I play better on a four string

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by RichSnyder, Jun 20, 2021.

  1. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I've been playing bass since '87 or so and started on four string. I believe I purchased my first fiver in '01 or maybe '02. Since then I've played fives a lot, maybe 85% of the time. But still to this day, it seems like my brain is still wired for four strings. When playing or sight reading on a five, it's smooth and fluid, but it just feels like there is some extra processing going on in my head, similar to the delay from a digital wireless unit. You can't perceive or measure the delay in the A/D D/A conversion, but you know there is something additional happening. I pulled out the four string tonight, first time in a long time and ran through some songs and the playing was fluid and effortless. So, I guess what I'm getting at is that many times we put a four string in the beginner's hands. That's fine if you want to play a four string, but if you think you want to play five or even six, just suck it up and start on that. Wire your brain the right way to start. All IMHO.
  2. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Agreed but I started on 4's, played for about 15y, took a decade off, started back on 5s and now play 30, 33 and 34 6s. 4's feel awkward to me now.
  3. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Bootlegger guitars : S.I.T. Strings Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Florida USA
    Me too. Exactly.
    I’ve played five string for years now, but there’s “something” different going on in my head when I play 5 as opposed to 4.
    I don’t think anybody else would notice but I’m aware of it
    I started on a four and I guess I consider myself a 4 string player that plays 5
  4. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    You are right, given that fives and sixes come at all price points, there is no reason not to start someone on a five or six.
  5. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Agreed. My Ibanez SR256 was about ~$US300 new (not sure exactly as it was a gift) and plays as well as my SR706 which would probably 4x the price if available new today. Very well made and no set up required out of the box.
  6. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    IMO if any musical instrument feels "awkward", or doesn't feel like "home". . . . you have to practise more.
  7. lowdownthump


    Jul 17, 2004
    The key for me was finding a 5 that felt just as good as a four and giving them both equal playing time. I try to do that on all of my basses. So that limits me to no more than 5 basses.
  8. BLDavis

    BLDavis Master of Snarks. Gold Supporting Member

    May 21, 2009
    Ellenboro, NC
    Jaco didn't need..........
    Well, Somebody had to say it.
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I'm on a similar timeline. I started around '86. Of course, I started on 4 string. In the late 90s I dove head first into 6 string. It was a Carvin, and the only 6 string for miles around for a while. I never found a single use for the high C. Backing down to the 5 was immediately "home" for me. Now I struggle with a 4. I own more 4s than 5s. But my 5s get the vast majority of the playing time.
    David McIntire, Bogun and gg22 like this.
  10. 31HZ

    31HZ Glad to be here Supporting Member

    I started on a 4, but now find myself a little lost on one when I try to play one.

    Fives only for me, please.
    lomo, Ggaa and Element Zero like this.
  11. I started on a four... But I very quickly moved to a five string. I'm pretty sure I only played a 4 for about 3 years before someone handed me something that was written for a 5 string bass and that was it. I came from classical guitar, so the neck width didn't bother me at all.

    Even my bass viols are 5-strings.

    I still own a four string (my only Fender, actually) but it gets little use.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2021
    gg22 and Element Zero like this.
  12. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    I was switching between 4, 5 and upright, but switched exclusively to 5s a couple years ago and my brain likes not switching all the time. I lost a gig for quitting upright, though.
    Williethump likes this.
  13. rashrader


    Mar 4, 2004
    Baltimore, MD
    I felt awkward on 5’s too, but when I switched to an E-C Setup, I found my home. I the Low B just didn’t do much for me.
  14. Ditto, been at 50/50 between 4’s and 5’s my entire career, and although I have zero issues going back and forth, I have grown to greatly prefer (and even insist upon) a 4 string. It just feels proper to me.
    shoot-r likes this.
  15. nonohmic


    Dec 13, 2005
    ABQ, NM.
    No way I'm gonna buy 5 string packs of TI jazz flats! $$$$$

    4 bangers all the way
  16. I started on 4's. Went to 5's and 6's many, many years later. Dropped 6's in relatively short order but stuck to 5's. Now I find 4's lacking and difficult to play as my technique is definitely ingrained on the broader options a 5 offers and I have to spend too much time rethinking my natural tendencies to account for missing notes and more limited fretting hand positioning that I personally have become used to on a 5. YMMV

    So I'm not so sure it's what one starts on, it's what feels right and what one commits to.
  17. I started playing a 4 string in the early 80's. Prior to that I played guitar only. I got my first 5 string 3 or 4 years ago, and of the five 5 strings I have now, that first one is still my favorite. But my brain is definitely wired for the 4 string. I pretty much don't even have to think about where my fingers need to go, they just go there virtually without any thought on my part. I am fine on the 5 string at home, but in a live band situation I have to constantly think of where my fingers are, and I get easily confused. I know the answer is to stick with it and it will get better, but the 4 string just feels right.

    Thump on,

    Artman likes this.
  18. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
  19. Similar path for myself - started on a 4 in the 80s - started with 5s in the early 90s and haven't looked back. I can play a 4 but have to think way too much about it. Not so much because I always need notes below E, but far more about having integrating using the B string a lot for 4 string range low notes.

    two fingers likes this.
  20. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Maybe, but twenty years is probably at least an acceptable effort. It's not the five feels awkward, it's just not as fluid as a four for me. And I'm talking about nuances, not that one feels awkward. I've been playing my Dingwall 5 a lot lately, so it's likely that the additional overhead of the multi-scale lengths is emphasizing the difference. But if I'm writing new music or something where I need the creative juices flowing, I'll probably pick up a four.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jul 27, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.