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just bought a 5 string. need some advice.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bobdabilder, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. Been playing 4 string bass for a year after moving from guitar. Just picked up a 5 string to see if it made scale runs and inversions easier. It did. Question is: whats the downside? Am i ruining myself as it pertains to the four string? Any advice is welcome.
  2. bwoodman

    bwoodman Supporting Member

    Ruining? No. Downsides? None, except you'll find that you pick up the 5 more than the 4 - at least that's what happened to me. Once you have that low B, you'll miss NOT having it available.
  3. After two days with it thats the feeling i am getting.

  4. I'd say no because you still have the four strings you're used to. Now you can just go lower or start a scale/run in different positions.
  5. kikstand454


    Sep 28, 2012
    Exactly this.

    Since you're still pretty new...it won't be hard to grasp the 5, and it will set you free in so many ways!
    Embrace the 5 and let go of the 4! Do it!

  6. +1000
  7. I am feeling a lot of 5 string love!
  8. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Certainly you won't ruin yourself for anything, but as a 33-year bassist who owns mostly fours, a couple of fives, and one six, I still reach for one of the four-bangers more often than not.
  9. bwoodman

    bwoodman Supporting Member

    Yep! Long story short, I discovered the 5 back in 1985-ish after listening to a lot of Jimmy Johnson and Nathan East. I had been playing a 4 since I started in 1978 at age 14. My first 5 was the early Ibanez RB885 ( I think that's the correct model # ) then discovered the Guild Pilot 5 around 1987 - got that - then discovered Tobias at a NAMM show around 1988 - got a Tobias Basic 5 (shoulda kept that one!), which lead to buying a pair of Killer B5s, which I still have - and last year picked up a couple of EB/MusicMan Sterling 5Hs. I also picked up a EB/MM Sabre Classic (4 of course) last year + I have a couple of parts basses - a 4 string PJ and a Jazz. My go-to bass is always a 5 though - either my Toby or MusicMan Sterling (I dig the MM a lot). I'm not on the low B a lot, but it sure is nice to have it. I find myself scanning the given set list for a gig and figuring out which songs I need to play the 5 on and which ones I can "deal" with the 4, so I can give the new Sabre some play time - love that bass - had a pre-EB Sabre back in the 80s (shoulda kept that one too!).....have fun with your fiver!
  10. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    My advice ... play the 5 and forget the 4.
  11. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    Yeah, I play both 4s and 5s, but pretty much only play 5ers when I need the lower notes...

    - georgestrings
  12. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    I started down the path of 5 strings in the mid 90's. Since then, I've found 4 string basses limiting. However, that is just my personal feeling. There are far too many players who strictly play 4 string basses that will play circles around me. I have found my niche though. I'm currently in the process of selling my last 4 stringer.

  13. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I play both. I prefer the 4 string for funk and speed. 5 string is good for getting that lower note and has more flexibility.
    That being said, when I grab a bass from my collection for practice, I usually go for the 4 - slimmer neck, lighter weight. (however, at times I find myself wanting that extra string)
    Really though, it's not a bad idea to have one of each and it's easy to switch back and forth between the two.
  14. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    My advice ... play the 4 and forget the 5.

    See what you get here?
  15. Joebone

    Joebone Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Los Angeles
    5 Forever.

    It's extra notes on the bottom. I love pulling one of those low ones to help define the end of a tune.

    It's extra timbre options - get a fatter sound playing high frets on the lower strings.

    It's more chordal flexibility as you can drop a fourth or fifth with double or triple stops, without major hand movement up or down the neck.

    It's more ways to skin the proverbial cat…although you do have to pay more attention to muting, it seems worth it.

    It's just plain cool!
  16. The tangible downside: a new set of strings costs more (true)

    The intangible downside: some ignorant assumption that you must be a better bassist to play a 5 string... (false)

    It's really that simple.

    Just play your bass, don't count strings, just play that mutha
  17. When I first discovered 5 string basses, it was in the nineties, I didn't care for them much (I didn't like the tight string spacing). In 2007 I played Fender 5 String and really liked it (and bought it), the string spacing is very similar to a 4 string Fender. I liked it because it was easier to go back to the 4, I didn't have to re accustom myself to the different right hand spacings. There is something about the neck that gives me better tone (maybe it is my imagination but the Bigger the neck, the
    Better the tone). Also, I agree with the guy above, four strings are faster (in my opinion) and they are a bit better for slap too.

    All that said, no it won't ruin you one bit, it will make you more open minded towards the instrument and maybe even a better musician.

    Good luck
  18. huckleberry1

    huckleberry1 Supporting Member

    Jul 1, 2013
    Mesquite, Texas
    I started playing 5vers a year ago and all my basses except for 1 are 5vers. Muting was an issue but I solved that with a wrist band.
  19. Fair Warning

    Fair Warning Deliverin' the Goods! Supporting Member

    I bounce back and forth between a 5 and a 4. Its all the same to me, except I like to use the 4 since it is smaller for the hands and simpler. I use the 5 for gigs where I need the lowere notes. Thats about all..

    I need both......
  20. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    It is a correct question. When there are different ways of doing things (example traditional vs matched grip for drums) you find that each as it's own set of advatnages and disadvantages. Same with 4 and 5 strings. Think of it as playing a different instrument sort of like sax and clarinet. They both sort of work the same but are different too.

    You are discovering some of the advantages of 5+ strings. Playing across the neck is a true advantage. It's not just about a couple of extra low notes, though they have their uses as well.


    A disadvantage of 5 strings is that strings cost more and are harder to find locally. Also string damping becomes more difficult although using the B string for a thumbrest solves a lot of that on a 5er. for more strings you need to develop damping techniques.

    I don't think that 5s slap as easy as a 4 although many players do slap 5s. As for me I haven't played 4s for years (except for my 8 string) and don't plan to, but I've noticed that given a situation where there are classic basslines from the masters, with a 5er I have a bad tendency to "improve" the bassline. Needless to say this is almost always a bad idea!

    So are you "ruining" yourself playing a 5er? Is a sax man "ruined" by learning to play the clarinet too? Hardly. What it means is you are working to become a more versatile and broader-based musician. And that is always good.