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How long to adjust to a 5 string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bumperbass, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. for me it was about 2 months of solid practice..I used it all the time practiced all the time with it...now I can't even imagine going back to a 4 string...I would like an Ibanez for doing slap but the band I'm in doesn't do any songs that require slap...I use the low B more to play higher up the neck...its way better in my opinion..made me a better bass player...
    bumperbass likes this.
  2. For me it's like going from one guitar with one neck profile and scale length to another.

    The initial adaptation was all about technique on a 5 vs a 4 but once I got passed that it still takes a few minutes of warm ups just to get my head around a 5 string again and my hand positioning and technique adjusted to the wider neck. Probably 10-15 minutes or a couple of warm up tunes.
  3. bordinco90

    bordinco90 Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2011
    SW Louisiana
    I started on a P bass. Tried to play a 5 string 4 or 5 times. Eventually I went back to a P Bass and never looked back. I've played many many genres with it.
  4. bumperbass

    bumperbass Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2012
    Thanks for all the replies. I'm going to:
    Use ONLY the 5 until I get it down right.
    I am going to do more practice standing up (and practice more than normal, BTW).
    I am going to be more patient with myself.
  5. guitarbrent


    Feb 16, 2016
    Think of a 5 or 6 string as the new instrument that it is. They aren’t 4 strings...
    ak56 likes this.
  6. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Good plan.

    Without going back through your thread, there are some technique things to assimilate in the process, mainly to keep the B string from ringing. Contrary to what a lot of TB’ers post, do not use the B string as a thumb rest. You need to learn a combination of floating your right hand thumb, meaning laid across the top of the B and E strings, and using your middle left hand finger, the longest, to mute the B string while you are playing the lines. Kind of like learning to drive a clutch. That makes the B string available as you learn to conceptualize the fingerboard and keeps the B string from ringing out when not being played.

    If you commit to it, the concept will come around. Patience and persistence.
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  7. 7615


    Nov 19, 2015
    Floating thumb - frees up the hand once your used to it.
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  8. Billybassbeater


    Jan 7, 2010
    Ona, WV
    First, just stop and take a breath. It's supposed to be fun. Then just start running your scales and let the fretboard come into your mind's eye and start messing around with the 4-string patterns and see how they expand on a 5-string. That B is just another 5.
  9. vindibona1


    Apr 18, 2015
    Yes... But no. It's all what you're used to and it will vary for each individual. As a relative newcomer to 5ers I can tell you that even now I still have an occasional brain fart on 5 string but like that I don't have to change tuning to accommodate lower notes and find it fun to have them available from time to time. My 4 banger has a drop D, but it is so hard to remember when I've shifted into D and then remember that the note placement is different. So much easier just to play the B string because the notes are always in the same place. At some point I see myself even going to 6 string- but that's down the road after I become a full fledged bass player.
  10. caledoneus83


    Feb 26, 2018
    6 strings are much fun. I went straight from a 4 to a 6... lol
  11. 7615


    Nov 19, 2015
    Has to be a four string. Its all pre-determined by numerology:

    Guitar: six letters, 6 Strings

    Banjo: five letters, 5 Strings

    Mandolin: 8 strings

    Twelve string: 12 strings

    Bass: four letters- FOUR STRINGs

    That pretty much cinches it.
  12. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    20 years ago I would only play 4's bc they felt like home.
    Now 5's feel like home.

    You can't change my mind about Dennison's Chili vs Hormel, Sigs vs Glock, BMW vs Mercedes, Converse vs Nike, Popeye's vs KFC.

    Some things are sacred.
  13. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    On muting. IMO it's easier to adapt a 4 string technique to 5 string basses if you have an accurate style of playing. I'd make it a priority to focus on your right hand technique if you can overplay, get excited or regularly lose accuracy hitting more than one string when you are playing and then relying on muting to sort things out for you.

    I move my thumb between the pickup, B string, E string or A string depending on the notes or line being played. I try to be as accurate as possible and not put more energy into plucking the strings than I need and I don't get any strings ringing behind the playing.

    While you're tidying up your technique. . . never stretch your fingers or try to overreach. Your anchor points for both hands, your thumbs, should be constantly moving. Being placed in the correct position so your hand holds your fingers where they can play the next line without effort.
  14. allexcosta


    Apr 7, 2004
    Disagree... Your reference on a stringed instrument isn't visual. The reference string is always the first string, that's why it's called first.
  15. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Oh man! What a breath of fresh air this is compared to the standard "Jaco only needed 4 strings"!
  16. bumperbass

    bumperbass Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2012
    There's nothing to disagree with. You reference is different than mine. That doesn't mean either of us do not know where we are and where we're going when we play.

    You also contradicted yourself, as is indicated in bold type.
  17. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Exactly. So the way one "adjusts" to a 5 or 6 string bass is either to woodshed the daylights out of it just as you would if you decided to learn any other new instrument...OR... you can immediately sell it and go into all threads on TB saying you "tried a 5 once" an it was totally awful and it's clear nobody "needs" more than 4 strings.
    tfer and chris_b like this.
  18. 7615


    Nov 19, 2015
    Well you don't need more than 4 strings - the proof is in the pudding. Hundreds of thousands of recordings with 4 strings - before a 5 string even appeared. And great bass parts that would not have been heard on 60's recordings if they had been played on a five string. To play a few low notes - add 40lbs of GEAR - the wood shedding required is lifting the new amp - nope don't need that sort of work.
  19. vindibona1


    Apr 18, 2015
    ... Except when you're playing a show or some arrangement and the arranger writes in low D's and C's.

    Yeah... I know. You can install a Drop D. I did it. And it's just a pain to remember to shift and unshift into the Drop position and return to standard tuning. I didn't want to think that hard especially when I'm trying to stay with a conductor and keep singers in my head (cause they often have R.A.D.S.) yada yada. And that sent me on my journey for my first 5er. Heck, my Yamaha 605 is a full pound lighter than my 4 string jazz, and is super easy to get around on. I like my 4 a lot, but rarely pick it up any more. What's the point now that I'm used to 5ers?
  20. allexcosta


    Apr 7, 2004
    Nope. First string as reference is tactile, as it should be and how it's taught anywhere in the world. How can you play in a dark bar if your reference is visual? Makes no sense.

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