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Should I get a 4-string just because?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by hrodbert696, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    OK, y'all, help me resolve my GAS here:

    I play 5ers, a Yamaha BB415 and a custom one from John Toon and I love them. They're what I gig with, not unhappy with them at all.

    I did have a Squier VM Jag, put it up for sale to offset the cost of the Toon bass. It didn't sell, but instead I got an interesting trade for it, a fretless Michael Kelly ABG.

    So now I'm wondering if I should plan on getting a traditional fretted 4-stringer again. It's kind of like this gnawing feeling that I should have one. Plus I'd like to learn slap and have gotten frustrated trying to do it on the 5ers - too much hitting extra strings and making noise.

    Options: tell myself to shut up, forget the GAS, and be happy with the basses I have. Money is more needed for an amp upgrade, wireless system, and food anyway.

    or: get a cheap 4-string, like an SX, to tool around with.

    or: save a while and get a really nice 4-string; been GASsing a lot for a Carvin SB4000 or a Lakland Duck Dunn Skyline. I'm a little worried that if I go the cheap bass route I'll just keep GASsing for one of these and end up spending even more money in the end...

    Thoughts? Yes I know, it's all personal and all that, just curious what TB's reaction is.

    Moneywise, I should explain, cash has been really tight but next year I'll have a position with better pay, which means I could get a cheap bass early in the fall or save for an expensive one at the end of the school year.
  2. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    First of all, "y'all" sounds very southern, very "ole Dixie", which I like

    Second, I know how you feel about slapping 'cause - not a major issue right now - (but then) can somebody help me explain why I got no more 5ers in my collection?

    Third: go for a Duck Dunn Skyline...
    Everybody knows I'm not that into Laklands... it's just that they're not my cup of tea but this in particular can be yours...

  3. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    No. No reason or need to get one imo.
  4. jlepre


    Nov 12, 2007
    Parsippany, NJ
    I play only 5's now, and recently got a great Fender P/J in trade. I am so used to having that B string that going BACK to a 4 stringer felt awkward and useless to me.
  5. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Should I get a 4-string just because?


    I have a dozen 5 string basses ... I have no need for a 4 string bass
  6. I still can't figure out why some folks can't slap a five but think a four would be easier. Does the B get in the way when thumping the E? And how does the E stay out of the way when thumping the A?

    Stay with fives. I'm not familiar with Yammies or their string spacing at the bridge, but I had issues with narrow spacing at the bridge and found that I prefer 18mm+ spacing.

    But get the four anyway because your brain won't leave you alone until you do.;)
  7. The SB4000's are really sweet basses that you can find used for around $750 or so. I'm a 5 string player but I like to own a 4 string to jam with my buddies or at home.
  8. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    I've played nothing but 5's since I started playing about 10 years ago and have always said "there's nothing I can do on a 4 that I can't do on a 5".

    That being said, about a year ago I told my teacher I might consider getting an inexpensive 4 just to get myself used to it because the few times I actually tried playing one I'd get all messed up by forgetting that the low string is an E rather than a B. He thought that would be a good idea and also told me he'd bet I'd find other reasons to start playing one besides not getting messed up.

    He was right. After I finally got one I used it exclusively for my lessons for a couple of months and found that it forced me to think differently about my playing. Because my 5's give me more options in a given position, I wasn't used to shifting position as often. When I was using my 4 I have to think a little farther ahead when playing, especially when sight reading, to make sure I was setting myself in time to be able to play a passage more easily.

    Is it possible to do that on a 5? Of course. But I'm only human and I found I too easily slipped back into old habits and played my 5 like a 5. With the 4, I'm forced to think a little bit differently, which I consider to be a good thing. I no longer play it exclusively (my SR5HH is and will probably always be my favorite) but I do use the 4 at home as an practice tool. Not sure I have the guts to play it out yet. :D

    FWIW, I got a used Tobias Toby Pro. It was a cheap enough pawn shop buy and, after replacing the original preamp with a 4-band Audere, it's now a really nice sounding bass.
  9. I did it several years ago and ended up selling and/or trading all my 5's. Now all I have are 4's and I'm perfectly happy w/them. However, that said... you've gotta do what works best for you. There's no reason you can't own and play both 4's and 5's. I say go for it.
  10. Martin89


    Nov 8, 2010
    Glendale, AZ
    Unofficial Endorser: Ibanez, D'Addario, Zoom
    4's can always be picked up pretty cheap because they are abundant. Find one you get a good deal on, if you like it keep it, if not sell for same price or more and make some moolah in the process of owning a 4-string. They're always fun to have around.
  11. jlepre


    Nov 12, 2007
    Parsippany, NJ
    That pretty much says it all.

    The only reason I could see buying a 4 is that you want a specific model that is only available in a 4. Also if you're looking to lighten the load, a 4 is USUALLY but NOT always lighter.
  12. PotsdamBass8

    PotsdamBass8 Supporting Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    Do you play differently on a 4 string? Will this be a positive? If yes, then I think you can justify it. The slapping thing may be your reason. Regardless of whether it's psychological or not, some people, including myself, play differently on a 4 string and feel that they sound different too.

    Definitely buy used though at least for the first one, so if you upgrade you don't lose out on any money.
  13. I used to play 5'ers exclusively and bought a 4 banger "just because" and now I only play 4's :D
  14. gjbassist

    gjbassist Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2005
    Kansas City, MO
    I'm gonna say no. I recently bought a five string "just because" even though I normally play fours. I just don't like the transition between the four and the five or the fives wider neck. Now I have the five up for sale so I can get another four. I say if you are comfortable using fives then stick with them and forget the four stringer.
  15. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Much of the stigma surrounding 5-string basses is diminishing as the years pass. More and more band directors are moving away from the close-minded "4-string Fender P-bass or Jazz Bass - NO EXCEPTIONS!" mentality to the more open "4- or 5-string Fender P-Bass or Jazz Bass - NO EXCEPTIONS!", which is considerably more liberal (25% more, by my count of the strings).

    I recommend just working on your 5-string slap technique. I used to have trouble when I tried to slap my ERBs, but after time, I now find that slapping (especially double-thumping and double-popping) is harder for me on a 4-string than it is on my 6ers or 8-string.
  16. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    I primarily play 5er's but I have 2 4's. To me after playing on a 5 for awhile there's nothing quite as freeing as slapping the mess out of my 4 string Jazz. It's great. I play both 4's and 5's all the time so going back and forth is not an issue. The more you play both the more you get used to playing in general and it becomes a non issue. If you can drive a car you can drive a car. By all means treat yourself to a nice 4 string bass and learn how to slap. make yourself happy. The 4 string Brubaker brutes sound awesome when slapped. Check out malcolm hall on youtube slapping those brutes. They come in 4 string J/J configs (JJX) or J/MM configs (MJX) or very soon a single cut version 4 string (MJX) in Natural, merlot, or tobacco burst. Man, a lot of the working pros go back and forth between all kinds of basses. There are several schools of thought, some say find your one bass and stick to it. I say find what you like to play and play it or them. I'm a bass player period. who cares if it's 4,5,6 or 8. I happen to have an 8 string as well and I slap that thing too. Man bass players are supposed to be cool, and casual not whiney. Give me a washtub, a pole and some string and I'll play that and won't complain that it has only one string. I say listen to yourself because no one else is going to make you happy the way you want to be made happy. If you want a 4 string to learn how to slap on. get yourself one.
  17. Hey man. Hope your toon bass is treating you well. I think every bass player should have a 4 string. Personally I think they are alot easier to play and easier to slap on. I also like the narrower fretboard on a 4. A 5'er only gives you 5 extra notes that dont get used all that often for me anyway. I only play a 5 for a song that requires it. That does require lugging two basses to show though. But I love the feel and the playability of a four. Just a suggestion, a matching 4 string to go with your 5'er toon bass. ;)
  18. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    Then you have a dozen 4 string basses - well 4 + 1. Each of them still can be strung like a 4. Best results involve including a 5th string. keeps tension more even on the neck.

    AFAIK there's two concerns: ergonomics and tone.
    Tonewise I'm not sure - the pickups will be different, but not by much - each bass sounds slightly different anyway...
    Ergonomics such as weight, balance, neck taper/radius/cross-section, and of course string spacing.

    You can get 5's with more typical 4 like string spacing towards the bridge - and those with a pretty 4 like neck - however getting both seems to need a lot of taper... making the fretting a little odd I'd imagine...

    I'm waiting on getting my first 5. Looking forward to it. The 5's I've played have always been a little cramped - but nothing I can't adjust to.
  19. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    My 5 string has been my primary player since I bought it 18 years ago. For various reasons I also have several 4 strings that get play fairly regularly.

    If you're thinking of buying any bass "just because" then you shouldn't buy it. Wait until you "need" the bass, otherwise figure out what you really want and wait for a deal that's too good to pass up...at least this way you'll end up breaking even at the very least if you decide you don't need the 4 string.
  20. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I love 4 strings but I agree with those who say don't buy it "just because."

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