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how hard is it to jump from a 4 to a 5 string bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by cbass717, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. cbass717


    Jun 30, 2008
    how hard is it?? cause im interested in playing a 5 or even a 6 string bass. ive played 4 strings for a while. am i nuts? and do you use those extra strings alot?
  2. gmarcus

    gmarcus Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2003
    For me it all depended on the Bass. I played a P-Bass for a few years and then decided to get a 5 string. So I bought this US Masters 35" scale with 19mm string spacing on line. It messed me up completely. I couldn't figure out where to put my fingers. The fret board was just too big. I ended up returning it.

    Then I went to a whole bunch of music stores and actually played about 20 different basses. I found that if I got a bass with a 34" scale (like my P-bass) and narrow string spacing, I was able to play it no problem. I think the neck length is a big factor. I ended up with an old Fernandez bass from the 90's. It is killer. I love this bass and will never sell it.

    I really like playing a 5 string now because you can move your patterns up the neck and play them on the deeper strings. Also there are times when the low notes really help out.
  3. alexis=bassist


    Sep 4, 2008
    When I got my 5-string(like 2 years ago),it wuz kind of different.Especially when I would slap.I would hit tha low B.I quickly got use to it though.

    I didnt really use tha low B until just a few days ago!I cant believe it!
    I do however wanna change it so it will be tuned EADGC instead of BEADG,
    but at tha same time I dont.
  4. IanEllis


    Jan 28, 2008
    I played a 4 string for about 5 years and decided that I wanted to try a 6 string, I found that i used the high C more then the low B so now I have sold that bass and I am having someone set up a 5 string for the a C but even then i think I might end up back to a four string after all this time and money spent. It really depends on what you like to play personally. I would really recommend going to a store, sitting down and playing a 5 or 6 for awhile to see if it is practical for you before spending any money.
  5. For some it's hard; for others, easy. For me, it took awhile.
    I don't know if you're nuts or not.
    I use the 'extra' strings a lot, or very little- depending on the song. It's nice to have them there, but you don't have play the crepe out of a bass just to show you can.
  6. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    After 40 years of playing 4's, I found it very difficult to try and use a 5er. I found myself automatically going to the top for the E string only to find it was no longer the E. Something about old dogs and new tricks I guess. ;) The other problem for me was the board width. My short fat fingers just had a difficult time stretching the extra width. So I just stayed with the 4. :cool:
  7. Double Agent

    Double Agent

    Mar 10, 2006
    Lakeland, FL
    Personally, for me, its not that hard. And I find uses for the low B string all the time. On a 6, I rarely used the C string and it made the reach to the E and B strings kinda tough for me. But, 5 is not that much tougher than 4 and its nice to those low notes when you want them.

    Now, one of the issues that lots of people have when making the switch is the string spacing. Most 5-string basses have the strings closer together than on a 4-string. The reason they do this is so that the neck of a 5-string is not really wide. But, it can mess up your feel if your not used to it. Of course, some people actually prefer the tighter spacing, so you never know, you might love it. Schecter, Warwick, MIM Fender, and Ibanez all have really tight string spacing (16.5 mm compared to 19mm on a normal 4-string) on their 5ers. Try a few of those out and see how they feel to you. For comparison, the Squier Deluxe Active V has 19mm spacing, just like a 4, so the neck on those is really wide. Most GCs carry them so you can play those and compare it to the ones mentioned earlier with tighter spacing.

    Even if you decide to stick with a 4, you will have ventured outside your comfort zone by trying out some 5ers. That alone makes it a worthwhile endeavor IMO.
  8. When I first got my five string, I accidentally hit the B string thinking it was the A string. Other than that not too hard.
  9. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    A few misc. thots from my couple of brief attempts to switch from 4 to 5:

    1) If you have been playing a 4-string for a long time, I strongly encourage you to get a 5-string that has the same string spacing. That may translate to a wider neck which could be a problem if your hands are small and/or fingers are short (but even then look at a guy like Victor Wooten who doesn't exactly have spider fingers but does just fine). To me, adjusting your plucking hand to narrower string spacing is much trickier than adjusting your other hand to a wider neck. If you play mostly with a pick or slap-n-pop then string spacing may not be as big of an issue.

    2) If you're going to go to a 5-string, then go all-in. I.e., don't plan on switching back and forth between 4s and 5s cause then you really are in for some tough going. Rather than switching between the 4 and 5 for tone reasons, just make sure your 5 is really versatile, tone wise. I have heard lots of good things about MusicMan and G&L basses in particular in this regard.

    3) Give yourself some time to get familiar with the 5 before you're playing anywhere that matters. If you buy it on Monday and plan to play it at a gig Friday night that's probably not the best of ideas.

    All this being said, your mileage may vary. I've played 4-strings for 28 years so there was a lot to overcome with a 5 -- too much for me, and I've just stayed with a 4-string and drop-D tuning when necessary. If you don't have that much time in with a 4-string you'll probably be able to make the switch much faster. Best of luck.
  10. the best advice anyone can give on this issue is JUST DO IT
  11. Oh and remember to wear a helmet and pads when playing a five string.
  12. And yes I do use THAT extra string a lot. :eyebrow:
  13. It's only difficult if you fear it or don't have the patience to learn it.
  14. BUNGA56


    Jun 27, 2008
    East Hanover NJ
    just gotone 2 weeks ago for the most part it took me a day to get used to still need to work on slapping
  15. smogg


    Mar 27, 2007
    NPR, Florida
    I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
    Played 4 bangers for about 20 yrs, been playin' low B 5ers for aboout 9 yrs er so. I'll don't see going back to a 4 string or moving to a 6 string. 5 seems to be the sweet spot for me.
    As always YMMV. :smug:
  16. I remember it being very easy. Within just a few songs I was used to it. On the other hand, NOW when I try to play a four string it screws me all up. I use the B string a ton.
  17. StarscreamG1


    Dec 17, 2007
    Ive played 4 string all my bass playing life but have wanted a 5er for a while now. I had played a couple at my local store for about 3 minutes and that was all the 5 string exposure I had. I went on the bay and grabbed a '92 Peavey Foundation5 and when it came in, I tuned it up, plugged it in and played it like it was no big deal. The extra string never bothered me in the slightest. I had it tuned BEADG but have since retuned it to DEADG for the drop D. But I rarely play it to be honest. Its just sitting here gathering dust. *shrug* Im more of a 4 string player but the extra string was no big deal at least to me. Some people switch over fine and others it takes a while and Ive read here where a few could never fully make the switch. Everyone is different. Keeping playing different ones till you find one that is comfortable to you and then go for it is the only thing I can recommend, ^_^
  18. GeneralElectric


    Dec 26, 2007
    NY, NY
    I had, and still have, a lot of trouble switching between 4 and 5 stringers. But for some reason 4 to 6 is no problem at all for me. :confused:
  19. What's the advantage of going to five strings? To be honest, I think it looks really dorky.
  20. StarscreamG1


    Dec 17, 2007
    That interesting. Maybe its the uneven # of strings on a 5er that does it?

    I have no problems going from 5 to 4 and visa versa. What I do have issues with is going from a P neck to a J neck and back. @_@ THAT messes with me. Its the width different/string spacing of the two that throw me off. Scale length messes with me to. I love 24+fet necks but all save one of my basses is a 21-22. I go to the Bat which is 24 fret and then over to one of my other shorter ones or visa versa and I flounder for a few minutes. LOL

    But 4 to 5 and 5 to 4 doesn't do a thing.

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