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Does A 4 String Have A Better E Than A 5 String?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Ace Of Bass, Sep 20, 2008.

  1. Absolutely

    33 vote(s)
  2. Absolutley Not

    73 vote(s)
  3. Undecided

    34 vote(s)
  1. Ace Of Bass

    Ace Of Bass A Rooster Illusion

    Jun 27, 2006
    Hope this hasn't been talked to death before, but I have noticed some people that I respect as players tell me that they think the E on a 4 string sounds better than the E on 5+ string basses..........What do you guys think.................?
  2. BS, they probably just feel that way because the B string BOOMS more, because its a bigger string, and it might make the E string seem a little duller in comparison, but I assure you, the quality of an E string, is based upon the quality of the bass, not upon how many strings it has total.
  3. Ace Of Bass

    Ace Of Bass A Rooster Illusion

    Jun 27, 2006
    Never thought there was much of a difference, if any, myself.............Then again, I am very pleased with 5 strings.........However, there are those who disagree........If y'all are out there, I'd like to hear from you.........
  4. I play a 5 myself, but I own both a 5 and a 4, and the E string acts quite similarly on both.

    There ARE plenty of 4 string basses which have better E string response perhaps due to tension differences or superior build quality, I just don't see how its logical to attribute this to the fact that its a 4 string bass.
  5. Ace Of Bass

    Ace Of Bass A Rooster Illusion

    Jun 27, 2006
  6. I'm a five string guy, realized after years of playing 4s and 6s that 5 is my "good" number... Which leads me to think that perhaps the people swearing that there's a difference do in fact hear a difference because the "extra" string changes how they play.
  7. I think the added mass/material of a 5(compared to a 4)might make it a tad less responsive, but the actual difference would be so insignificant as to be unnoticeable, & likely overshadowed by one's own perception & prejudice. In other words, if you believe there's a difference, then for you, there is. I also think feel has a lot to do w/this subject/question; knowing the top/lowest string is an E & I won't accidently smack a bit of the B, I'll hit it that much harder(hopefully at the appropriate time, that is ;)).
    So for me the answer to the OP's question is: yes/no/whatever...
  8. thats a good point, adding a string makes for a huge technique adjustment in some cases, particularly if the string spacings are sharply different between basses. That can probably cause this phenomenon to occur.

    edit: ANOTHER good point brought up, people DO tend to play their lowest string differently, sometimes with a bit more force. +1

    I think the overall answer here is NO, the basses don't have worse E string, but the PLAYERS can respond differently to the instruments with greater or fewer strings.
  9. a_ribbon


    Apr 10, 2008
    this is actually a really good question. i'm a four string player myself, but i've kind of wondered what a 35 inch scale does to an e string. everyone is like ZOMG MUST NOT HAVE FLOPPY BBBBBBBBBBBB!!!!!1111:eyebrow: does anyone think of what that does to the other strings?

    that's the only thing that i can think of... maybe the 35 inch scale makes the e a little too tight?

    i hope someone more informed than me[/us?] answers this! :hyper:
  10. The higher tension can be a little "too tight" feeling at first if youre moving to longer scale bass, but once you get used to it you enjoy the tightness of the sound, particularly in the deeper strings. I wouldn't worry about 5'ers getting more or less of an advantage than a 4 in regard to scale
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    The E is better on a 5 string bass ... the additional tension on the neck makes the bass resonate better
  12. not everybody prefers higher tension, and I still think other construction factors play a much bigger role in the overall quality of the E string.
  13. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    It's bunk. Even if it weren't bunk, the difference would be too subtle to be discerned for all practical purposes.
  14. Changes in Scale Length definitely affect the tone and tension of the strings, but whether it is better or not is really a matter of what sounds and feels good to you. The amplified tone of the bass is dependent on so many different factors (woods, pickups, strings, etc...) that scale length alone cannot determine a good sounding E string.
    Same goes for 5 strings vs. 4's...
  15. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize!

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Could it be that they are using a different gauge when going from 4 to 5? Maybe the E is a bit thinner on the 5 compared to the 4?

    I was very unhappy with the E on my G&L 5 string... but the Chromes I was using only had a 100 E for the 5, and I was used to a 105. I found it really hurt the sound of the E compared to the 4.
  16. This is what I said, but I used more(and bigger, I think)words. :)
  17. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    I build basses and I convert 4 string basses to 5 string basses ... the addition of a low B makes the whole bass resonate better and especially on a rickenbacker 4003 which sometimes have a whimpy low E the addition of a low B significantly improves the low E performance. The Rickenbacker 4003 neck is somewhat overdesigned as is the neck on other modern basses. adding the stress of a 5th string increases resonance.
  18. Ric5, can you define 'resonance' and/or measure it? Not disputing your position, mind you- just hoping to clarify. :)
  19. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    sorry I don't have a scientific way to measure it ...

    I just know from experience that for the most part basses with more strings resonate better. Try an 8, 10, or 12 string bass. There are other factors like bridge mass, wood, etc ..

    Not all 5 string basses sound better than all 4 string basses ... but the general principle is true that adding tension to the neck makes a bass sing.
  20. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    ^^^ Is the bass "resonating better" or is it all those additional strings that are resonating...i.e., sympathetic vibrations?

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