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Is a 5-string worth it?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ColonelClaypool, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. ColonelClaypool


    Apr 17, 2004
    Hey everyone,

    I've been playing bass for a while now, and I'm thinking of moving to a 5.
    But, I am fairly comfortable with 4's and when I have played a 5er in a store, it felt...odd. But I guess that would change with time.

    Anyway, how often do you use your B strings, and do you think it is worthwhile to move from 4 to 5 strings?
  2. Oliver


    Jun 21, 2003
    Perth, Australia
    Depends what kind of sound you want, and what kinda music you play. I play both 4 and 5.
    Everything that can be played on a 5 can be played on a 4.
    For me? I like the have that Low B there, if i need it
  3. Joe Turski

    Joe Turski

    Jul 29, 2003
    A 5ver may take you some time getting used to. I stayed away from one for years because I liked a 4 string better. I now own a five string and found that I wasn't using the B string that much, so I switched the tunning. Now I tune it EADGC, and I love it. As a matter of fact, I hardly play my 4 string anymore. I also have a 5 string EUB tuned EADGC.

    If you have the means to get one, go ahead and do it. If you don't really like it, you can always trade it in, or sell it. But how are you going to know if you like it or not if you don't try it?
  4. Judge


    Mar 26, 2004
    Bought my 5 stringer 8 months ago and it takes a little while to get used to the string spacing and that extra string. Once you've got the feel for it it feels pretty natural and when you switch back on occasions to a 4 string that also feels natural making it easy to switch between the 2 types of bass.

    I don't slap much, but sometimes when I do I find that I'm slightly hitting the B string as well as the E, so I still find the 4 string easier for slapping though I guess that's just a case of more practice required.

    But is it worth it? Who knows! It gives a little extra flexibility and sometimes I like to make the house rumble. It gives me more options to explore and I'm enjoying it so I guess for me it's been worth it.
  5. TampaBlues


    Oct 28, 2002
    Tampa, Florida
    Awkward at first but now I prefer it. I don't even own a four string anymore. Not that there is anything wrong with four strings just a matter of personnal preference, I feel as if I'm missing something when I try four strings anymore. Geez Victor Wooten plays a four string and I could never do the amazing things he does! As someone already said you won't know unless you try it. Is it necessary?...No, I rarely use the notes above the 5th fret on the B string on my fiver but I like not having to travel up and down the neck so much and for that it's a major plus. ;)
  6. bubingaboy


    Oct 18, 2004
    Rhode Island
    I learned on a four string and became heavily influenced by John Myung. I picked up a six (well.... eventually 4 of them) and found it was difficult to move between the two (my orientation got all messed up).

    My final decision for my "main bass" was the five. I was using the low B string much more than the C string and my slapping stuff focuses primarily on C - E on the A string. Thus the five string was inevitable. My bass has a bit wider spacing so there is no difference in feel between the strings from that of my four string. Also, the neck is totally thin so reaching all the strings is a piece of cake (all they way up to the 24th fret..... it's amazing...). However, it's not for everybody and it takes time (more than 5 minutes.... have patience) to determine if it's right for you. I say go for it.
  7. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    after switching to a 5, there was absolutely no need to have a 4. Had a sweet vintge fender jazz bass, but there was just no use for it, my R bass 5 could nail it all.

    Someone said anything on a 5 could be played on a 4. I totally disagree. Use the hell out of my low D, C, and other notes. Even if you had a de-tuner, it would not be the same. And EVERY string sounds different from each other, using the B string musically opens up a whole different world sonically, not to mention the more possibilities of playing in position. I will play the same notes I could play elsewhere on a B string just to get the quality of tone I want from that string. It is a monster, and takes skill to be able to use it efficiently. Not too say that a 4 is inferior, but that first line just does not hold IMO.

    BTW, make sure you get an ax with a B string that does not suck. Not an easy task to accomplish.
  8. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    I prefer the 5 simply for positional playing. I use my B a lot, but not all that often for the 5 extra notes. I use my B more as a position thing. I can get 3 extra notes without moving my hand in most cases and that alone makes it worth it to me to play one.

    Each to their own though :)
  9. {OE}


    Sep 23, 2004
    Connecticut, U.S.

    Maybe he meant that anything that can be played on a 4 can be played on a 5? That would make more sense.

    I know alot of peeps rec. that one should learn on a 4, but I wish I had started on a 5. I mostly played 4's for the majority of my time on the bass and the only problem Ive experienced is on 5's with tight string spacing. Since getting my 55-01 ( wide string spacing) Ive been able to make much more progress.

    If one is interested in playing a 5, I would rec. that they start as early as possible.

    I use my "B" as much as any other string, but if one typically only plays rock/punk/metal a "B" isnt needed IME.
  10. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I played four-string for 20 years. For the last 10 I was curious about 5-string but resisted it: worried that I couldn't catch on. I finally bought one back in Y2K and it was the coolest thing to happen to me musically since I picked up bass. I now play 5-string exclusively (exception: when no fiver is available).

    I've tinkered with sixes and sevens, but I simply don't need the extra range, and don't care for strings skinnier than G (I'm not all that crazy about the G either :p ). For me, 5-string has the best combination of string spacing and fingerboard width.

    Simply put, BEADG five-string allows me to best express my musical ideas. This is just one person's opinion, of course.
  11. raycer


    Mar 22, 2004
    Orange County, NY
    Despite not playing bass for long, (about 5 months at the time), I decided to try a 5 string and bought a nice used Dean Edge 5. At first I had the usual problem of mistaking the B for the E, but quickly adjusted to it. Now, I love playing the 5 more than the others. The wider neck actually feels more comfortable to me and the string spacing feels good (it's a couple mm closer than the others). I also love the extended range of the 24 fret neck, though I do know not all are 24 fret.
  12. Rhythmalism


    Sep 25, 2004
    Tighter string spacing is a bonus.
  13. PeaceFrog


    Aug 25, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    I started playing the Bass on a fiver, I was somewhat worried that I was taking on too much too soon but got used to having the B string there as a thumb rest and started using the B string gradually, I've gotten used to the whole setup and now can play the 5'r with ease. IMHO, I would suggest getting the 5 string it's definatley worth it.
  14. Oliver


    Jun 21, 2003
    Perth, Australia
    nah, ya read it right the first time, i'll say it again
    Everything that can be played on a 5 can be played on a 4.
  15. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    Post an audio clip of a low B on your 4.
  16. Oliver


    Jun 21, 2003
    Perth, Australia
    man..... i didn't say it would sound the same, i said everything that can be played on a 5 can be played on a 4
  17. Flat Bass

    Flat Bass

    Dec 8, 2002
    When playing gospel it is a defintite. But anything else it is a personal choice I think. I play my 5 in gospel choir but choose to play a 4 on just about everything else. Besides the coolest bass players play 4 strings.
  18. ColonelClaypool


    Apr 17, 2004
    Thanks guys, this has been really helpful.

    I was just wondering what type of music you all play though?

    I play mainly rock (Anywhere from The Police, Jet, Cake or even Nirvana), as well as Primus and the odd song or two from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
    Most of those songs could be done without a 5.
  19. I really don't understand why you are trying to be difficult!

    I realise that ALMOST everything that can be played on a five can be played on a four, but there are definitely exceptions. The extra five notes you can reach are not an accident. If you have the basses in standard fourths tunings (BEADG for the five, EADG for the four), then anything you play on the 5 with the notes below the low E cannot be played on the four. If you tune the four to BEAD, then anything played in the highest four frets of the five string will be out of the four's range.

    I understand that not everyone needs or wants a five.

    But to say that "everything that can be played on a 5 can be played on a 4" is just incorrect.
  20. Marley's Ghost

    Marley's Ghost Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    I play Classic and Modern Rock covers. I got my first 5 about 2 years ago. I sold my last 4 about 6 months later. Once, I got used to 5, I found it hard to go back and forth. I also find that I only use the B on about 20% of the songs we play. But it is nice to be able to play in the middle of the neck instead of racing up and down. Also, no need for tuning down when the singer wants D# instead of E :rollno: Some songs, like Nickelback's How you Remind Me, really call for the low B string.