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Switching between 5 string and 4 string basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Roboglitch, Oct 10, 2013.

  1. Roboglitch


    Jan 1, 2013
    How many of you regularly switch between playing 4 and 5 string basses? I bought a cheap 5 string for a project and I love it to the point that I'm thinking of getting rid of my 4 string and only playing 5. My four string is a much better quality bass so I hate to sell it as I've always regretted selling any bass I've had. Still I haven't touched it for months. Thoughts?
  2. Crazy_Climer


    Jan 15, 2012
    Central WA
    I only have a 5-string... so can't answer the question EXACTLY as asked. But, I've recently (literally 2 days ago) decided to see how low I could tune it. I have it down to F#, with relative stability... though it's really, really low tension. Thankfully, I am running XL Chromes, which have a 'tense' feel to them as it is, in spite of the literal tension.

    What I'm debating now-- before I play on the weekend-- is if I'm going to feel comfortable with the adjustment to keep it this way? Honestly, I probably won't play much lower than I do now, it's more a matter of moving further up the neck while still maintaining the same "tuning" I had before. I'd still be BEADG, except that would all start on the fifth-fret. I almost never use anything on the G-string, which is why I've considered this. I've been enjoying moving up the neck, but if I'm going to play "bass", I haven't enjoyed the increasing frequency, as I move up the neck, if that makes any sense.
  3. georgestrings

    georgestrings Inactive

    Nov 5, 2005
    I've played both and switched back and forth for the last 6 years or so... In my current band, I take one of each to my gigs in a double gig bag, and probably play about 1/3 or our songs on a 5er...

    - georgestrings
  4. preside


    Aug 7, 2010
    Scottsdale Az
    Don't sell it!! I played only 5 string for about 6 years and when I got a 4 string again it felt like I had to relearn the instrument. Now I switch back and forth all the time and it prevents me from becoming a "pattern" player. I have to think about note selection and all of the different ways I can play a line and this makes me a more present musician.
  5. I switch back and forth a lot but not on the same gig. If I am playing a jazz gig I use my fretless four string Rob Allen Mouse..for everything else I play a 5'er..
  6. msaone


    May 13, 2012
    Played both awhile back. Same as you cheap 5, nice 4 string.
    Whatever you do, don't sell the 4 string.
  7. jlepre

    jlepre Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Cedar Knolls, NJ
    I switched back in 1995 and never looked back. Oh I do have the occasional sit ins with a friends band, and I play their bassists 4 string. I just feel more free on a 5. Comes in very handy when I'm singing lead or background so I don't have to look at my hands as much
  8. christle


    Jan 26, 2002
    Winnipeg, MB
    I switch back and forth all the time. Just depends on the gig and the set list.
  9. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I switch back and fourth all the time too. I can play all but 1 of our songs on a 4 string but I do enjoy throwing in some low notes on a 5er here and there. It takes a few seconds to mentally adjust to whichever you happen to be playing, but it's easy enough.

    I've been playing my 5ers a lot more lately (pretty much 100% of the time) and have been mulling around the thought of getting rid of a bunch of my 4's, except for the irreplaceables.
  10. lowfreqgeek


    Mar 15, 2010
    Tijeras, NM
    I go through cycles. Sometimes all I need or want is a P bass, other times, it's my custom 6 string. Lately, I've been playing mostly fretless 5. I've been swapping between 4/5/6 for 15 years.

    If you are gigging and/or playing a lot of different genres, it's a smart idea to keep at least a couple different basses around.
  11. spector_boogie

    spector_boogie No Limit Honky

    Apr 15, 2012
    The Woodlands, TX
    I have and play both. There's no reason to limit yourself in your lifetime of playing bass based on a TB poll or by what people say online. Get out there and jam on what works for you. I've been playing a 5'er the last 3 years exclusively, but I'm pricing a really nice 4 at the moment because I want one.
  12. Thrash3r


    Aug 5, 2013
    I switch back and forth depending on the gig and the song, I'd rather be playing a 4 string all the time but sometimes you just need a 5 string, there's no way I'd ditch my 4's and play only a 5 string.
  13. AngelCrusher


    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    I played 4's for 10 years and now only play a 5. I love 5's. Tons of versatility.
  14. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Inactive

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    Cant do it- I have two four strings left for that reason- all the songs I play with all my bands for the past 15 years are positioned to be anchored off the B string.
    Its not that I cant play 4 strings any more, its that I cant think quick enough on my feet to play my current setlists on two different tunings, AKA "Where did my bleeping B string go?"
  15. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003

    I play both.
    But I tend to think more of note choice when playing a 5.
    It's not a bad thing.
    4-string is second nature to me.
  16. I swap consistently between a 4 string P, and a 5 string MTD with the whole asymmetrical neck thing. I don't have an issue.
  17. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    That's happened to me! Sometimes I end up playing on the wrong string...
  18. MyMusic


    Jun 1, 2010
    Dover, De
    I switch back and forth when I practice so if its ever necessary on a gig I can without a problem.
  19. Ninjabot


    May 22, 2012
    Johnson City TN
    Don't sell your 4 string. I play mostly on 5 and 6 now with my band and didn't touch my 4 for well over 10 years. Now it's the only one I really practice on at home. It's like a brand new toy every time I pick it up. Lot's of fun playing on it. Plus it's nice to attack things from a different prospective every now and then.
  20. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    I too like using both so try to keep skills up for both. My goal is to never grab a wrong string, and I think I'm finally there after 20 years of swapping back and forth. Now I never think much about which I'm playing. Go ahead and sell the 4 if you need the cash but don't be surprised if you find yourself missing it at some point.

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