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Question for 5 String bassists

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MrFortuneCookie, Oct 17, 2000.

  1. At the moment, i play a 5 string bass. I am about to get myself a new bass in the near future and it's gonna be a decently priced one. That is, a Stingray or Stingray 5 with a piezo and fretless. As you can see, i am not sure which, i am not sure if i want to continue using 5 strings because i'm not sure if i need it or not and it might just be a pain to be there, even though my current bass is 5 strings.
    My question then is, what do you guys use your 5th string for? Music wise, like, what type of music do you use it for? ie: Reggae, Metal, Rock, etc.
  2. MFC -

    Well, technically I'm a 6 string bassist, but I do have that wonderful big FAT B string too, so I can address your question:

    I've played just about every style of music you can imagine; rock, metal, country, pop, polka, oompah band (German drinking songs), Latin, latin rock, klezmer (Jewish polka, sorta...and scary hard to play).... heck, basically everything this side of Balinese Gamelan or Balkan music. I use my B string constantly in all of it, several different ways.

    The obvious one is to get notes that are below the open E string, and there are plenty of chances to use those in most music if you look for them,. There's nothing more fun to drop a big fat C at the bottom of a nice country ballad in the key of C, and watch the rest of the guys/girls on the bandstand just grin. Another way is to use it to play parts in a different postion than first position, say play a blues in F from the 6th fret on the B string as opposed to in first position, makes some reaches easier. Finally, you get a different tone depending on the string you choose to use and where on the fingerboard you're playing, as well as being able to put vibrato or bend that low E, which is tricky with the open E ;).

    Do you HAVE to have a B? Heck no, plenty of bassists never use one. Just look at my influences/favorite bassists in my profile, it's pretty much all 4 stringers, so I'm certainly not a "B string Nazi". But for me, and the way I play, it's an absolute necessity to have the B....the C I have some difficulty justifying sometimes though :D. The bottom line is: If you like it, use it, if you don't feel you need it, don't.
  3. do you think that if i don't use the B string often, that i should not get a 5 string for my next one, or should i go back to 4?
  4. I.'.I.'.Nakoa

    I.'.I.'.Nakoa Guest

    Aug 10, 2000
    Fort Worth.
    well.. with a 5 string having the low b.. u can use it as a thumbrest that u can slid down with if u dont want to use the low b.
  5. I agree with everything Gard has said. I play 5 and 6 stringers, and it's just a tool in your toolkit, that's all. I play latin, jazz, top40, country, irish, classic rock, blues....... and I could play them just as well with a 4 string, but I choose the low B because it's another tool, another sound, and like Gard said, aint it fun to watch your bandmates faces when your on a hollow wooden stage and you hit that low B! You have to decide, we can only relay our experiences. Yeah, Gard, that high C is sometimes hard to justify, but aint it great for chords?!
  6. MFC -

    Well, I can't really answer your question, you have to make that decision on your own in the end. If you want my opinion, here 'tis: I'd get the 5, you can do anything on the 5 that you can on the 4, but not vice-versa. It's always better to have and not need than to need and not have. But remember, that's just my opinion, you have to do what you think is right for you.

    Marty -

    Yeah, I love getting funny looks from the guitarist when I "invade" his space from time to time :D. Luckily, he actually digs it, so it's just a matter of surprise, y'know doing it in places he's not expecting to hear it. If I always did it, it wouldn't be nearly as much fun, so I won't do it all the time, or even sometimes I don't do it at all on a gig. Nobody expects the Spanish Inqusition!!! :eek: :D
  7. Slightly off the topic, but for awe inspiring 6 string work, listen to John Pattitucci doubling Chick Corea's lines on any of the Elektrik Band's albums. Simply devastating!
  8. Marty -

    I'll go you one better, get one of John P's solo CD's. Amazing stuff, my favorite is "Different World", just killer. :D
  9. Casey C.

    Casey C.

    Sep 16, 2000
    Butler, PA, USA
    i use my 5 string to play metal mainly. some times i play fifths of what my guitarist plays, then sometimes ill play a octave below and the original note (if the note is above A or B) then sometimes i play normal.

    very useful tool.
  10. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I think the number of strings vs. the style of music is irrelevant.

    I have played punk, metal, jazz, oldies, country, funk & swing, using 4, 5 and 6 string basses.

    I agree with Gard's comment about another weapon in your arsenal.

    Most of todays music could be played on the first 3 strings, but I enjoy the freedom and verstatility that extended range basses permit.

    Who knows, I might even snag one of those 7 string Conklins someday!

    So, to answer your question, MFC, the choise is up to you. I prefer more strings, but unless you're going to let me play your new Stingray:)D), buy what feels best and most natural to you.
  11. Casey C.

    Casey C.

    Sep 16, 2000
    Butler, PA, USA
    i think i might pickup a 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 stringer someday too.
  12. alright cool, thanks everyone, i was mostly tryin to get opinions and see how things work for everyone. Thanks. :)
  13. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    one thing i would like to add is that i became a much better 7 (and eventually 8) string player when i put away the 4 strings. it's like you can't serve 2 masters, you know? by splitting my time i was diminishing my ability to grow on the new instrument. so i put the 4 away in 93, and they feel real alien to me know.

    sorta like those big, fat crayons that you used to use when you were a kid, know what i mean? :D
  14. i know exactly what you mean John, about the Crayons. And you guys are all right, time to put the 4 string to rest. If i am to be better at 5, i can't "serve two masters." Thanks everyone. :)
  15. I largely agree with you guys. I'm a newcomer to 5, and yeah, it's weird to go back to a four when you get used to that B string. Buuuuuuuut, I wouldn't sell off your four, either.

    Granted, I too am focused on my five; that's my main bass....BUT there's nothing wrong with using fours as the situation may dictate. My RB5 can't sound like my Ric, which also happens to be THE best sounding Ric on the planet! :D Also, I have a four string fretless which I adore. So, as the need arises, I will without hesitation haul out my Ric or the fretless for their unique qualities; for recording or playing with others. A four is no less legitimate, it's just another tool.

    That, and I don't care for Rickenbacker's fives ;)
  16. My 5's are tuned EADGC. But I love six and seven strings also. Having the B string opens up the whole neck and gives you low notes high up the neck and not tying you down to the open positions. I get to play upright more than BG because most of my calls are for upright. I play better bass guitar but it a bit like taking a machine gun to a turkey shoot for a lot of the gigs that I play.

    [Edited by bassdude on 10-18-2000 at 09:53 PM]
  17. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    i love my 5 string. once you get used to it, it's nothing. it took me a month or so of playing all the time, but now i use it so much i could never switch back. oh, i play everythign from oldies rock to big band on my warwick, it's fantastic.


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