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Guitar Player Looking To Go Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Zulujos, Dec 13, 2016.

  1. Zulujos


    Mar 18, 2014
    Actually just looking to add a bass to the arsenal. Been plowing through demos, reviews, yada yada. Not looking to make a big investment. This, btw, is not another "which bass should I get". I've read those til I'm blue in the face.
    No, the question is 4 string or 5 string. If I was a complete novice I would definitely go 4 string and I may still do that. But having a baritone guitar made me wonder whether it would be cool to have that deep down low B string or whether it's true what I observe with a lot of demos that very seldom does one go to it but instead use it as means to stabilize your right hand. The other side of that argument is, hey, with the 5 string you have everything you need plus an added optional string!
  2. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    1. What does your music need? I've never needed anything lower than the D with my detuner on my 4 string.
    2. What is more comfortable for you to play?
    3. A 5'er is going to cost a little more, and probably be a little more difficult to sell, since the market is smaller.
    pineweasel likes this.
  3. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    What do you plan on using the bass for?

    What is your budget?

    Fender recently released a 4-string Mustang PJ bass that is short scale (30"). So it should be easier to adjust to coming from guitar scale lengths (~25"). It also has two pretty classic Fender pickups tied to a 3-way switch for a variety of tones.

    I have one of those Mustangs and I like it a lot. I usually play standard 34" scale but this one works well for couch playing or portability. It has a smaller form factor in the body/neck. It also gets a great tone.


    I'd say this bass would work well for a guitarist's studio, and even for filling in on bass as needed. It gets a nice sit-in-the-mix tone from the P pickup, and then you can get a scooped, bright sound reminiscent of a Jazz bass, or get some punchy solo bass tones using the other settings on the 3-way switch.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016
  4. Zulujos


    Mar 18, 2014
    My use will be mostly home studio and some jam session scenarios. I'm a big guy so the 34" scale probably is not much of an issue other than acclimating myself to it. Like I said, I'm not really looking for suggestions on a bass. I'm very acquainted with which budget basses or considered good values at this stage. I'm a rock style player so the P and J styles I know will work as well as the humbucker basses such as the Sterling Sub 4. The real question is if you were only going to possess one bass would it be a 4 string or a 5'er? My gut tells me to go with a 4 but felt I should at least explore the advantages of a 5. What I did not know was the issue of 5 string basses having less resale value.
  5. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    Since you're just starting out on a bass and will spend time acclimating anyway you might consider a 5'er. It's harder, at least for me, to get the motivation to shift to 5'ers now that I've been playing 4 stringers for 15 years.

    Im a big guy too. The Mustang PJ is plenty big enough for my hands. Also, some small people play 34" basses so it's not so much a size thing. I'd just say keep it in mind. You might find it's a better fit for you comfort-wise coming from guitar. Playing something you fight with can leave one unmotivated to play.

    That being said, get whatever you want! I just thought you were asking for bass recommendations.
  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Fewer players play 5s - smaller market, often tougher to sell. You can always unload a 4 string black or sunburst P, if you get my drift.
  7. BusyFingers


    Nov 26, 2016
    Also if he's going to be playing with his fingers he will have to start developing the floating thumb technique for the 5, but that's a good thing as the technique seems to lend itself to, well, good technique. It pretty much forces out bad habits and eventually make you a better player technically.

    You could get away with your own technique with an anchored thumb on a 4 string, but a fiver makes that virtually impossible considering the span of strings.
    Antisyzygy likes this.
  8. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    For me, it would be a 4-string with a Hipshot Xtender on the E string. I own several 5-string basses, but for the kind of music I play, I very rarely use the low B note. However, having a low D available at the flick of a lever on a 4-string bass is a convenient feature. But a 5-string bass is really about more than having just five more notes.
  9. Zulujos


    Mar 18, 2014
    Yeah, as I implied I am leaning hard towards a 4 string but wanted to get a feel for what makes a 5 string attractive. The other can of worms I was leery of opening was the active vs passive argument. Guess I just did.
  10. justbass57

    justbass57 Supporting Member

    I play both 4 and 5 string basses.

    The fretted note always sounds different to me then the open (same) note (all about choices, I guess).

    On the 5er you can play a fretted E scale without open strings; which can be an asset if you're a position player (just shifting up or down the neck for other scales, for example) without learning new positions.

    You're a big guy so the reach and the weight should not be a problem.

    If it was me, I would get the 5 string bass, especially if it is a decent bass.

    Good luck on yer quest.
  11. punisher911


    Jan 20, 2005
    Clawson, MI
    I agree that the fretted E on the B string does sound different than the Open E. So that alone would give you some variety to the sound when you record. You said you have a baritone guitar, so I'd opt for the 5 string so you can match the guitar when recording your basslines.
  12. Zulujos


    Mar 18, 2014
    Good point on the baritone.
  13. Gnal


    Apr 22, 2014
    If you are familiar with Baritone guitar, and the note positions across the B string relative to the E,A,D and G, I'd recommend getting a 5 string.

    The 5 string will give you all the functionality of a 4 plus options, like not having to retune or moving to a higher octave if you transpose a song to a different key.

    If you plan to buy without playing the bass in person some 4 string basses (not all) tend to have dead spots on the D and G string around the 7th-9th frets. Some manufacturers have tried to deal with this by making thicker head stocks or adding stiffening rods. 5 strings do not seem to have this issue due to the greater mass of the neck.

    Regarding active/passive... it really depends on what you are looking for. I like basses with preamps with passive options, that way you can choose to use it or not, plus if a battery dies (shouldn't really be an issue, but could happen) then it's not a showstopper.

    For what it's worth, I started on a 5 but previous experience was only with a standard tuned guitar so I didn't really "get" the B string. I switched to a 4 for a while and practiced on the 5 until it made sense. After I unlocked the B in my mind, a 5 became my preference because of the versatility.

    I still have 4's and still play them, but if I know the BL has a tendency to change keys... I bring a 5.
  14. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    If just one bass, go 5 string.
  15. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    If this is just something you are going to play on occasion, get a 4 string P bass. You can get them for a reasonable cost used and if you decide to sell it, you won't lose much because there is a pretty good market. There is nothing wrong with active electronics or 5 / 6 string basses, but there is also nothing wrong with starting with a tried and true bass. Keep it simple unless you have a reason to complicate things.

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