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Now I understand the 5-String

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mulepods, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. mulepods

    mulepods Guest

    Feb 20, 2006
    This is probably obvious to most of you guys, but to me it is eye-opening. I'm finally getting serious about practicing so I'm playing more advanced patterns, and I'm discovering how uncomfortable it is to play on the first few frets (at the nut). Speed is much easier up the neck, obviously. Last night I was practicing on my 4-String Jazz and I thought, "I need to be able to play fast riffs that include the low F, F#, G, etc. I just wish I could play them further up the neck for easier access." That's when I realized the value of a 5-String.

    It's nice when you realize obvious things. Now it's time to shop for a 5.

    Do 5-String Jazz basses sound good on the lower string (with decent pickups)?
  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Thats what i started telling myself earlier this year. I found myself wishing i could play the same riffs in a mroe comfortable position. I ordered a 5 string 2 months ago, its due in a month. Its my second 5er, i owned one a while ago but never used it because at the time i didnt really need it.
  3. EBMatt


    Nov 21, 2003
    Springfield, MA
    Some people say that 5-string Fender Jazz basses have a bad low B string. About three days ago I went to a local guitar center and played a Fender American Deluxe Jazz 5-string, and it a very nice low B. Hopefully I'm gonna go back and get it :hyper: Anyways, you really need to try a Fender 5-string out first before you buy it.
  4. dwjazz54


    Jan 21, 2003
    Jersey City, NJ
    The Fender Bs are really hit-but-more-often-miss. I got lucky with my MIM Jazz 5; for an inexpensive passive 34" scale 5er, the B is just SICK, especially compared to the other MIM 5er that was sitting next to it when I bought mine. I've played $2K basses with comparable B strings, no joke.
  5. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    If you can, compare a lakland Skyline 5 to a Jazz 5, the Bs are usually more solid and consistent. Also, MTD Heirs have very nice Bs.

    I once had a MTD Heir 5 with an aguilar obp-3 pass by (I used to be actively seeking and moving basses) and that was an awesome 5 string for under 500. If you got one without a preamp upgrade, I am sure you could upgrade it later down the road. If you go for a Skyline, see if you can bone up for a 02 instead of the 01.
  6. Yep! I still catch myself playing my bass like it is a 4 string. I think it is because my instructor plays 4 string and I usually emulate what he is doing. It also doesn't help that the majority of other training materials is centered around 4 string bass. I'm lazy and tend to look at the tab for fingering, and the staff for rhythm (I usually memorize one, and then play from the other). MY sight reading is coming along, but I have so much material to work through for lessons that I am usually way behind and take any short-cut I can.

    That being said, I took at step back and really thought about it. This past weekend at church, I played two services and practically never moved from the 5th fret through 8th position, except to hit low-D. Very nice! I always looked up to those players who groove and make it look so effortless, like their hands are barely moving.
  7. Groundloop


    Jun 21, 2005
    I started playing a 5er after a non bass related injury to my left wrist. Being able to shift my hand up 5 frets really saved me.

    Oh, and BTW, Lakland Skylines have great B strings and are a great value.
  8. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA
    I love my new The Bass Company 5er.
    They make 'em with J's, Soaps, or MM style p'ups. Nice tight B, and the price is right at well under $500 depending on options. For around the same price as a MIM fender, this thing is freakin fantastic.
  9. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
  10. Wow, you play high-C more than on the Low-B string? I couldn't ever see me using the high-C unless I was soloing or something like that. I'd end up stepping all over the piano and guitars, I think. Can you explain your musical situation so we can get a feel for how you are using the tools :) Very curious.
  11. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I play a 4 and a 5 these days in my current pop/rock cover band. I play the 4 string unless there is a particular fingering/position I want to use for a particular tune - then I go to my 5.

    If I was doing more of the smooth jazz thing, I'd use a C string more and have either a 6 or a 5 string strung E - C.
  12. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    This is weird, but I couldn't make the switch from a 4-string to a 5-string until after I'd switched to a 6-string for about a year and a half. :eyebrow:

    I now play mainly a 5-string and I love it. I find being able to play in postition helps me to concentrate on my singing, and I like having the low notes available.
  13. Actually, now that I think about it, it just feels weird to play a 4 string to me. Since, I've _always_ had the the B string in the way :) Seriously, every time I get a 4 string it lasts all of a couple of weeks until I get frustrated. I am obviously slow to learn muscle memory, and as a result I try and get instruments with 5 strings and similar string spacing at the bridge. The nut end of things doesn't seem to bother me.
  14. bazzanderson


    Oct 7, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I'm totally comfortable on my 5er and don't ever really see going back to a 4 string. The ONLY way I could get comfortable was to get rid of my 4 and play solely on a 5 string.
  15. I'm pretty comfortable on 4/5/6, I just tend to be critical of the neck profile, and string spacing. If it's adequate, I can get down!
  16. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    These are perfect examples of how bassists get hooked into playing ERB's .... :D

    It starts with wanting to expand your options while playing, not just range necessarily, but options like positioning and patterns and tonal control. The additional strings provide those options.

    I play in a jazz fusion trio and I have to play chords and unison riffs all of the time. Using 6 & 7 string basses (and a Boomerang ;) ) allows me to get very close to the sound we have in a studio where the luxury of over-dubbing exists.

    Keep your options open ........... :cool:

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Staff Member Supporting Member

  18. west*coast*bass

    west*coast*bass Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2003
    Agoura Hills, CA
    +1 - please make sure you play any bass before you buy when going from 4 to 5. You can get a crappy souding B string and then you may always associate that bad experience with a 5 string.
  19. MichaelScott


    Jul 27, 2004
    Moorpark CA
    I don't like 5 strings:
    1) they normally cost more money
    2) they weigh more
    3) they are noiser/ harder to mute
    4) most songs don't even use the low B string
    5) You have to make sure your amp can pull out the B - if it can't you gotta buy a new amp.
    6) a new set of stings cost more.
    7) having trouble with shifting and then overcoming that problem is a good progressional step towards becoming a great bass player. Anyone can play a line that doesn't involve shifting.
  20. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I tihnk you ^ are missing the point, the very point this thread is trying to establish. You dont need notes below the low E to validate using a 5 string bass. Its about positioning.