Calling all 4 and 5 string bass players!!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Mondo, May 29, 2002.

  1. Mondo

    Mondo Guest

    Jul 25, 2001
    St. Augustine Beach
    I just played a MTD Kingston 5 string, it was great!! They also make it in a 4 string. Here is my problem i have been playing bass now for a year and a half and 95% of that has been on a 4 string bass. I now have a 4 and a 5 string bass and every time i go to play i can not pick one. I feel better on a 4 string, but the really low lows of the 5 are cool. Here is what i need to know, WHY a 5 string?? Also i have alot still to learn about bass theory and much more about playing bass.I want to a great bass player one day!! (When i say great i mean to be able to get all my feelings out on bass really groove!!) Most of the bass players that influence me play on 4 string basses, There are a few who play 5 strings but they mostly play on the E to G strings and will throw a note on the B string in every so often. I have tuned my 4 string down and that sounds really cool as well.
    So what is better a 4 or a 5 string bass and why??
    And to all the 4 string players i need your help just as much!! Let me know what you think and why.

  2. Skorzen


    Mar 15, 2002
    Springfield MA
    Go for the five man. I played a four for the first ~3 years that I played and recently picked up a five. It allows you to play a larger range of notes in a smaller area. Mine does have a narrower string spacing which took a little time to get used to, but it is worth it. I love the low D :D
  3. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Learn to use the B string for notes other than B-Eb.

    I like playing in E at the fifth fret, instead of the open E string. F is great at the 6th, and G is great at the 8th. Much shorter reach than in the first position.
  4. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    What Jeff said.:)
  5. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I'm actually hoping to make the move to a 6-string in the near future. I've been a 4 string player for 19 years. Why? Because it's been plenty for my requirements. I see the 6 as an exercize in self-indulgence, though perhaps I'll change that opinion when I actually own one.;)

    Anyway, if you consider that most of the greats played 4's and still do (primarily, anyway), such as Paul McCartney, Sting, John Entwistle, John Paul Jones, Jack Bruce, James Jamerson, Jaco, Victor Wooten, Chris Squire, Geddy Lee, Lemmy, Marcus Miller, and so on...

    These are players who truly innovated the instrument, had a lot to say on the instrument, and were never inhibited by the idea that "there's nothing left to say" or "it just isn't new, anymore"...Some of these guys DO play a 5, but that's generally not their main instrument...

    That's my reasoning as to why 4-strings will never be too little...;)
  6. incubus2432


    Mar 21, 2002
    Grafton, Ohio
    About 90% of what I play is on a 4 string with standard tuning and for the rest I use a 4 string strung as low B and this setup works fine for me. I'm much more comfortable with 4 strings than 5 and I don't feel the need to get used to a 5 string. The restrung version is a necessity for me because some of our covers require it (tuned to low D). For me this was a good solution and gives me a reason to buy an extra bass or two so I have backups for all situations :D
    I appreciate those who like to challenge themselves by getting more strings but I think for me I'm pretty set in my ways and still like to work at getting the most out of my lowly 4 strings:rolleyes:
  7. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    The 5 can do everything that the 4 can do and more. After 3 months of playing my first 5 (bought as an experiment) I was gigging with it and it became my #1 bass.

    5 strings are better than 4 for me, but I don't mean to say that this should be true for everyone... that would be silly. But I love having the additional range, and I also love having those lower notes. Just because they're there doesn't mean you have to use them, but for some songs the lower notes sound fantastic (octaves built off the B string are really phat).

    If I think 5 is better than 4, why haven't I gone up to 6? Here are the reasons (pretty much in order of importance):
    1) I have no desire to play higher notes
    2a) Narrower string spacing would be uncomfortable for me
    2b) A wider fretboard would be uncomfortable for me
    3) I'd have one more string to damp and considering the first few reasons, why deal with it at all?

    You of course could use some of these as reasons not to go to 5. But I think you should give it a go anyway because IMO 5-string will become the norm a few years down the road. And here's a little tip on learning to play 5: just after I got my first fiver I was invited to join a new band, so I learned all the new songs on 5. It was so much easier to learn fresh on 5 than to relearn songs I'd been playing for years on 4. Once I got accustomed to playing the new tunes on 5, it was much easier to relearn those old ones. YMMV, and good luck whatever you decide!
  8. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Exactly. There are songs that I can play on 5 string without moving my hand from one position, but when playing the same songs on 4 string I have to move my hand to get the F# or whatever. There is more to 5 string than just the low B - Eb. I do still play 4 string on a lot of songs, but if I only take one bass to a gig, it is a 5 string.
  9. I play a 5 for the reasons stated by Embellisher. being able to use the economy of motion to your advantage, is a bigger factor than the extended range IMO.
    but... the low notes are awesome, and no more tuning down. :)
    if you like the string spacing of a 4 on a 5 string, that Kingston is a perfect choice. I only like playing a 5 when I got room to move.
  10. I'm content with my 4. I recorded a CD with 15 songs (due out in about 2 months) with my jazz bass. Only one song did I drop my low E to D.

    When I slap, I like being able to totally bash the low E with no compulsion and concern. I don't have to watch out for the low B.

    Sometimes a 5 would be nice but at this time in my life I'm extremely happy with a 4.
  11. i just don't need a five for the music i play. if i joined a jam/improvisation group with songs in lots of different keys, i'd probably want a 5, but for now i have no use for it, so why pay the extra money?
  12. I've got two 4s and a 5. I play my 5 the least. It's a nice bass, but I feel most comfortable with a four. What emballsmasher said is what I have my fiver for. I don't use my B - Eb very often, mostly for a big finish on a solo or something.
  13. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    FWIW, it's fun to totally bash the B string. :)

    That is cool. In my case, I was frequently going below E. And not just to key of D, either... otherwise the Hipshot Bass-Xtenders that I'd put on my fours would've been sufficient.
  14. craigers2


    Sep 26, 2001
    i've been playing a 4-string bass only for about 10 years.

    i'm actually having a dpcustom 5-string being built for me right now. i don't know if the 5-string is going to become my "main bass" or not. i just know that a 5-string would really come in handy from time to time on certain songs.
  15. I don't know if my house has the structural integrity to withstand that. ;)
  16. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Well I was using a Stingray-4 and a MTD Kingston-5, and Tobias-5 and I found switching from the four to the five was a problem. So used the the 5 constant for a about 2 years for most of all the songs I play accept for slap(Im still sloppy on a 5'r).
    And after a while I got used to the 5'r and could switch to my old friend the 4' banger easier.

    What Im saying is to get comfy with the 5'r you will have to use it alot, in my case as a main instrument until I got used to it.

  17. I have to admit I can agree with all of this. My first 5 stringer was bought about 98 years ago and I now have 3 each of 4s and 5s. The 5s are my main instruments!

    I don't think they are better, I find them better to play, and they are much more flexible. You can play more notes without changing position - makes life easier.

    Sometimes I play a four string an mess up track I've been playing for years 'cos I end up on the wrong string - I'm too used to 5s now!
  18. patrickj


    Aug 13, 2001
    Baltimore, MD

    why go for the 5 when you can have the range of a 6!! :D

    ot, nice location Fuzzbass ;)