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Converting from 4 to 5 string

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by reveille_509, Oct 18, 2000.

  1. reveille_509


    Aug 17, 2000
    The other day I played a five string for the first time. I thought it was great with the B string and all, but I couldnt play any bass solos on it. I kept getting confused about where the strings were and kept hitting wrong strings. My friend thought I quit playing because I kept messing up. Have any of you guys had this problem when you played a 5 string for the first time after playing 4 strings for years.
  2. Absolutely. I used to have the same problem every time I attempted to play a 5 for more than a few minutes. Now I can pick one up and it doesn't cross me up so much. It's just a matter of putting down the 4 and picking up the 5 full-time, which I haven't done, though I still think about making the switch at some point. To get used to that B string being there will take practice, that's all there is to it. And you have to view the B as equal with all the other strings; in other words, don't just look at it as the notes below E. I'm sure some of the full-time 5 and 6-string players (and John Turner) can offer some more insight.
  3. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    I've heard others express the same problem as you have experienced. But for some reason, I could play a five string the first time I tried one. I never had any confusion, or difficulty with the strings. The same holds true for playing a six string.
    The only reason I can imagine for having such a problem...
    might be the string spacing.
  4. jcadmus


    Apr 2, 2000
    Re: the previous response from Deynn, same here -- just seemed like the most natural thing in the world to me. Might have had to do with the fact that I had struggled with things like drop tunings and stuff for so long, the five-string was a relief. Not that I never occasionally hit the wrong string, mind you, but it just feels right to me. It's a real subjective thing though -- I wouldn't get too bummed about it if I were you. You'll either adjust to it or conclude that it's not for you.
  5. I have had sort of the reverse problem, I actually STARTED on a 6 string :)eek: ). When I pick up a 4, I get completely confused, and make all kinds of boo-boos. A 5 doesn't seem to have the same effect, although I'll try to go for some high thing on a 5 and get a bit freaked out at times. Oh yeah, Deynn, great Dr Strangelove quote :D.
  6. when i was first thinking about getting a 5 string i would always lok like an idiot in the stores b/c i couldnt play a thing. u just have to sit down with it and after a couple of days u should have it down. wider string spacing will probably help a lot for your first 5 string
  7. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Its quite normal for that to happen. But in no time at all you'll be used to the diffences. You just have to stick with it. When I got my first 5 I hit the E string quite a few times thinking it was the A. But that all vanishes in time and with practice.
  8. yeah, for some reason, when i first picked up a 5 string, i had no problem. Though, like what was said earlier about dropping 4 altogether, i think it's that playing of my four on occasion that is tripping me up and making me lose 5 string skill, that's a good idea, dropping 4 completely that is. thanks for that idea, and reveille, don't worry, like everyone else said, it's normal, just give it sometime and stopping on 4 probably won't hurt either.
  9. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I went straight from 4 to 6, and it took a little getting used to, but no big problems.

    I gigged on my 6 the first weekend after I bought it.

    I now play 4,5 and 6, 'though I don't pick up the 6 as often as the other 2, the only problem I've ever really had was string spacing.

    <sigh> Someday I'll be able to afford that 6 string Jazz with the 3/4" spacing.

  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    It's just a matter of taking enough time to work out stuff you already know but taking advantage of the fingerings the 5 affords. A few weeks of woodshedding should be enough to get you going on the 5.

    Personally I moved a lot of parts that I used to play down on the first five frets and moved them up the neck, starting them on the B string instead of the E. I use the low D once in a while, the C# on ONE song and the C and B only get used as the final note if a song is in B or C.

    I use the E, F and G (fifth through eighth fret) on the B string all the time, they sound thicker than the same notes played on the E and I can can groove all night in that position without having to shift much because now I can reach almost two octaves of notes in one position.
  11. GeorgeR


    Nov 5, 2000
    Same expierence, after 16 years on the 4 string this year I upgraded to a 5 string. Sometimes the B string still catches me though. Practice is the only cure. Good luck!
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    This reminds me of some John Patitucci interviews I have read - he switched to 6-string in the middle of a tour with Chick Corea's band! Imagine the pressure in this - getting up and playing "difficult" compositions and solos, the same day you bought a new instrument!?
  13. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    I bought myself a 5-string a couple of weeks ago. I haven't had any big problems THAT big, like hitting the wrong strings. I just use the B as a thumbrest instead of the pups, and play like I used to on my 4 - except when playing the B that is - and I'm doing just fine. I DO have a problem, though, when I slap/pop and occasionally forget to mute the B, giving unwanted rumbling background noise...

    I can't understand how I survived all those years without a B - I love it sooo much! :D
  14. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I've ben playing my 5-string for a few months now and occasionally I get them crossed, but it's becoming less and less common. I think it's just a matter of practice.

    Will C.:cool:
  15. troll


    Aug 31, 2000
    Chicago area
    i kind of had both problems, i went years on a 4 and about a year ago got big into slapping, the frist 5 i was messing with was a friends ergodyne ibanez, very tight spacing, i couldnt play that thing at all. i ended up picking up a kramer 5 from musicyo.com and that thing has a HUGE string spacing (same size as my 4!) so i just went away slapping on it like it was nothing. only thing that occasionally slips me up is bumping the B slapping on E. BUT heres where the other part comes in, the band im currently practicing and helping write material for, the guitarist plays a 7 and i am playing the 5. lots of stuff is down down low, so when i pick up the 4 again i'm totally missing the B and trying to figure out in my head to play things an octave higher, sure sound simple but when you hands are used to playing something a certain way unconciously... well... :) but yeah, i still love the freedom of slapping on the 4, its still easier, but its unusable for my bands music. :)

    now i just need a nice sounding 5 and im set.

    oh and i cant do diddly on a 6 string, i can slap and pop like mad on D to C stuff, but the rest screw me up. and a 7, i cant reach the B (stubby fingers :(


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