Instrument choice - technique vs. possibilities

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Jeff Moote, Aug 12, 2003.

  1. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    This is a very different take on the "How many strings?" issue, so please don't dismiss it as such. :)

    Currently I play a fretted and fretless 5, and I'm happy with that. I like 5's because they are very comfortable while adding some range and position possibilities that I use very often.

    Looking (towards months from now) at my next bass purchace, I'm considdering number of strings. I don't want another 5, because I need one of the two choices that I'm down to more.

    I'm making a decision between 4 and 7.

    7 is attractive because I'd greatly appreciate the extended range - my playing suits it well. As for whether it's managable for my hands, I'm sure it is, and I'll be able to adapt to it.

    4 is attractive because I know I could really fly on one. I know playing it would seem really easy after 5's all the time, and I could really focus on perfecting my technique. Range is the problem, but in a regular band setting I know 4's can hold out just fine.

    My dilemma is whether I want to have the freedom to play with greater mobility and and clean technique, or whether I want to let the music that becomes possible on 7 win out and force myself to better my technique enough for that.

    Any input is greatly appreciated.
    Thanks :)
  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I would get a 4. I think every bassist should own at least one 4, because they are the basic amount of strings for a bass and you can really "fly" on them.
  3. I don't think having a greater number of notes to play with will allow you much greater freedom to explore. You can attempt any chord progression or rythmic approach with a four - the real "meat" of musical exploration lies in what you can do with 12 notes.

    That's equally true of a seven and a four, so get whatever you want. Just don't let the extra range distract you from what's important about what you play - of all the musical choices you make, range is one of the least interesting and explorative. If you want to explore, listen.

    I would stick with the four and concentrate on exploring what you have.
  4. JFN

    JFN Supporting Member

    I can only speak from my experience, but I tried out one of the Conklin 7 strings for one rehearsal and church service and was not crazy about it (I could have gotten it pretty cheap too). At the time I was already playing a 5 string and then later I bought a Victor Bailey Jazz Bass (4 string). Now I go between 4 and 5 strings depending on the range of the songs in the set and what kind of mood I am in.

    My primary role in the band is to play the low notes, lock in and groove with the drummer, and bridge the rhythm and harmony together. I found 4 and 5 strings allowed me to accomplish this best, for me anyways.

  5. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I just wanted to add a little anecdote relating to the title, I am currently learning some piano, and I consistantly find myself trying to wiggle my fingers after hitting a chord(or notes sometimes), as if that would give it vibrato :p
  6. CDuff


    Sep 14, 2002
    Hahaha, I do that too:D A pianist friend of mine kept laughing at me because of it.
  7. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    WR: yeah... I think all string players do that when just starting on piano.

    Keep the replies coming folks, I'm taking this all in.
  8. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I dunno man,, but probably a nice 4 for me. I'm happy with my current stable of 6 and 5,, but the 7's are just too spindly feeling for me. The high F string needs very light touch IME, and the harmonics seemed real weak. I'f you're a tapping meunster,, maybe it would work great,, but for fingerstyle and slap,, a good 'ol 4 would suit me better at least.