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Beginning on a 4, 5 or 6 String

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Lucky7, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. Lucky7


    Jan 31, 2005
    I currently play the guitar and I am interested in learning the bass. Is it better to start learning on a 4, 5 or 6 string?
  2. Get whatever is the most comfortable for you to play. Also take into consideration what style of music you will be playing. My main basses are a fretted 5 and a fretless 4. If you want more low notes go with a 5 and if you need the extended range grab a 6. However if a 4 is the most comfortable and fits the bill for you, thats what you should get.
  3. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    Start with a standard 4 string. If you know how to play a 7-string guitar you could probably start with a 5-string. Starting with a 6-string might be a little ambitious. Of course, I know nothing of your guitar playing ability. Maybe your good enough to go right to a 6-string. I think most people's advice will be to start with a 4-string though.
  4. jvbjr


    Jan 8, 2005
    If you want to go more than 4, I'd use tape wounds for the B and C in the short term so you can clearly SEE the 4 normal strings.
  5. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Like Josh said, probably better to stick with the 4 at first. In addition to the physical part of adjusting to a bass from a guitar, the 4 strings kind of mentally force you into the bass mode, thinking about one note at a time instead of chords.

    If you're pretty advanced musically, then branch out to a 5 ... you'll probably be better off holding back on a 6 for a while though :cool:
  6. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    I started teaching about 5 or 6 years ago. My first student came in with a 4 banger. The second came in with a 5'er. Both did equally as well. I do not really think it matters what you start on as long as you are comfortable with it. That is going to be the most important thing, comfort.
  7. mark beem

    mark beem Wait, how does this song start again?? Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA
    Go with whatever you're most comfortable with.

  8. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    For starting out, just get what feels comfortable in your hands. Go try a bunch of 4s, 5s and 6s. You'll figure it out I'm sure.
  9. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    I think there are advantages to starting with more strings. You wont have that awkward adjustment period if you need it later. You can play anything on the 5 or 6 that you could on a 4, plus some. So having them there from the beggining may lend you to using them as soon as possible.

    Like others said, dont get one if its really uncomfortable though. However, even if it is, you'll get used too it and it wont hurt to have more than you need. Money is also a factor there though.
  10. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I'd say get whatever you want to end up playing in the end. But if you're unsure at the moment, I'd say start on a five-string. It's pretty much a standard these days, and you won't have to deal with the trouble of getting accustomed to one after playing a four for years if you start with one right away.

    It doesn't require more skill to start with a five or six-string anyways. Guitar players start with a six every time-no one advises against it, or tells them to cut off a couple of strings until they're ready for six ;)
  11. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    There's no reason to start on 4 unless you know you want to play four. If you want to play 5-string, start on 5. If you want to play six string, then start on six!

    A lot of music these days... even country and blues... has lines that fall outside the range of four-string bass. So, I strongly encourage you to start on 5 or 6.
  12. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    Not really answering the question but a few comments... Has the multistring bass become a "standard" bass in its own way? There are many advantages to starting on a multi string bass if it appeals to you. I love my 6's but find that I still love the 4 string and almost consider it a different instrument. My approach to it is different, my sound is different.. Guess what I'm saying is that there is no right answer to what will work best.

    Even using traditional styles, playing a 5 or 6 allows you to play in a single area on the bass and not have to move all over. Bottomline... it's your choice
  13. angrydad


    Jul 31, 2004
    Hey Lucky7
    I agree with those that say it doesn't matter what you start on. I've had students start on 4, 5,and (one ambitious lad) 6 string bass...they've all done great.
    From my experience, as a teacher and gigging musician, a good understanding of fundemental theory (major and minor scales,major and minor pentatonic scales,intervals, major and minor triads etc.) will help you regardless of how many strings your bass has. Unlike the guitar, most basses, (4 string and extended range) are tuned exclusively in 4ths. This symmetry makes it easier to move scale and chord shapes around without having to change your fingerings. I hope this helps.
  14. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I agree. I also recommend the 5-string.

  15. 5'er....why wait, you'll buy one eventually.......... :smug:
  16. Turock


    Apr 30, 2000
    This is the truth and should be obivous.
  17. played 'em all.
    start on 4..

    but there are other very valid opinions above!
  18. Lucky7


    Jan 31, 2005
    I would like to thank everyone for the useful advice. :)
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    Primary TB Assistant

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