Making the jump to a 5-String

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by rumblefish, Aug 12, 2003.

  1. I've wanted to make the move for along time but, I'll admit it,
    I'm afraid I'll have to
    "re-learn" all my songs.

    How long does it take on average to become semi-competent when switching?
    Also, my band only plays (cover)songs that were recorded with a 4-string, wouldn't some really low notes soung out of place on those old famaliar tunes?
    I may have answered my question, but I'd like to hear what prompted the majority of you make the switch.
  2. JWBass


    Jul 20, 2001
    Levittown, PA
    I made the switch about 11 years ago. It took me about 3 months to get used to the 5 vs. 4 string thing. It's basically remembering that the bottom string is now a "B" and not an "E".

    Regarding the lower notes on cover songs, I find that they add to the songs. You can still play them like a 4, using only the top 4 strings, but why would you? Isn't the reason your switching to a 5 is to get the lower notes like G, D, C and B?
  3. Yes, I do want to freshen up some old tunes
    with some really low, gut-wrenching bass.
    I do realize that I had better practice like crazy with the 5'er so that I don't disrupt the band whilst I'm getting familiar with the new bass.
    I'm on the verge of getting the
    Rumblefish 5L from Reverend.
  4. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    I was in the habit of installing Hipshots Xtenders on all my fours, and finally made the switch to 5 because I was using a lot of different sub-E notes and of course the Hipshot is only useful for reaching one (per bass).

    After I switched, I realized that the true advantage to a fiver isn't just the five notes below low E. Two bigger advantages (IMO):
    1) Full two-octave range in each fingering position
    2) More options for playing bass lines: for example, in the key of F you can play at the 6th fret B string rather than 1st fret E string.

    It also took me 3 months to get comfy enough on five to gig with it. I think it helped to learn a bunch of new songs on five rather than re-learning old songs, but YMMV. Fortunately I was at a point where I could put the four away and concentrate on five exclusively. I recommend doing so if you can. If you don't have any shows, just tell your bandmates to be patient during rehearsal.

    Sure, sometimes the sub-E notes will sound out of place. If you're not sure, then don't use them. But once you get the hang of fiver, you'll be able to tell when the low notes sound good and when they don't. Often they do sound good even when they weren't used in the original recording.
  5. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Why be afraid? I jumped from 4 to 6 and never regret it ( and dont think I will go back to anything less than 6)... well, to tell the truth, I m still not completely used to it, but I only got it last month.
  6. K-Frog


    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    I switched after hearing more and more recording which were going lower than 'E'. I knew I wanted to have that capability.

    It probably took a month to get reasonably competent. Much better after 3 months.

    I can't see ever going back to a 4 string as my primary. I've come to rely on the many different positions available.

    Some songs sound better when ended on that low "C". It helps of course if the song is actually in 'C' :D Nothing like shaking the walls at the end of a song.

    um.. pretty much everything fuzzbass said.
  7. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    I played a 4-string for about six months before I switched to five. It did not take me long at all to re-think my playing. Then again, I did not have years of experience on a four. If you are a competent player, you will have it down in no time. Maybe a month of really practicing on your own.

    The cover band I play in does alot of drop-D songs, so I love it! I just patiently wait while the guitar player tunes down. Usually a perfect time for a shot, or a sip!! :)

    The guys I play with like the sound I get from the lower end notes. I do too. It adds a cool bottom end to the songs we play. As an example, we play "When I'm Gone" by Three Doors Down. Playing the D on the B string sounds much fuller than the higher D. In my case, the 5-sting is perfect. I think my band would be pissed if I switched back.

    Go for it......don't look back!

  8. bazzanderson


    Oct 7, 2002
    Austin, TX
    seems like the standard "learning curve" here is about 3 months. That's just about how long it took me to get used to 5. I'll never go back. I love playing a 5 string and it made me really want to play bass again...not that I mastered the 4! I never did...just kinda got bored and wanted lower notes. You'll love it!
  9. Should this be in basses, or general instruction, or misc. or some other thread?
  10. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Ah yes, don't worry about it. It is just a 4 string with a metal thumbrest. :D
  11. notduane


    Nov 24, 2000
    Technique? :)
  12. I made the jump from a 4 to a 6 without much shouldn't be that bad. :)

  13. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    just practice.

    practice doesn't make perfect, it just makes you better
  14. First off, I've been playing for 4 yrs on a four string. I built a warmoth fiver and it took me a couple of days to reacclimate myself. Its not like Im super gifted, I just stopped playing the four and strictly played the five. I started integrating the B into all the songs I played, either as a way to not shift horizontally or for dropping a fourth from the E string or whatever.

    One more thing, my teachers in HS always used to say practice doesn't make perfect, it makes permanant, so always make sure your practicing correctly with good wrist angle and proper technique, no matter how many strings your using. ;) best of luck
  15. genesis6891


    May 29, 2003
    The jump is one similar to many who switch from fretted to fretless (the fretted/fretless switch applies to me). When you decide you want to change, you'll never want to go back!
  16. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    It is difficult for some, and pretty easy for others. I bought a six after playing four string for 15+ years, and gigged with it the week that I bought it. YMMV.

    As everyone else has said, put in some time in the woodshed, and the transition should come pretty quickly.
  17. adamaarts

    adamaarts Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2001
    Corona, CA
    Beta tester Source Audio, demos/reviews of many others
    when i switched from a 4 to a 5, i only had two problems.

    1 - i use my right hand to mute the strings, like when im playing on the d or g i use my right hand pinky and ring finger and thumb to mute the unwanted noise. when i started on a 5er i always forgot to mute the B when i did that, so it gave unwtanted hum over the mix, but i taught myself to mute it.

    2 - getting used to the tuning of standard vs drop D. it was weird playing my bands music which is all drop D then having a standard tuning and it was a lot of re learning, but after a week and one practice with the band, i tuned my bass ADADG. problem solved.

    it only took a month or two to fully transfer over.
  18. Victor Wooten98

    Victor Wooten98 Guest

    Jul 31, 2003
    South of Heaven...
    I dont think that you should worry about it, I only played bass for around 6 Mo's and I have no problem switching between a 4, 5, or 6 string, But I have played Flute for 8 years in Orchestra and Jazz so I have a firm grasp of 'music', so I might not understand what you guys mean.:D

    but just go for it, maybe get a 6er, but with 6er's I find that you lose your slapping ability, so if you go 6, keep the 4 and play both, cuz you may want to play some funk and not be able to handle it IMO.
  19. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    I know some people have a hard time slapping on a 5 or 6, but I slap better on my Cirrus 6 than on any of my 4 stringers.
  20. cwbassist


    Aug 23, 2003
    I made the switch about a month ago the string spacing may be an issue at first depending on what bass you are using (I'm using an Ibanez right now and it has kinda tight spacing). the best thing about it is that you get two octaves in every 5 frets which gives you more options. I don't know if you have a five string yet but when picking one out try it out and see if feels comfortable to play before pluging it in, the best sounding bass in the world doesn't count for **** if you can't play it comfortably.:bassist: