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transition from 4 to 5

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Peter Squire, Jan 18, 2005.

  1. Hi fellow bassists!

    This has probably been a thread more times than you care to remember, but I can't get anything on the search.

    I am about to take possession of a Stingray 5 after being a 4 stringer for about 25 years. Although my theory and chops are pretty smart, I keep hearing how hard it is to change to the 5. I hear about re-learning all those patterns and "normal" changes we get in our heads.

    I am wondering if you have any tips to make the transition easier. I can already mentally visualise the notes I'll be adding and how they will enter my style, but I still haven't even played a 5, being a lefty in my part of the world means I only spend envy in a music store. :meh:

    Any thoughts??
  2. RevGroove

    RevGroove Commercial User

    Jul 21, 2002
    Burlington ON Canada
    Manager, Account Services: Long & McQuade Ltd. (Burlington); MTD Kingston Basses International Emerging Artist; Bartolini Electronics Emerging Artist
    It just takes a little extra discipline and concentration at first, but after awhile you won't even give it a second thought...good luck...and don't forget to post pics when you pick it up!
  3. It really makes almost no difference. The only change is that the strings are closer together. It took me about five minutes to get used to it and a week to be totally comfertable. I don't know who you've been talking to but if you are comfertable on a four you should have no troulbe switching. The only issue is an increased reach.
  4. LowEbandit


    Aug 11, 2004
    "It really makes almost no difference. The only change is that the strings are closer together."

    I'll have to disagree on this one, I played bass for ten years with almost no knowledge of what a five string was and when I saw so many people switching, I had to also.
    The biggest problem that I think you have to overcome, IMHO is forgetting that the low E is actually a low B. You can get pretty mixed up this way. What I kept thinking was EADG was actually BEAD and let me tell you it took a while to get adjusted, but that's just me and I'm not known to be the brightest bulb in the pack in the first place. It's confusing at first but you'll get it and be glad you did because of the extended range a 5 has to offer. Overall it shouldn't be too hard, just tatoo in your brain that the top string is a B....On a side note I can't even pick up my other 4 string anymore, it just feels wierd, and I repeatedly think the E is a B now.........go figure.....:(

    I'm a lefty too and also have a hard time finding basses. Seems like if you like one, no stores carry them to try out...

    I'll have a Schecter Custom 5 for sale here pretty soon if you or anybody you know would be interested, otherwise it's going on the 'bay.

    Hope this helped,
  5. Thanks guys, the advice has made me feel more easy about making the change.

    I had been reading posts from the guys around here, in the basses forum, who said that you basically had to re-wire your brain to make the change to a 5. i thought that sounded a bit odd, since i can already visualise the extra notes,and even how I will use them in certain songs.

    LowE, nice to meet another lefty who goes through the same stuff everyday like me. Everyone else is debating the virtues of the Bongo, or latest Sadowsky - I can't even pick one up and play it properly (can do that upside down thing...but).

    I must say, I was really annoyed that Fender don't make a Jazz 5-string lefty, as that would have been my first choice. on the upside, since i chose to go with the stingray, everyone has said i am gonna get one of the very best instruments on the market.

    thanks again guys - mucho appreciated :D
  6. 25 years?! shouldnt u b freakin pro at bass by now? what the heck is adding another string going to mean to you? ive been a 4 stringer for 5 years and ive only been playin for 5 and i just switched to a 5 string warwick thumb and had no probs.

    ...worryin about switchin to a 5 string afterplaying for 25 years. u kiddin me. :eyebrow:
  7. P-nut


    Dec 27, 2004
    I've been playing for 1 year and I got a 6 string now.
    It ain't no problem, you just need to mute differently (with your thumb).
  8. I play since two years and this summer I will have a 5 string ESP bass. I don't think it will be so difficult changing... but i'm visual, i think it helps to visualize the notes. I don't think it's so difficult if you're visual. Even if you play since 25 years! But the thing that really piss me off is that me too I'm lefty, and I have yo pay 30 ****ing percent of the prize to have my dream bass lefty. The bass costs 750$, so I will pay 225 ****ing dollars more, just because i'm lefty. ARGH! :mad:
  9. haha man that sux bro. but my brother has a 4string ESP bass and i think it sounds pretty sweet. i really like the pickups that come on it stock. plays really well too.
  10. To ease the transition - maybe try this:

    With regard to four strings as your prior instrument....many bassists are used to anchoring their plucking hand by resting their thumb on the lowest (E) string. Your muscle memory allows your hand to 'find the other three'.

    When you first start playing the five, rather than anchoring your thumb on the lowest string (now being B) drop your thumb anchor down to the E string. In some respects, the fiver shouldn't feel as awkward as it would by anchoring on the B.

    Some bassists develop the ability to 'float' their thumb and still have no trouble referencing where they are, so to speak.
  11. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I've been playing for over 20 years and the transition wasn't as easy for me as it apparently is for many folks. I was gigging with the 5 within a couple of weeks after getting it, but I'm still coming to terms with it. Never really had the B-E confusion, but having to shift positions and jump to a note on the A or D string could be an adventure, since the muscle memory of where they are doesn't quite apply the same way any more, and visually those strings are "lost" in the middle when you are trying to use a visual crutch in the split-second of a quick change at 120 bpm. That just took some practice, not a big deal. The main thing I'm still getting used to is muting while slapping. I'm getting better, but there are still things I can't pull off on my 5. Not a big deal because the slap pyrotechnics are mostly for my own amusement rather than for use within a band context.

    Some folks have it easier than others, but I am certainly glad I dove in and joined the club. Good luck to you in making the transition!

  12. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    After a 5 string

    Jump to a 7 string conklin and join the rest of us

    If you tune it B E A D G B E its the same two strings over, so all those patterns you know just wrap arround and stuff.

  13. Are you serious? :confused: :confused: :confused:

    I would have thought it was fairly obvious that changing to a 5 string after 25 years is likely to be more of a problem than doing so after a mere 5 years. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
  14. Nice!
  15. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    I've played 4string for one year and then i changed to a five-string,
    and now the problem is - i have a problem playing 4string :rolleyes:
  16. jadesmar


    Feb 17, 2003
    Ottawa, ON
    I had very few problems switching over after about 12 years playing a 4 string.

    I have been playing 5 string for about 2 years now and the only problem I notice is when I try and tune.

    Eg. I play my A string, look at the tuner.. oops, a little flat, and then promptly tune the E string sharp. :oops:
  17. snake


    Jul 21, 2004
    Aurora. CO
    I've played bass for more than 20 years, and recently switched to a 5-string. I'm left handed as well so found a lefty Yamaha for 200.00 on Musician's Friend on sale because of some checking. I found I got mixed up as well thinking the B was an E. With practice I was able to gig with it fairly quickly. I also own a lefty Schecter Scorpion that is a four string tuned BEAD, Now with that I have to think a lot more. The bass I'm using the most right now is my trusty Washburn Bantam headless bass. This was the first left handed bass I ever bought.