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Does a 4-string bass become obsolete after picking up a 5-string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JustRoots, Jun 1, 2018.

  1. 2cooltoolz

    2cooltoolz Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    Lake Conroe, TX
    That's what I'm saying about going back and forth. I can't! I'm 5er only now.
    I've got a big amp, Mesa M6 w/ 2 15s, but I almost never play open B. D quite a lot, but with the key changes I almost never play open positions anymore. The fiver helps with that.
  2. I almost never play open positions anymore. The fiver helps with that....

    and that is part one of my answer...I prefer to play up higher on the neck. The 5 string allows for that to happen..the notes sound better to me higher up the neck..thats just my opinion..

    part two is slap...its far easier to slap on a 4 string..but not much of that going on in metal..so that may not matter to you. But I would rather use a 4 string for slap...again a personal preference..

    here is another thing to ponder, Tone...you might use the 4 string you have because the tone works better for certain songs..So in that sense the 4 string has value. The bottom line is; if you end up not ever using the 4 string again, sell it and buy some other gear that you need..I know there's always a piece of gear that we think we need...its part of the gig...lol....
    Durham52 and GonePlaid like this.
  3. Henry Prunner

    Henry Prunner

    Jun 8, 2018
    4 string and 5 string have different uses and different "feels"..I have both a 73' ripper and a 95' jazz 5 string ( plus a few others..(like a couple of fretless)....I love them ALL....!!..
  4. I bought my first five string bass in 1990, and haven't played a four since. If I played a lot of slap I'd probably choose a 19mm spaced five, but as I don't I'm happy with 16.5mm and being able to play a wider range of notes without changing position.
    GonePlaid likes this.
  5. BPJeremyPB


    Jul 11, 2017
    I have some five string basses but overall I prefer a 4. Why? Well to me the fours just feel better and i feel like most bass cabs don't handle the low notes on the B string very well without sounding mushy. I'm not even a big fan of the low E and F for that very reason. imo
    GonePlaid likes this.
  6. SKing_Bonesmith


    May 17, 2018
    I play 6-stringer, and what I really love about four-string basses are their size/weight/etc. 6string is heavy, 6stringer's neck is really wide. 4 strings are much more comfortable, but sometimes I do need that expansion to low B and high C so I'd use both. Depends on situation...[IMHO]4-stringers look better too[/IMHO]
    Curtbass and GonePlaid like this.
  7. Jimbowhit7


    Mar 5, 2018
    Not at all. I actually bought a 5-string, and after about a year of use discovered I preferred 4-string basses (although I have no issue with 5-string basses and I'd love to get a Bongo 5 at some point). Regardless, I highly doubt your 4-string will just become a wall ornament - especially if you tune it to something other than standard tuning, so it's not just playing the high 4 strings from your 5 string.
    GonePlaid likes this.
  8. PGold


    Jun 3, 2017
    I've been playing a 5 string almost exclusively since picking it up. I wouldn't say a 4 string is obsolete at all. It depends on what you're playing. I particularly find I like hammering away at a drop-D open string that hitting the fretted note on the low B. It's personal preference ultimately.
    GonePlaid likes this.
  9. Karlson541


    Jun 9, 2018
    I would prefer a 4 string in every situation.
    I have no need for a low B and to me a 4 string bass with it's narrower fretboard feels a lot more comfortable.
    If I did need the low B string and could do without the high G string I'd probably just re-string a 4 string and tune it B-D instead of using a 5 string.
    GonePlaid likes this.
  10. brainiac


    Oct 4, 2005
    I started playing bass in 1968 using a Gibson EBO bass. I bought my 1968 Fender Telecaster bass early in 1969 and still have it. So I’m in my 50th year playing just about every kind of four string bass ever produced: Fender, MusicMan, Alembic, Gibson, Ric, etc. I’ve wanted to try a Fodora. In all these years working and making myself into a very good bassist, I’ve never been the least bit interested in a bass with more than four strings. Maybe I’m missing out on something phenomenal, but the view from my four-string world still feels sublime.
    GonePlaid and ajkula66 like this.
  11. Geri O

    Geri O Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    GonePlaid likes this.
  12. 7615


    Nov 19, 2015
    Obsolete - never - the extra string puts a significant amount of additional tension to the instrument. The 5th string with its limited use negatively impacts on the overall tone of instrument. An e string sounds better on a 4 string. Sacrificing any tone for the muddy B not worth it at all.

    5 strings require more amp power for the B string which equals more weight. Never a good thing.

    5 strings IMHO - unnecessary. I D tune when necessary - or down to e-flat (if guitarist tunes that way).
    GonePlaid likes this.
  13. GroovyBassist


    Mar 17, 2016
    Austin, TX
    5 Strings are great. I play them all the time. But a 4 string will never become obsolete!
    GonePlaid likes this.
  14. GroovyBassist


    Mar 17, 2016
    Austin, TX
    I disagree with much of this but to each his own. The B string on my 5er sounds great and is not muddy at all. I use the B string quite a bit. In addition to the 5 extra notes I find it very convenient having low E, F, F#, & G on frets 5, 6, 7, & 8. Not sure about the additional amp power but if so; is that really an issue? I play 4's and 5's and have never had that issue.
    Rock Silas and GonePlaid like this.
  15. Franzino


    Dec 1, 2009
    Every bass has its own feel, and depending on you mood on a given day you could prefer THIS 4 strings bass over THAT 5 strings bass, just for the feel of it.
    Rock Silas and GonePlaid like this.
  16. jazzalta77


    Sep 8, 2017
    I didn't want to read every post so I apologize if this has already been mentioned. Some of the best music in the world has a four string bass in it. While I'm not against 5 strings they have their place, but are not for everyone.
    GonePlaid likes this.
  17. mesaplayer83


    Jun 27, 2017

    I disagree with pretty much every one of your opinions listed above - to each their own, though...
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
    tfer and GonePlaid like this.
  18. Kevinlane

    Kevinlane Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    Missouri, near Branson
    OP answer: no, not obsolete

    personal answer: yes. bought a fiver in '87 and basically haven't looked back.
    partly because of genre. Covering 90's country DEMANDS a five. (unless you want to bring more basses)
    Personally, I enjoy the orchestration the lower notes add and also, the B makes a great thumb rest (for when you need to rest.
    GonePlaid likes this.
  19. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Twenty three pages already! Wow.

    My own experience - I picked up a fiver pretty early, within a few months of starting to learn. For a couple of years I played 5s exclusively. Then GAS kicked in, and I started having that notion that maybe I didn't really need a 4, but maybe it would be nice to have one just for the classic simplicity of it - got one, and another, and then next thing I knew I was playing them almost exclusively. Something about the feel, I guess. I still have the two fivers and use them whenever a song requires it (one of the fours has a D-tuner, but in general I just leave them EADG), but otherwise I default to a four. It's a matter of preference.
    GonePlaid likes this.
  20. mesaplayer83


    Jun 27, 2017
    For me, first it was playing a lot of modern rock that required frequent use of a 5er - then, I moved on to current country - and it was more of the same... That said, I still played a 4 string as much as I could, and although I'm quite proficient on a 5er - I still prefer to play 4 strings whenever practical...
    GonePlaid likes this.

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