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switch to a 5 string from a 4 string

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Japer, May 23, 2003.

  1. Japer


    Jul 25, 2002
    I am currently playing a 4 string fender, and I mainly play metal/blues. I have been playing bass for about 11 and 1/2 monthes, would I be very hard to ajust to a 5 string?
  2. temp5897

    temp5897 Guest

    I personally don't think so. I did it and will never go back. It didn't take long at all to get used to the "extra" string.
  3. I think the answer will depend on how much time you spend with your bass (per day, per week...)

    i.e., the more time you spend getting used to a 5 (or 6 or 7), the sooner it will feel as familiar as your 4 does now.


    Do you play every day?
  4. JayAmel

    JayAmel Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    I switched to 5-string in last December, when buying my SR5. I did this after almost 27 years of playing exclusively 4-strings.

    Playing by ear, it took me less than 10 minutes to get familiar with the 5 strings.

    For playing by reading scores, it took me a bit more.

    But I'm so glad of the 5-string feeling that I couldn't imagine a life with only 4-stringers...
  5. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    I just switched from a 4 to a 6 and I felt comfortable within a month.

    Go for it!
  6. It may feel a bit odd for a short time, but, you will never regret it.

    You play Blues? Just think: Play a pattern in G, and you can go DOWN to D instead of only up! :eek: :)

    Go for it! :cool:

  7. Funkster


    Apr 6, 2000
    Wormtown, MA
    I just bought my first 5 after 25 years of playing and I haven't put it down since I got it a week ago. Man it is fun...

    I mean I'll still play my 4's but no more tuning down no more alternate tunnings, the 5 will be at every gig.
  8. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    In my band Thaoerm, I'm mainly using 5's. Every few months I'll switch back to 4's & a few months later back to 5's, etc.

    What I've found is when I get used to playing on a 5 & switch to 4, I'm always looking for the B string & I mess up alittle. When I switch from 4 to 5, I don't mess up as much, it just takes a rehearsal or 2 to play the B like I want to.
  9. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    Ditto - once you get your head around the extra string (and it won't take long) you'll find fours lacking from now on. A five does everything a four does but a four does not do everything a five does.
  10. dragonbass

    dragonbass Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2003
    ........................................EX-Sadowsky Guitars Builder..........................................................
    Hey Japer,

    I'm in the same boat as you.-kinda of-

    I've been playing 4 strings for 14 years and never had a 5 string...I'm thinking about picking one up, but I don't know how I will adapt to it.

    I guess just practice.
  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I just sold my only 4-string, and bought 5-string number nine. I'm addicted.
  12. dragonbass

    dragonbass Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2003
    ........................................EX-Sadowsky Guitars Builder..........................................................

    How long have you been playing 5 string?

    Do you notice that you actually use the lower range?

    If I move to a 5..this will be a big step for me...
  13. DougD

    DougD Bassman7654 Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    North Las Vegas NV
    It's not hard at all if you follow a few simple steps. Step 1: Carefully place old 4 string in its case. 2: Place case (with 4 string inside) into the closet. 3: Play until truly comfortable on 5 strings (your time may vary). 4: Go to closet and dig out 4 string and look at it for a while. 5: Place case (with 4 string inside) back in closet. 6. Repeat steps 1 through 5.:D
  14. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    You may not use it as much as you think depending on what and how you play, but I love the alternate fingerings. I play a lot of stuff in F. It allows me to get from F to G# much easier than with a 4. You'll also see other examples as well when you've played it enough.
  15. It shouldn't be too difficult. I played a 4 string for about the same time you did (about a year) before I switched to a 5 string, and the adjustment period was pretty quick, maybe a few days. I started out playing a Rickenbacker, but switched to an Ibanez SR 5, which I played for 3 years. I sold that and bought a Fender RB5 that it's still my No. 1.

    Even though I prefer 5 strings (got to love that lower range), I still own and play 4 strings, like my beloved Fender Marcus Miller Jazz. Because of my experience with both, I switch between 4's and 5's without much problem.
  16. Jeff Rader

    Jeff Rader Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State
    Why not play both?

    I have both 4 and 5 strings and have no problem going between the two. Although I don't own one, I can pick up a 7 string and get around just fine.

    Along with the great advise you were given in the posts above, I would add that keeping the "B" string muted is a skill you will need to practice. There are several techniques for this so find the one that suits your style and practice it (with scales/patterns) so it becomes natural to you.

    Good luck!!
  17. Marley's Ghost

    Marley's Ghost Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    It's taking me longer that I thought it would. I go back and forth between a 4 and a 5, and maybe that's why. I find that I have to concentrate more with the 5, or I will hit the E instead of the A if I zone out. :oops:
  18. Fliptrique


    Jul 22, 2002
    Szczecin, Poland
    Endorsing Artist: Mayones Guitars&Basses, Taurus Amplification
    i`ve been playing my 5 string MIJ soundgear for about 3 weeks now. haven`t touched my 4 string since. Having two octaves without the need to move my hand is so damn cool.

    The transition was so easy, that I`m considering a 6 string Spector by the end of the year :)
  19. I soon too will be making a switch from the 4 to the larger 6, but my six weighs about the same as my four string, so the weight wont kill me.
  20. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I bought my first fiver about eight years ago. It took me about 10 minutes to realize I'd never play a four again. I use the lower range (usually C's and D's) on a lot of country songs, but the real utility of the fiver is playing five frets up the neck, where the frets are closer together. You play the same patterns as on the four, but much more easily. And, when you need, say, a low E or F, you just drop down onto the B string, rather than move your hand all the way down to the nut.

    An easy way to get used to playing a five is to think of it as a four with an auxiliary string. Playing the B string is not mandatory, but you'll find it very convenient when you need it. As time goes on, you'll find yourself going to that string more often, until it just comes naturally. Don't fret over this, look at it with relish. It's something new and exciting and will increase your options on the instrument.

    Good luck!