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Comfy on a 5 (or 6, 7...) but choose to play a 4?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by basss, Mar 18, 2006.

  1. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    I'm interested in hearing from players who only play 5's when you absolutely have to even though you feel comfortable on it. What are your reasons for choosing the 4. Do you feel that other people care what bass you play either way (in so much that it affects your ability to get work)? How often do you feel that you really need the 5?
  2. barthanatos

    barthanatos Insert witty comment here

    Feb 8, 2006
    South Carolina
    I'd like to hear opinions on this too. I can play a 4 but hate having fingering options taken away. I know that some very good players choose to use a 4, and I don't really understand. The 5 seems more like a real "instrument" to me (I'm not trying to be mean, that's just how I feel). Y'know, like I think a Steinway Model D concert grand is more of an "instrument" than an upright piano.
  3. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    I feel very comfortable playing 5 and 6 string basses, but my main bass that I use 90% of the time is my modded MIJ 75 Reissue Jazz. I just love the way it sounds and plays. I have become very attached to it. I don't really play much music that requires me to go lower than what I can play on my E string, or higher than my D string for that matter. I play mostly funky, jam type stuff in my band, with some good covers to mix it up.

    And just to name a few top pros that play 4 bangers mostly: Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten, Brian Bromberg, geddy lee, etc...

    Check my sig for a pic of my Jazz Bass, and my 5 String Fretless.
  4. It depends on what kind of upright piano you're talking about, but almost all of them have exactly the same range as a Steinway. :spit:
    And to answer the question at hand here, I choose to play a four for some of the same reasons that many professional bass players do. The biggest one being that I enjoy being somewhat limited in terms of range, for it makes you come up with more creative ways to play your lines, rather than just being a lazy bum and staying in one position all night. That's just my opinion though. Having said that, I would love to buy a 6 string some day to have some fun with, but I must say that if I were to buy a bass with more than 4 strings, it would probably be a 6 (or maybe even more sometime). In my head, If I'm going the ERB direction, I might as well not half-ass it and buy a five, but instead go all the way with a 6, 7, etc. string bass.
  5. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I'm comfortable on six string, but choose to play five despite the limitation. :ninja:

    Honestly, I can understand why many would go back to 4. It's a matter of playing whatever you're most comfortable with. If the limitation isn't a problem -- and there are ways of working around the limitation -- then there's nothing wrong with doing that.
  6. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    Well, I had a 6-string in my stable for about 11 years, that I played about 50% of bass-playing time with, but these days I just have 4's. The music I play these days doesn't absolutely require the extended range (and the lack of other playing positions doesn't bother me.) That doesn't rule out the future, though.

    The 4-string being a lesser "instrument"? I do not agree with that at all.
  7. I can easily play a 5 or 6, I got the hands for it, but I only own 4 string basses.
    I used to have a 5 string OLP, but I sold it after about 2 weeks. I was basically just using the B string as a thumb rest, that's about it. It's funny, when I had a 5 string, I never used it. Now that I DON'T have one, I keep finding myself in need of a B string.
    I'm thinkin about getting a 6, just so I have both the extra lows & highs, but I don't have the money for it. Maybe I'll just save up some money and get a sweet Ritter 6 or something. If I'm gonna go big, I'm gonna get something NICE.
  8. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    I'm genuinely interested in this topic and the last thing I want to do is start a flame war that will get the thread closed so please refrain from using words like 'bum' and 'half-assed' when refering to other instruments/players as the mods will be get mad. Just give your reasons in an unemotional manner.
  9. rylche


    Oct 27, 2005
    i find that i play more 'real' bass playing with 5 string basses than with 4. the 4string Cort i have is really light , and when i pick it up, i tend to noodle around with it like i would with a guitar. i would usually gig with my 4string though, even though i'm quite comfortable with the 5. perhaps it could be with that we bass players always come to our roots ( pun intended) and play the 4?
  10. Elemetal


    Mar 10, 2006
    I play a 6 string bass. I started out with a 4 string and then i played it for a year or so and then i went straight to 6 string. I had no real reason for wanting to play the 6 string i just thouhgt it was cool being the nubbi i was. But then after a while i started getting better and ended up using all strings in the end. Now i find when i go back to a 4 string i cant play as fast. I find that really weird but im so comfortable with the 6 its just so slick.
  11. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    I'm extremely comfortable on a five- maybe most comfortable- but I've been playing mostly four-string over the past few months. I'm not sure why. I know I'm having a lot of fun on them, and I enjoy having to exert much less effort to mute when chording and slapping. I miss the extra string sometimes though. It really makes me confused as to what I want. I have a fantastic five at the ready, but I've been grabbing my fours lately. Mid-song though, I occassionally want my B string.

    It's been a big dilema for me as of late.
  12. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    This is the exact situation I'm in and the reason I posted this thread. I've been drawn to my P bass lately and I can't exactly say why except it feels fun to play!
  13. Greg Johnsen

    Greg Johnsen

    May 1, 2005
    Hickory NC
    I'm in my school's jazz band, and every song we play I only need a 4, however I still use my Ibby 6 (unless like last week my battery dies and I have to use the other bassist's squier p...). I almost always use every string, but I'd only need the 4. I sometimes bring my 4 in if I know we're going to be sight readin because w/o the 2 extra strings, it's a little easier. However, in my old band, I used every single string every song. If I ever get in a bad and people like our stuff and tab it out or try to play it, they're gonna be pissed at me.

  14. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    I'm comfortable on 4's, 5's and 6's and currently own two 4s. I guess I'm not a "real" player.
  15. ebladeboi123


    Jul 11, 2005
    Oberlin, Oh
    I'm in the same boat as you, but I own 3 fours...

    But- the reason why I prefer the 4 string is just simplicity. The fifth string to me was never really used to much, and I really don't mind having to move my hands a little bit. I guess that comes with being younger, but the laziness factor hasn't hit me yet. Also when it comes to slapping for me, the fifth string made muteing stupid hard. I could do it, but it was more of a challenge. My hands are a bit smaller than most, but I was able to get around it. But the four just feels more right. And just incase you think I was only playing the five's and sixes for a few weeks- i actually played my 5 exclusivly for about a year and half, then switched back to a fender p.
  16. I have a 5 (MM SR5), but play my 4 (Zon Sonus 4) a heck of a lot more. Nearly everything I need to play I can hit on my 4 string so that what I wind up playing. Plus, it's a bit lighter, the neck a bit easier to get around on and the string spacing a bit more to my liking so I guess I prefer it a bit more as well. I really only use my 5 when it's called for - but that's how I feel about all my instruments. I also have a fretless (Tobias Growler) and an 8 string (Hamer Chapparal) and I bring 'em out when a song calls for something different. I likely play the 4 string fretted 60% of the time, the fretless 20% of the time, the 8 string 10% and the 5 string 10%. But I sure am happy to have it when I want it!!
  17. ebe9


    Feb 26, 2006
    South Africa
    For the past year and a half my main bass has been a 5er but I have recent ly sold it in favour of a beter 4 string. Partly becuase the new 4 was a better bass and more in line with the tone I want but I also felt it was time to sort of go "back to basics" a bit.

    I found I very seldom used to use the low B and the High C was not enough of a draw card for me so esentially I had a glorified thumb rest in the B string.

    I do however have no problem playing on a sixer, but I will save that for when I can have a more custom type job done
  18. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    I've been playing bass guitar about 20 years. First 14 years or so was on 4 string. I got a Peavey Cirrus 6 but the extra strings/width/35" scale just felt too big for me so I traded it for a fretless Cirrus 5.

    My two main basses (Pedulla and F-Bass) are wide-spaced 5s (19mm @ bridge). I find it easy to go back and forth between them and my 4 string Godin. I just got a narrow-spaced 6 (Pedulla) which is quite comfortable, unlike the Groove Tools 7-string I had. I also play a 10-string Chapman Stick and a 29" scale Fender Baritone Jaguar 6 (tuned an octave below a guitar).

    Gig-wise I feel equally comfortable on 4 or 5. It's great to have the low B string (especially for Latin, funk & reggae) but there's something about a nice 4 string--those itty-bitty necks are so easy to get around on. I just gigged with the Pedulla 6 for the first time last week. It was pretty comfy and the extra range is nice but to me strings higher than G on a bass don't sound very "bass-like". I'm gonna keep working on the 6 but 4/5 just feels more natural. And I don't want to "outgrow" 4-strings because there are so many great old 4s out there.
  19. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    I'm fine on a 6 or 7 string, and I'll play them, but I just feel better on a 4 string, I liked the slighty" trapped" feeling it gives me. Since I've got less notes to work with, i feel more creative with my phrasing.
  20. I own three 4's, a 5, and a 6 string bass, but for sentimental reasons often play the 4's the most out of the pack, as they were gifts given to me by family over the past eight years, the other two I acquired my self.

    I guess I want to show them (my family) my love through making music with all they gave me.

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