Five String or Four String Bass: Is There A Difference?

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by icky, Mar 11, 2003.

  1. icky


    Mar 11, 2003
    Yes, thats the question that I have. Is there a big difference of the five string and four string bass? If there is, can you tell what they are?

    If I don't respond, can someone tell me VIA AIM? My screen name is SET TO MISLEAD
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Sorry Mike - I just couldn't resist saying that a 5-string, has one more string than a 4-string!

    Carry on and ignore me! ;)
  3. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Thanks Bruce. Your insight is always welcome.

    The standard is still the 4 string but that is rapidly changing to the 5 string. The original purpose of the 5 string was for the bass to be able to reproduce the lower keyboard notes. The 5 string with a low B gives you 5 extra notes below the E string of the 4 banger.

    Some really cool players such as Matt Garrsion use a 5 string with a high C as opposed to the low B. This gives them more melody and solo possibilities.

    All that being said. A great musician can make great music on 3 strings (Tony Levin), 4 Strings (Jaco, Wooten, Clarke, Jamerson, ....), 5 strings (Garrsion, Willis), 6 strings (Nitti, Anthony Jackson) and more (Bill Dickens).

    As John Turner once said that (man it is a sad day when I quote John Turner) it is not the number of strings, it is what you do with them.

  4. hujo


    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    If I may, I might add that a 5-stringer (or more) lets you play across the strings rather than changing positions. If you don't like playing near the nut, you can always play (almost) everything that you can play on a four-string 5 frets closer to the body, on a lower string. This might not be good all the time though, since you may want the sound from playing close to the nut, or you want the sound of changing positions instead of crossing strings. These are minor points though, since you can choose to do both things on a 5/6/7 string. You also have one or more extra strings to mute, which may force you to change your technique. Some players that slap alot have problems with this.

    I totally agree with Mike and John about the fact that it really doesn't matter, as long as you sound good.