How Long to Get Used to a 5 String???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by basse, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. Hi all:

    I'm getting ready to place a custom order and I'm seriously considering getting my first 5 string...

    I've played 4-strings forever and whenever I've picked up a 5-string the neck has seemed a little wide - not to mention that it's a little confusing with the extra string...

    But, I'm willing to take the time to get used to it - and I better if I'm going to custom order one! Here are my questions:

    1) How long did it take you to get used to the extra string?
    2) Once you're playing your 5er, can you still go back & forth easily with your 4 strings?

    Thanks for any thoughts and/or advice.
  2. NoisemakerD-Lux

    NoisemakerD-Lux Guest

    Oct 12, 2004
    1. Should take you a few days. Just play a lot. Do some lick runs, but also play a few songs in full. A week should be enough.

    I do recommend a high C instead of the low B. Well, that's just me, I guess. But the low B is my least favorite string. I love going up high and actually spend most of my time there.

    Just something for you to think about.

    2. Yes.
  3. buzzbass


    Apr 23, 2003
    Tenn. & NJ
    It took me a month, at the most, to feel comfortable on my 1st 5. That being said, I found it very difficult to go back and forth between 4s & 5s. I gave up and sold all my 4s excapt for a near mint 78P that was a surprise present from my wife one Christmas. At this point, I could never see myself going back to 4s, but that's just me. YMMV.
  4. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    T minus 6.5 seconds. I'm still addicted to 4 strings but my 5's required no extra time to get used to.
  5. Moving Pictures

    Moving Pictures Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2002
    It took me no time at all. I also have no problems switching back and forth between a 4 and a 5.
  6. angrydad


    Jul 31, 2004
    Make sure you rehearse the 5 with a band before taking it out on stage. When I got my first 5 string, I played it for a few days at home,then took it straight to a gig. Man, did that feel wierd. I play in situations where there aren't rehearsals and the tunes are called by the band leader without a set, some tunes I wasn't really prepared for. Of course, in those situations, I just made a sour face and looked at the keyboard player..."uhmmmm, he did it! ". After a few gigs, it felt normal.
    Yes, you can (and maybe should) still play 4 string. Some of the blues, traditional jazz, and classic R&B band leaders I play for don't dig the "Subway",for those gigs I bring a 4.
    Heck, play 'em all 4,5,6,7 long as it's a bass, it's cool!
  7. 1. Maybe a week too get used to 2 more strings.
    2. Yes , but it feels really strange . Since you want a 5er and not a 6er it shouldn't be a problem to switch from 5 to 4 :)

    Just go for it ! :cool:
  8. Like you I purchased a 5 string and really I wanted to get used to it. I never really took the time. I went on vacation for 2 weeks and was able to bring that bass. 2 weeks with it and I felt completely at ease (human nature is amazing). I do think a week is fine if you practice daily (is there any other form of practice anyway?).
    Switching between 4 and 5 is more an issue of feel... the 2 necks are different so somehow it helps...
    The low B vs high C is really a personal choice, depends on the music you play.
    The low B allows me to play most of the songs mid neck instead of all the way down.
    Also the 5 string you're going to pick will dictate how you play. Make sure that the B is tight meaning no flopiness of the string, no heavy difference in volume between all 4 upper strings vs the B. And of course how comfortable you are with the curvature of the neck. Some are very flat some are very round...
  9. Lonnybass


    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    Write down all of the notes on the low B string and memorize them - this will become your new visual aid in terms of figuring out where everything is. Probably the most difficult thing you will encounter is that you now have a completely new point of reference whenever you look down at your hands!

    I'd expect it will take you about a month or two to get the hang of it - just practice practice practice and it will become second nature. And switching back to four strings should become almost reflexive!

    Good luck. Let me know if you have more questions.

  10. Larry99


    Aug 17, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    I've been playing a 5er for about 10 years now. Got used to it pretty quick ...only a few days, really.

    Now I have a problem going the other way and playing a 4er. I'm constantly playing the A string when I'm meaning to play the E. uggg. I find it helps to just not look at the neck so much.
  11. Marcus

    Marcus Guest

    Dec 26, 2004
    NYC & Vancouver, BC
    I threw away (sold) all of my five string bass guitars because of the atrocious sympathetic string noise.

    I tried anchoring my thumb everywhere.

    I just could not get down with it.

    If I ever want a B string... i'm just changing the guage of strings and adjusting the nut.
  12. WillBuckingham

    WillBuckingham Guest

    Mar 30, 2005
    Marcusalan, did you have a teacher at the time? Muting strings is not that big a deal . . .
  13. I play a 6er as my main bass, and switching back to a 4 is like a toy.
  14. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    It took me about a day the first time I switched, then I went back to fours. Can't get used to the fiver again. But six is no problem.

    I'm just wierd.
  15. skewh

    skewh Guest

    Sep 5, 2005
    Ithaca, NY
    I went straight from a four string to a six string, and it took me all of about five minutes to get used to it. Switching back to a four was just like putting on an old t-shirt, familiar and easy to do. For awhile I would bring both to gigs, playing the six for almost everything except the slap songs, as my four string has active electronics. Now I only play my four string though . . . it's just something about Fender Jazz basses (not to mention the tone is much better).
  16. Marcus

    Marcus Guest

    Dec 26, 2004
    NYC & Vancouver, BC
    Oddly enough I did... the problem being, I never noticed in the private lesson environment because we were turned way down. When I started playing in live situations and I'd anchor my thumb on the B and would have to play beyond the E, I would hear the vibrations and it drove me nuts.

    I guess I could always try the monorail bridge system Ibanez offers but... I'm somewhat put-off by fivers for the time being.
  17. adouglas

    adouglas Guest

    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    Like everyone else, it was no big deal. I can't think of a really compelling reason to go back to a 4 now.

    If you get into a situation where you're playing and feel a bit lost, just remember that what you've got is a plain old 4 string with an extra bit of decoration on it. You don't HAVE to play the B all the time, y'know.

    What did take a bit longer was learning to really exploit the B string. I found myself playing lines as I had done on my 4 string for quite a while. Just a muscle memory thing.
  18. I simply put my 4s in their cases and just left 'em alone for a month or so and in the meantime just played the 5 for everything (home practice, rehearsal & gigs), especially songs that don't require the low B (just to get used to the string placement). The transition wasn't difficult at all. Just simply do scales & exercises starting with notes on the B string. I still play a 4, but the 5 definitely gets the most use from me these days. Good luck.
  19. rok51

    rok51 Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2002
    Crawfordville, FL
    You have asked a good that I would have asked just a short time ago. Having short arms and small hands, I wondered about the ability to comfortably play a 35 inch scale. Two of my fours are 35 inchers and I actually prefer them over my 34s. My only exposure to five strings was in stores...I found myself tripping all over myself and thought that I'd never get the hang of it. Over time, I got comfortable enough to order a fiver just to have, as a tool-and to see what it offered. I took it to practice on the day that I got it-and played songs for the first time. Piece of cake. Really. Like adouglas said: think of it as a four string with some extra decoration. I play much better when I feel what I am playing rather than think about it...once I put to bed the concept that my 'E' string was lying under that other 'fat sucker'...everything fell into place. So far, I like the versatility that the fiver gives me with regards to position on the neck. Doubt it will become my main instrument, but so far it's pretty cool.

  20. Winky B.

    Winky B. Guest

    Nov 10, 2005
    New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
    I found the same thing with the vibrations at high volume. My answer was. Bass Amp and wirless around $1500.00 dollars. to fix the VIBS. a piece of old soaker hose under the strings at the bridge price zero.