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Swapping between different types of basses...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Evil Undead, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    I've got two 4 string Precision basses at the moment, and I've just bought an Ibanez Soundgear 5 string to mess around on. I'm a bit concerned that the difference in string spacing (the Precisions are 20mm and the Ibanez is 16.5mm) is going to mess me up. And also the extra string.

    I want to play both ideally, just swap back and forth between whichever one I feel like - does anyone have any experience as to whether this will cause me problems or have a negative effect on my playing?

    Do any of you ever swap between basses that are so different?
  2. I'm pretty new to 5 strings (6 months) and I have a hard time switching back and forth between 4 and 5 strings. I'm trying to stick with the 5 string so I don't goof up too often. Today is a snow day so I'm trying to play my 4 string correctly but it's tough., but I figure if I work at it ,I can play both. I have a nice 4 string I want to be able to use as a back up at gigs without goofing up.
  3. The Ibanez is a really good value too. They play well, sound good and are pretty good quality for the money. The string spacing didn't mess me up as bad as the extra string.
  4. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I switch between J and P, Gretsch, Epiphone and Squier, 34", 32", 30", solid body, hollow body, semi-hollow body, constantly. Doesn't bother me a bit.

    However, changing to a 5-string would definitely be a challenge, so I don't do it. In playing since 1967, I haven't found anything I need to play that I can't play on four strings. If I need a low D, I tune down temporarily.

    I respect those who can switch back and forth, but as for me, "Not gonna do it - wouldn't be prudent."
  5. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    Thanks for the replies :)

    Anyone else have an opinion on this?
  6. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I regularly switch between a Hofner my regular 4's and my 5 and I have really large hands so the Hofner feels very small and my Treker 5 has wide spacing and at first it was a challenge but I do it every day and with practice I was able to do it without even noticing which one I was playing.
  7. Personally, I want to be ready to play any bass, with any spacing, scale-length or any string number. If I was outside and unexpectedly asked to play and I didn't have my gear with me, I want to be ready to go at the drop of a hat. Someone might point and say, "You can use that bass." My reply will not be, "Sorry, I can't play with that string spacing and/or that number of strings."

    I don't want to restrict myself to a certain string spacing, which would detract me from a purchase. I can understand that a person with large hands may require a wider string spacing, but my hands are not large by any means.

    I own basses with 4, 5, 6, & 7-strings, fretted and fretless, wide string spacing of my Warwick Thumb BO 6, which I believe is a broadneck, right down to my 16.5mm Ibanez SR885.

    My wishlist includes the Ibanez Gerald Veasley budget Signature model, which has just 14mm spacing. Not only that, I've been GAS'ing over Fender's recently publicized Pawn Shop Bass VI, which if I own it, I fully intend to play using my fingers, not a pick.
  8. I jump between various four strings (all varying spacing) and a six string... takes getting used to, but you will get used to it ;)

    Major GAS for my first Five string... it's time... :help:
  9. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    if you seldom do that, the difference in sound, weight and of course string spacin' (19mm not 20 on Precision's) would be disappointing

  10. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Like anything else, if you practice enough it will become second nature.
  11. crack-boom


    Jun 14, 2008
    New Zealand
    Give me any bass under 5 string and it's fine. 6+ is when I start having issues haha.

    For me it was just playing time on 5 strings, the more time I played, the more comfortable I felt. Now you can give me any bass (5 and under) and as long as it can hold tune I can play it fine.
  12. Shardik


    May 24, 2011
    Halden, Norway
    I have played 4 strings 34" basses so far. I own one fretted and one defretted fretless. About half a year ago I tuned both to DGCF. Took about a month to get used to that. Now that is no problem, even if I play the guitar too.

    Tried a 5 string in a shop last weekend, and it was surprisingly easy. Now I have GAS for a Warwick 5 string Star bass.
  13. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy

    "learnin' to live" 10 years after-John Myung on Yamaha RBXJM6 (check 4:50 on out)

  14. My main basses have very different necks. My Fender is a chunky modern C w/ 9.5" radius.
    My backup is a very thin neck with a 14" radius.

    No problems switching back and forth. Just spend a bunch of time with both and not worry about it.
  15. georgestrings

    georgestrings Inactive

    Nov 5, 2005

    Sure, all the time - in my main band, I play both 4s and 5s... I typically use either a Sterling 5 HS, SUB5, or sr905, a '76 P bass, a pair of MIA Jazz's, or a Gibson Thunderbird - and switch back and forth between all of them without a hitch...

    - georgestrings
  16. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Sure. All the time. But there are a couple of things you have to realize here. One is that a P-bass has a wide neck as basses go and an Ibanez has a thin neck. Of course one is a 4 and the other is a 5 which tends to even things out just a bit, the the culprit in my opinion is string spacing not neck profile even though folks here go on and on about how they "can't play" this or that style neck. But just do it and like everything it becomes natural and you get used to it even switching back and forth.

    Which leads to the second half of this problem. Contrary to popular wisdom, a 5 string is not just a 4 string with a few extra low notes. It's a whole different style of playing. In a sense a different instrument. So not only do you have to adjust to necks and spacing, but change your playing style as well. That's why these days I tend not to play 4s. But since I played 4 stringers for so many years, it's not like I can't. I DO remember how they are. But for what I'm doing now, I'd just rather not deal with it.

    So my solution is to own a Ibanez 5er (well actually mine are 6ers, but that's basically the same thing) and a P-bass 5er (well actually mine is a P/J but that's basically the same thing). And this to me is a great combo to have at your disposal. Ibanez is the classic "modern" sound. Fat and nice and fast with extended range and a P-bass is obviously the classic old school sound. (and with a B string extends the range of that classic sound). Covers things REALLY nicely. I know a couple of other killer bass players who go to gigs with only their Ibanez and Squiers and bring down the house! My only change would be if I suddenly got into "classic" basslines where I'd switch the P-bass to 4 strings to keep it all authentic. But for now, what I've got works just great.

    So, Switching? No problem. One word: PRACTICE! Duh!
  17. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    I recently got a fiver again. I actually found switching between a 19mm Fender four and a 16.5mm Ibanez five to be too big an issue to deal with when I first tried a fiver. My current fiver is a Fender Jazz V and while its spacing is only 17mm that actually seems to make a big difference to me. I really have a hard time believing that myself but it is true. If you want to try some basses in stores to see if a different spacing works better for you the Fender MIMs tend to be 17mm, the Fender MIAs tend to be 18, and the Squier Deluxe Active V and the Ibanez BTB fives are 19mm. I am starting to bond with the Fender V, something that never happened with the Ibanez SR505, and I don't have much trouble switching between the two. I never have trouble picking up one of my fours but if I have been playing a four exclusively for a few days it takes me 10 or 15 minutes to lock into the five string when I go back to it. I tune my basses in fifths starting on the C below the traditional E and that helps a lot when switching from four to five to four because all my basses have the same open note on the bottom string. The four string basses then have the range of a five and the five has the range of a six and that has me questioning whether I really need the five since I just don't use the top E string all that much. I kinda got the five because the higher voice of the top four strings is better for chording and now I am thinking maybe a bass VI or baritone guitar would serve better for that. It never ends does it?

  18. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    Practice, practice, practice.

    I own 4 strings as well as 5ers strung E-C and B-G. My 5ers vary on string spacing too.

    I play all without a problem, but I have trouble slapping on a bass with less than about 18.5mm spacing. Beyond that, switching is almost second nature.
  19. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I agree with the others, it's just something that you'll need to practice. It feels strange at first but you should get used to it eventually.
  20. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I jump back and forth all the time between: 4 string, 5 string, fretted, fretless, long scale, short scale, wide neck, narrow neck, electric, acoustic, upright, bass, piano, guitar, drums, vocals. A pro woodwinds player would be expected to switch effortlessly between soprano, alto, tenor, bari, flute, etc.

    It's only an obstacle if you make it into one in your mind. :)
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