From 4 to 5 String: any hints

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by kowski, Feb 23, 2006.

  1. kowski


    Jul 12, 2005
    Salt Lake City
    on how? Exercises-stretches to keep the hands healthy? B-string use? Amps that put out those very low freqs? Any hints about anything else -- you all probably know what to look for, watch out for.

    I play a 4-string (for some time) but now have a brand new 5 string Genesis coming from JamesBasses. Should be here in a week. Ironwood, so a big strap!

    Never have played a 5-string before, so, thanks in advance folks.

  2. Genesis are great basses, very underrated IMHO, I love mine. I think you'll find the transition to 5-string much easier then you expect. I actually switched to 5 because of hand problems, it's less stressful on my hands to play low E's and F's at the 5th or 6th fret, it allows me to play much more comfortably.
  3. Same, after getting my five, i found i didnt have to move around the board as much. Well at first i didnt have a use for the B, till i learn where the notes are and started using it.
  4. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I would practice things you noramly play on 4 string, except on 5. Ie: songs that are played in positions other than 1.., and dip down for a low G or something, try playing it on the B.
  5. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    I played four strings for over 20 years before getting a five. Long story short: I now play five exclusively. Here are my hints and tips:

    1) Put down your four string and concentrate on the five.

    2) Have patience and diligence.

    3) At first, learn some new songs on five. IME, it was more confusing to play familiar songs on five: lots of "muscle memory" to un-learn. An unfamiliar song was a fresh start on new canvas: the scale and chord patterns remained the same; I just extended them by one string. So, I didn't always think about what key I was in, or which string was which: I just determined the root note and used the appropriate scales and chords for that position. Later on I'd make sure to always confirm the strings, the notes, the key: f'r instance, "is this song in G or D?" :p

    4) It's a little strange having an odd number of strings... specifically, that one string going right down the middle of the fretboard. But trust me, you'll get used to it soon enough! :)

    5) Have patience and diligence.

    6) If you discover that other strategies work better for you, then by all means go right ahead and use them. Good luck, and have fun!
  6. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    Along with what Ken said, when I got my first 5 string, I was just joining a new band so all of the songs I learned were learned on the new 5 string. I didn't have to worry about how I used to play something. New bass, new songs.
    And I'm sure someone else mentioned it but you need to play your 5 string all the time and don't get disouraged when you repeatedly mistake the B string for your E string.:p
  7. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    When i went to 5 i played single string scales on the B string (major, harmonic minor, melodic minor) just get to get totally familiar with the string. Then i started playing all scales starting on the b string ascending and descending throught the entire tessitura of the bass. it helped me immensely but that is just me.
  8. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Good advice so far. My angle on it:

    ~ Leave the 4-string in the closet for a while.
    ~The hardest thing is getting used to the E string not being the lowest. I had to pretend the B wasn't there for awhile, or at least that the E was still the lowest string on the neck and the B was in the neighboring town, or something!
    ~ The wider neck might give your wrist some problems... warm up, have the neck at a good angle (not parallel to the floor) and go easy.
    ~ Contrary to popular opinion (and manufacturers' sales pitches) I think almost any amp and speaker setup can handle the B string, as long as you listen for distortion. Don't hammer on the B string-- a light touch works best.
    ~ Now for the most challenging part: Use the lower range musically. Dropping down at choice moments can be much more dramatic then dwelling down there. (Of course, context is everything.)
    Also, a lot of people talk about how much less they have to change positions with the B string being there, but I disagree-- the open E sounds different from the fretted E, for example. Let the sound and timbre dictate where you play a note, not your laziness! Classical composers often notate which string they want a player to play a given passage on, because the same note will sound different on different strings.
    Just my $.02!
  9. kowski


    Jul 12, 2005
    Salt Lake City
    Thanks everyone -- the new 5 bass is due in a few days and really do appreciate the advice. Thank you.
  10. nad

    nad 60 Cycle Humdinger

    Sep 22, 2005
    For me, the weirdest part was having the A-string as the center string, as stated above. It just takes time to realize where your hands are, for several weeks I'd hit the E string instead of A, and the A instead of D. But with time and practice, that went away.

    Either way, I'm still pretty exclusive to 4-poppers, but I'm comfortable on a 5er now.
  11. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    The only thing about 5's I dont care for is keeping the B from ringing during live performances. Much more muting to consider

  12. kowski


    Jul 12, 2005
    Salt Lake City

    Hey Ogyen,

    Do you have a JamesBass Genesis, as in the picture here:


    That's what I'm waiting for.
  13. +1 on the "mistake"! Takes a little while, and even now, occasionally I have a brain-fart, but bounce back real quick.

    I wasn't in a new band, but was just starting a new theater pit gig doing "Schoolhouse Rock" and the tunes aren't that complicated, so it was a great chance to break it in. Also, find your favorite records to play with that you know really well and jam out with it. You're gonna love it! I ended up getting a Fender Jazz because of the string spacing that felt better for my hand. Haven't regretted it since. Good luck and congrats on the new aquisition!:bassist:
  14. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Don't worry about it, the difference to your hands is pretty minor.

    Only when you really feel it! If you just knee jerk it and start playing all of your C and D roots in the bottom octave, you will sound wierd. I'd suggest playing for a while on the top 4 strings, just to get used to the presence of the low string, before you start using it much. And when you do use it, be mindful of the effect the octave you play a note in has on the song. D at the 5th fret of the A string and the 3rd fret of the B string are very different things to play, just as the one at the 7th fret on the G
    string has its own vibe, and uses.

    You can get a perfectly good low B sound by accentuating the upper lows and low mids. Getting those uber deep rumbling fundamentals does take an investment in a superior amp, but you don't need it as long as you keep the "bass" knob in check.
  15. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    The thing thats hard for me going from 4 to 5 is abruptly going up to cop upper registster lines ... thats when I get freaked about what string is what. In the lower registers its never been a problem for me.
  16. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    I don't even have to think about muting my fiver anymore. But all I ever play is fiver.
  17. OrionManMatt


    Feb 17, 2004
    Much agreed. Your right-hand technique will need to adapt.
  18. My bad, I thought you were getting a modulus genesis from soem dude called jamesbass:p I checked out the link for jamesbasses, nice lookin' bass, I've never heard of them before, I hope you like it.
  19. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    I didn't have as much of a problem when I first got a 5'er.
    When I started playing a six string I had strings ringing like crazy. I really had to concentrate on my right hand muting. It was because of tips I read on TB that I discovered the floating thumb technique and it is very usefull in muting strings.
    Like Ken, I play 5 and 6 string basses all the time so I don't even think about it anymore.
  20. AspiringBassMan


    Dec 10, 2005
    i'm hoping to get a 5 string soon, but with a high C. in my eyes, the extra B string is useless and does nothing more than confuse muscle memory for a while. i find the low E the lowest i've ever likely to go on the bass...and considering that i want to write/play some bass solos at some point in the near-medium future, thats another reason why its best (for me and, perhaps, others) to have a high C rather than a low B.
    i really can't see the need for a low B over that of a high C :meh: can anyone clarify?