I'm Pulling My Hair Out !

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Rick in Dixie, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. I've been playing for 35 years, multiple tours and sessions, but I've been playing nothing but a 4 string, after all this time I decide to go out and buy a 5 string bass, I've had it for about 2 weeks now and I'm still stumbling like a drunken mule. I was almost born playing and it has always been like a second nature with very little thought input to play, why is 1 extra string throwing my senses off so bad ? I'm almost ready to sell it before it ruins my feel all together.
  2. waynobass


    Feb 27, 2008
    Maybe take a couple lessons from a 5-string expert?
  3. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford Supporting Member

    Feb 15, 2008
    35 years is a long time to expect it all to change in 2 weeks! Give it time my friend.
  4. Mike Shevlin

    Mike Shevlin

    Feb 16, 2005
    Las Vegas
    When I started with a five banger, I described it as worse than having gum on my shoe. I started liking the fifth string when I started grabbing those lower notes while playing blues tunes. Eventually I looked forward to grabbing those low notes & then I was hooked. Now I can't play a four string to save my life.
  5. ChasBass


    Dec 15, 2007
    Charleston, SC
    Try a black nylon tapewound for your low B and use it as a training wheel.
  6. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    It is really weird having that extra string in there at first, and having the "A" be the middle string.

    What helped me get used to playing a five string was to play it exclusively until it was comfortable and seemed normal.

    Give it time! I was playing strictly 4 strings as long as you. Now going back & forth to a four is nothing at all.
    Have fun! Those low notes are killer! (*unless yer extra string is strung high - then I can't help you at all! ;))
  7. I like playing a 4 string with my thumb anchored on the pickup or the edge of the fretboard depending on where and what I'm playing. When I got my P-bass V, I found that I could not keep my thumb anchored for all 5 strings. I had to shift my thumb to the B string when playing the G string. That was the hardest to get used to. Left hand fingering seemed much easier to adjust to.
  8. i had the same problem at first
    but a friend gave me a little hint
    he said don't think of it as a 5 string but think of it as a 4 with a bonus string....i thought that sounded goofy until i thought about it.
    plus i was overplaying the crapola out of the B.
  9. LiF


    May 11, 2008
    Melbourne, Australia
    After 20 years of playing a 4 I switched to a 5. I don't remember it being that difficult. Give it time. I'm sure you will be fine. I wouldn't want to play a 4 now.
  10. progrmr


    Sep 3, 2008
    Columbus, Ohio
    shoot man don't give it up - its a challenge! If it was easy everyone would do it! Seriously if you've been playing that long, you CAN do this - take your time, don't have unrealistic expectations and work at it one day at a time. You'll get there! And you'll be glad you did it! :)

  11. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    It took me two or three months of playing 5 nights a week to get really comfortable on a 5er but, I'm a neck looker. It seems to me that people that aren't have a much easier time of it.
  12. Nalte


    May 10, 2009
    Austin, TX
    The thumb shifting is definitely hardest to adjust to, but I don't rest it on the B string like it was a pickup. I lay my thumb over top of all the strings I'm not playing to mute them. Keeps things sounding clean. :)
  13. Same prob for me at first,...25 + years of 4 bangers. The "extra" string threw me at first too. I wound up locking my 4 banger in the closet and swore to only play the 5 until it seemed natural. It took about a month, and then,....voila!!!! Since the transistion, 5's, 6'ers and even one 7 string! After 15 or so years of that, I'm finally thinking about owning a 4 banger again,...just for the fun of it. Hang in there, it'll come to you fairly soon,...and you'll love it!!! :bassist:
  14. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    For my first 35 years, my only electric bass was a four string fretless. When I decided to buy a fretted fiver, it was an adjustment - relying on muscle memory kept producing notes that were a perfect fourth lower than intended. Going back to basics - playing deliberately, and sight reading with a metronome - really helped. Singing the note names while playing slowly helped me play a G on the E string instead of letting ingrained muscle memory generate a D on the B string by mistake.

    Give yourself the gifts of patience and forgiveness. :)
  15. arginator


    Feb 28, 2009
    Upstate NY
    What are you playing? Perhaps a different 5 string would suit you better. When I switched I tried several, and most of them felt like playing a 2x4. But I eventually found the one I'm comfortable with, and the transition was pretty quick. And I played a 4 string for 25 years.