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What would I be missing out on if I were to go with a standard 4-stringer bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sgroh87, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. Sgroh87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    I'm about to start playing the bass again after almost a decade, and I've been wanting to get a six or seven string bass. I want to get one because of a six string bassist I heard doing some fantastic chordal work, and it inspired me. But I started to think about it, and I wondered whether I would be better off getting a simpler bass like the Squier Classic Vibe J-Bass now and getting an extended bass a long time down the line (with student loan repayments, it would be quite a long time before I could afford a second bass).

    I want the extended range bass (specifically a Conklin GT-7) for the simple desire of it, but I'm wondering: what am I REALLY going to be missing out on if I buy a CVJ rather than a GT-7? An extra couple notes at the top? More places for chord voicings? What else? Am I just being stubborn for no reason? I mean, as much as I want it, the $900 difference makes me wonder if I would really appreciate the extra couple strings.

    What do you think? What draws you to the extended range instruments, and am I going to regret getting a standard bass rather than the one I really want to get?
  2. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    why do you want a bass?

    not being flippant, that's the question you need to answer.

    if the answer is "join a band, play songs, get gurrls, maybe even get paid", then you need a 4 (like me :D)

    if the answer is solo stuff, chordal things, noodling at home, playing crazy jazz fusion music, then maybe the extended-range thing is what you want.
  3. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    los angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    If you want to do chordal work, a 4 will probably frustrate you. I find a 6 or 7 to be too much for me to keep track of (lots of strings to damp and a very wide neck), but a 5-string strung E-C is an ideal compromise for a bass that will function like a 4 but give me enough extended range to do chordal and solo work easily. Put a drop-D tuner on and you've got a bit more range. You can find cheap 5-strings pretty easily (strung B-G). Just buy a different set of strings. Probably shouldn't have too much problem with string rattle in the nut, and you won't have to worry about a crappy sounding B - because it'll be an E now and probably sound fine :D
  4. Extended range has always worked well for me in band and solo settings. What you would be missing is the option to go there if you wanted to.
  5. Sgroh87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    Haha, fair enough. More of the second, to be honest with you. I like playing with people, but for me music is something to do for fun, not for money. I don't see myself ever getting good enough to make a living off of my playing.

    I was also thinking about building a project fretless bass with my dad, and if I went with a cheaper 4-stringer, I could more easily justify building the fretless.
  6. mcm


    Oct 2, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Nothin, ask John paul jones and McCartney
  7. Sgroh87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    Okay, let me clarify: I know that 85% of all bassists can play a 4-stringer their entire lives and still find things to work on, and 4 strings have been played by most of the worlds great bass players. I don't think of 4 string basses as inferior, but obviously more stings offer benefits and drawbacks. To claim otherwise is silly. By all means feel proud about your instrument, but be realistic.
  8. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    I kinda wish five strings had been around when I was starting out, I would probably have "gone there" just because of the added lows (the frequencies that attracted me to the instrument in the first place).

    But, it might have made it a little harder to visually cop what the guitarist was playing. When first learning to jam with others, that was a comfort factor, the fact that BOTH our instruments low strings were EADG.

    Not sure that I personally had the amplification options to do justice a low B in the mid-70's either.

    I owned a five string for about six years, and I could learn NEW songs on it , it was a lot of fun. However, if it was a song I'd played for years and years, I'd slip up and muscle memory would mistake my B for an E string. Probably should have strung it up high C instead. It was like throwing two or three new keys into the middle of the piano. I could do it, but only if I was paying ATTENTION.

    Old dog, harder to learn new tricks.
  9. It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
  10. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I might agree if it weren't for the practical (having to dampen unused strings, dealing with a wider neck and very possibly heavier instrument) aspects of a six or seven string. Having said that, from what the OP is saying I'd steer clear of a four and probably gravitate towards a six (though the suggestion of a 5 tuned higher is a good one). The argument that "player x only needed 4 strings" holds absolutely no water unless you want to play strictly the kinds of bass lines that "player x" was playing. As for making money, there are a lot of bass lines nowadays that require notes lower than a low E (and often low D) if one is to reproduce them faithfully. So even if your goal was to play in a cover band I would probably recommend a fiver before I'd recommend a four. Just keep in mind that the more strings you add the more expensive it gets when you go string shopping. :D
  11. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Get a classical guitar and a good teacher. A lot of great ER bassists took classical guitar before they made the jump, try it and see if you like that aspect...
  12. VinKreepo


    Nov 13, 2009
    Isn't there a 6-string Ibanez for sale in the classifieds ATM???
  13. macrocheesium


    Sep 12, 2012
    If you want to play a six string eventually, get a six string now. Starting out on a four string bass and working your way up is only going to slow you down as you have to adjust to each new instrument. If you really want to do chordal work, you won't be happy with a four string anyway.
  14. +1000000000
  15. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out....

    Feb 6, 2010
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    +1 to this as well coming from a physical standpoint: the transition from a 4 neck to a 6 neck is rough. Personally, I can't even play the 6's and up b/c of the neck width's and my small hands (which is fine b/c I am happy in 4 string land), but I would suggest starting with the wider neck as a new player to get your hand ready for the stretch.
  16. FrednBass


    Feb 24, 2012
    Nothing at all.
  17. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    I think so. I can get away with playing a 4-string bass, but I'm beginning to develop a huge liking for 5 string basses with 24 frets. I like having the range.
  18. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    Wanna know something cool about 6 strings? There's a 4 string hidden in the middle! Always amuses me when people assume 6'ers can't be played like a regular bass. I jam Motown tunes on my Ibanez 6'er all the time. Then, I can switch to some Dream Theater, and play it on the SAME INSTRUMENT! Isn't that neat? Get a 6'er, take some lessons, learn good technique, and PLAY!
  19. Again.... +1000000
  20. TapyTap


    Apr 26, 2005
    Have you considered tuning a 4-string in fifths? How about C1 G1 D2 A2 or E1 B1 F#2 C#3?