1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Making the switch from 4 to 5 string

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MAJOR METAL, May 6, 2003.


    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Staff Member Supporting Member

    My first 5 string is coming today and i wanted some advice from making the switch.I have been playing 4 for along time so it is not like this is my first expirence with a bass, but i will probable feel like it. When i go out i try the 5 strings out their i like Lakland and i really liked Sadowsky so i am fimilaiar with the feel. Would you sugest that i ease into it or start playing the 5 at gigs. I play out every week so i was think of bringin the bass to practice to start re working the songs and bring them to all new lows. Thanks
  2. LoJoe


    Sep 5, 2002
    Concord, NC USA.
    Certainly no expert, but this is my personal experience. My first 5 string was dropped off by UPS at 5:15PM and I had band rehearsal at 6:30PM. I took it to rehearsal instead of my old reliable 4. I tried to simply play it like a 4 string for awhile, using the B string as a thumbrest when playing on the E etc... Yes I hit some wrong notes on the B instead of the E when things really got going, but these errors faded pretty quickly. Over the next few days I introduced the B string more and more into familiar songs, just hitting a nice low D and Eb on occassion. I next moved into playing up on the neck to have more flexibility by playing E's and G's on the B string and moving up and down the neck a lot less. I gigged with it after 3 days of having it and now it feels funny to play a 4. Strictly my opinion but I say dive in and go for it.
  3. It takes a little while to get used to but you can easily play on it after a few minutes. After a few days its no problem, the string spacing is slightly off but only by a very small amount.
  4. I would agree with diving into it. I got my five string nine months ago. I practiced for two short evenings at home before playing with the group with no major problems. Oh, occasionally I would mess up, but after the first month, I realized that I wasn't confusing the strings anymore. I haven't gone back to the four since. I'd say the greatest improvement to technique was that I couldn't play the five string well by using the pickup as a thumb rest like had been doing on the four. I started to use the B string as a thumb rest but immediately it became natural to rest my thumb on all strings below the one being played (if playing on the A string, mute the B,E,A strings with my thimb...)and slide my thumb back as I went to the lower strings. Much improved muting technique.
  5. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    The muting technique is a bit different, and you have to adapt to the additionnal string. It can take a few weeks or a few months (in my case) to be as comfortable on it as on the 4, but don't worry, anyone can do it. Now, whenever I play a 4-string, I sometimes pluck the wrong string!!! But if you practice both on the 4 and the 5, this probably won't happen.

    P.S.: Welcome to fiveland, congratulations and good luck!
  6. Bump - is it a different monster all together when you have a fretless five?
  7. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    It depends. If you go instantly from fretted 4 to fretless 5, you may find the transition a bit harder than if you are already used to play the fretted 5. But it's still a bass, so it's not like you pick a whole different instrument. :)
  8. I play a fretted five, but have been interested in a fretless. A month ago I visited a GC and tried two different fretless basses just to see if I might be able to play the instrument. Although I wasn't palying with a group, but was just doing a few lines by myself (I realize that doesn't make me anything close to an expert), I was able to maintain reasonably close to being in tune and came away with the feeling that I could indeed make the transition. I had played the slide trombone in school from about the age of ten and believe that if I could stay in tune with the trombone slide as a youngster, I probably could do it with a fretless bass as well. Time will have to tell though, as I have yet to buy a fretless bass and haven't played one since the demo at the GC.
  9. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    The adjustment isnt all that hard. You'll hit bad notes like everyone else did while making the transition. The biggest mistakes for me were simply playing something on the B thinking it was the E and on the E thinking it was the A. But that will end quickly. Even quicker if you practice scales right off the bat with it.
  10. dabshire


    Dec 15, 2002
    McKinney, TX
    Don't event try! The switch is totally impossible! You cannot go to more strings!!! EVER!!!
    Ok, Ok, I'm just kidding. I didn't really have any issues switching either. I did take me a while before I really started using the low string, and sometimes I would hit, say a "D" when I meant to play a "G", but you get used to it pretty quick.

    Don't be afraid. It's just one more string....


  11. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    I may be coming in a bit late here, and I agree with just about everything that's been posted. But one point that hasn't been brought up is string spacing/neck width, and techniques that could help the transition. I found that my left hand physically hurt over time playing 5-string due to the wider neck. I also found that my plucking was a lot sloppier due to closer string spacing. As a result I used a lighter touch and used the amp more, which to me wasn't as fun as digging in (I know, I know, that's a whole different thread...)

    I did find that the glory of the 5 wasn't the extended range (those real low notes) but having more notes available at any hand position, especially having the low F through Ab/G# on frets 6-9.

    I ended up selling the 5, and modified a relatively neglected bass to BEAD, best of both worlds for a non-pro like me.

    It may be helpful to those considering a change to 5 to get some advice on string spacing/neck width preferences, as well as hand and muting technique differences for 5 strings.
  12. I switched from 4 to 6 strings and never had any problems, aside from the fact that in the beginning my left hand grew tired sooner because of the extra stretching. I mostly play on a couple of 5 strings now, but grab the 4 and 6 string from time to time. Gotta play 'em all! :D