I hate it, but it makes me a better player

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by LBS-bass, May 25, 2021.

  1. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Definitely my experience, especially since my fiver is fretted and everything else I own is fretless, but even much more so with acoustic upright. In my case anything that slows me down a bit tends to make me concentrate more on laying down bedrock bass lines, and simplifying is most certainly not my strongest point.
    mmon77 and LBS-bass like this.
  2. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    My interim look is coffee and donuts. I have no other thoughts about this :)
    logdrum, eriky4003 and Passinwind like this.
  3. I'd go for the BEAD option. I don't need the really low notes anymore but I have one (jazz) bass in DGCF for a few songs with Eb or D. Strung with power slinky strings it sounds nice and fat.
  4. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    As weird as it might sound I play my 4 string Jazz (regular 19mm spacing, sorta' thick -for my taste- neck profile), and then my 5ers (mostly skinny necks, max 17.5mm spacing) feel easier to play. There were times in my life when I wouldn't even own a 4 string bass (stupid on my part, I love playing my 4-str Jazz). I have said Jazz set up super low and real soft playing, overall easy playing, but still my 5ers (Stingray5, Schecter CV-5, super skinny C profiles, none thicker than 20mm @fret1) feel even easier to play.

    Give your setup a check, nut height included (often disregarded, a high nut is an unnecessary handicap when playing lower in the neck, shouldn't be higher than a fret really). Also try some variety of 5ers, there's really thin necks around, variety of bridge spacings, etc. (Schecter and Ibanez SR 5ers come to mind, but there's SO MANY more). If you still hate 5ers there's always D-tuners or the BEAD tuning option some mention with your 4 string.
    Last edited: May 26, 2021
  5. TexasThunder

    TexasThunder Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2018
    This thread and your experience greatly interests me. Drummer turned bassist about 2 years ago and playing in a country band. I’m a normal size dude with freakishly small hands. I’ve wanted to try a 5 but already know I’ll struggle. Wondering if the BEAD route might be better.

    Appreciate you sharing your experience.
    LBS-bass likes this.
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    During the last year and a half, all I have been playing at home is DB and 5 string. I pulled a 4 out recently for an upcoming gig and it felt like I was piloting a rocket ship :roflmao:

    In the past decade, I've done most of my practicing on DB because if I could play it at full tempo on the DB, I could pick up a 4 and play it without thinking about it. Translating that to the 5 took some thought and thinking while playing is a disaster. So now I practice on the 5 as well.
    LBS-bass likes this.
  7. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    You mean there are not so many on the electric bass, right?
    Passinwind likes this.
  8. RichardW


    Feb 25, 2016
    near Philly
    I bought a fiver for one gig because we were doing one song that required it. I hated playing it and we never did the song again, so I sold it. I did just start playing a fretless and I can definitely tell it will help with fretted playing. If you're fretting isn't precise on the fretless, it can get wonky...
    LBS-bass likes this.
  9. Portamenti


    Jan 2, 2021
    Ditto. I use l so much less tension in the left hand after getting a Fretless as well. I also feel like I’m having much less fret noise and buzzing when playing fretted now.
    I’m still keeping one with speed bumps around for gigs, but I play mostly Fretless at home now.
    Groove Doctor and LBS-bass like this.
  10. TreySonagras


    Aug 11, 2013
    I had trouble the first few times I played a 5 string because I tend to think from the E string up on 4 string, and kept getting lost with the B string in my way. I changed to think in terms of the G string down and that seemed to help.
    I don’t know if any of that made sense.....LOL
    LBS-bass likes this.
  11. I did, and still stand by my statement. The fact that your four string is "easier" to play doesn't automatically equate to being a better player. Has your technique improved? Are you making better musical choices? These would be two thing that make you a better player. I don't see where you have indicated either.
  12. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    I can get that, although I’m kind of the opposite. I play 5s exclusively and had a four string I bought primarily as an exercise tool. I figured it would force me to think differently and use more of the length of the neck rather than playing as “vertically” as possible. It was also useful while I was taking lessons because it forced me to read notation farther ahead to be better prepared for the more frequent position shifts I’d have to make compared to playing a five.

    Unfortunately I stopped using it after I stopped taking lessons and ended up trading it when I bought an acoustic guitar earlier this year. But lately I’ve been thinking about getting another inexpensive 4-string and get more used to playing one again. I doubt I’d ever gig one, but anything that takes you out of your comfort zone help you learn and grow.
    LBS-bass likes this.
  13. smtp4me


    Sep 30, 2013
    Philadelphia, PA
    In a similar way, I believe playing 6 string acoustic makes me a better bassist. Playing any guitar, bass etc. on a regular basis will develop callouses on your finger tips, but acoustic seems to even more so. Acoustic necks are wider than a 4 string bass at a minimum, and often thicker. But those things are just physical attributes. I believe it helps me to be a more rounded musician, it helps with technique, and other intangibles. I have often preached my belief that every musician should consider learning piano/keyboards in addition. IMHO there is no better instrument to help visualize and learn scales, chords, general theory etc.

    Regarding 5 strings, however, I don't currently own any and never will if I can avoid it - which I have been able to avoid for about 40 years now. A 4 string bass with minimum 45 to 105 gauge strings can easily be drop-tuned down to a D, and even a C and still be played, so I'm only missing the low B, which I've never needed. I understand the extra string also allows different hand placement and less shifting of hand position, but again, I've gotten by without it. I *might* someday consider a 5 string tuned to EADGC, because strings 2 to 5 would be familiar to me. I have nothing against 5 string basses or those who play them, they're just not for me.
    Last edited: May 26, 2021
  14. Portamenti


    Jan 2, 2021
    So you popped in to the thread to say you don’t understand any situation where this could be of benefit, and then argue with OP that she wasn’t specific enough about what benefits she gained from her ‘exercise’.

    All of your gains are clearly measurable, I suppose? Are your fingers 11% more nimble? Your musical choices registering a 15% gain in groove?

    OP is asking for people to share things that might seem counterintuitive to progress at first, but that end up proving some kind of benefit - there was no ‘the benefit must be objectively visible and quantifiable to all talkbass members’ clause.
    Shorelinegold and LBS-bass like this.
  15. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Yup. That string just gets in the way. It also changes the spacing and feel.
  16. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    As long as it's Low End Blend and Voodoo, no problem. :cool:
    LBS-bass likes this.
  17. Matt O

    Matt O

    Feb 19, 2013
    The Mitten
    I have a similar experience when I pick up my short scale. Although I feel more at home on a 34” with a 1.75 nut due to years of long scale muscle memory. But yeah, seems like a toy. I guess playing long scale improves my shorty skills? Haha.

    Also, I seem to remember that Jaco guy swapping a P neck onto his Jazz to practice scales, he said it made it easier to play the Jazz when he swapped back. Didn’t improve his note choices or whatever, just made him a better player.
  18. twinjet

    twinjet Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    I know the feeling. Switched from four bangers to a 6 string two months ago. It's like playing on a snowboard.
    Kubicki Fan, LBS-bass and Gaolee like this.
  19. Shorelinegold

    Shorelinegold Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2017
    All things considered, I'd rather be in Philly
    No one in their right mind would pay me to endorse them....
    Hi LBS. Yeah, I get exactly what you're talking about. I'm going through a similar and opposite thing right now. I have somewhat of the opposite situation in that I have large hands (10" span across) so skinny necks (particularly 4-string ones) are just too uncomfortable for me. I prefer baseball bat-sized, wide necks but I'm having trouble finding one in a bass I otherwise like or that suits me. I keep coming back to my 5-string Reverend Mercalli almost more for comfort, but boy does it require a different mindset for me. Initially, I was a bit overwhelmed by having 25% more strings to mute, but as time goes on it's helping me not only with technique but also note and position choices. It makes me think more about the fretboard than what my muscle memory automatically does with a 4-string, and that's a good thing for my playing and my musical understanding. Mind you, I don't automatically think a 5-string is a clear advantage in all situations, much less necessary, but it is making me more conscious of my playing and that's a good challenge to have.
    LBS-bass and Gaolee like this.
  20. TrevorG

    TrevorG Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    I think you've made an interesting point about the need for a five string through a whole gig. Played five for about twenty years. Went back to four last year and have been seriously asking myself if the fifth string is worth all that fuss. We're talking about an extra seven note here... that we don't make a lot of use of.
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