1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Is it bad to use open strings in place of the 5th fret?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by duo8675309, May 8, 2006.

  1. duo8675309


    Jun 5, 2005
    For instance, instead of playing vertigo like:


    You play it like:


    I find playing like this a lot easier in some cases (this might be a bad example, but you get the general idea.) Can this develop into bad habits? I'd like to know before I develop them.
  2. In my opinion, open strings will never sound as good as the fretted equivalent. I'd just to try to get into the habit of fretting them when you can, it won't take long.
  3. wwittman


    Apr 21, 2004
    Westchester, NY
    they sound DIFFERENT... so it's just a choice you make as to which sound you want.

    sometimes nothing sounds better than a ringing open string.
  4. Akami

    Akami Four on the floor

    Mar 6, 2005
    Most of the time the fretted notes will sound better and making the choice by tonality rather than ease of play is better. However...
    And besides, there is no fretted option for low E on a four string!
  5. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I usually prefer to fret. Once in a while if I want a certain tone, I will play open/low frets on the higher strings (D, G).
  6. following others on that, i would fret too. Not only i like it when it's a little more 'challenging' but it also helps to practice fingering and is mendatory is you plan on sliding the note.... even just a barely noticable slide improves your look when playing and the fluidity of movements - not to talk about the overall sound.

    all together, it makes for a great playing experience.
  7. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    It depends on the sound you are going for. Open strings tend to stick out more, so it is often preferred to fret the notes to keep the overall sound consistant. But there are no rules...
    I'd fret it for that song.
  8. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    The most common bad habbit of mediocre bass players is too much hand movement - they'll move up/down a single string rather than switching to the next string, and minimising movement. I HATE seeing some guy flapping around the neck on a piece that can be played in a single position.

    In this example the "correct" positioning would be your middle finger at the 5th fret - then you can play everything wihout moving, and without the open strings.

    Hoiwever generally open strings will reduce hand movement, which generally means more speed, and more fluid playing - nothing kills a groove faster than having to move your hand.

    If you can play it without excessive hand movement then I'd go for the fretted version, but if open lets you avoidn movement, then use it.

  9. It depends on the line, you get more control when you fret the note.
  10. That's why I play a 5. That and the ability to get a low Eflat and a low D. I don't go below that very often except for adding a low octave to a groove, but if you stay down there, it just gets muddy.
  11. I'll play devil's advocate - I love using open strings. Getting a hand free can often allow you to play things you can't normally (chords, counterpoint, slides, harmonics, etc.) due to your hand being only so big. Plus the open sound of an open string can be used as a dynamic element in songs as well.

    Ha! So there! :D
  12. ModernTradition


    May 7, 2006
    I'm with you man, I prefer to use the open strings, they ring more and I can sustain that note and hit an undertone chord underneath that, I find those notes are easier to mute as well. But hey thats just me.

    Although I do this, I must say I do miss my old five string...:crying:
  13. Practice both ways so you can switch in between the song .. (for a little flash ) :bassist:
  14. fixed it for you :)

    sorry, i find that song very repititious :)

    personally i like using open strings if i can, but in this case i would fret it just so i don't have to jump strings, which i am perfectly capable of doing, I just am too lazy :)
  15. I tend to use open strings only when I need to do something out of the way, needing that fretting hand free for a few split seconds. Sometimes it's also nice to use that open string to play fast pulloff riffs near the nut.
  16. I like to fret, mainly because I do a lot of stacco (sp?) and I find it much easier to do when I am fretting a note.

  17. rebelbass


    Feb 16, 2006
    New Jersey
    Learn the rules,respect them then break them! It's great to have influences but don't try to be another bass player,be yourself. I love open,droning strings,but also fret sometimes. It's a different sound. Sometimes at the end of a song,when your hanging on,say,an "A" I'll fret the A on the d-string (7th fret) AND play the open A,using a little vibrato on the d-strung A. Kinda 12 string guitar effect. The last note would be an A fretted on the e-string (5th fret). effect is dynamic (and classic,seen others do it but wasn't coping that move). Be origional,be dynamic just remember the pocket rules!
  18. Worshiper


    Aug 13, 2004
    New York
    I think in this case, like in most rock songs, its a matter of preference. Vertigo is a perfect example of a songn where the presence of the bass is far more important than the tone of the bass, which will be altered depending on whether you play a note fretted or open. Personally, I find that open strings are best used when I ihave to do something else like turn a page with my left hand...hahaha.
  19. Tom


    Sep 7, 2005
    Davis, CA
    I'm not sure that I completely agree with this. Each string sounds different and it often sounds better to shift in order to stay on the same few strings. Obviously, you need to make a choice while you're playing in order to get the best tone while still making it sound smooth. So, as long as I can keep loose and make it sound smooth, I find shifting to be a better option.
  20. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    PDX / SFO / HNL
    I do both, but I find the tone better on an open string but the control to be inferior..

Share This Page