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Reading Bass CLef on 4 and 5 String

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by huben94, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. Hello,

    Sorry if in wrong forum,

    Wanted to know if anyone reads bass clef on both 4 and 5 string and if you do , do you read in the same position? or different one?

    I have been thinking it would be easier if I keep reading in first position on the four, and leared to read in the fifth on the 5 string?

    Thanks for your input!

    I really like my Lakland 55-01!


  2. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    I follow what is on the pages ? At one point or another you will have to move to reach different notes so it really doesn't matter in the end
  3. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    You should choose the fingering that best serves the music (and even experienced players will play the same song with different fingerings).

    A good exercise is to try playing scales and stuff two different ways: across the strings like you "normally" would, and also up and down each individual string.

    Good luck!
  4. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I have no idea what the question is! I don't read in any position (well, standing or sitting) ... I read the notes on the score and play 'em.
  5. Let the music dictate in what position you play, not the number of strings on your bass.
  6. I'm not sure what the OP is getting at. I use 4 and 5 string basses, and read all the time for theatre, etc. A lot of my prep work for theatre gigs is looking over the music to see what positions I'll play various parts in. Depending on the next chord, or key change, and what notes are part of a fast run, I may play a part anywhere on the neck.

    The 5 string just has more low notes to deal with.

    Learning your scales from different starting notes, and in different positions will really help with your reading. You will start to internalize the scale shapes as you see them on the page.
  7. Wellll I think it is a combination of both. I (usually) look at the entire piece and figure out how to play it with the fewest position changes, then learn it a second way just to see if I like playing it in another position (usually moving up the neck to use the 5th string more). So I first just read it in as low a position as possible, then try and adjust my playing position to take advantage of the 5th string more and/or reduce the total number of position changes required for the piece.

    I infrequently get to sight read in my praise band and it is most often for a 4 string bass (I use a Micheal Kelly fret-less 5er in church) so I can often reduce the total number of position changes by moving up the neck. This reduces the reach for me, by moving up the neck the frets (positions) are closer together thus making it easier to play. Also by reducing the number of position changes I can keep my eyes on the page more.
  8. I learned to read on a 4 and first started playing 5's about 10 years later so I naturally tend to read in the first position and then re-evaluate the song for different positions after learning to play it in the first position. This is probably because I learned on 4's first...
  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    To answer the OP's specific question: Yes, quite a few 5-string players will move up to the fret 5-9 position, when playing music that was written for 4-string and doesn't go lower than E.

    Some commonly-cited reasons for doing this might be 1) the frets are closer together so it is more comfortable for the left hand; 2) playing in that area of the neck is an interesting tonal variation; 3) open strings sound different than fretted notes, and 5-string gives you the option to play a fretted low E; 4) easy access to high notes on the G string (or C string if you have a 6 string).
  10. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    The notes on the staff indicate pitch and rhythm, not position. You have to determine that yourself. Some notes can only be played one place, that will determine where some of the notes are played. Know your instrument. A musical phrase that is difficult in one place might be very easy another. In time you'll get the hang of it. Shifting mid phrase is another way to make things easier.
  11. sobie18


    May 5, 2002
    Shaw AFB, SC
    I'm looking for economy of motion and being able to cover the written parts in positions where I don't have to move all over the neck. Then again, the tonality of F# on the B string sounds a little bit different on the E string...

    Personal preference, as long as there isn't any neck dive.
  12. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Read the intervals instead of positions. Stabdard notation is not a glorified tab that tells you where to put your fingers. Reading is NOT looking at the staff and thinking "That's C at the third fret, third string". It's seeing that it's C and it's a minor third above the last note I played.

    I'm not a great reader, but I can read treble clef with either a 4- or 5-string bass in my hands as well as I can with a guitar in my hands, and the same with bass clef.

  13. +1 exact reason I went over to a 5 string about ten years ago, it took me a while to get used to but having the extra options I find really works for me.
    When reading a written part for a show, then as stated in the previous post I'm looking for the best way to cover the part with the least amount of big shifts, if I am practicing as part of my own private study then I'll try play the part in as many ways as I can, it opens the neck up so I can be aware of other options to play something.
    For example; if I was practicing a simple part in the key of Bb, I would start off playing from 1st fret A string, I would then play the part starting 6th fret E string, if the part involves moving to the low F that can be played on the 6th fret B string, on a four string it would mean a jump back to 1st fret E string. The next way I would play the part is to start with my pinky on Bb (6th fret E string) going up the scale that way, this combines the first and second playing positions as the octave Bb is played on the 3rd fret G string.

    Good luck with the 5 string, if you want me to tab scales starting from the pinky position then I will do so.