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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

    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

    SKing_Bonesmith

    May 17, 2018
    Ukraine
    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.
     
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  11. Geri O

    Geri O Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    F0972766-4DB1-4FB8-BCFD-A76F10999621.
     
    GonePlaid likes this.
  12. 7615

    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

    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

    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.
     
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  15. Franzino

    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

    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

    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
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  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.
     
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  20. mesaplayer83

    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...
     
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