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Is it "cooler" to play a 4 string bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by phillipkregg, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. I had a bud back in the day, could fart the bass part to Sussudio.

    lowflores likes this.
  2. Korladis

    Korladis Banned Supporting Member

    Only for old men who hang out on TB.
  3. Gianni "Orlandez" Orlati

    Gianni "Orlandez" Orlati Guest

    Sep 26, 2015
    Shall I say it again ?
    ... if for Jaco 4 strings were enough ...
    Eddie LeBlanc and lowflores like this.
  4. Gianni "Orlandez" Orlati

    Gianni "Orlandez" Orlati Guest

    Sep 26, 2015
    5StringBlues likes this.
  5. I prefer my 4 string basses. Both the look and the feel. But sometimes the gig calls for a 5 or 6 so I have one of each. Particularly modern church worship songs in flat keys or reggae songs with deep notes. Or there is this one song we play when the guitarist is changing a broken string where I tap high chords on the 6 string with my right hand and play a bass line with the left. But when I can I bust out a 4!
  6. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    It’s cooler to play what you want to play.
    It’s cooler to form your own opinions.
    Disregard my opinions.
    It’s cooler to grow as a musician and as a person.
  7. wluffman


    Dec 21, 2013
    If your band is known for playing classic hits/oldies ("50s,'60s, '70s and some '80s) then a four-string that "looks the part" is not only cool, but practically mandatory. (Keep in mind, however, that Fender had a Jaguar-ish Bass VI in the '60s. It wasn't a big seller, and really more akin to a baritone guitar than a bass, but it was there. I think Danelectro had something similar back then -- again, really more baritone guitar than bass.) The rest of the band should "look the part" too, right down to the amplifiers and microphones.

    If your band plays a lot of newer/original material that has a similar retro sound then, again, you probably need a "cool" four-string bass in order to have the proper image. It won't sound better than a five, but it will look "right" for the musical style.

    Otherwise, play whatever is right for you and the music you play. Most audience members care more about what they hear than what they see on the bandstand.
    Rob Calderon and fffreddy like this.
  8. I find a 4 confusing after 20 years exclusively playing 5 strings, BUT, 97.365% of the notes I play are above Eb (OK it's a guess), so I could manage without the B string. However having access to two octaves without having to change thumb position makes sight reading much easier. And I like the tone between frets 4 & 10 the best.
    mmon77 likes this.
  9. EddiePlaysBass


    Feb 26, 2009
    Jaco also did not need frets...:)
  10. A-Rob


    Apr 26, 2018
    Drasco, AR
    Gotta share my opinion too. I don't think anything is "cooler" than anything else. If you need a 5 string or more then use it. If you play a wide variety of tunes and styles I think it's practical. Or for studio work. I went on a stretch a few months ago where I was borrowing basses for every gig and every rehearsal trying to decide what kind to buy and played 4s and 5s. I don't use the 5th string enough to justify having it. Most of the time I keep my backup in drop D for songs that require it. If we had songs in E flat I might even keep my backup tuned 1/2 step flat. And it has never messed with my mind going back and forth. Some people have trouble which I don't really understand but that's just me. IMHO 4 strings look cooler, but cool flies out the window if you need a 5th or 6th string. I ended up with a Fender American Professional 4 string Jazz in Olympic White which is arguably the best looking bass in the world lol But one thing I did hear on a podcast from a Nashville musician about this question was "If I had auditioned with a 5 string I wouldn't have gotten the gig" Crazy, but i figure he knew what he was talking about. Just have to steward the style you're going after. That's my two cents worth.
  11. Outbush


    Nov 6, 2016
    If I were going to the next big town which is pretty country oriented for an audition I'd take my Fender Jazz 4, and maybe play it for the first set of the gig. Sadly it does me no good for longer than that so I'd bring my 5 which is lighter and do most of the work on it. I'd use all 5 strings too - 'cause why not? Might even take my EUB and do a few on that. If it sounds good and is easy to play "cool" might just have to take a back seat.
  12. ZackIdat


    Nov 6, 2016
    If anything, I’ve seen more people moving towards extended range now than ever. What I’ve seen mostly in the fusion, metal, and experimental scenes is people switching up instruments a lot for specific tunings or ranges, guitarists switching between 6, 7, and/or 8 stringed guitars and bassists following suit with 4, 5, and 6 string basses.

    “cool” is super subjective. Jaco, Lemmy, Flea, and a host of other bassists are really cool and only play 4’s, and that’s all they needed or wanted. But bassists like Owen Biddle and Jon Stockman are people I consider cool despite the fact that I’ve only primarily seen them play 6’s. I personally sit in the middle at 5 strings and it’s what I feel most comfortable playing because of my right hand style, haters be damned.
  13. Old P Bass Guy

    Old P Bass Guy

    Nov 26, 2017
    I have a hard enough time figuring out 4. Hats off to the fivers who are good enough to utilize all five.
  14. GroovyBassist


    Mar 17, 2016
    Austin, TX
    Yeah but we are not Jaco.
    EddiePlaysBass likes this.
  15. handofdumb


    Sep 7, 2017
    This is side-stepping the original question, but I think playing a 5 string comes with inherent expectations.

    For instance, if I see a 5 string player come up, I totally expect them to work the poopie out of their bass. If you've got the need for an extra string, better put it to work! The 5th string is an indicator that this person SHOULD have an above-average competency with the instrument.

    This expectation just isn't there for 4 string players. You're working within the general confines of the instrument's standard and having only 4 strings doesn't speak to your competency - you could have picked it up yesterday or you could have been playing for decades.

    As for the basses themselves, I've always dug the look of a 4 string a bit more. For me, they're less clunky, a little sleeker, and have an even number (which is just a weird proclivity). For instance, comparing a 4 string Jazz Bass to a 5 string Jazz Bass...the 4 string is always going to catch my eye.
    nomaj, fffreddy and Korladis like this.
  16. bassdude51

    bassdude51 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Ain't gonna say a 4 is cooler than a 5-9 but sometimes we wonder.

    Korladis likes this.
  17. Christcr

    Christcr Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2015
    Oh... I see an 8-string in there.

    Come to think of it, probably the "coolest" looking bass I recall ever seeing would be the 12-string Hamer B12S basses that Tom Petersson played.
  18. Karlson541

    Karlson541 Banned

    Jun 9, 2018
    I do it so obviously it's as cool as can be.
  19. bassdude51

    bassdude51 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    I'm sorry, I forgot to "edit" Mr. Entwistle's bass collection photo. :)

    Doubled and tripled string bass guitar's don't count. Get's into sitar territory. LOL

    Chris Szatny likes this.
  20. mmon77

    mmon77 Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2008
    Southern MN
    If more than 4 strings is uncool, I guess dUg is really uncool.

    Edit: I guess now multiple courses don't count :)
    Korladis likes this.

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