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Going from 4 to 5 (merged threads)

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by unbasslichkeit, May 19, 2006.

  1. I bet there are a lot of experienced 4 string players who have seriously considered making the transition to 5 or six strings, but have been held back by some childhood trauma :crying:

    Any fellow TB'ers have stories like this to share?

    For me it was sitting in with a band about 10 years ago where the bass player lent me his new Music man 5 string and I thought it would be a piece of cake to play - and never having played a 5 that much, I was of course wrong.

    The bass' owner understood very well what I went through on that guest spot, though. He told me the day he picked up the bass from the store he took it right to a gig without sitting down to get some quality time with it. As a result he almost got fired from said gig.

    Thinking about one of those SX Jazz 5 basses...cheap learning tool.
    rand mills likes this.
  2. When I got my second bass after a year or so learning I ended up getting a 5 string. I've always liked playing low so it seemed like a good idea.

    I found it only took a few weeks to get used to the 5th string being there, and also that playing normal four string lines felt more consistent, as I had something to stop my finger after plucking the E string.

    For me I just think it makes things easier. I often prefer the sound, and definately find it more comfortable playing higher up the neck, and 5 strings means I can play lower lines higher up, so thats a bonus. Being able to throw in those really low notes is cool too, in the right kind of band.

    I find mine easier for fast fingerstyle stuff as the strings are much closer together than my 4 string, but its harder to slap on. That depends on the bass of course :)
  3. I just bought my first five string, an MTD, after being tired of having to constantly switch guitars b/c one song is standard, the next is C#, and then we go to a drop d. I still switch guitars when we play drop d b/c I like the sound I get from that particular one, but it makes it easier not having to switch to c#....I just leave the low on the 5er tuned to c#.
    It took a little getting used to, but I really like it. Plus, the MTD with Bartolinis sounds great.
    Jinobass1 likes this.
  4. i budgeted for my yamaha bbn5 for a while so i had time to work out the theory in my head as i was playing my 4 so when i got it i was using the low b like it was always there, the only real adjustment was getting used to the wider neck but that only took a few hours of practice.
  5. smitcat


    Aug 5, 2003
    Ithaca, NY
    I have gone back and forth on using a 5 string. Personally I just find 4 stringers more fun and more comfortable to play. I am selling the 5 string that I have since I haven't gigged with it in over a year. I have always been able to cover myself with a 4. Maybe someday i will want to go back, but for now every gig i have played has stayed at D being the lowest sound i need.
    Donzer likes this.
  6. Kid Charlemagne

    Kid Charlemagne

    May 29, 2002
    I haven't been playing 5-string basses for the past nine years. I used them extensively in the mid-nineties, but when I discovered that I rarely used the extended range, I went back to basics full-time.

    For me, the only real upside of the fiver (or sixer) is that reading gets easier, since you don't have to move your fretting hand around as much.
    Session legend David Hungate summed my felings up quite good when he stated that "the low B is a nice thumbrest"...

    No need to be scared of a five string, though. They're not that hard to adjust to. Just ask yourself if you really need/want the extended range. For me it was never really useful.
    rand mills likes this.
  7. I actually sat in with a friend's band last week where the bass ist had a Washburn 6 Z(hotrodded with EMG's - very nice bass.). The string spacing was much too narrow for my fat old hands, but I did abide by the idea of using the low B as a thunbrst, and did okay.
    StinkFoot likes this.
  8. i find that a five string extends your range nicely, and although it does take some adjusting, it is worth it in the long run. i plan on getting a six string and maybe more in the future. not the near future, but the future.
    StinkFoot likes this.
  9. airrick


    Dec 4, 2005
    there is no reason to worroy about the "trouble of more than 4 strings. i played for for a little while, went to six, didn't even think that people has "trauma" about this till a while ago, is easy, plain and simple
    Big Shrek likes this.
  10. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004
    I'm looking forward to getting a 5-stringer in a year or so. Mainly not for the extended range (although it is also a major bonus), but for more transposition capabilities.
    comatosedragon likes this.
  11. EADG mx

    EADG mx

    Jul 4, 2005
    Lots of people go from 4 right to 6 without any major problems. It took me about two weeks to adjust from EADG to BEADG, and probably less to go from that to EADGC. I like the string spacing on a 5 a lot more for tapping and fingerstyle, and I love the range. The only thing I don't like is it's impossible to slap, and the strings cost more.
  12. Masher88

    Masher88 Believe in absurdities and you commit atrocities

    May 7, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    Hey! I'm trying to get better at playing a 5 string, but it's proving to be more difficult than I thought it would be. When I use the B string it always just sounds outta place. Can anyone suggest some recordings or techniques I could use to practice using the B without it sounding like a "sore thumb"?
  13. BassistMark


    May 26, 2006
    I'm having a LOT more trouble with the transition from a 4 to 5 string (BEADG) bass than I ever thought I would, and it's beginning to get very discouraging. My old workhorse 1984 G&L SB2's neck is in a twist, and will have to be sent to G&L for repair. So I thought I would buy a 5 string and learn to play it. I got a beautiful Sting Ray 5, used. I knew narrow string spacing would be an issue (I have fat, short little "sausage" fingers), and the Sting Ray 5 seemed to have the widest string spacing at the nut of all the 5 strings that I tried. I'm 51 years old, and have been playing 4 string bass professionally since 1971. I know a good deal of theory, but have always been such an "ear" player, not really "thinking" about every actual note I play. Perhaps that is what is causing my extreme difficulty. Besides the string spacing at the nut being bothersome, I just can't seem to wrap my weak mind around the fact the the lowest string is now a B, and NOT an E. I have a house band gig on the weekends and took the new "monster" to the gig. What a near disaster! I only played on it for 3 or 4 songs and it was rough to say the least. I ended up playing my warped G&L SB2 for the rest of the night. Even practicing the 5 string has negativly affected my 4 string playing as I keep getting the B and E mixed up in my head. I REALLY would like to learn to play this "monster", and be able to switch back and forth seamlessly between the 2 basses. At the end of this selfish rant, I guess what I am seeking are tips, tricks, theory, instruction, Voodoo magic, devine intervention, or anything else on how an old 4 string dog like me can learn to play the 5 string without going insane (if I'm not already). Thanks!..................Mark
    palmann likes this.
  14. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I finally got a 5-string after 20+ years of playing and I'm glad to say I did. The hangup for me was finding a bass with the sound, feel and string spacing I wanted (Spector incidentally) that also didn't put me in the poor house. I found the transition went fairly smoothly after a little practice and - oddly enough - my overall playing got better. The extra string makes fingering more complex things a lot easier - and it rattled my "box" enough that I found myself playing things and using techniques I never tried before. Now, when I switch back to my beloved 4 (which I'll always play) I often find I miss that "extra" string.
    Big Shrek likes this.
  15. bonscottvocals


    Feb 10, 2005
    Upstate NY
    I purchased a 5 after using a 4 since the mid 70s. It was not because I joined a metal band, but because I became a member of a Country band, can you believe that? They asked if I would use a 5 string so I could hit the low D in a lot of the drop-D songs. I actually like being able to play I-IV-V's in E, because I can play everything open if I like and maintain the pattern. G 12-bar blues take on a whole new feel with the C and D under the G!

    It's taking me a little getting used to, but not as much as I thought. Still, it can be frustrating, because I don't tend to look at the notes, I just play them, so I'm getting used to where the notes are. The upside is that I have to re-think my playing, and it's making me work harder on the rudiments and play things differently than I did before. It's a challenge.
  16. thats more what i meant to say...the extra range is nice but not necessary. i find the extra strings make transitions easier, having all the low e string notes higher up on the neck.
  17. Demon


    Mar 17, 2006
    Sweden, Stockholm
    well i mean, sometimes, especially in metal, you just want to get a heavier sound=)
  18. Kid Charlemagne

    Kid Charlemagne

    May 29, 2002
    How does a five string have a heavier sound?

    Do you mean that it has a wider (deeper) tonal range?
    Because that doesn't make the sound heavy in my book.
  19. bonscottvocals


    Feb 10, 2005
    Upstate NY
    that's usually the case for the metal guys of today. I love Iron Maiden's sound and Steve does it all on 4 strings. He doesn't even down-tune.
    Recon1342, Big Shrek and dessert456 like this.
  20. Kid Charlemagne

    Kid Charlemagne

    May 29, 2002
    I hear ya.

    Geezer Butler is another guy who comes to mind. It's hard to sound heavier than him, even with an 18-string bass... :)
  21. Primary

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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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