How much range do you need out of a bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dexterzol, Aug 26, 2019.

  1. Dexterzol


    Apr 11, 2019
    So, as everybody knows the bass guitar has seen a fair share of evolution since it's inception only upwards of seventy years ago. In recent years, with the seven-strings arriving, some basses now possess a range almost equal to that of a piano, an impressive feat.

    Now I'm asking - how much range do you TB'ers need? I get by with 4, occasionally 5 strings, a 22-24 fret minimum and that's about it. There's a huge amount of versatillity to choose from, so do you guys stick with the classic 4-string 20-fretters, (maybe some of you don't even use the full range), or do some of you play symphonic range 7-string 36-fretters? I'm quite interested to hear.
    jamro217 likes this.
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    4 strings, 20 frets is the exact range necessary to play a full 2 octaves in every key. Works for me! :)
  3. Dexterzol


    Apr 11, 2019
    Just to get things started, I like playing flashy stuff so I appreciate a good amount of upper register notes, so 20 frets or less isn't gonna work for me :laugh: I prefer 4 strings, and play in E - perfectly balanced. I need the 4 string for my personal comfort, I can thumb 75 percent of the fretboard after all ;)
    Charlzm likes this.
  4. Dexterzol


    Apr 11, 2019
    Wait. Isn't 24 the full 2 octaves? One octave is 12 frets and 3 octaves is 36 right?
    superheavyfunk, Nunovsky and smogg like this.
  5. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    On a 24-fret 4-string bass, you can play a full 3 octaves in the keys of E, F, F#/Gb, and G. But you can't play a full 3 octaves in the other 8 keys.

    I personally like the symmetry of being able to play equally well in all keys. You said you prefer to play in E most of the time, so different strokes for different folks. :)
    Dr Gero, jamro217, cnltb and 2 others like this.
  6. Dexterzol


    Apr 11, 2019
    No, i was just saying - a 24 fretter has 2 octaves per string, 20 falls a note or two short. idk if I misunderstood you post or something :roflmao:
  7. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    I'm talking about a 4-string bass, not a 1-string bass.

    You are correct that on a 1-string bass, you would need 24 frets to play 2 octaves in 1 key, or 35 frets to play 2 octaves in every key. ;)
    Dr Gero, jamro217, Dabndug and 3 others like this.
  8. Eminor3rd

    Eminor3rd BLAAAAARRGGHH!!

    Feb 10, 2008
    Despite my efforts to the contrary, I feel "limited" with anything less than 5 strings, 24-frets.

    To be clear, when I say "limited," I mean when I'm sitting around playing, I find myself frustrated that I can't play certain things that come to me. I'm currently in a punk band where I play a 4-string Fender J and I feel just fine.
  9. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    I played my Gould 6 string on a gig yesterday and used the low B a few times and recall getting to the Eb 3 frets above the octave on the C string (that was during a solo). I use a lot of it but.............mostly I just play across the fingerboard in a position suited to the key of the tune.

    For me, the 6 string just makes it easier to play because so many notes are under my fingers in any position.

    That said, I play upright a lot....4 strings and that suits me just fine too.
  10. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    I play a 24 fret fiver and run out of range both ways. At some point, you just have to work with what you have no matter the instrument.
  11. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Reviewer: Bass Player Magazine
    Higher range doesn’t translate in equally playable ways up the neck, so even though I rarely play higher than what would be on a 24 fret 4-string, I find 6-strings an easier way to access those higher notes. I also use all the added notes of a low B, so they’re pretty necessary.
    spade2you, Beej, TonyP- and 5 others like this.
  12. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    I don't generally play fretted basses much at all, especially "classic" ones, but even on those instruments there are plenty of higher available notes than where the fundamentals on the fingerboard end. [​IMG]

    So on both my primary 4-string fretless BG and my EUB, a slide and/or bow can already get me pretty far above what most would expect from a 4, I think.
    sqlb3rn, bassballs27 and JRA like this.
  13. eJake


    May 22, 2011
    New Orleans
    I can make it through any gig on a 20 fret 4 string no prob. Tho I play a 20 fret 5 on all my gigs.
    coves likes this.
  14. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    Depends what I'm doing. I play 90% of my songs (including the occasional solo) on a 20 fret 4 string. I do play a a few songs on a 6, usually if I'm either taking an extended solo or it needs a note below E
    Outtaseezun likes this.
  15. Truthfully, one only needs a basic 4-string. That said, I own basses of 4-, 5-, 6-, and 7-strings. I enjoy the freedom to pickup whichever one I feel like playing on a given day.
  16. Rib 13

    Rib 13

    Jun 20, 2006
    Sometimes it's not about range but about comfort......six string basses allow sight readers to keep their fretting hand in a minimal fretting range, allowing for less error
  17. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    4 strings and 19 frets (Fender Mustang) works for well enough me.

    I have used basses up to 24 frets many times though but I've never had to go above the 15th fret on the G string using any bass.
    sqlb3rn likes this.
  18. JohnArnson


    May 28, 2019
    I get by fine with my 22 fret 4 string Ibanez Mikro bass, but would prefer 24 frets really.

    Have no need for going deeper than the low E string, but seriously ponder on getting a 5 string Mikro bass and stringing it E-A-D-G-C, for additional upper range and improved functionality for chord work.
  19. Manticore


    Feb 27, 2016
    Precisely! Reading, and playing in general, requires far fewer position changes on as six. Also, a six string allows for wider intervals when playing chords, which can really clean up the sound. A six is also easier for playing two parts simultaneously by tapping with both hands, which really comes in handy when playing in a three-piece setting.
    rollie 55, Outtaseezun and dBChad like this.
  20. thabassmon


    Sep 26, 2013
    New Zealand
    My primary inst is a 24 fret six, so four octaves and a semitone, I do use all of it. Can squeeze out another two octaves out of it on a good day, using false harmonics. Now that I don't use often.

    I like having a large range available it give me more options. I don't sit at a piano and limit myself to only a section of the keyboard, I play the whole thing. Same with bass.
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