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Started on a five string any need for a four?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by The Urbs, Mar 15, 2004.

Go with...

Poll closed Mar 22, 2004.
  1. Four

    23 vote(s)
  2. Five

    36 vote(s)
  1. The Urbs

    The Urbs

    Feb 23, 2004
    Was it a bad decision to start on a five string bass? My intentions for buying it was that wow I have an extra string why go with a four. But, this seems like an ignorant decision and Im feeling a time right now to get a new bass, something high end but go with a four or a five?
  2. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    that's a tough one.

    i played 4s for nearly 2 decades before trying a 5.

    after this week, i'll have nine 5s and one 4.

    BUT, there something about the 4 that i don't experience with ANY of my 5's.

    i love it!!!

    i think it is good to know and own both.

  3. I played over 20 years before I tried my first 5. At first I thought it was cool having that extra low string, now when I play a 4 I feel restricted. And no, I do not live on the B string. :D

    If you want my opinion: you started on 5s, stick with them. ;)

  4. BustinJustin

    BustinJustin banned

    Sep 12, 2003
    NYC, LI too
    Touchy very touchy...

    I think you should own a 4 at some point for no other reason than.... ummm.... ok good point....
  5. The Urbs

    The Urbs

    Feb 23, 2004
    Thanks for the opinions, lol, it is a very hard decision more so money wise. I definatly will own a four, but the other day I played a Fender Jazz, tone was awesome but for some reason not having the B there which I not so often use (trying to learn how to) and felt like there was something missing. The only reason I would go with a four would be for an unrestricted slap on the E, but then again, I can always practice with the five. Logically five seems the right way, but the four... :mad:
  6. I think it will depend on what your plan is for the 4 stringer.
    For me i can't for the life of me feel comfortable slapping on a 5 stringer and hence i keep a 4 banger around for playing speedily, and using techniques i can't seem to master on the 5-er. But if you love having that 5-th string and your way comfortable on it, then no reason.
    Your call really
  7. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I hear you. I know you're not a "rockin" guy, but when you sling a 4 string a bit lower than whatever your normal height is, and just start going to town with it, there's no way you can duplicate that feeling on a 5. I know, I've tried.

    Ultimately I'm down for 4s or 5s, or 6s or 7s. It's all about the bass.
  8. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    I started on a five. I eventually bought a four string. I had two reasons. 1) Slap - My fiver has narrow spacing and I like to keep it strung with well worn in strings - I keep a four string strung with fresh rounds for slap 2) Playing the role - When I step into a new situation I like to show them my basic "meat and potatoes" approach to bass playing. Some people see you pull out a five string and immediately have preconceived notions about your playing style. I like to show them what I can do with a cheap four string and then if the situation calls for my fiver, so be it - I'll bring the fiver the next time, but I like to let my playing make the first impression.
  9. The Urbs

    The Urbs

    Feb 23, 2004
    Brendon has the idea, own all from four to whatever :D

    No I hear ya guys. But I think Im going to go with what is comfortable which is what really counts. But down the road I will buy a four but nothing amazing maybe along the lines of a standard or deluxe jazz so I can pump out some funky basslines :)
  10. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    depends. I say four because beginner level basses generally have bad B strings but ya never know.
  11. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I played five and six strings almost exclusively for fourteen years but right now I am between fives. I find that I really have come to love the four string again. Although I had gotten used to slapping on a five, I find that I can agressively attack the E string on four in a way that I can't on a five. (I guess that Marcus Miller and Flea know something.)

    I even got used to detuning the E string and playing in D at least. Although I'll most likely get another five soon, I could also see picking up another four just for variety's sake and not worrying too much about the extra low range.

    Finally, I think that it's a good idea for a young bassist to learn how to play classic lines the way they were originally played. That can be done by ignoring the B string, but I think that simply not having it will help you invision the fingerboard in a different way.

    I guess I'm saying a four is worth a try for a while.
  12. The Urbs

    The Urbs

    Feb 23, 2004
    That is some great advice, though, I generally liek slapping its not a main technique but only used to maybe add some varity to my playing. I played a standard Jazz the other day and for some reason it just had a great tone and sound, so I think after I pick up a fiver which will be my main like "serious" bass I can just purchase the Jazz when finances allow :smug:

    Thanks for the feedback :bassist:
  13. I started on a 5. My next bass would be a four-string fretless.
    I don't mind owning 4-strings (IMO 4s are better for slapping, 5s are better for fingerstyle but 5s are the most versatile) but my main axe will always be a five.

    I was conscious of this, on whether to start on a 4 or 5. I went with the 5 cos I found my dream 5-string for a SWEET price, went for it and never regretted it. But when I started learning it, I made the "E" string the natural string where I start playing on. That way, when I play a 4-string, I don't really have to adjust much physically or mentally.
    The "B" is just there in case I need it and I only play the Eb and lower notes sparingly. I do use the B string higher up on the neck to give me more fretting choices, though.

    It is easier for a 5-string player to play a 4 than vice-versa.
    I'll never go for 6 strings or higher simply cos I do a lot of popping on the "G" string, and having more strings after the "G" messes with my whole playing paradigm.

    I'm also a keyboard player, and you can make the same analogy with number of keys. If you started on piano with 88 keys, having 61 keys in a standard electronic keyboard could be somewhat restricting. Nowadays with everyone learning how to compose on Propellerheads Reason with those 25-key USB controllers, I can see how the situation transposes into the keyboard world.
  14. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX

    BrendAn. C'mon people, it's not that hard. Nothing on you Urb, but a bunch of people seem to do that to my name...
  15. The Urbs

    The Urbs

    Feb 23, 2004
    Yo man no probs. I have the same prob with my last name, I have heard it all. It must be my Boston accent lol. Wicked Haad. :D

    EDIT: I really dont have one :p
  16. Lockout


    Dec 24, 2002
    I also started on a 5, and haven't owned anything other than 5-string basses. (Though I do own a guitar. :)) I do play a 4-string several times a week while practicing with my school's jazz band however, so I have become used to switching between 4's and 5's regularly. I don't think I'd buy a 4-string though, because I can play just as well on most 5's as on a 4.

    On a related note, I've actually been considering moving up to a 6-string bass in the near future. I've tried a few in stores, and I really enjoyed playing 'em... I liked being able to switch between low booming bass and higher melodic stuff without switching instruments. Though If I do eventually buy one, I'll need to find one with wide string spacing at the bridge so I can still slap on it when I feel the urge to. :smug:

    I don't think I'd be able to play anything more than that, though. Fretting notes on the low B string on a sixer is already a stretch for my fingers. I wouldn't really want to own a 7+ string anyway, I think I'd be overwhelmed. :)
  17. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Well, I haven't owned a 4 in about 20 years. Don't foresee one in my future either. I started on a 4 (a short scale fretless), then got a "real" 4 (wow, a 34" scale!), but the first time I picked up a fiver I fell head over heels in love with it, and never looked back. Now I play almost exclusively 5's, with the exception of my one 6 string fretless. When I pick up a 4 these days, it feels like a toy. Not only is there a string missing (and I'm so used to playing a 5 that my finger automatically goes there, even when there's no string to be found), but I find the wider neck to be much more comfortable and easier to play (I have pretty big hands, maybe that's one of the reasons). The other thing is, you can do stuff with a 5 that you couldn't do in a million years with a 4, it's a completely different instrument once you get used to it. If all you're doing is one-note bass lines, it probably doesn't matter that much, but once you start developing some talent and style with a 5, and start getting around the fingerboard a little, it's hard to go back. But, to each his own, and all IMO of course. Whatever works for you is what's best.
  18. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    I poo-pooed fives until I bought one, and now I can't live without it. I have no use for a four whatsoever. I slap a lot (mainly at-home wanking), but have gotten used to working around the B string. If I were to go into a music store to goof around, I'd pick up an Ibanez five before a Fodera four. To me, a five isn't a four with an extra string--a four is a five MISSING a string. IMO, five is the standard now, and it branches off from there. YMMV, blah, blah, blah.
  19. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Look at the top cats playing four these days. If any of those guys stand out as an influence or inspiration, then a four may be right for you. My personal opinion (that no else need share) is that fewer strings equals more soul, character and expressiveness in the sound, in the hands of a good player, at least. YMMV! :)
  20. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Is that a roundabout way of saying JT's playing sucks? Just kidding. :p

    If you started on a 5, I see no reason to buy a 4 unless you happen to find a really good deal on a bass model you want or you're getting something that's not available as a 5, like a vintage Fender or a Hofner.

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