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Famous players that only use four string?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by earlofmar11, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. I've been playing bass for about two years now (after more than 35 years of guitar) and only played 4 string basses until now. Recently I've been getting gas for a 5 string. So I'm trying to convince myself that I don't really need it. Restriction can be a good thing...

    To support this, I've been thinking that there must be quite some famous bass players that stick to 4 string basses. I may be mistaken, but I think that some of my favourite players never use anything else: people like Chris Squire, Mike Rutherford, Geddy Lee or Pete Trewavas...

    Is this correct? Do you know other famous examples (speaking of course of the time since 5 string basses are widely used)?
  2. Flea, Sting, Entwistle(RIP)...
  3. ToP fan

    ToP fan Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    Waterloo, Ontario
    Jamerson, Prestia, McCartney..............
  4. seang15


    Aug 28, 2008
    Cary NC
    Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten mostly four. Jerry Jemmott, Duck Dunn etc.
  5. jloftin1

    jloftin1 Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2009
    Carrollton, Ga
    Jaco (someone had to be the first to say it) and justin chancellor.
  6. deernaes


    Feb 1, 2012
    My opinion has always been that if you can't do it on a four string, you definitely can't do it on a fiver.....
  7. Some of the people mentioned so far have used 5 strings at times - Geddy, Flea, Macca.

    An instrument is like any other tool - use whichever one you need to get the job done.
  8. 6stringpanda


    Aug 9, 2013
    Actually the question should be who doesnt play 4 string.

    Multi string basses are not more common than 4.

    I have always played differently on a 4 string-as a 6 and 7 string solo player-I see them all as different instruments.

    I also see the 6 and 8 string guitar as completely different instruments and I play them differently.
  9. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    i guess i don't play 4 strings.
    at least when i can get around it.
    if you waved your magic wand and said the words, and my remaining two 4 string basses are turned into 5ers, i'd actually thank you. It's hard to get the sound of my vintage P fretless from a modern instrument, so that's the only 4 i play occasionaly.
  10. Disagree. Assuming for the sake of argument we are talking EADG tuning on a four, and no detuner, hit a low B, C, C#, D or D# on one. Slap in any of these keys.
    Some basses can absolutely do things others cannot.
  11. activebass


    Sep 19, 2013
    +1 for bassteban.

    I enjoy playing on a 4 string, but during my days in two cover bands playing 6 nights a week for over 2.5 years, a 5 string was absolutely essential. The low B string just gives you so much more options and some songs would simply sound lame if you could not play a low B or D and had to play them on the A string.
  12. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    Famous players that only use 4 strings? Probably most of them. I say this as a 5-string player.
  13. activebass


    Sep 19, 2013
    Krist Novoselic, Duff McKagan, Jeremy, Davis, Brian Cook, Alan Woody, Robert De Leo (has a 5 string signature model, but I can't remember seeing him use a 5 stringer)
  14. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I'd bet there's way more 4 string players than extended range bass players. I play my 5 string only when I need to, I much prefer to play my 4's!
  15. russpurdy


    Apr 16, 2013
    Most bassists you see playing straight ahead rock will be playing four stringers. Not to say that there won't be a five string in there but four is still the standard it seems. Just off the top of my head here are a few...

    Matt Freeman
    Mark Hoppus
    Tony Franklin
    Dee Dee Ramone
    Stu Hamm
    Steve Harris
    Herbie Flowers
    Pino Palladino
  16. russpurdy


    Apr 16, 2013
    Rick Danko
    Kris* Noveselic
    Nate Mendel
    Billy Sheenan
    Allen Woody
    Geddy Lee
    Nikki Sixx
  17. 1960jbass

    1960jbass Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2013
    Berwick, PA
    Jack Bruce
    Geezer Butler
    Dusty Hill
    Steve Harris
    Glen Hughes
    Greg Lake
  18. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC

    Will Lee
    Marcus Miller

    IME the 4 with the Drop tuner will cover any club gigging cover band playing tunes that are popular. Notes below Low D are not required.

    4's vs 5's: there are trade-offs. The lower notes on the detuned E string use a longer string length vs same note on the 5 and sound less compressed to my ear. The 5 lets players nominally play with fewer position shifts. However, a mature player eventually figures out that position shifts are required anyhow to execute lines not written for bass guitar. So, this rationalization is less important to me.

    I personally will play the 4, 5, or 6 depending on no particular reasons I have to explain to anyone. However, I find the 4's to be generally useful in most situations and not at all displaced by the 5. I do have the HipShot on all my 4's. Even my 62 J.:D
  19. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    This is a big thing in the debate for me. I have been playing 5's for a long time. When I play a 4, I play differently. Not better or worse, just different.

    I am finding that while I occasionally use B and C in church, for MOST of my playing, a low D covers 99% of my needs.

    I am debating going to or adding a P bass to my tools. I have been listening to Pino and Jamareo Artis (Bruno Mars) lately and they lay down some ridiculous groves and licks on their passive 4 string, 20 fret P basses.
  20. therhodeo


    Feb 28, 2011
    Owasso OK
    Plenty of stuff requires notes below D. Even modern country. That may not be the case IYE but I would say that that has more to do with the breadth of your experience and less to do with what reality actually is.

    And as a "mature" player who also sings alot (lead and BGV's) that "rationalization" is quite valid as I see no need to jump all over the fretboard to play stuff on a 4 when I could be in one position on a 5.

    And yes I own both 4's and 5's. And if I don't know the set before hand or need to be flexible or need to sing I'm taking a 5.