Should I buy a 5 string ?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by far0n, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. far0n


    Apr 28, 2005
    Yorkshire, UK
    I'm in two minds. I don't really like 5 string basses. Never have, never will. They're clumsy, awkward and the fretboard feels like an ironing board. Trouble is, I've come to a point where I need those low notes for a few songs in the band I'm in. I'm in two minds whether to take the plunge and spend months practising with my extra string, or take the easy route by restringing one of my 4 string basses B E A D.

    Coupled with that, I can't decide which bass to restring. I have a Status Graphite 4000 and a Cort Funkmachine, although I can imagine the 'funkwah' could work quite well on a fat B string.

    Any words of advice folks ?
  2. It's nice to be able to go down to D, C and B from G on a 5 string, rather than just up.

    Give a 5 string a chance; you might just get hooked.

  3. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    If its a tool u need for the job, its a tool u need for the job.

  4. FenderHotRod


    Sep 1, 2004
  5. Yep. It took me a few weeks to get completely comfortable, but now I'm wishing all my basses were fivers. It's so convenient to be able to play an E in fifth position, etc. I find myself playing on the B string higher up the fretboard quite a bit.

    I like the tones of the thicker strings better, too.
  6. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Reviewer: Bass Player Magazine
    Also, fives aren't clumsy or awkward. You're[/] clumsy and awkward on five-strings because you haven't spent enough time with them. Put the work in, and they'll likely to be as or more comfortable than a four-string is over time.
  7. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    +1 I play my B string frequently, but rarely below the E note.
  8. Jonki

    Jonki I will not slap my Bee!

    Oct 14, 2003
    Arendal, Norway
    if you want a low B, go for it, man! give it a try! :) :bassist:
  9. Get a 5-string. The difficulty of getting over having an extra string is only temporary and the rewards of having the extra range are well worth it.

    - Dave
  10. When I first started with the band that recently broke up, they didn't like my Squire P-bass and Peavey TNT 150 combo. So, I ended up playing the lead singers Ibanez Soundgear 5 and Ampeg combo. I go used to playing the 5 and like it for certain situations.

    But, when I got my Peavey Fury IV, I got back into using just 4 strings.

    The point is, try the 5. You may like, you may not. PERSONALLY, I prefer the 4, but would have to have one set aside with BADG tuning.

    It's all about what you're comfortable with.
  11. AxtoOx


    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    Too bad you have already made up your mind you don't like them and feel forced into it. I play both, I really enjoy my 5's and only use my 4's for classic Rock. It's real easy to get used to the extra B string, and when I don't feel like swiching basses when I swich songs w/ the five I can ignore the B and cruise right along. Now that I'm more used to them, the 4's feel skinny to me instead of the 5's feeling big.
    I'd say open your mind and give it a chance, if you have to get a used one so you won't take a big hit if you decide to sell it.

  12. Try out a few and see how they feel. From what you've said I guess you've done it in the past and it hasn't been too sucessful.

    Does your playing need down to low B??? If you just need to drop a couple of steps, fitting a D tuner might be an idea instead of the whole 5 string option!

    I personally have 3 five strings and 2 fours.......and I just got rid of a 4 with a D tuner..... As well as the low notes, 5 strings are good for playing without as many position changes! :bassist:
  13. jomahu


    Dec 15, 2004
    Bos, MA
    i also approached the 5-string with trepidation. but now, even though i've only been playing it for a few months, i love my 5er. it sure feels good to hit those low notes.
  14. Eilif

    Eilif Grooving under the MDW runway.

    Oct 1, 2001
    Look around, comfort is no reason to avoid the 5.
    There are so many affordable 5 ers available, that you are bound to find one that has a spacing, width and contour that is realatively comfortable to you. I'm not an ibanez fan, but their necks may be just up your alley. After a while practicing, you will feel right at home.

    Also, how high do you wear your bass? If you play a low slung bass, it will be much more difficult to fret the b string than if you play with the bass at or above the waist. (and your technique will improve too)

    Fineally, I play 5 as much as 4 now, and even though I rarely use the "b" note, I use the low "d" all the time, and I use the b string higher up the fretboard all the time.
  15. More convenient than an open E where you don't even need to fret a position?:eyebrow:

    Anyway, get a fiver. You'll get used to it sooner than you think and you'll have more range and won't have to reach way down the E string for your lowest notes.
  16. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Buy a 5 string. Buy a respected one so if you can't acclimate you don't lose money. I tried the "re-string a four string lower" trick once. I really wanted a fretless 5, and didn't want to spend.
    I found I missed the g-string a lot (uhhh...yeah).
    I've never minded the extra width, but I play DB too...big chunky necks are gooood:)
  17. Coutts_is_god

    Coutts_is_god Guest

    Dec 29, 2003
    Windsor, Ont, Canada
    Yes you do and so do I.
  18. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    I own a lot of 4's and two 5's. I don't play the 5's unless someone requests them. I would much rather play one of my 4's tuned down a whole tone. With the drop tuner on my bridge I have a low C. Close enough to a 5 for me.
  19. Like its been said. If its a tool you need for the job....

    I too had the same dilema as you did a couple of years ago. I used to say "Victor, Jaco, and Stanley only needed four strings". I had only played tight spaced crappy 5s in my experience at that time. So I didn't really know enough to state my opinion about fives. It does take a month or so to get over the xtra string, but once you do its bliss to have that xtra freedom.

    So once I got into Stuart Zender and metal again I realized I NEEDED those low notes. So I figured BEAD would do the trick. Well most 5s even have bad intonation in the 12th fret area of the B string. So when I would attempt motown lines on that bass it just didnt feel or sound right, I missed the G string a LOT for familiar patterns and chords. I then decided to try some fives for myself.

    I eventually noticed I prefer a thick p like neck, a clear/solid B string, I hate barts, and I prefer 19mm string spacing. Everytime a metal band wants those low notes, BAM they are easily there. Anytime I want to end a song with a low B, C, C#/Db, D,D#/ Eb its all there with the playability I prefer. There are a variety of 5 string necks, spacings, bstrings, etc...

    Also the floating thumb technique helped a LOT in terms of stumbling over the B which can be found on Adam Nitti's website. So shop around and find our what you like before feeling so torn. You may be converted like many of the rest of us.
  20. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    One other thing to consider, and this took me some time to realise for myself (probably came to the rest of you 5'ers faster, I'm dense) is that with a 5, you can move many clsoed position lines up the neck, but down a string. This does wonders for fat and punch. Imagine a riff normally played closed in the A position on the e string. Move down and over, and now you're on a 130 guage string. FAT!