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Five string or D-tuner?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sgroh87, Apr 12, 2014.

  1. Sgroh87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    I'm thinking about getting another bass to fill in some of the weaknesses of my current bass, one of which is the weight. Its a six string made of solid maple and weighs 10.5 pounds, so I'd like to get something lighter.

    I'm trying to decide between a five string or a four string with a D-tuner for easy transition between EADG and DADG. I don't often play much lower than D, but I DO use the B string for easier fingering patterns instead of constantly shifting. I mainly play finger style funk (Tower of Power) and hard rock (Coheed & Cambria), but most of my jam buddies are bebop and Latin jazz guys so I do that regularly as well.

    What do you guys think? Is the extra weight and fingerboard width worth taking on for more fingering options? Once you factor in the tuner, price is about the same for most brands.
  2. nicopiano

    nicopiano Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    Levis, Quebec, Canada
    I would go with a light 5 string.

    Or you may want to buy a Neotech strap. Your actual bass will feel like 9 pounds.
  3. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I have a d-tuner on all my basses, and think they are great. It makes drop d tunes easy. Unless you are going 5 string full time, seems like switching back and forth is a pain.
  4. Ric5

    Ric5 SUSPENDED Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    I prefer a 5 string, but if I were to play a 4 I would consider DGCF tuning.
  5. djasterix

    djasterix Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2012
    Lima, Peru
    5 string all the way, I doesn't like D-tuners...
  6. xroads


    Nov 6, 2012
    Same here - get a 5-string. If you play patterns that involve the B-string you will miss it.
    Also, there are quite light 5-stringers out there; not really a problem to find one.
    My Lakland JO5 is a bit below 9lbs.
  7. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Mesa Engineering! Warwick-G&L-Source Audio Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Get the 5 .. my warwick fna 5 is under 9 as is my kraken and I second the neo tech strap suggestion. It makes even my bubinga warwick corvette 5 tolerable (11 lbs) for 2 Hour rehearsals.
  8. bluesdogblues


    Nov 13, 2007
    Personally, I never had success with a Drop D-Tuner :D
  9. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I have a Drop D tuner and also have had a few 5 string basses. Go with the 5 string - drop D is nice but you know, it feels like it's partly beneficial whereas a five string seems more of a complete solution.
  10. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    5 string bass every time.

    I don't go below D very often, but I can when I want to.
  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
  12. I have both & use them for different things. I love my Xtender for the quick switch options it gives me. :)

    Metal & most 90s+ rock is easier on a DADG 4 string, but there are some bands that just go down too low for that to work...so I break out my 5 string. :)

    Nothing wrong with having both. :D
  13. If you were into 4 string necks, I'd say go drop tuner, but since you're already comfortable on a 6, definitely go 5 string. The drop tuner is great for the occasional song, but if you want those lower notes a lot of the time, a 5 makes more sense.
  14. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    If you are moving from a six string bass with relatively narrow spacing then you can probably find a five string with relatively narrow spacing too, which might make the neck egonomics easier. I tried to like five strings but they never really gelled with me but you might not be so set in your ways.
  15. Sgroh87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    The fact is that when I'm playing "typical" bass parts I rarely use the high C string (only two songs so far, Daytripper by the Beatles and Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder, both of which can be played by shifting but the C makes it easier). I also use it for a couple of classical pieces I'm working on learning, but the C ends up being more of an obstacle than a benefit 80% of the time. My low B, despite the fact that it's a big stretch to play comfortably or quickly, sees more use, but still not as much as the middle four strings. The B is mainly used for hitting the fifth or minor seventh without having to shift, chromatic leading tones for E, and playing in Eb with my horn player friends. I try not to play on it above the ninth fret because the tone gets weird up that high.

    The other reason I'm considering a second bass is that the pickups and electronics on the bass just aren't my thing. Its got Bart soap bar humbucker and a Bart preamp, and it sounds like a thick J bass. The problem is that over the past year or so of owning it I've learned that I'm really more of a P guy than a J guy. The neck pickup is smooth and deep but lacks distinction, and the bridge has punch but lacks meat.

    I don't plan on getting rid of the six, but I do think I'd make it more of a backup or secondary bass. The six is my first nice bass, and I like it for soloing and writing melodies and playing chord progressions, but playing it live can be a pain in the shoulder, even with a padded strap. I think that I'd take the six to jams where i can stand out a little more and take the four/five to actual gigs.
  16. Geri O

    Geri O

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I'm with the consensus on getting a 5-string.

    I was quite surprised to see how much lighter my Fender AM STD Precision V is than my Stingray 5-string. But I'm not having problems with the Ray 5, so it's still my go-to instrument.

    I play at church and I also mix. There's been 2 occasions where I was scheduled to mix and I'm there and the scheduled bassist calls with a vehicle breakdown and no way to make it on time. The first time, I was there with no bass. The church owns a decent 4-string bass (Ibanez, Yamaha, something like that) that I used to step in and sub for the missing bassist (mix was set up, the producer can decently run faders and cues).

    Arrgghh!! I found it very frustrating to play that 4-string. I kept trying to grab the B and ahhh, it's not there!

    So now, ANYTIME I attend church, whether to play, mix, or even just good ol' fashioned worship with my family, I bring a bass along. And it's paid off twice now since that first time (during a Sunday where I was attending with the family, the bassist took ill after the second service and I covered the 3rd service).
  17. brownie_bass

    brownie_bass [this space for sale, cheap]

    Oct 3, 2013
    New York, NY
    I have both and like both... Don't make me choose between my children, know what I mean?
  18. meatwad


    Apr 9, 2008
    Smallville, USA
  19. I have d tuner on BOTH of my 5's. The low "A" is awesome if you got an amp the can do it justice.

    And to answer the next question, "How often do you use it". There are 2 songs on my album where I use it. And if you've ever played with a choir and orchestra it comes in very handy.
  20. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    My 4 string bass has a D Tuner on it, and it's great... But with that said, I'll never buy a 4 string again, unless there's something super special about it.. It's 5 or 6 stringers from now on.