Low B, High C, or neither?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by steveg, Mar 2, 2002.

  1. steveg


    Feb 26, 2002
    I'm new to the list, and started playing bass again with a jazz group after a few years of not playing. Last time I was playing with a group, it looked like the 5-string was going to be the instrument of the future. Now I'm not so sure. There are definately more of the around, but there are alot of 4-strings still being made. I'm happy with my 4, but sometimes the extended range would make life easier. I was thinking about getting a 5 but adding a high C rather than the low B to facilitate playing chords. So, what's the general feeling among bass players? Is the 4 still most mainstream? Do people see much use for the low B, or is the high C more useful?
  2. I live on my low B.

    I just bought a MIM P-bass in 4-string, and will be stringing it to BEAD, which is the lower 4 strings of a standard 5-string.

    I hardly use my upper G string on my RB5, and wouldn't use a higher C at all. YMMV, but that is not my style of playing.
  3. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    The low B is definitely more common on 5's, but if you're going to be chording and soloing, the high C is where I'd go. I myself went from 4 straight to 6 because I knew I'd be unhappy with just 5 in a short period. Now, 6 years after getting my first 6, I'm playing two 7's (fretted and fretless), both strung BEADGCF, and I love 'em to death.

    For jazz, go high!
  4. dont think of a 5 with a B or a C, just get a sixer and you'll have em both. i cant use my B for roots, but i can add punch to my groove with it, but the C is great for soloing. thats my opinion.
  5. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    I'm surprised you say you can't play roots with the low B. I use that low D in the key of D all the time! What about it bothers you?
  6. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I frequently play roots and build octaves and 10ths from my B string. If I ever felt the need to use a C string, I would get a 6-string bass because I ain't gonna give up my B.
  7. Me too... also, in one of my bands, the singer's "key of choice" is Eb, cause it acomidates his voice the best, and is easiest for him to sing in. I got tired of lacking low notes, or having to tune down. So i got a 5'er. I've got that Eb right there, as well as that D.

    I've never found the need for a C but probably one day I might. Right now, i have no problem shifint up to 5+ position for those notes up high.
  8. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    I think the four is still the dominant instrument. 5ers are definitely more prominant, but I just don't see as many.

    Anywho, I've strung up with both a B and a C on my 5. I personally like the C more, but that's just me. I strung up with a B recently because my new band plays a lot of songs in D and I HATE downtuning. I think many people overuse the lower notes on the B, and it loses its dramatic impact that way.
  9. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    I've heard quite a few musicians -- bassists and non-bassists alike -- refer to the B string as a kind of secret weapon that you only use in highly selective circumstances, "saving" it for just the right moment.

    I gotta say, when I got my first 6-string bass, I incorporated the B string into my playing immediately as "just another string". I never subscribed to the "special use only" school of thought. If I'm playing in D and I'm moving downward and headed for a D chord, I'm gonna use that D because it fits my LINE, not because of some goofy sense that "the song's ready for the B string now".

    I believe there is a time and place to use high register and low register, but treating the B string differently just because McCartney and Bruce and Ray Brown didn't have one seems a little stilted to me, as though it's not a "regular" part of the bass.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I play a lot of Jazz with a 6 string. The high C is very valuable for soloing and chording. If you are playing mostly jazz, I would recommend your idea of a 5 string with the high C. It is not allways favorable to use the low B in a Jazz context(maybe the odd low D). The high C will still allow you to stay in one position longer, and is wonderful to solo on. :)
  11. i too am in the same predicament, the problem is that i regulaly find myself wanting to go higher when soloing and beeing on the 20+ fret of the E-string or playing a solo aroung the 10-12th fret and then having to jump higher up the fret board for a couple of notes and then going back down

    but i also find the same thing happening when playing down low and wanting to go lower, so my abvious choice is a 6er, trouble is i can't find any in my price range

    ahh well, i'll just have to keep searching



    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I am presently using an Ibanez BTB 6 string. They are relatively inexpensive(about $450-$500), and they play and feel great! :)
  13. I got a different predicament. I just got a 6 string off ebay and I'm wondering whether I wanna keep the high C or string it with a low F#. I play a lot of metal, so I'm wondering if I'll like the low sound of the F# or if I'd rather have the high C for Rykhow-like slapping. I do slap a lot.
  14. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Nicely said, Eli.
  15. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Clearly, you should have bought a 7-string. ;)

    J/K! I'd say try it tuned as is, then if you feel the need for sub-B notes, restring it with F#... Or you could just detune the B-string as necessary. (Hmm, I wonder how well a Hipshot would work on a low B-string?)
  16. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Why, thank you.

    Well, to enter the world of low F# means SPEAKERS. If your band plats loud, you need some SERIOUS hardware to produce those sub-B notes. Like a crossover, a separtate power amp (better figure 300-400 watts), and an 18" subwoofer.

    Ask John Turner about his rig.
  17. steveg


    Feb 26, 2002
    Thanks for the input guys. I tried some 5 strings during the past week and at this point I don't know if I could get used to the extra width. My hands are big, but my fingers are short relative to the palm so that low string is an uncomfortable stretch. A 6 is out of the question. :( I'll have to try a few more before I decide for sure, but I think I'll be living with 4 strings and flatwounds.
  18. Lol, the more strings the better. I'm getting a Washburn 6 string and I'm gonna string it up with a low F#. Are Washburn necks very wide/thick? It's an XB 600.
  19. I am going string my old 5 string with a high C and get a new nut cut and all. What kind of gauges should i be looking at for the high C. I will be using rotosounds. Anybody got any experience with rotosound high Cs???

    Thank you:)
  20. When I play jazz at school, I find the need for a Low B greater than a C.

    I try to stay off my g string because it doesn't really sound good. The only prob is that they ask me to play all this high stuff, and then, allo of a sudden, they surprise me with a low F, and there's not a thing I can do.

    C strings sound like crap.

    I get weird looks in jazz band when I sound great, then I play something on the g, and it confuses the horns.

    If you're going to use that C, make sure it's a nice bass.
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