Moving from 5 string to 4 string

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by lowendfriend, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Any good advice on how to get through B-string withdrawal?

    I decided to try a) a Fender Jazz Bass and b) some blues gigs and jams and a 4 string just seems to fit better than 5.

    However, I learned on a 5 string and now am in shock at the absence of the B. Can anyone share their experience on such a move? Key of E seems like an enormous p-i-t-a and it used to be my mainstay. What's the best way to get on with the adjustment? Exercises of sorts?

    :bassist:with 1 less string!
  2. bassfuser

    bassfuser Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2008
    Think of the strings and notes from the G string up to the E string instead of the E string down to the G string.

    I actually started weening myself from the 5 string by avoiding playing the B string when I could. You might try that for awhile. Just play the notes B through Eb on the B string and everything else on the other strings.

    My biggest struggle was playing songs I already played on the 5 string. It really screwed with my head for awhile.

    I always thought I'd be a 5 stringer forever until I got my 2012 Fender American Standard Jazz. My favorite bass of all time.

    Good luck in the transition.
  3. Vintage Guy

    Vintage Guy Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    I alternate back and forth at gigs between the 5 or 4. I'm trying to go back to a 4 string for a lot of the songs we do. Try to use the 5'er just for certain songs. I've been starting to transpose some of the 5 string songs back to the 4 string. Just built a killer 4 string "P" bass with a Jazz neck that plays like a dream. All the guys in the band say it sounds better than anything I've used before.
  4. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Interesting. I played 4-bangers for 25 years before getting a 6-er, and E/Eminor went from convenient keys to PITAs. gmahoog has a good suggestion, but I always look at bass as buliding from the bottom up, so that wouldn't work for me.

    Just play it for a while; you'll adapt.
  5. Asher S

    Asher S

    Jan 31, 2008
    It's all personal preference, but here's my 2 cents.

    I went from 5 back to 4 a couple of years ago with no regrets; on the contrary. I have no specific exercises to recommend, only some thoughts:

    • Limitations and constraints stimulate creativity. I think Jaco said something similar. Personally I found the added string a bit of a distraction, and I used it less and less.
    • It's a myth that there are some tunes that can't be played without a low B. The 4-string still has ~3 octaves-worth of the same 12 tones. I play tunes in Eb, no problem.
    • When it comes to supporting my groups, rhythm and groove trump the added 2.5 tone range, so if you groove, you can do so on a 1-string bass...
    • The lower frequencies need to be amplified properly, regardless of the quality of your bass, it's scale, or the pickups. If you don't have a good amp set up, your lower frequencies will likely lack clarity.

    All that said, if you really miss the low B and enjoy playing that much more on a 5+ string bass, then don't give it up. Do whatever makes you happy, which is what will make you practice more and therefore sound better and better.
  6. Asher S

    Asher S

    Jan 31, 2008
    The only reason anyone needs ;)