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Five string or six string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by kopio, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. kopio


    May 8, 2012
    Boise, ID
    Hello All,

    I did quite a few searches trying to find this subject and came up with nada. If it's been covered before any links would be appreciated.

    I'm currently a 4 string player. I play both fretted and fretless, with a strong bias toward my fretless right now.

    I play in a praise and worship band, and I know a lot of guys really like that low B for worship music. I've thrown around the idea of a 5 string for quite some time, but what I'm wondering is, should I just get a 6 instead?

    A little about my playing....

    I love playing octaves, playing thirds on the E and G string, etc. There are times when I really wish I had the high C so I could play octaves on my D string. I am not an amazing bassist, but I do a nice job holding down the bottom and giving some nice texture to the songs.

    What I'd really like to hear is from guys who have owned and played both and advantages from one to another. Thanks in advance for any input.
  2. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses


    In all seriousness, if you want the B and C because you actually expect you'll use them, there's no reason to try to talk you out of getting a 6.

    About 8 years ago, I was playing a 4 and wanted to go right into a 6 for the same reasons as you - chording. A guy at Guitar Center told me that most manufacturers didn't make 6-strings and that they were slowly being phased out because one could play everything on a 5. He convinced me, and so I went with a 5. A few years later, I got my first 6, and fell in love, wondering why I'd spent extra time and money not being truly happy with my instrument. They're all I play now, with the occasional 4 or 8 thrown in depending on the situation.
  3. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    Normally, I'd say go with a 5 for that gospel stuff.
    Then I think about Andrew Gouche...
  4. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Like everyone I played a 4 strings at first but soon a 5 made sense to me because I thought it was wierd that the bass can't go lower even when you are reading music why doesn't it go lower ? So I got a 5 strings after 2 years of playing and it been with me since ( I'm in my 13 years of playing ).

    During college one day I learned some complexe jazz line and solo and I thought it would be so much easier to play with a 6 strings bass and so the quest for one started. It has been 6 years that I have 2 6 strings basses, one fretless and one fretted.

    So my advise is ... do you see yourself playing a 5 or 6 ? Does the bass make sense to you ? Do you something feel like it would help you to have extended range higher or lower or both? Do you sometime be like ... "dude a low C# ( or any other note lower than E ) would be so nice here."

    if you said yes, then yeah you will know what to get.
  5. +1 on just getting a 6.
  6. Volpe25


    May 5, 2012
    Id say a six, for the music you said you play its nice to have the low B in there but in my opinion I love the high C :D I have a 5 string tuned EADGC and Ive played a 6 string quite a lot (I don't own one but I use a friends as I wouldnt use it enough to justify buying another bass) and its nice to have the option of both the low B and the high C
  7. If you prefer the feel of the five and don't use the low b, how about a 5er tuned eadgc?
  8. Jean Baudin

    Jean Baudin

    Aug 27, 2003
    redwood city, ca
    Endorsing Artist: See Profile
    Just get a 6 and have fun with it.
  9. Over the years, I've become a 4 or 6 string player. I just wish I knew this before buying too many 5ers that I've bonded with. If I had a crystal ball, I would have skipped 5 string.
  10. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always overcompensating Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    Jean Baudin just told you to get a 6er. If that doesnt make you get one then who knows what will!
  11. marijn van gils

    marijn van gils

    Jan 23, 2002
    I switched from 4 to 5 years ago because I felt the need for the B-string, but not for the high C-string.
    Till today, I still don't feel like wanting that C-string (I rarely solo or do chordal stuff), but the day I do I will buy a 6-er.

    If you think you'll have a use for the high C, I would sa get a sixer!
  12. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    I hope he doesn't tell me to get a fanned 9- or 10-string, because the last thing I need is that final push to commission one.
  13. Jazzkuma


    Sep 12, 2008
    If you like playing double stops (what you say by playing the third on E and G) then a 6 string might be the right choice. The reason I say it might be is because having more strings mean that you have to deal with more strings resonating while unmuted. Going from a 4 to 6 thats the main thing you have to be aware of because it can be a problem when recording or even live playing (less so live). So when playing a 6 you can't really hook your thumb on the B string and leave it there or else sound will be muddy but If you got large hands its easier.

    I think the best idea is to get two 5 strings one with the low b and one with the high C, you rarely use the low B and high c in combination anyways. But its not easy to afford two different basses.
  14. The price difference between a 5 and a 6 is usually minimal compared to the price of two 5 strings.
  15. Jean Baudin

    Jean Baudin

    Aug 27, 2003
    redwood city, ca
    Endorsing Artist: See Profile
    Just get a 10-string fanned fret with 52 frets, already!

  16. Obligatory Jaco only needed 4 joke to beat the naysayers to the punch. ;)
  17. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    I play a 6 and like the fact that I can be a little lazy (er) efficient with my use of it. Think of it like this the difference between a 4 string and a 5 string is that you get 5 extra notes (B, C, C#, D, D#) and a 6 only gives you about 5 more than that (G#, A, A#, B, C) if you have a 24 fret neck. But in one position you have 2 octaves and a 4th. I can honestly play about 98% of what I play on a 6 on a 5 just with alot more shifting.

    Stay Brown,
    Rev J
  18. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I wouldn't go so far as to skip 5ers. I do have a bunch and I do play them. But coming from a 4 I strongly suggest first going to a 6. The reason is that playing a 6 will force you into a number of correct ERB paths. It will force you to properly deal with a wide neck. It will force you to concentrate on crossneck scales and patterns. And it will give you the full taste of what extended range HIGHer notes as well as extended range LOWER notes will do for your music. Personally I really didn't get what a 5er was about until I got a 6er.

    Now, of course I play 5s and 6s. If I don't need the upper range I just drop back to a 5er not only for convenience, but also because some basses are not made in 6ers. My Carvin AC50 or My G&L L2500 basses for example. In some circumstances I have strung the AC50 EADGC to get the solo range out of it.

    Which goes back to what I just said about 6 strings. Once you "get it" with a 6er, you can drop the extended highs and go to a 5 or you can drop the extended lows and go EADGC. It all works and makes sense.

    What is NOT true is that a 5 is just a 4 with a few extra notes. When I play a 4 (and I played a 4 for a GREAT many years) I find that it's a totally different style of playing compared to the 5 or 6. Which is exactly the reason I recommend starting with a 6.
  19. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Seriously, I do own a couple 7 strings in addition to the 4,5, and 6 strings. And this may be just my 7 string noob observation, but for me 7 strings is just about my limit of erb comfort. And it seems to me that if I were to get an 8 or 9 string bass, I'd have to once again change my approach to the instrument just as I did going from 4 to 5,6,7. It seems to me that with a high string bass your approach has to be more a tapping style than the usual erb style playing. Otherwise you can't deal with the super wide neck.
  20. xr600


    Jan 27, 2005
    Ok, my $0.05...

    I own a 5'er fretted and a sixer fretless... And there are some things to consider on the 6 string side of things.

    1. I find that the high C on a fretless sounds a bit 'thin' (in loss of aother descriptive words...) and lacks sustain (even with roundswounds). Rarely go there because of that, but tend to use my G-string at the high end of the fretboard instead.

    2. Being a sixer (35" scale) there are types strings that I can't use (e.g. nylon tapewounds). Keep this in mind... Most strings are still made for 4 string 34" basses, unfortunately...

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