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New to a 5 string

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by DaBassman, Nov 20, 2006.

  1. DaBassman


    Mar 25, 2002
    Oneonta, NY
    I just got my first 5 string and I'm having some trouble getting used to it!:meh:
    Do you have any suggestions? Like maybe certain exercises to try.....
    I guess I have gotten used to playing patterns :( and that 5th string just throws me off!
  2. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Inactive

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    Play it more.
  3. DaBassman


    Mar 25, 2002
    Oneonta, NY
    Brilliant!! ;-) (and funny)
  4. i remember what i did before my 5. i detuned my 4 to BEAD so the transision was easier.

    you could try playing the patterns you know, just up on the low b, it might help to say the notes as you play them.

    but id also just suggest playin it like hell.
  5. MistaMarko


    Feb 3, 2006
    I was in your shoes about a year ago when I got mine. Simply, play it more. Make use of the B string, dont just keep playing the first 4 strings and not touch the 5th...what use is it. Instead of placing your right thumb on the pickup to rest it like a 4 string, start resting it on the 5th string. After about 2 months, youll be used to it.
  6. Im in the same situation. I just got a 5 string fretless, after 4 years in a 4 string fretted. This is what i did:

    I dont know what type of music you listen to, but i listen to alot of metal, so i took alot of bands that play in drop tuning (CGCF) on their four strings, and played all the riffs on the B and E strings. You have to transpose it, but it is good for practice. It helped alot.

    Good luck :)

  7. +1. I played 4 stringers erxclusively for about 8 years before getting my 5 this year and thats what I did as well. Didn't help that I chose a bass with smaller string spacing to play that fast music on either :D

    I also run through scales to incorporate the low B as well.
  8. DaBassman


    Mar 25, 2002
    Oneonta, NY
    Thanks for all the advice!
    First step is to spend a lot more time playing it!!!
    I don't want to be one of those guys on Ebay saying "5 string for sale, guess I'll stick with my 4 string...."
  9. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    2 months :eek: I think I'd give up and go back to 4!

    I've been playing 5 (and 6) strings exclusively for the past 4 years, and as far as I remember, the initial transition was very quick - maybe a week. The advice to just keep playing is correct; that's all you need to do is play it. I recently got a 4 string again, and it was confusing for all of about 5 minutes... changing around isn't that hard if you spend some time with the instrument.
  10. While it took me about one set to get used to my first 5 string, I never, ever could get comfortable on a 6 string. So, I feel your pain. Nothing wrong with playing a 4 string if that floats your boat.

    My main challenge going from 4 to 5 was string muting when slapping... that's still a challenge sometimes... keeping an extra string totally quite when slapping takes some doing!
  11. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    You can practice scales/modes that start on the B string and go up to the G. One part of playing a 5 string, that I've noticed, is building that extra bit of strength you need. Scales/modes helped me develop ease with it.
  12. MrLenny


    Jun 10, 2006
    So. N.H.
    It took me a full year to get use to it, and still sometimes I goof, hit that B thinking it's an E.
    Find recordings that have 5 string bass parts in it.
    I credit Jimmy Johnson for helping me on 5 string bass parts.
    He is an LA session player who did a CD with Doug Cameron, a violinist.
    Also play your scales with the B in them. Play a low E major
    scale with the B string. In time it will start to get comfortable.
    Practice,practice, practice.
  13. +1

  14. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Stop playing your 4 and focus exclusively on the 5.
  15. 69nites


    Jul 11, 2006
    I started on a 5

    But I think how I'd go about it is how I think everyone should go about learning an instrument. Learn where all the notes are.

    When you know where they are you'll find yourself using them more and more

    when you find yourself shifting down the E-string to play a note find it on the B string and see if it would be easier to play that way

    all that in addition to your normal exorcises
  16. Nice advice.:scowl:

    My advice is similar to other, more encouraging, TBers:

    Since I played 4 string for many years and knew and performed my bands songs only on 4, going to 5 with the closer spacing was tricky (especially slapping) and the brain gets hard wired for comfort (eg, you go for a note and realize it ain't where it used to be).

    First, put your 4 string away (at least for now - just do it) and play the 5 exclusively and relearn old songs like new and learn new songs only on the 5.

    Second, rest your thumb on the B string and practice as much as you can. For quick visual reference, remember the A string is in the middle now.

    Also, use that B string for parts of tunes that can really use that low frequency to reinforce the mood (Comfortably Numb's guitar solo comes to mind - when you start on the B [7th fret E string] and follow the pattern down to eventually land on LOW B and remain there for the start of next measure, DAMN that's POWER - the floor will rumble making the guitar sound that much more stirring, IME.)

    Have fun with it and don't get discouraged. It takes time (for some of us) to relearn things and adapt, but the 5 is definitely worth the effort. I will never go back.

    Now go practice!!;)
  17. dave_bass5


    May 28, 2004
    London, UK.
    After playing a 4 for a good few years i switched to a 5 this year.
    I had it for two days before my first gig. of course i made mistakes, still do. mostly getting the string wrong but i found that if i try and ignore to B to begin with i can ease myself in to useing the B in the middle of the neck.
    It seems to have worked. i still hit the wrong string every now and then but on the whole i have noticed my playing style has changed and now, three months later i use the B a lot more.
    End of the day, this worked for me and it might not for others but as was said at the top of this thread, just play it as much as you can and it will come
    Good luck
  18. PSPookie

    PSPookie Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2006
    Lubbock, TX
    I have been working on this transition myself. I just got my first 5er about two weeks ago.

    I have been doing the spider and hazard exercises a lot in order to familiarize myself with the string spacing and build up a little more hand strength. Additionally, I have been playing old songs on the new bass -- making sure to incorporate the B string. It's pretty easy to transpose songs to play them higher on the neck -- just move everything down one string and up 5 frets.

    The aforementioned exercises also helped get my right hand used to the new string positions. I might also mention that, if you play fingerstyle, this may be a good time to start working on the floating thumb technique. Again, just practice it when you do the exercises and before you know it you'll be using it when you play without having to think about it.

    Anyhow, this is what's worked for me. I hope this helps.
  19. akuma12


    Aug 25, 2003
    Sarasota, FL
    One thing that helped me for a while on my 6er was using the floating thumb technique. Instead of keeping your thumb on the pickup (if that's what you usually do, it's what I did) rest your thumb on the B string when you're playing the E or A strings, and the E string when playing the D or G strings, and on the pickup (or wherever) when playing the B string. If you keep your thumb in the same position on your 5 string that you did on your 4, the extra distance to the strings will mess you up, it really did me.

    Work on the floating thumb by playing scales from the bottom to the top, slowly at first, remembering to shift your thumb as you move up the strings. After a while you start doing it without thinking.
  20. Just pretend the fifth string isnt there. Rest your thumb on the B as if it was the top of your pickup and play your bass as a regular four string for a while. At least this made the transition a lot easier for me, as I always used to, and still do, rest my thumb on the pickup whenever I come across a four.

    Good luck!

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