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Harder to go from ... ?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Fletz, May 10, 2011.

  1. Going from 4 strings to 5 or 6

    28 vote(s)
  2. Going from fretted to fretless

    54 vote(s)
  1. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    Opinions please: is it harder to go from 4 string to 5 string (or 6 string) or is it harder to go from fretted to fretless?

    There's no right answer, just curious.

    My experience:

    Have tried 5 strings twice in my 28 years playing and could never get the hang. Added a fretless to my arsenal 6 months ago (unlined!) and found it easier (not easy) to get into.
  2. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead! Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I too found the added strings to be a harder transition than the fretless. If it's just banging out root notes and simple stuff its ok, but when you get into more complex stuff, the added string does slow you down some if you arent used to it
  3. mwiles30


    Dec 31, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    My fretless switch was easier, but that's because its identical to my fretted bass.

    Extended range is only difficult if the string spacing is too tight...I had a 5 for a while that took a week or so to get the hang of. Ever since then, though, when I've gone to a gig to sit in with somebody else's 5, I haven't had any problems since.
  4. I voted for fretted to fretless being more difficult. Mainly because it is easy for me to hear when I've made a mistake by playing the wrong string and correct that mistake. But jamming by myself, I can't hear if my intonation is slightly out on a fretless. This wouldn't show up until playing in a band or along to a song.
    Fretting the 3rd string while playing the 4th is immediately noticable and I can correct that easily :)

    Having said that, I'm as good as tone deaf, so as much as a fretless is fun, I probably should avoid them :meh:
  5. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    Interesting you say that. I went from Pbass to fretless Pbass ...
  6. You shouldn't have made this a poll, if only so you could force people to explain themselves, lol.

    Anyway, I'd say going for more strings by far! And that's coming from a guy who, luckily, didn't have much trouble with either, lol. Even if you remove the frets everything is still pretty much in the same place and if you play without looking at the board then nothing changes except the need to be a smidgen more accurate. No biggie, with a little work. With more strings you are seriously changing the whole instrument. The weight, hand postion, where and how you play the notes, and having to mute the extra string(s); all of that changes with a move like that.
  7. The perception with a lot of players is that fretless will be much easier to transition into with the same amount of strings as their fretted counterparts. I once owned 3 of them, but when I tried playing them live and in the studio, my intonation was wretched. They were unlined BTW. I would totally get one again one day, but WITH lines.

    I sounded great at home to my own ears, but others instantly knew something was off and let me know about it. I was only playing for 6 years at that point (now 13 yrs), and I think my transition would be transition much smoother now.

    For 5 string it took years for me to settle on the right feeling one. I owned many of 5 strings to find the proper spacing, tone, B string, and weight that I liked. I eventually settled on 17.5mm spacing, killer B strings, no more expensive than 2k, and no more than 9.5lbs. Sure certain parts of the 5 string took time to adapt to, but not near as much the fretlesses did. Modulus and Ernie Ball fit the bill quite nicely

    Fretless has it's place, and a darn good one, but it isn't on 90% of the music people generally listen to anyway.
  8. Well, I had practically no trouble at all going from a 4 string to a 5 string, but when it comes to the 6 string I did have some trouble making the adjustment. I haven't answered the poll cause I found 4 string fretless and 6 string fretted to be equally difficult to play at first, though now I find 6 strings easy enough because I only play 5 and 6. Fretless tends to be difficult for intonation but once you just get used to that particular bass' fretboard it's not so bad, whereas I found the obstacles of two extra strings just lasted a bit longer.

    Nowadays I find 5 string the easiest, then 6 string, then fretless. Fretless doesn't seem too bad at first but MAN some stuff you normally don't think about really requires extra focus, unless it's lined in which cause I actually prefer it to a 4 string fretted. Lined fretless is just about as easy to play physically but gives you more control over intonation, handy at the upper frets cause intonation on fretted instruments is never 100% perfect, and it saves you having to worry about it so much. Plus the slides just sound cool.

    Overall, much prefer fretted to fretless anyway, just because of the sound.
  9. UnfortunateTony


    Jul 26, 2010
    Maybe it's just me but I find playing a fretless just as easy as playing a fretted. Now, I can play a 5 or 6 if I want to, but I can't play them with the same ease as a 4 string. So maybe this is just my personal preference, but I'd say 4 to 5/6 is more difficult.
  10. jay tay

    jay tay

    Aug 12, 2009
    Manchester UK
    At 18 years old, after playing for 3 years, I switched from a freted 4 string, to a fretless 5. I took to fretless like a duck to water, it felt very natural. I didn't really struggle with the low B, but it took me quite a while before I really started to make proper use of it. other than an elaborate thumb rest, that got occasionally played!
  11. extra strings was no problem. in fact, going back to 4 strings is my issue, so i dont bother playing them.

    every time i pick up a fretless im reminded how sloppy i am. need to get one and practice in my room for about 10 years.
  12. madmachinist


    Dec 28, 2008
    i found fretless easier from guitar . i am a guitarist first.
    fretting notes between the frets comes natural to me...
    so i naturally goof it up with frets, instead of playing the top of
    the fret, i tend to grab between it w/ frets (does that make sense?)

    fretless removes the mystery . it's more simple.

    i suppose that's why i've no shortage of pliers and superglue.
  13. That's funny because I played 5 strings exclusively for 5 years and bought a Fender Jazz last summer and it was definitely different... I had to readjust for a while. The 19mm spacing made fingerstyle tougher and sometimes it would cause me to hit notes late.

    I was really starting to get into Bobby Vega at the time, and decided to play with a pick on the 4 and fingers on the 5 which the spacings work very nicely for each. I still am sticking to that and it works very well!

    If you have ever heard Bobby Vega, Tina Weymouth, or John Paul Jones, a Fender Jazz with a pick is tone heaven.
  14. MelodiousThump


    Jul 4, 2006
    Fretless was harder.
    More strings are now no problem, but I can still screw up the fretless' intonation on the
    upper frets if I'm not paying enough attention.
  15. danomite64


    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    Both fretless and five string seemed easy enough for me to figure out. I got one of each at about the same time (mid-90's) and pretty much gigged with them immediately. A notable exception was when I decided to restring my 5 string with a high C instead of a low B right before a gig. I hit lots and lots of wrong notes that night....:D

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