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The plunge to five or six string bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by garythenuke, Apr 11, 2010.

  1. I have a question (or three) for all of you who play five or six strings.

    Did any of you take the dive directly into five or six strings? By this I mean, was your first bass a five or six string?

    If you took a "progressive" approach, how long did you play four strings before you went to five.

    How long did you play five before you went to six, or did you jump directly from four to six?

    I suppose this could be a poll, but I generally leave something out when I write polls...

    Thanks in advance.
  2. behndy

    behndy Banned

    Nov 1, 2008
    i played 4's for years, took about 7 years of playing bass to do some electronic stuff, then went to a 6'er. now i use 6'ers live and have a 7'er at home for noodling/writing.

    i never used a 5. i HAVE one, but it's just because it was a cheap buy on a clear body. don't ever use it tho.

    -0behn desu0-
  3. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Started with a four. Migrated to a five after a year. Moved on to a sixer a year after that. Two years later I'm still stuck on a six.
  4. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    I started on a five because my teacher played a five.

    I learnt in church, and i play in church. I need the B string. My first bass was a 5.

    About 2 years of running off the fretboard trying to play what an electric guitarist should be playing (we were always short of manpower then) my second bass was a 6.

    I still doodle on non-6s, usually my students' 4s. Haven't touched a 5 in a while.
  5. Ziltoid

    Ziltoid I don't play bass

    Apr 10, 2009
    I did 4-6, took some time to get used, but I'm very happy I did.
  6. nic salsus

    nic salsus

    Mar 16, 2010
    This is a totally bizarre question. It's not like 4 is easier than 5 and 5 is easier than 6 and you some how your way up. You play the instrument that speaks to you.

    I ended up with a high C 5 string because I was missing those upper end notes. I've bought but never kept low B instruments (couple 5s and a 6) because I never seem to find a use for that B string. It's a personal decision YOU and you alone have to make. What someone else thinks no matter how good they are doesn't have anything to do with the music you got in your head.
  7. I don't think it's a bizarre question(it certainly gets asked regularly, anyway), & I find 4s easier than 5s, and 5s easier than 6s. NOT a blanket statement of *fact*, just my experience/feelings.
    On topic, I played 4s for over 20 years, tried 5, freaked out/couldn't adapt quickly enough, went back to 4 while slipping the 5 in here & there until it eventually took over as my *main*.. After a couple of years primarily on 5 I jumped to the 6- this was easier than the 4-to-5 jump- again, for me.
  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Like ... carrots?

    Anyway, I jumped from four to five in 1995, after playing fours for 15 years or so. I had just started a new Country Western band, and I saw a guy playing a fiver at a gig, so I thought I'd give it a try. It took me about 20 minutes to get used to it, and another 20 to love it. Now all but one of my basses are fives, and that's all I play. Never went to six.
  9. Okay, how about this: For how many of you did a six string speak immediately to you? How about a five? How long did it take for the five or six to speak to you??
    Is that less bizarre? To me it is more bizarre, but to each their own... I was actually not necessarily speaking to the difficulty level, but rather to the sound possiblities.

    LOL... Yeah, carrots and toilet paper.:cool:
    Based on Bassteban's answer, is it easier to make the leap before or after you are really ingrained with the four string?

    Any idea why the 5-6 jump was easier than the 4-5?? Sorry Nic, I guess this is getting bizarre again.:bag:
  10. nic salsus

    nic salsus

    Mar 16, 2010
    Actually if you stop to think about it in terms of making music rather than just wiggling your fingers it IS a bizarre question.....we humans do bizarre things like this all the time.

    Here's the test:
    Do you hear music in your head?
    Does that music have a low B?
    If it does buy an instrument with a B
    Does that music have a high C?
    If it does buy an instrument with a high C.
    I hope you hear that music in your head, if you don't then start.
    It's very simple.
    If you buy an instrument that can't do what you have in your head you will be frustrated.
    Worrying about how "hard" it is is starting from a position of fear and and to play the bass well you need to be fearless.
  11. I went straight from 4s to 6s in a maybe 3 months but I didn't really feel comfortable playing a six until I got my third (the first two didn't have the feel I wanted) about 2 months after that which was a Yamaha TRB6 that felt and sounded amazing. I think the hardest part about playing 6ers is finding one that feels good, the tone will usually come after you find that.

    I ended up getting rid of my 6s and playing 5s because I found that the C string got minimal use. Whenever I think I can make good use of it I'll get another.
  12. J-Building


    Jan 1, 2009
    I started on 4's because I didn't know there were 5's out there. I pretty much bought a bass and started learning from there. When I got my second bass, I had a choice between a nice 5er and a decent-to-crap 6er, so I chose the 5er. Now I plan to get a 6er either by modding the hell out of an entry-level bass or getting a used bass that's pretty nice.
  13. duderasta


    Feb 25, 2010
    Tampa, FL
    I started on 4 strings, but we played a lot of stuff with drop tunings, I eventually decided to get a 5 string after about 6 or 7 years. Much easier than tuning down between songs or keeping basses with different tunings around.

    Plus, I like the flexibility of being able to work from the fifth fret on standard tuning instead of the open E...

    What I did was bought a cheap 5 string that felt good and sounded ok. I then when to practice and told the band they would have to deal with my mistakes till I got used to not hitting the B-String when I was going for the E-String...

    I refused to even pick up my 4 string until I had it down
  14. I played 4 stringers for many, many years. Then I went straight to a 6 string fretless, figuring I could kill a lot of birds with one stone. When the dust settled, I'm all 5's, no 4's, no 6's and one fretless (also a 5). I can do sixers, but can't go back to 4's.
  15. gregwatts2008

    gregwatts2008 Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2008
    Jupiter, Florida
    I played a Ric for about a year and went all in on a Tobias 5 back in 1988. I have tried a 6 here and there but it wasn't me. I don't think I can play a 4 anymore either. Don't buy what someone else tells you you should have, buy what you need to accomplish your own mission.
  16. Timlr


    Dec 15, 2007
    My first 5 was my second bass, after my Squier Affinity 4. Mostly due to people around me saying "it was the way to go," but it wasn't truly my decision, so I just didn't dig it as much as I could have.

    I loved the bass, but rarely used the low B because I was just so used to the 4 string idea. Eventually i tuned it with a high-C instead (and still hardly used that, but it was definitely fun, especially for the extended ability in creating chords, which I now understood, as I just wasn't advanced enough for the time I had the low B on it). Recently I've been stickin' with 4's and love it, but my next will be a 5, (almost) no doubt.

    I see myself owning and loving both, but I GAS everyday for a killer B.
  17. Nic- [DEL]w/e, dude[/DEL] that's nice. :D
    Gary, I'm not sure why 5-6 was easier than 4-5; I'm sure quitting 4:20 breaks(this happened about the same time as the 4-5 switch attempt)helped a bit, but for me, *4 string bass* was a box of sorts, which I had to *think outside of* to remember the *extra* string(s), and once I[successfully]went 5, 6 was just- again, for me- easier.
  18. Beginner Bass

    Beginner Bass

    Jul 8, 2009
    Round Rock, TX
    A&R, Soulless Corporation Records
    I started on 4, got a 5 after about 1 1/2 years.
  19. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    I more or less jumped right into 5's when I started playing. The first bass I bought was a 4, but after a few weeks, while I was still within the return window, I took it back to the store. I played some more basses, ended up taking home a five, and that's where I've stayed. I've played a few 6's in stores, but for whatever reason I've never been tempted to buy one.

    The few times I've played a four I had a tough time adjusting and I sometimes to buy a 4 just so I can learn to play one comfortably. But, honestly, I keep reaching the conclusion that there's nothing I can do on a 4 that I can't do on a 5 and that small urge just fades.
  20. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Actually, the six spoke to me immediately - my greatest musical influence, J.R.Myung of Dream Theater, and so I always wanted to take one up. Trouble was, four years ago sixers were nowhere to be found - at least cheap ones. Until two years ago.

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