making the leap from 4 to 5

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sloppysubs, Apr 24, 2004.

  1. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    well im considering purchasing a 5 string bass. ive played a few lately and i seem to be getting over my fumbling of the low b. i just odnt know what i use it for though. so i have a question or two for thos who have switched. was it an easy switch? how long did it take to adjust? do you find it beneficial? etc...

    onthe other hand i could be a bum and do the high-c thing. what are your opinions of that? thanks.
  2. I don't think it's so much of a leap. I don't play 5 string, but I have played many 5 strings and did not feel too uncomfortable. The only issues I had was confusing the E and B strings a little bit. I take it for granted that my E is the lowest string so I naturally place my thumb on the pickup and play the closest string. It's not something that would take too long to get used to.

    The high C would be nice for an easier time hitting higher notes. Often times it's not so much for the added 5 notes, it's for ease of playing. You can play more things in one position without shifting around with the added string. However, 90% of the time, the low string will be more useful, expecially for playing in certain keys such as D without downtuning. Unless you like playing chordy stuff or solo a lot and would like the added high pitch, I would suggest the B.
  3. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I actually went from 4 to 6. It took me only a few days to get used to a different shape neck. I kept getting more and more comfortable with it over time, and after a little over a month, it felt more natural than my 4 string.

    I've found playing a 6 string gradually increased my note vocabulary as I started to play lines over more octaves. Then, after I adapted songs to the 6 string, I sometimes go back to the 4 string and have found new ways to approach songs.

    All in all, I think it's a great move to challenge yourself in any way you can, musically. This was one way that has helped my playing immensely!:D
  4. Funkize you

    Funkize you Guest

    Nov 4, 2003
    Westminster Ca.
    Screw the 5'er, Get a Six. IMO 5'ers are dumb, If you cant do it on a 6 string... Fix your technique... Simple
  5. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    i don't know if i agree with that... i have been playing 5's since '83 and have switched to six a few very expensive times. While i enjoyed the extra range, there were issues with hand comfort and dampening techniques that made my 5 playing much more enjoyable to the ear- and i played 6 exclusively for over a year, so i had a chance to " get used to it"... i now only play fives because i have accepted this is where i sound best and feel most comfortable... also, i once was threatened to be let go from a VERY good gig with a very established artist because he did not like the looks of a 6 - go figure.. but weird as it may seem, it was lose the six, or lose the gig....
    i can appreciate your enthusiasm, however, having just acquired a Cirrus 6 ! congrats!!!!! :D
    i say, try the five, give it due time and you will know.. same applies for a 6 .... or 7.....or......
  6. Jerry Ziarko

    Jerry Ziarko Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Good question, but you should ask yourself one first. Why are you considering switching? Is it something you want to pursue to grow musically in a certain direction, or something to try because it's the "in" thing? The reason I state this is not to discourage you in trying a 5, but for you to be honest with yourself in your expectations with this instrument. When I made the switch, it took me months not days to feel completely comfortable. Nine years later, I still sometimes yearn for the simplicity of laying down a solid groove with a four. Listening to just about every song James Jamerson recorded sheds light on the reason not to switch. The one great benefit I find about a five string, (other than the obvious notes below E) is the ability to play songs that require repetative figures in higher positions. This can greatly reduce fatigue especially with a bass that has a 35" scale. IMHO
    Now that I think of it, when I ask myself who are my 10 favorite bassists of all time, I don't think ANY of them play a five as their main instrument!
  7. Indigo


    Feb 19, 2004
    Örebro, Sweden
    Switching to five strings has been really nice for me. It was a bit tough in the beginning, finding the right strings when playing, but it didn´t last that long. The benefit of having a low B is huge! Like RAM writes, when you have more strings you can develop your playing and of course, you can play lower!

    I also did the switch to six strings a couple of years ago, but I´ve find out that five is enough for me. And I actually feel a little uncomfortable with four-strings nowadays, because I´m so used to play five-string basses.

    So, what I´m trying to say here is probably; try it out! I think you´ll love it! And if you don´t, you can always go back to four again. Or move up to six maybe =)
  8. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    thanks for the input and thought everyone. i pretty much want a 5-string to keep progressing musically. its just something i was thinking about. but thanks for all your time and help everyone.
  9. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I bought a 5'er. I can safely say i use the B string the least out of the strings, but i still find it beneficial. It makes some octave jumps cooler and it helps for my style, kind of a Jamiroquai thing. (stuart zender). It helps to bounce from low to high and really get low. I dont regret buying it.
  10. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    I bought a 5 string two months ago, mostly for the lower notes... I play in a country band... Lots of C, D, and Eb where it is nice to drop occasionally... I gigged with it the week that I got it, with a few 'wrong string' moments... While I never thought that it would happen, I find that I am reaching for the five for just about everything now... I love my fours, but they're getting a bit lonely on gig nights!

    I'm comfortable switching between basses... not too much adjustment.

  11. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    yea i do a lot of prog and rock like stuff. so im thinking having the low b as a cushion would be a great benefit. and i dont think id ever need it for a jazz setting but it wouldnt be bad to have.

    however the high-c i think i could use in carrying melodies. but who knows.
  12. I didn't find switching to five any more difficult than, say, switching to another four string that had a different string spacing. No problem at all, in other words. I could jam with it right away. The only time I did get into trouble was when I'd be looking at music that was charted out. I'd see a C and automatically think, "O.K. A string. Third fret." But, of course, when I counted the strings, I would forget that the A string was now my third string over, not the second, so I'd start the tune on the wrong pitch.

    I haven't been using the B string much in jazz. For that matter, I suppose I don't really use it much in any situation. But, man, when you do go down to those low notes and they ring out clear as a bell, it just sounds soooooo good. I can't help but grin inside every time I hear those notes. In fact, I'd probably play a seven string, except I don't want to haul the kind of bass rig that would be needed to properly reinforce the fundamental of a low F#.