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do i really need a 5 string bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by x15, Apr 18, 2004.

  1. x15


    Feb 4, 2003
    New Delhi, India
    don't think theres much explaining to do..i've been playing the four string for about a year and a half now, and i need to buy a new one..i've been thinkin about a five string bass but i dont know whether i even need it. I do a lot of self composed stuff and the albums i cover in my band include metallica, maiden, pantera, red hot chili peppers and well a lot more..
    any help or advice would be appreciated..all i want to know is
    whether i should even bother with the five string as a progression of my sonic palate, or whether i should just invest the same cash in a really f***n amazin four string...

    :bassist: :bassist:
  2. cash in on an amazing 4 string and then string your old bass BEAD...that way you can get the low notes if you need them and still have a standard 4 as well...
    andruca likes this.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    Only you can decide that.
    Bob Clayton likes this.
  4. Geezer_Butler


    Feb 13, 2004
    I think that if you play with fingers its really helpfull the fifth string because with it you can play faster the 4th string, or at least it happends to me, and when playing kill em all stuff its really helpfull because you have play really fast. Try it, I dont know if it will help you but definitely it has helpped me the aditional string

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    The 5th string is really helpful in staying in one position longer. It depends on if that is necessary in your situation. Go out and play a few and see how you feel.
    Hroerek91 likes this.
  6. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    When i bought a 5 string, all it really imporved for me was my slapping. Even though i rarely slapped on my 5 string, my slapping got cleaner on my 4 string.I have a 5 string just so if a song requires a B, i can do it. I use it for some songs in my band as well. Even if i just play one note out of every 10-20 on it, it adds another element to your music.
  7. rusty


    Mar 29, 2004
    I'm on a four string right now, but I'll be making the transition to 5 in about 6 months when I get my new bass.
    The reason why I'm going for the low b is because I find myself wishing for that low b/c pretty often when I'm playing in church. Furthermore, IMHO - those lower notes really gets the groove going... some peope think it kinda takes control of the band/music, but if used in good measure (and taste), it really rocks the house :) ...and not to forget, women love the low frequencies ;)
    I didn't consider the BEAD alternative when I decided on it though, but thinking about it now, I'd still rather get the 5 string (i'm kinda lazy in that way...) Hopefully it doesn't turn out to be an expensive thumb rest... :p
  8. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    Do it...seriously, its really helpful. My guitar player has to re-tune constantly...half-step down, drop-D, etc. But I can play almost any song in standard tuning without the hassle and the floppy strings that go with down-tuning. Also, it helps to be able to hit a G or F in 6th or 7th position without having to shift, like Adrian says. Go for it, you'll probably never go back to a 4.
  9. Fred312b

    Fred312b Proof that gear doesn't make you a better player Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2002
    Chicago, IL
    i think we've all had this debate at one time or another (i'm having it now). the big thing for me was that i used to have a hipshot, and i don't have it on the bass i'm using now and i really miss that ease of flipping down to d, but on the other hand, i always thought of the hipshot as a temporary solution, since i did end up using it more than i thought i would. my venting aside, you need to decide it for yourself (as do i). yeah, lots of players use more than 4, but lots of them also use 4, and this is about you, not the other guys (or girls). you should play as many axes as you can in your price range and see what feels right. the 5 will be a transition, but if you like the way a bass feels and sounds, that'll make it easier. and if you end up getting a 5, resist the temptation to use that b on every song ;)
  10. you don't NEED a 5-string but you may come to like one. I have a 5-string and a 4-string and use both about the same. it is nice not having to change tunings, and you have more notes available in each position so you can add in a little flair. I also find that I like how E on the B string sounds better in many situations than open E on the E string.
  11. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I say get a five. It will expand your options in a way nothing else can. Even if you go back to the four, the five will have been a learning experience for you. Just take care and get a good five with comfortable string spacing and a solid, non-floppy B-string. You're lucky because at this time, you can get a decent five for $300 or less. I know that the Squier P-Bass sounded great and I got one for under $200.
  12. hyperlitem

    hyperlitem Guest

    Jul 25, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    ill play devils advocate, dont get one. I hate 5 strings. They only have 5 extra notes and unless you play alot of metal you really dont need one. I refuse to play a 5 string in bands, have made for some intresting convsersations with bands at tryouts. For some reason metal bands think bass player HAVE to have a 5 string. Few of the truely great metal bass players even played 5's. Like everyone said it may be easier to stay in one hand position, but it will also take some getting used to that new neck. Id say do what Palomorado suggested and string one differently. I have 4 basses and i usually for shows string 2 standard, one dropped half a step and one in BEAD. Most 5 string players only use the top 4 strings anyway. Its up to you and im sure you could use a 5 string, but youd do just as well with a 4.
  13. It sounds like you play mostly guitar based music so I'd say it's not a big deal to have a 5 string. It's nice to have one but I wouldn't skimp on a really nice 4 string just to have a decent 5er.
  14. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA
    I'm of the opinion that every bassist should own atleast one 5 string at some time in their life. People talk about stringing a 4 BEAD, but I guess that depends on if you use the G string or not.
  15. BassGreaser


    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I had a 5er for awhile. I ended up going back to 4, due to the fact that I was playing the 5 like a 4, and hardly ever used the lower notes. Plus I've been playin DB alot more, so the which from DB to the 5er was alittle annoying. I say buy a 5 and play it for awhile..see how you like it :bassist:
  16. In my opinion, you only NEED to buy a 5 string if you are unable to play what you want to play with the 4 string or if you are losing gigs due the fact that you don't play a 5er. I started on a 4 string then switched to 5 then to 6 strtings. I now play both 6 stringers and 4 and many times the 4 string is a really refreshing bass to play because it only has 4 strings. Playing a 6 really improved my skills on 4 and 5 string basses. From the music you listed, I'd say a 5 string is not necessary, but as mentioned above, may open some creative doors that you haven't explored before.
  17. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Nobody needs a 5 string. The question is, can it help you do some things easier than a 4 string, and maybe some things that you can't do on a 4 string? For me, the answer is yes. That's why I mostly play 5 strings. Yeah, I play my fours and sixes too, but I feel most at home on a five.

    So, you ask, what can you do more easily on a five? Play in Eb without having to play way up the neck. Play low D riffs without having to retune your E string. And more.

    What can you do on a five that is impossible on a four? Play two octave runs without shifting your hand. Play tenths easily on the B-D and E-G strings, instead of just the E-G strings. Grab three octaves at once. And more.

    Only you can decide if five strings is right for you. But like I said, even I don't need five strings. But I sure like having them.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    I agree
  19. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Do you NEED a 5-string... Um,, no.

    However, Lemme tell you a story. I got out of playing quite some time ago. Well, now I've come back to it, & was faced w/ the similar dilemma. I went w/ a 5-stringer.

    At first, all I did was use it for a thumbrest. It was a hassle to have it, because I would always hit when cranking on the E string. Now I'm getting used to it, not just having it there, but its sooo cool to have the low D, C or B there...

    With all that said, I'm a couple of weeks from starting work on my first warmoth parts extravaganza. It will be a 4 string. Getting use to playing the 5-string, you'll soon realize that 4-string neck widths really dont' amount to jack squat in comparison. P-neck, J-neck.... bleh, who cares... They're both skinny to me!

    BTW, I'm building my 4-stringer, because I want to have a bass that I can just leave permanently detuned half-step. I play my 5-stringer in standard tune.

    BTW, I like embellishers post.
  20. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK

    Nowadays I rarely play anything that could be construed as metal and I use all the strings on my six string bass. That low B is particularly handy for a lot of the 'urban jazz and soul' stuff I do as many of the songs require easy access to notes below bottom E if I'm going to nail the basslines on the records. Sometimes they work an octave higher but often going low is DA THANG.

    I think that any moderately serious electric bassist should at least check out 5+ string basses given the the chance. You may not like them but it's hard to judge without trying them. Personally I could never decide whether to go high or low so settled on six string basses as my preference, extending the range in both directions and giving even more chordal possibilities but it's getting hands on experience and seeing what works for you that counts.


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