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How Many Strings???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by brianerwin, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. brianerwin


    Oct 21, 2012
    So its almost 3:30 am here and I am reading TalkBass thinking to myself..... I wonder,

    As I look at pics from what we are playing, it is a toss up on how many strings we use. So here's my question:

    When you got your bass, did you get a 4 string bass or a 5 string bass?

    Why did you decide to get it?
  2. brianerwin


    Oct 21, 2012
    To be fair, here's my answer.

    I was looking at basses at GC and tried a lot of different ones and was generally thinking about a 4 string but as I kept listening to music, I noticed that the bass part seems really low in certian songs that I wanted to play. So I was thinking that I will eventually go to a 5 string down the road, I might as well get the 5er to start out with and so goes it. I really like the 5 becase it seems to fit with the style of playing that I will be doing.
    If this was a saxophone, it would be like having the hight F# key for alto sax or and extra low A key in a bari sax. (Sorry, that's what I know as a comparison.)
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I bought my first 5-string in 1994. I sold my 4-string shortly after that. Since then I've bought over twenty 5-strings (I still have 16 of them). I own one 4-string, a CIJ Mustang bass. It's a fun diversion.

    So I guess you could say I got a 5-string bass. It just seems to make sense to me. I can play the song patterns five frets up the neck, where the frets are closer together. Great for the stubby-fingered. As a bonus, if I want a low C or D, I've got it.
  4. Arnie


    May 14, 2005
    Kingston, NY
    Well, when I started playing in mid 70's there was ONLY 4 strings... I didn't have much of a choice... Now that I do anything more than 4 strings is 1 or 2 too many.. lol

    Thats just my opinion.
  5. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    I got a 4, then 6 months later got a 5 and sold the 4. Then got another 4, sold the 5, and ordered a custom 5 with the same sort of pickups and electronics as the 4. I'll keep the 4 as well.
  6. wednesdayagain


    Sep 28, 2012
    I've only ever bought 4 stringers. Why? I've never had the need to play any notes higher or lower than what is already covered with a 4.
  7. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    I had a bass with a one-string neck, a two-string neck and a three-string neck. That finally convinced me that I prefer four.

    Also tried fives. Ended up deciding on four tuned in fifths - CGDA. But if I didn't also play DB, I'd probably go with fives.
  8. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    When I first started only 4 string basses were available. I made the switch to 5 string about 12 years ago. Now I play 4 and 5 string depending on what is needed for the song.
  9. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    Brian, I am a sax player too! Cool. I bought my first bass less than a month ago and it was a 6 String Ibanez SR. To me the choice was like choosing between a 5 octave keyboard or an 8 octave Bosendorfer. Why would the extended range make the bass more difficult to play? Luckily I didnt find out the answer until I'd already fallen in love with the 6s. :)
  10. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    I have, at the last count:

    5 Four strings
    2 Five strings - one of them fretless
    1 Six string

    The six string was one of the cheapest, but after a lot of set up work and replacing the electronics with the wonderful ACG EQ-02 it plays wonderfully, can get virtually any tone you'd ever want and is fast becoming my main bass
  11. DirtySix


    Jan 8, 2012
    I went straight to a 6 string. Since most of the music i wanted to play used 6 string i figured why limit myself. I also came from playing guitar so 6 seemed pretty normal to me. I have big hands and long fingers so i find the wide neck of the 6 more comfortable to play than a 4 or a guitar.
  12. I stick with 4 strings, for now.

    When I first started playing bass, years ago, 5 strings just weren't as prolific as they are now, so 4 it was. And what I play doesn't require more than 4 strings.

    With my new bass, it's partly a matter of what was available used the night I had the money to buy, which was a 4 string Squier Jazz.

    But for what I do, 4 strings is still enough. I have nothing at all against any extended range basses, just never have needed one.
  13. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    I played, or played around with to be more honest, four string basses many years ago. Then I quit playing. Then I joined a new church, saw weekly ads on the screens before service for bass players, and decided to get a new bass and give it a go. So I bought what I knew rather than five or more strings.

    And I was happy.

    But I also joined Talk Bass and as we know TB is the work of the devil! So now I needed to at least try a fiver. After extensive store trials I determined that the SR505 was the perfect fiver for me so I bought one.

    And I was happy.

    For a short while.

    Turns out that the SR505 is an excellent bass but after longer exposure to its narrow string spacing I discovered that I really did not like that particular feature in spite of feeling comfortable with it in brief store trials.

    So I was unhappy.

    So I tried tuning my four in fifths to CGDA and instantly fell in love with that tuning. And I sold the SR505 to a fellow TBer and used the money to buy a Reggie Hamilton Jazz which gives me a P/J and a P bass to work with as well as the other features Reggie put in his signature model. And I tuned it CGDA too.

    And I was ecstatic!

    But TB truly is the work of the devil and I was now so pleased with the RH Jazz that my original four was getting no love. TB has an undercurrent of people who use piccolo tunings on their basses and while that did not appeal to me directly I thought I would try a "baritone" tuning on my spare four. Since CGDA is the cello tuning I decided to go with the GDAE violin tuning. And that works quite well too.

    And now I was uneasy.

    Uneasy because by now the TB madness has become deeply rooted in my personality and I am enslaved by the notion that while a CGDA four and a GDAE four are both very nice to have it would be pure bliss to have a five tuned CGDAE and then I would have both under my fingertips at all times. And maybe it would work for me if I got a wide spaced five. So now I spend sleepless nights obsessing over all the wide spaced five string options out there.

    The moral of this story is that you should consider all the bass options out there and even use TB as a guide. Then find the ONE you love and buy it. THEN LEAVE TB AND NEVER COME BACK!


    Ken ;)