New to the 5er...need help adjusting

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Engine207, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in call at a time.

    Hi all!

    I tried searching this topic, but to no avail. I'm brand new to the low B, and I'm struggling with it. I can play my fours pretty cleanly, and even the move to fretless was more fear than actual difficulty.

    Are there any exercises or online lessons that can help make the change easier. Granted, I've only been at it for a few days, but I feel like I suck again! I'm not going to give up, but it sure is discouraging to go from a decent player to someone who sounds like they just picked up a bass for the first time!

    1. I can't seem to play the B cleanly, because of the longer stretch with the wide neck
    2. I think of my strings from low to high, so unless I'm concentrating, I often mistake the B for E, E for A, etc.
    3. I'm clanking all over the place with fret buzz and slipping fingers.
    I asked some buddies, and they said I should just play EADG on my 5er until I get used to the differences, then gradually work in the B. That sounds good, but I'd like to hear from other life-long 4-string guys (and girls) about how they made the transition.
  2. sackvegas


    Dec 1, 2006
    First off, learn where all the notes are on the B string (if you don't already know this)

    Walk chromaticaly up and down the B string to get used to the size of the string and how it feels under your fingers, play scales up and down only on the B string. Conciously remember to stay nice and relaxed.

    Next try playing chromatic arpegios with the roots being on the B string, get used to having less space between strings and get the muscle memory programed so your fingers land in the right place all the time.

    Try to get out of the habit of using the B string as a thumb rest, you'll get used to it after a while, I've been playing one so long now I think I'd have the same problem if I switched to a 4.

    Good luck you won't regret the switch
  3. sackvegas


    Dec 1, 2006
    One more thing, How playable is the Bass? Is the action really high? Really low?

    Sometimes getting the action set properly can help as well, myself I don't like a really high action but at the same time too low can cause fret buzz.

    Just puttin it out there, I got mine set up and it plays much nicer now.
  4. Hey There, I myself decided to commit to playing the 5er about 4-5 months ago, after playing a four for many years. I think your own statement " I'm not going to give up..." is the key. I ended up getting another 5 with a string spacing closer to my 4. (Yeah I know, nice if you can afford it ). I'm still having some trouble muting that low B specialy when I'm playing on the higher strings.
    A little while back it occured to me that no matter how much I improve my skills, my head might always tell me I suck. Even though my band mates tell me I'm getting better. Just don't listen to that voice.
    Thanks for posting this thread. I'll be watching it closely for the solutions some of our fellow thumpers have found.
  5. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in call at a time.

    Check...knew that before the switch

    check...gonna do that exercise today

    check...gonna do that one too teacher broke me of the thumb rest habit a few years back. I always float my thumb now. bass came from Philly, where there is tons of humidity, to here (Pheenicks) where there is almost none. The bass looks like it was owned by an archer before me. I'm gonna truck on down to The Bass Place and have Joe, my favorite Fender tech, have a go at "Engine-izing" it. He's never failed yet.

    Thanks for the thoughts Vegas...I appreciate them!
  6. sackvegas


    Dec 1, 2006
    No problem man

    Good luck!
  7. Practice, play as much as you can, practice, play on the B string as much as you can, practice.
  8. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    What I did was to play some lines as if the 5 was a 4. Then, slowly, translate the line using the B string until they felt comfortable. Remember that the 5th fret on the B is like the open E string. Once I got oriented like this, it became a lot easier.
  9. I had been a 4 banger, but went with a 5-string a couple months back.

    I practice scales frequently in "Circle of 4ths" and just re-planned the circle and the frets I employed to take advantage of the 5th string. Now I practice scales that way all the time.

    I had some threats of carpal tunnel pain (think I was really just doing dumb stuff) and started paying attention to where my thumb was (should be under your fretting fingers not wanging north up the neck somewhere.) That has helped enormously.

    Action setup is key. You want that B string perfect. Low enough action so that it's easy to set down, but not so low your buzzing half the time.

    Use floating thumb method to help mute low strings naturally.

    Try not to tilt the fretboard too far back toward you during practice and that helps with the B string reach as well.

    You'll get used to it. It takes a little longer than I wanted but it's worth the fingering options that the 5 gives you.

    I always hated execptional fingerings for using the open strings. Essentially gone with the 5-er.

  10. LowBSix


    Mar 25, 2008
    818 ~ 805 ~ L.A.
    Endorsing Artist: GHS Strings
    The idea of playing like a 4 EADG and learning to incorporate the B string while using it as a thumb rest is what I did.

    More important would be your left hand thumb position. When I learned to get my thumb on the back of the neck middle or lower; my hand became totally relaxed in a normal shape. The fingers were able to move freely so reaching the extra string is effortless.
  11. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in call at a time.

    Yeagh...I call that "The Cycle". I run through major, then minor, then dominant, using a my Fender B-DEC 30 amp. I just set the tempo to 100 bpm and the key change to fourths and "cycle" all the way from C back to G.

    First, I do an octave up then one down. Next I do arpeggio up/scale down, then scale up/arpeggio down. When I first started doing that I started with the root always on the A string, then the E, and for the past few days, I've been using the B.

    Point well taken. I took it up to The Bass Place in Tempe on Saturday and my main man/Fender tech, Joe, threw some R.Cocco rounds on and dialed it in proper. Buttah...

    These are among the first habits my teacher broke me of. I used to anchor my thumb right inside cavity of my Ric's bridge pup (I removed the cover). I can't even play very well anymore without my thumb floating.

    Obviously, my teacher put you up to that!! :D

    If there's anything he repeatedly hammers me for, it's my thumb being too high on the back of the neck. Whenever he catches me, I have to do 2 minutes of scales without using my left thumb. He's like my HS football coach making me run laps for duct-taping the place-kicker's ass cheeks together! :D:D:D
  12. LowBSix


    Mar 25, 2008
    818 ~ 805 ~ L.A.
    Endorsing Artist: GHS Strings
    I was taught after playing for 18 years to pick up an empty paper type cup with my finger tips, turn it upside down, look at my hand placed just under the neck, remove the cup from left hand and ease it up to the neck in the same relatively RELAXED shape of the hand with the thumb towards the bottom of the back of the neck.... much easier to move your fingers! :cool:
  13. Asher S

    Asher S

    Jan 31, 2008
    I didn't need to do this, but you might try purchasing a black-coated low B string and using that for a while, so you don't get easily thrown off visually. Then after a little while you can change back to your usual B string.