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Switching on and off with 4 and 5 string

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MAJOR METAL, Feb 19, 2003.


    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Staff Member Supporting Member

    Does any one switch on and off between 5 and 4 string. I am going to have a 5 string built for me and i have been playing 4 for along time i just wanted to know with what ease people are able to switch back and forth. Thank you everyone:)
  2. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    I stick pretty much to my fiver these days but for several years I would switch back and forth with about 60% of my gigs on a five and 40% on a four.

    Once you get the knack of playing a fiver, going back and forth is not a big deal. At first you certainly need to concentrate a little more because it's easy to forget that the big string is B not an E.
    The trick though is to switch back and forth with some regularity. You won't have any real difficulty.
  3. TxBass


    Jul 3, 2002
    Frisco, Texas
    I've been switching back and forth with my 4 and 5 for about 2 years now--basically because I leave the 4 at church so I don't have to drag it back and forth. But, I MISS the 5 string so much when I play the 4. I've just grown to love having the B string if I want to use it.
    Now I'm doing the 6 string thing and it's even more fun than 5.
    I don't think you'll have any problems except for the initial adjustment.
  4. morebass!

    morebass! I'm all ears Supporting Member

    May 31, 2002
    Madison WI
    I've been playing for about 25 years and switched from 4 to 5 about 4 years ago. I stayed with the 5 for a couple years and everything was going good then I started missing the 4 and played it and really enjoyed it so started switching back n' forth. I still have some trouble mistaking strings (B for E mostly). It's probably because I don't practice very much. If you spend enough time with your instruments you probably won't have a problem but if you're a weekender with a dayjob and young kids etc. like me you might want to pick one or the other. I land on the wrong note about once a gig due to this confusion. It makes you have to think more which is not a good thing in my case.
  5. Noobai


    Aug 25, 2002
    Stanford, CA
    Yeah, I just moved to 5 string, switching back to 4 isnt a problem.

    The strin mixup happens every once in a while (B to E), but if you warmup, your fingers will feel the strings and know whats going on.

    No problem switching back and forth, in fact, I think my next bass will be a 4. I like the 5, but it is overrated :)
  6. vanselus


    Sep 20, 2000
    Boulder, CO
    I switch back and forth all the time - for the punk gigs I always play my Flea 4 since a low B is just not needed for that group. same thing with the low-volume trad blues group - usually the casady sig and that's plenty!

    sometimes it takes me a song or two to realize the B isn't there (i learned on a 5) or that it IS...

    but really, i'd be really sad in my 60's rock group to not be able to do low roots on the B string, say on the 9-13 frets - I LOVE how they blossom.
  7. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I switch between 4, 5, 6, and 12 stringers, as well as 5 string fretless. No problem.
  8. Sofa King

    Sofa King

    Aug 20, 2000
    Rowlett, TX
    I switch between a 35" 5-string to a 34" fretless four often with no problem
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    before I lost it in a plane crash last June, I had a pre-CBS Precis that always went to gigs with me. It nailed all the Motown stuff in the set lists.

    But I also used a 5'er for the newer stuff in set lists.

    So what I'm saying is, it just depends on your musical needs and your style. Using a B string just doesn't "Jamerson" some music, although the fingering would have been easier with my 5'er.

    There's definitely a need for both. A fine player can say more on 4 strings than some jerk with 9 strings. It's all about using them judiciously. As far as "ease", it has always been a "no brainer" mechanically. The challenge is --- using the available strings with taste and emotional impact.
  10. Come June, I'll have my 5 string for two years. In the beginning, I always mistook the B string for the E. I spent about 3 or 4 months almost exclusively on the 5er, but, then went back to my fours because they felt more familiar. Then, last fall I hardly played any of my basses at all because I was trying to get better at Blues guitar. Now, I've pretty much shelved the regular guitars and I play my 5er more than any of my other basses. What began as fumbling and stumbling on an instrument with an extra, annoying string now seems natural to the point that when I play my fours, I really miss the B string. I even played a BTB406QM the other day in Sam Ash, and it really felt good. I'm getting worried now. - G.A.S. -

    Beware of those 5s and 6s. They just might steal your heart away. It just might take some time.

  11. alembicfive


    Jan 17, 2003
    Nope, can't do it. Once I went 5, I never went back! I ended up getting rid of all my 4's. I find the string spacing on 4 just wide enough now that I do not like it. Now I am trying to get use to 5 to 6 and back!
  12. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I have had a fretted 5 and a fretless 4 since 97. I tend to rotate basses. I am currently playing the fretless exclusively.

    BTW I also have classical acoustic and electric guitars all with different string guages/tensions and use open tunings for slide.
  13. BTBbassist

    BTBbassist join us for mankala hour!

    Apr 20, 2002
    Westlake Village, CA
    I switch between my 34" Stingray 4 and my 35" BTB 5 with no problem, but I prefer the 4 banger. I just feel more ...funky...with a 4. Anyway.
  14. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    My band plays all original music and I switch during the set....half the set is played on 5 and obviously the other half on 4.

    My Spector and Ken Smith are killer sounding 5 strings, but 4 strings just have that certain something on particular normal range songs you can't grind out of a 5. Also, I D-tune on a few of the 4 string songs, and it's just easier and better sounding to play.
    A couple of times our manager has accidentally forgotten to group the songs by 4 or 5 string, so I just ended up playing the 5 string through the whole set, but it just didn't have that same vibe to it. Maybe I'm just weird that way.

    I have no problems or ever forget which one I'm playing.
  15. Mike


    Sep 7, 2000
    I switched to 5's about 3 yrs ago. I can't play a 4 anymore to save my life. I keep thinking the D is the A string and I foul up constantly. I'm totally reprogrammed. It would probably take me another 3 yrs to go back to 4's if I had to. Pathetic.
  16. Toony


    Jun 15, 2001
    I switch to and fro okay. My 5's are fretted and my one 4 is fretless, so my mind doesn't even seem to link the instruments.
  17. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    I switch between a 5- 35" fretted, 5- 34" fretless, and 4 34" fretted no problem. Took all of 10 minutes to get used to it the first couple times.
  18. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    With the acquisition of my MVP4 (see avatar), I have stopped playing the 5 all the time. Now I play the 4 for jazz and freelance gigs and jams and play my usual 5 with my regular band. (my bandmates are spoiled and I actually miss the B in some songs).

    I have no problem adjusting because the width and feel of both necks are very different, so i never expect a B when I'm playing the MVP neck.

    I don't think an instrument can be overrated. I do believe a lot of people blame their own limitations on their instruments.
  19. I started with a 5, and I'm going down to a four because of the "new" Rick 4001. It was never a problem for me because the B was just a glorified thumbrest most of the time. I don't think I have the skill or real need to use it yet. But I like to switch between the two because they're two very different feeling and sounding guitars. I still have a lot to learn, and by learning with the both of them, I think my playing will become more well rounded.
  20. By-Tor


    Apr 13, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    I have 3 four string basses and 1 seven string bass.
    All get played.