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Do Bassists who start out as Guitarists prefer 6- or 5- or 4-string basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Big Shrek, Apr 22, 2018.

Do Bassists who start out as Guitarists prefer 6- or 5- or 4-string basses?

This poll will close on Apr 22, 2019 at 9:03 PM.
  1. 6-string

  2. 5-string

  3. 4-string

  1. The 5/4 string preference convo made me start thinking about this...

    I started out as a guitarist, and selected a 5-string bass as my first...just felt better.
    Wondering how many did the same thing?? Or preferred a 6 or the 4?? and Why??
    Although I often wonder, "If a 6-string had been available, would I have selected it instead??"

    Let's talk about it!! Should be an interesting learning experience!!
    jd56hawk likes this.
  2. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I played a little guitar way back in the '70s.
    Started playing bass 5 years ago.
    I own four basses right now.
    Never owned a 5-string, absolutely no need for one.
  3. BassholeKI


    Feb 10, 2017
    I'm primarily a guitar player, but got into electrics when my best friend invited me to borrow his bass rig for a garage band he and his just turned 18 right out of high school (rip a big lead over anything as long as it was in Em) neighbor.

    I've only ever owned 4 string basses, but have played 5's- the low string made a nice thumb rest. I would own one (or more) and the Squier VM bass VI is on my gas list- just so I can plug it in with some dirt and play some hard rock riffs- palm muting chuga chuga stuff should sound like the end of days!!
  4. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    I’ve played guitar off & on for decades. The type of music one’s going to play usually determines the instrument. I use 5’ers because of the tonal requirements for the gig. Having played guitar doesn’t factor into it.
    Conkal likes this.
  5. Bodeanly

    Bodeanly Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2015
    I started playing guitar at age 10, then moved to a 4 string at 15. I still play guitar, but only after I’ve removed two of the strings. It doesn’t matter which two.
  6. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    I am a failed guitarist. Why would I keep trying to play six strings? :laugh:
  7. maplenecked


    Dec 1, 2017
    Yep pretty much this for me :bassist:
    Spidey2112 and lowdownthump like this.
  8. Wulfensteiner

    Wulfensteiner Banned SUSPENDED

    Mar 24, 2018
    Melbourne, Australia
    Mostly 4, but I do like 5 string mostly for the pure practicality of them. If the B string is merely a thumb rest, you're doing it right.
    Lvjoebass, comatosedragon and cmcbass like this.
  9. twinjet

    twinjet GE90-equipped Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    I briefly played guitar in my middle school days, but I went to four because it seemed less complex. Stuck with it for better reasons than that, of course. :D
  10. Dub56

    Dub56 Supporting Member

    May 28, 2005
    I technically started on guitar, but picked up bass shortly after and have played both since. I have dabbled with 5 strings, but really just play 4s now (and only own 4s)
    JeffSoapBar and birminghambass like this.
  11. AM Reflection

    AM Reflection Supporting Member

    Oct 10, 2016
    Started with a 4 just because that's what a bass was to me. It was the right choice, I believe. Definitely wouldn't have started with a 6 string. Much wider neck and a different tuning from guitar anyway. I play 4s and 5s about equally these days. But I think it depends on the style you're going for and the type of bassist you want to be.

    Playing a tightly spaced 5 string with a pick feels most natural in a way. I know guys who aren't really bassists but just play some bass to record ideas and that tends to be their preference. Jumping straight to a 5 string would have probably been too awkward for me though. The low E is used so much that the need to always skip a string to get there would end up canceling out the similarities to guitar.
  12. cableguy


    Jun 4, 2009
    North Bend, WA
    I don't know if number of strings matter as much. But most guitarist I know who play bass prefer a thin Jazz neck as opposed to a P neck. Probably more about string spacing than neck size though.
    inthevelvet likes this.
  13. I think in general, bassists who come from guitar gravitate to four strings. I would imagine that's mainly because it's the most common string configuration. However, for a guitarist who really knows the guitar fretboard, all the notes on a four string are immediately familiar - it's the same as the low strings on the guitar, with the same lowest note. No new notes or shapes to learn. Throw a low b or a high C in there and the learning curve becomes steeper, because there are notes below E and/or there is a high string that doesn't mirror guitar tuning. Obviously neither is insurmountable but I think most guys would rather not deal with them unless the style really calls for it.

    I've heard the "I can already play an instrument with six strings, so why not get a six string bass" line of thinking a few times. I myself thought that, personally coming from guitar to buying a Yamaha six string. Now I honestly think it kind of misses the point, because of aforementioned tuning and neck geometry issues but also because only a small percentage of bassists actually NEED six strings to do their job.

    I've found that in general, using the smallest, lightest and simplest instrument I can get away with on a gig is a win.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
    Uncle Hanky likes this.
  14. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I started on guitar and went to bass, but when I did, 5-strings were pretty much non-existent. Had they been more common, I definitely would have stayed with 4 strings. I have a 5 but I only enjoy playing it at home and go out of my way to avoid taking it on gigs.
    Rudyboy98, Lvjoebass, pcake and 5 others like this.
  15. jackn1202


    Feb 14, 2018
    Austin, TX
    I started on guitar for about a year before I picked up bass. I was pretty good with a guitar, but bass just clicked better. I'm definitely a rhythm guy; my main instrument is drums. I've played a few 5s and 6s and I considered a 5 when I bought my first bass last summer, but ultimately I felt the extra string would just complicate things for me. At this point I could probably learn how to use a 5, but it'd have the low B. I have no need for a high C. But I also don't really need the low B; I frequently downtune to C standard. I could probably go a half step lower if I needed.
  16. mmon77

    mmon77 Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2008
    Southern MN
    I played guitar for 15+ years before I started playing bass. For about half of that, I also played 7 string guitars tuned B E A D G B E. Playing mostly rock/metal stuff.

    When I took up bass, I got a 5 string. Being used to a low B from the 7 string guitars, it just seemed natural, and worked well for the music I played. Now I play mostly country, and I definitely need the low B for any of the more modern country music.

    I have one 4 string, and I don't play it very often. I really miss that B string when I do.

    To me, the biggest thing with more strings is muting. Once you learn how to keep the strings you're not playing muted, it doesn't really matter how many there are, you can play just fine.
    el murdoque likes this.
  17. kohanmike

    kohanmike Gold Supporting Member

    I played guitar for almost fifty years, then 5 years ago started playing ukulele, and a year later started playing bass uke and mini electric bass. I have 19 now, all 4 string. Haven't touched my guitars since.
    mikewalker likes this.
  18. TjMetalhead


    Oct 19, 2011
    New Mexico
    Started off playing guitar when I was 14, the finger strength was lacking and I wasn't understanding how to make chords work. My Dad saw me struggling and thought a bass would be better (and easier lol) since it had 4 strings. Almost 10 years later 4 string basses is all I ever used and is all I'll ever need.
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  19. pudgychef

    pudgychef In Memoriam

    Jan 22, 2005
    Chongqing, China
    I often wondered this as a Les Paul, for example, is wider at the nut than a lot of basses....but I always hear/see people recommending Js and Ibby SRs to guitarists.
  20. lowdownthump


    Jul 17, 2004
    I play guitar, but 4 string bass is my favorite. I do have a 5 string bass . Guitar is what I play the least.

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