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Using Only Bottom Four Strings from a Five-String Set

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Xanderzb, Sep 8, 2017.


  1. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    Has anyone here ever tried stringing a four string acoustic upright bass with the B-E-A-D strings, and leaving out the G ?

    I'm much more interested in laying down the bottom notes, than taking virtuosic solos; so I don't feel I'd miss the G too much. And I certainly don't want more than four strings!
     
  2. Well, then you play a lot on the D string in higher positions (like the virtuoso does on th G string) and don't forget that the E string doesn't sound good up ther so you need to go up and down the D and A strings a lot.
    The low B string sounds better on a larger scale bass, that's the reason why Thomastik makes low C string only, not low B strings, for 3/4 sized strings (at least Spiros and Superflexibles).
     
  3. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    Yes; all else being equal, it's just any other double bass in standard tuning, but a fourth lower.

    I was not aware of that about Thomastik. Generally, though, I think *most* things sound better on a larger scale bass, unless it's too big to play well!
     
  4. I own two Thomastik Spiro B strings...
     
  5. T-I offers low B strings in Spiro 4/4, Spiro 3/4, Superflexible 4/4, Superflexible 1/2 and Prazision 4/4.
    (Prazision is an old design with solid steel core. Very rigid and to be avoided)
     
  6. Having a look in my lists, there is no Superflexible 3/4 (my fault) and not the Spiro 1/2 has a low B but the Präzision 1/2.
    You were right that there is a low B for Spiro 3/4 Mittel (as well as the low C) but no low B for Spiro 3/4 Weich, only the low C.

    And I think the recommendation from Thomastik with 3/4 scale basses is a low C rather than a low B. You rather find a low C for 3/4 strings from Thomastik than a low B (except Belcanto with a low B only).
     
  7. Why don't you get a 4 string bass, buy strings for a five string, and put the lower ones on the bass, leaving out the G string, you will probably have to do a bit of adjustments to your bass, definitely the truss rod to counteract the increase tension. And the nut grooves will need to be widened slightly, but this could be done. Might be easier to play that way since your not having to reach over the width of a wider neck. But hey, you play the way you play, if it still rocks, then you rock. :bassist:
     
    Xanderzb likes this.
  8. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Right, definitely watch out for that truss rod.

    I've only played a 5 string double bass once and I talked to the owner of it, who played both jazz and also in an orchestra. He said the low 5th string was necessary for some of the things he did in the orchestra, but didn't really work so well pizzacato. Sitting in on it, I bought into that, though I know one certain, excellent, but crummuganly jazz bassist who plays a 5 string.

    Feel free to try it and let us know, but I think those low pitches are going to get lost unless you are playing a certain way in a certain setting. I'm far from a virtuoso, but I couldn't live without a G string and if I could add one, it would probably be above it so that I could play in lower positions more, as opposed to that transition back and forth to thumb position.
     
  9. That's what I have done and it is nice for jazz (unless you have to play on a borrowed 4-string and miss that high string) but for music written for double bass the high C gets in the way because you almost always have to stick to the G string, because that is what the composers have in mind when writing. You cannot play as loud/hard on the G when it is between high C and D as when the G is the highest string.

    BTW, one of Germanys best jazz double bass players, Robert Landfermann from Cologne always plays a 5-string double bass with a low B.
     
  10. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    I appreciate all these considerate replies! Truth be told, the initial impulse that pushed me to take the plunge and drop my bass tuning to A0, was dismay at the fact that I, the bass, wasn't the lowest instrument in the band. That feeling hasn't simply gone away upon switching to upright.
     
  11. Seanto

    Seanto

    Dec 29, 2005
    RVA
    What do you mean by not being the lowest instrument in the band?
     
  12. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Contrabass basson?
     
    DoubleMIDI likes this.
  13. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    I was playing alongside a pianist.
     
  14. bskts247

    bskts247

    Aug 16, 2011
    New Orleans
    I think if thats an issue you should tell the pianist to stay out of your range.
     
    longfinger, DoubleMIDI and the_Ryan like this.
  15. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    I never had any problem with his note choices. It's more the principle of the thing. I felt it was my business to pursue a particular ideal, and I did so with considerable success.
     
  16. Xanderzb

    Xanderzb

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cascadia
    Honestly I'm quite impressed with the contraforte! It's a bit out of my price range, though, and I'm still too big a fan of strings to switch.
     
  17. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Do you own a bass? If so get a Spiro B and try it first. If you like it, then add the others and see how the bass responds. If you don't own a bass, you'll have to try it on any bass you consider. As nut and bridge slots have to be enlarged for it the seller may not want you to do that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017