Question for you five-stringers....

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jack Macleod, Feb 4, 2003.

  1. Jack Macleod

    Jack Macleod

    Feb 3, 2003
    I hope this doesn't sound overly simplistic and at the very least, ignorant. I have read that several of you five-string players prefer the extra string (low-B) because it allows you to play with less movement "up and down" the neck. For instance, a G or an A on the E string is played on the 8th or 10th fret of the B-string (I'm air-fingering notes at my keyboard so forgive me if I got the frets wrong). Unless I'm wrong, this would facilitate playing most tunes between the 3rd and 10th frets (?). Aren't most tunes played in this 'region' of the neck anyway? Or do most people (whoever that is...) find it easier to play on the 'smaller' frets (those closest to the body of the bass)? Personally, I play much better in the 5th to 12th fret region.

    Thanks...Jack Macleod
  2. K-Frog


    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    I like to play in the 0-12 range primarily. I think you get a better tone with more string length vibrating. Of course I also range up higher on softer stuff that calls for it. I do play 5 almost exclusively now due to more position choices available on the 5. Just my preference.

  3. KAC


    Oct 9, 2002
    I play in the same area as I did with the 4 - I just use more low notes. I love those low notes! As far as where on the neck the other notes are played, to me that is dictated by sound more than by note grouping. I tend to keep all my settings the same and get my sound variations from playing techniques. The 5 - 12th fret range on the B is just a bit too boomy on my G&L (with everything up). I get a more controlled sound on a low G for instance if I keep it on the E string. To play those notes on the B, at least the way I play, takes some good right hand palming to keep them muted a little.
  4. jcadmus


    Apr 2, 2000
    It's really not about position with me -- although I do like the fact that it allows me to play certain things in more than one position.

    To me, it's more about the extended low range I get from a B string.

    And it also makes a DANDY thumbrest!

  5. i personally like the option of playing the notes with a fuller and deeper sound (such as E on 5th fret of B string) sometimes it gives my lines that extra little umph and power they need.
  6. I have only had my 5 stringer a week now. I love the lows on the B string. I play a lot of 2-beat stuff. I can now do a two beat A to E using the Low E on the fifth fret, with a walk back up to A. I find it much easier for me to "stay in the box" so to speak. I normally played my 4 above the fifth fret, so with an imaginary nut at the fifth fret giving you E A D G & C on freet 5, I am in familiar territory while I get used the narrower string spacing and the new wire.
  7. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    I'd say the reason you pointed out is fairly close to my reason Jack. I don't use notes below D very often, but I don't like to play open strings if I can play the same thign just as easily somewhere else on the neck, unless of course i particularly want teh sound of the open string for that line. When its all said and done I like having the flexibility of being able to extend my scales down a little more without moving all over the neck. I am really considering a 6 string for this reason (only for the highs), but I won't be able to afford a decent one for awhile.
  8. I like the B for all the reasons pointed out. I like the added low notes, I use them plenty in some of the styles I play. I also like being able to sit in one position and not have to fly around the fretboard. Though sometimes I still do. It can have a good effect. I just like the added options.

  9. From my experience all of these are why i use the low B. but, it's also good to have as an option if your guitarist uses alternate tunings. for instance my guitarist tunes drop D on a few and Open C for some other things, and a couple of Capo'd songs.. i just stay in standard, and the low C-Eb range helps fill it up.
  10. mjw


    Jun 12, 2001
    Spring, TX USA
    Well, I guess for me I'm 50/50.... - I love the extra few low notes too, but for the types of music I play most often, my inspiration for a 5-sting is more one of comfort and tone. I love the ability to play non-open strings (as 5stringdna mentioned) too. Besides that, I began on a 5-string, so most everything else seems uncomfortable to me.
  11. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    What Mike said, except I used a 4 for 20 years before switching over!

    I wish I had started on five. It's truly home for me: has the most comfortable balance of neck width and string spacing. I'm confident I could adjust to six fairly quickly, but I don't need the additional range, nor would I feel as comfortable with a wider neck or narrower string spacing.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I often find that I need a low F and hate having to play this at the first fret on the E all the time - so on a 5 string, I use the 6th fret on the B a lot and tend to anchor patterns around 6th to 8th fret and use notes most frequently between 6th to 12th frets.

    I find this gives a bassier, rounder sound for most "normal" basslines, then I use the other parts of the fingerboards for "effects" - popping, tapping - stand-out fills etc. and then also it is easier to get to a "solo" range that is on the D and G strings at either side of the 12th fret.
  13. monkfill


    Jan 1, 2003
    Kansas City
    I really don't use the low B all that much, but then I don't use the 1st string (G) all that much either. I use the middle three strings the most, then basically use the outside two just when I need them. I pretty much never play anything higher than an F on the B string, and even that is starting to sound a little muddy or boomy. I use the F on the B string for one song I play, which involves a riff with the F as the root note. Its easier to play it around the 6th fret than it is around the end of the neck. But in most cases, I won't go to the B string at all unless I need something lower than an E. I don't really care for the sound of the low B string above the 4th or 5th fret.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    For me this would either be a reason not to have a 5-string or would be telling me that I have not got the right bass - on the last 3 basses I bought, the B string above the 5th fret sounds great and is one of the main reasons I bought the bass. If I hadn't liked the sound I wouldn't have bought the bass!!

    It is great to start tumbaos at the 10th fret on the B string - really "felt" by the audience and gets tehm dancing! ;)
  15. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    That's totally cool. I prefer to use all five strings. I do tend to avoid the G... I often jump up higher on the D (did that when I was playing fours, too). But I always love to have the B to fall back on.

    I understand when you say you have tone problems playing higher on the B string... true for some of my instruments as well. I will point out that precise intonation of the B string will reduce undesirable tonal artifacts up the fretboard. Also, the type of bass makes a huge difference. IME Modulus Quantums are amazing in that regard: with the graphite neck and 35" scale, I can play all over them; notes are amazingly consistent and precise even way up on the B string.
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Careful - you'll have Indiana Jones exploring your bass!! Or if you're very lucky maybe Lara Croft!! :D
  17. fleetwood


    Aug 29, 2001
    Swansea UK
    What about the string spacing on a 5? Has anyone found that some 5's are more narrow than others. I have a 5 which I find a bit too narrow and I'm thinking of changing it for one that's a bit wider at the nut. It's the nut end that's the problem.
  18. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    All of the above.

    I like playing in F, G, and Ab on the B string instead of the E string. The added low notes are great. And I like being able to play two octave runs without having to shift positions.

    On a good quality 5(or 6) string, the B string sounds great in any position. On my Cirrus 6 and Zon 5, I play the B string above the 12th fret when soloing, and it sounds great. Nice and full, without being boomy.
  19. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    String spacing is an extremely significant factor when I select a five. Like you, I'm not comfortable on narrow spacing. For example: I adore the tone of the MusicMan Stingray 5, but the spacing is too narrow both at the nut and at the bridge, therefore I won't buy one until EB/MM offers a wide five option (and I don't expect that to ever happen).

    My criteria used to be nut width alone: best for me is 1-7/8", which is the same as a Fender Jazz bass extended by one more string. However I've since come to realize that I also prefer the Fender-standard 3/4" (19mm) bridge spacing. I own a Modulus Quantum 5 which has my nut width, but bridge spacing is narrower at just 17mm. It's only 2mm difference per string, and I get around on it OK, but 19mm feels much more comfy. YMMV!
  20. it's the extra presence you get from the low notes that do it for me , nothing quite like the feeling that you could make the drum kit move accross the stage just by playing a low b :D