'm definitely a 4 string bassist. If I need a few lower notes, I have a hipshot Xtender for drop D, or I use a pitch shift in my helix to instantly retune to BEAD. There's a couple of stompboxes (EHX Pitchfork and Digitech Drop) that can do the same thing for you.
    eriky4003 and stigbeve like this.
  2. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff

    Aug 21, 2014
    Floating thumb or moving anchor. It'll take a few months of conscious thought before it becomes second nature.

    Ignore the naysayers saying "The B string just gets in the way." IMO. it's simply a matter of getting used to it and learning how and why to use the extra string.

    It's a big ol fat thing that will ring out of you don't keep it under control though. I use the thumb of my plucking hand. I just keep it flat against all strings below the notes I'm playing. Some players will use their pinky and ring finger to mute strings they aren't playing.

    Play the 5 string exclusively for a month or two. You'll start getting used to the requirement to mute.

    It happens playing a 4 string too, it's just not as easy to notice.

    A 5 string will teach you to up your muting game. If you can't seem to mute it with your thumb, check your string heights, a string may be set too high compared to others keeping you from applying adequate pressure to the string/s you're trying to mute.

    I always find it funny the amount of advice saying to give up something you struggle with. That's not how you get better at anything musical. It took some time and effort to get comfortable with what you're comfortable with. That holds true for any new technique or instrument. So keep working it until it's comfortable.
    Last edited: May 28, 2021
  3. sonic 7

    sonic 7 Supporting Member

    Aug 10, 2011
    Queens, N.Y.C.
    I’ve never been comfortable switching back and forth between a 4 and a 5 . I enjoy my 5 string more when I just commit to it and leave the 4 string in its case for a few weeks. I think if you do the same you’ll just naturally develop a good muting technique.
  4. sonic 7

    sonic 7 Supporting Member

    Aug 10, 2011
    Queens, N.Y.C.
    And try not to think of the 5 string bass as a 4 string with an extra string. It’s more than just a few extra low notes.
  5. put a sock up in there
    Yaralag likes this.
  6. 2F/2F


    May 26, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    What is the issue with having the B string sit there unplayed? Keeping the unplayed strings from ringing is basic, probably second week, beginner bass technique. You need to do the same thing on a four string bass.​
    Schizo Sapiens and chris_b like this.
  7. I tend to use the ring finger on my plucking hand as the mute. No floating thumb technique as it just stays there freeing up my other fingers to play, and is easily removed when the B is needed. If you are looking for a way to have the B always muted so that it can not be used, just play a 4 string.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    What you need is a rubber grommet....

    ....and a few less lectures about what you should or shouldn't want. ;)

    The proper sized grommet should pop right into place. Slide the string into the slot and wedge it in. It should take 1.5 seconds to install 0.0 seconds to take of. It should cost a quarter and be available at every hardware store on Earth.
  9. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    You learned to mute your E string on your 4 stringer. It’s the same concept, just more difficult.

    I played a 6 string for many years and it took me about 6 months to work out the bugs. I now play 5 strings 99% of the time ( high C).
    I strongly suggest not relying on anything but you hands to accomplish your goal,
    though a hair scrunchie for slapping is a good tool.
    chris_b and AFRO like this.
  10. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    Use it as a thumb rest
    BritFunk and backin82 like this.
  11. TE="5StringBlues, post: 25310215, member: 139960"]Quit using the B string for just the low notes , move your positioning up the neck, and play the B string.

    B strings are not there just for the 5 extra low notes.[/QUOTE]
    Bass Wisdom.
    chris_b, john m and obimark like this.
  12. happygilmour

    happygilmour Supporting Member

    Feb 22, 2009
    Wilbraham, MA
    Musicman Stingray Classic 5 with mute bridge. Adjustable by string.
    thunesBARROW likes this.
  13. ELG60


    Apr 26, 2017
    As a player who regularly uses both 4 and 5 string basses and who doesn't claim to be particularly adept as a technician, I have found that by anchoring my thumb on the B string when I'm not using it solves the issue for me.

    It may be of note that most of my basses are Jazz Bass style so I've always rested my thumb atop the neck pup. It's obvious to me that the floating thumb technique is the superior one and that'd be my recommendation, but it's a case of "do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do," as hypocritical as that may be.
  14. thunesBARROW


    Apr 12, 2010
    Silly Putty
    DrMole, Rabidhamster and MattZilla like this.
  15. i have this habit of wedging my thumb behind the B string when im just using the 4 strings seems comfortable enough and does the job.
    and when i need the string named after the second letter of the alphabet, Mr thumbs at the ready..
  16. jnuts1


    Nov 13, 2007
    tiny piece of foam under the string at the nut
  17. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Mute with your right hand and your left hand the same way you would mute the E on a four-string.
    digbass likes this.
  18. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I'll just quote this to save myself from typing it. And, practice. Play scales or riffs slow and pay attention to playing it clean. Up the tempo as it becomes more instinctive.
  19. How does that work when you are slapping the E string with your thumb? (Like 99% of funk songs rewu
    Bass Wisdom.[/QUOTE]
    This. The only reason I would even consider going from 4 strings to 5 would be to play up higher on the neck for low notes, and the 4th fret E flat. But the tradeoffs arent worth it for me.
    eriky4003 likes this.
  20. coy garcia

    coy garcia

    Jan 18, 2020
    for me the B string became a thumb rest when not being played. Your post is why I no longer play my 5's...I found the few extra low notes was not worth I'm considering restringing them with a high C.
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