Usefulness of a low B on an EUB?

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by Persona87, Dec 29, 2017.

  1. Persona87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    I've been playing BG for about half of my life, the last five of which have been somewhat serious. I mainly play jazz, but I also listen to hard rock/metal, funk, and hip-hop. I played upright for about a year a while ago, but due to life situations I had to sell it. Now I'm in a place where I can afford a upright, but my living situation doesn't allow for an acoustic one, so I ordered a 4-string NS Design NXTa.

    The instrument itself is on backorder for a few more weeks, and I'm thinking about changing the order to a 5-string. I've read that the low B string speaks a lot better on an electric upright than on many acoustics, and the idea of bowing a low B or playing a cello part a full octave lower is pretty cool. It would also let me stay towards the middle of the neck instead of the lower positions (at least, that's how it works on 5-string BGs). I have read that it makes bowing harder, though (or at least, you have to be more accurate with your bow hand). Are there any other downsides to the 5er? Do you feel that it's worth having the extended range for the kind of music I play/listen to?
  2. LouieV2


    Jan 9, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Both my DB and EUB are 5ers, here’s my experience:

    You need to be a little more precise when playing arco. You just learn to get used to it, eventually you stop thinking about it. The low B is a bit more difficult to get to if you play German bow VS. French, but not impossible. (I play German)

    If you’re playing hip hop, IMO the 5th string will be very useful. The B string definitely responds better when playing pizz on the EUB, but arco on the DB is awesome. Once you get used to how the string responds you can also get it to sound great pizz on the DB.

    I personally enjoy having the lower range and find it useful. In an orchestral environment, there have been quite a few times I’ve been handed a part that goes below E - the other bass players were glad I had it covered.

    As with anything, if you have an opportunity to try before you buy, I recommend it. GL!
  3. I ignore it most of the time.
  4. I’m a jazzer, and have little use for a low anything on upright, so I strung my EUB 5er with a high C instead. Now I can solo without going into thumb position.
  5. I’d rather have a high C as well.
    Randy Ward likes this.
  6. Deltatim


    Nov 5, 2016
    Stockton, CA
    I have considered makeing my EUB BEAD. If I want the high end, I go up the neck on the BTB675. But I would love the thunder of a low B on the RUB. Dont really need it on the URB.
  7. hensonbass

    hensonbass Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I use my NS Design 5-string Omnibass with a low-B for my church gig when I need to combine arco / orchestral parts with playing more electric bass style worship music.

    The low B is really nice to have and I love bowing on it..sounds huge. I wish it could sustain more when plucked. I use GHS precision flatwound strings on this bass.

    I tried the high-C thing for a few years. I found it hard to match timbre of the g and c strings. It was useful if you are doing a solo type of performance. Now I'm back to being a no frills/support player and the B string is where it's at.

    Just for a laugh here's a clip of me playing my old Azola 5-string with a high-C on a tour gig I did for six years. The star would go off-stage and leave me and the drummer to fend for ourselves with a crowd that could not give a crap about bass&drum solos. We learned it was best to turn it into a karaoke sing-along.
  8. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    It’s about Eb and beyond, right?

    Getting it to sing is a matter of technique. I play four on bass guitar and upright. I wish for a lower register occasionally but not often enough to mess with it
  9. That is true. The high C in general, on upright, is just thin and weak sounding by nature, I think.
    hensonbass likes this.
  10. I tried both and ended up with a 4 string NS Design NXTa... Which I sometimes regret because the 5th string on the NS Design NXT is the best low B I have ever played. But bowing that beast was really hard. Seriously, playing any middle strings ( E, A and D) with a bow in the upper register was a pain.
  11. nbsipics

    nbsipics Ours' is the only Reality of Consequence Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    Hey, it worked for Eberhard Weber.
    Les Fret and Randy Ward like this.
  12. I recently bought a used 5 string EUB and it was strung with a high C. My plan was to use it like that for a couple months and if it didn't work out switch to a low B. It's an NS design which doesn't any physical stop for the Eb/D so thumb position is sometimes an afterthought. After gigging on it for a few months the high C just made a lot of sense to me. However whenever I play anything other than straight jazz I kinda miss that low B. My regular double bass has a C extension so maybe I'm low register spoiled.
    My plan is to put a HipShot extender on the EUB to drop the E. I'll probably get the HipShot double stop version which can drop to D and another note below that. The point being that I find the high C so darn useful and fun (especially Arco) that I can't give it up! Also I've been learning some Eberhard Weber stuff that probably wouldn't be possible or as easy without that C string.
    I guess that doesn't help much with your decision but like I said: for straight ahead playing I don't really miss the low B (much). YMMV
  13. Downside? Finding the right strings.

    I've played the high end NS 5-string EUB at a friends' place and the low B was very nice pizz. Definition and growly. I'd certainly use it if I had it.
    Randy Ward likes this.
  14. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I don't agree. I have a high C on my acoustic upright and love that string. It took a while to get used to. It is harder to play arco on a high C at first. But it sounds very cello like once you get a good bow sound. I like the arco sound more than the other strings which can sound dull in comparison.
    Randy Ward likes this.
  15. A low B or high C can be great. They can also make an EUB more substantial. The only real downside is there is less one to one relationship with a double bass.
    I had an Ergo 7 string which was great, until the pick-ups kept failing and and the high f strings stopped being made. At that point it was only a silent practice instrument and it was bad in that role. I exchanged for a four string the pick ups failed in just a few weeks but it is at least a silent practice stick!
    Randy Ward likes this.
  16. Oneirogenic


    Nov 10, 2009
    I have an older Ergo 5 string EUB that I bought used with a high C string. I thought I'd end up changing to low B because that is what I was used to with bass guitar but I quickly grew to prefer high C. I even tried bumping the tuning down to BEADG and raising the action just to see but I quickly changed back. I play a lot of jazz and bluegrass and the high C makes soloing and walking in the higher register a breeze. Every once in a while I wish I could hit a low a Eb or D, there's always a 6 string
    Randy Ward likes this.
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