Five string - or Four???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Superfrappe, Sep 12, 2002.

  1. HI guys... I have a sincere question here...

    I've been playing an assortment of four string basses for over 7 years now. Recently I joined a band w/ a guitarist that plays all the tunes in dropped-D. :rolleyes:

    Never have I played in dropped-D, and I"m really not too crazy about starting now. I've always played either in standard tuning, or tuned ALL my strings down, so that all the strings were only down a 1/2 step, full step, etc...

    My question is: Should I just suck it up and adjust to playing in dropped-D? Or, should I invest in a five string bass, and just play the D off the B string?

    I'm actually looking to buy a new bass within 2 weeks. So I need to decide whether to get a four or five string. Like I said - I've always played four strings, yet have thought about getting a five string from time to time...

    Thanks in advance for your comments.

    ---> by the way, if anyone is interested in an '83 black colored Rickenbacker 4001 4-string... email me at:
  2. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    My personal experience.....

    I got four things going right now.

    2 are in standard

    1 is standard, and also tunes down a half step

    1 is always down a halft step, and also goes drop d.

    Since I am veryconfortable with my five string, I don't ever have to change a thing. That's not to say that sometimes it gets confusing, but it is not a big deal.

    What would be a big deal is if I had to switch to drop d, and then go back, and whatever. Gets on my nerves enough when guitarsit take 3 minutes to switch their tuning, 5 minutes to switch guitar because they realize it right when the song is suppossed to start......
  3. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    I installed D-Tuners on all my basses since back in the 80's. In Y2K I finally got a five string, and it has made my life so much easier. I wish I'd switched to 5-string back in 1990 (or earlier). YMMV.
  4. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    well.. 5-strings really aren't that big of a change.. it just takes some practice.. I say try picking up a 5... you may like it..
  5. I agree. extended range for anything that involves extending the range.
  6. That's what I'm thinking. ;)

    Thanks again for your comments guys... any recommendations for 5-string basses?
  7. Yes. Many. what sound are you after?
  8. Tumbao


    Nov 10, 2001
    What's your music preference, technical style, money limitations, bass specs, scale sound like?
  9. i agree that inthis instance, 5 is probly the best way to go
    however, if you find that you really don't like 5's, why not string a 4 BEAD?

  10. Samie


    Dec 13, 2000
    Madrid, Spain
    I am always amazed by 4-string die hards that endup down-tuning. What is the point?

    I today's modern bassist is a 5 string dude for 2 main reasons.

    1. Once you get used to playing using the E on the B, the A on the E string, the D on the A string etc... you will find that you have lots more endurance and can play longer without hurting your articulations on your left hand. Specially if you have a 35" . Not all 5 stringers realize this but its one of the best parts of a 5 string.

    2. You can have a hi-fi sound on the open E string position and yet still great lows by switching to the E-in-B-string position without touching eq. Very flexible.
  11. Why play in Drop - D??

    Pick up some 5 stringers and if you don't fall in love with any of them, tune all your strings a whole step down...
  12. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    The 5 string would be nice for the extended range, few as those notes may be. Plus, if you ever had a song that sits on C a lot, a B string up to C is far more doable than most E strings down to C. Just a hypothetical example, but something that I actually do for one song. There's also a song where I tune my E up to F on one of my fours too. I never go up beyond a half step, and even then, I only do that on one string at any given time. Sometimes, these slight adjustments make playing certain songs a lot easier because they utilize that odd open note so darn much...which is really my only motivation to ever deviate from standard tuning in the first place.

    On the other hand...

    If the songs you are playing sit on D an awful lot, I've found I prefer D-A-D-G on a tight four. I figure, why have an extra string in the way if it's just going to be a thumbrest. For me, it's whatever facilitates my playing. There are some cases where I find the dropped D on a four to be a better fit. It's really a personal preference thing.

    In the end, I would say go for the 5. The reason being that you could still do X-D-X-X-X on the 5 if you wanted to. For me, it really depends on the genre and style of the song. If it's something agressive, and D gets used a lot, I reach for a tuned down 4. If the D makes more moderate appearances, I just play it on the B of a 5/6.
  13. Yeah, duh... sorry guys.. I guess a description of my style and all would help eh? Let's see... I am looking for thick-heavy lows and not too much treble (like my Rick)... I play in a band that needs that Soundgarden-STP-Alice in Chains kinda growl... I play an aggressive finger-style, not w/ a pick... My price range is under $1000... I play through a SWR 4004 400watt head into SWR 4x10 and SWR 1x15 cabs... I never have and currently don't use any type of pre-amp (although I'd like to try 'em in the future - depending on budget, as always)... I play in the upper register occasionally, but not too often...

    ...and once again, I really don't like the idea of dropped-D on a four string... so I'm now in the market for a fiver :)

    This will be my first five string... so I really do appreciate all your help.
  14. Yeah, that's what I was doing with the band Odium Pen. I was tuning ALL my strings down (C#, F#, B, E)... I have no probs at all playing that way, since I've always enjoyed playing in standard tuning in the first place. SO all I was doing was tuning everything down 1.5 steps.

    Now I'm also playing with another band, Blackline, and when I started tuning all my strings down (D, G, C, F) the guitarist started shaking his head... he said "trust me, you'll get used to playing in dropped-D in no time... oh, and tune it down another 1/2 step while your at it"

  15. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    i personally would go with the 5 string. its a pain in the butt to have to drop tune all the time for one. and the 5 string will present you with more options than the 4. so in short, you can do everything you can on a 4 string on the 5, but you cant do everything you can with a 5 string on a 4.
  16. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    I play a 5 string in a drop D band now, and to tell you the truth, I used the B string more in standard tunning bands.

    Alot of people forget that they have a perfectly good D on their basses already. Actually, 3 on most.

    I use my other D's more than I use the one on my low string. It keeps it alot less muddy. Then again the only reason this is an issue is because the guitarist in my band turn the bass on their amps all the way up so it is already a wall of mudd.

    My point is, the extended range is useful, but not nessecary.

  17. I say go five. You won't regret it. My guitarist also plays in drop-D, and the ability to play a low D with definition is really nice. Plus, I like the feel of a five string neck better. It's all a matter of opinion, and what feels right for you, though. Go try out some five strings. It will feel weird for a while, but you'll get used to it.
  18. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    Ok, now the question is which five, eh?

    It falls in two categories for me, regular five spacing, and wide five spacing (spacing is like a regular 4)

    Under a grand?

    regular spacing:
    Used cirrus (my recommendation)
    used spector cr or mtd grended
    bottom of the barrel spector (which I think plays great!)
    ESP Ltd series
    Ibanez (some sound better than others)

    wide spacing:
    used Warmoth Gecko (highly recommend)
    Lakland skyline

    plenty others, but those are the betters that come to mind.
  19. My band loves that I've got a 5 string. They did everything with a 4 before I arrived, and mostly in standard tuning, but in a couple of the songs, I drop down an octave and it sounds GREAT. One of the songs ends on a C and I let a thunderous low C fly and got huge reaction out of my bandmates. Now I have trouble playing a four string. The additional low end on the 5 make it very worthwhile, in my very humble opinion.
  20. I think it's already been said here, but personally I'd go 5 string and tune it A standard. My setup is just that, and I have 3 guitars - one in A standard to match the bass, one in dropped D for fast nu-metal-ish riffage (the E on the bass becomes D so I can do some cool stuff with that), and on in C# standard for...well, whatever. The ability to go lower than the guitar i think has the effect of getting you out of trap of just mirroring the guitarist. It makes you think of interesting combinations of bass notes and guitar chords.