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What's the fifth string four?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by KPO2000, Mar 4, 2002.

  1. KPO2000

    KPO2000 Supporting Member

    Sep 5, 2001
    Serious question, really. What are folks using their low B for? As a 4 banger for years, I'm now starting to wonder what I'm missing. I've now played several 5'vers in stores and I still don't get it...I can barely hear that low.

    So again...What can you do with a 5 you can't do with a four? How you using that B?

    Thanks! I guess I'm just :confused:
  2. oh, well 5 string basses use the low B just for looks. It simply just looks nice.


    Seriously, the low B ads 5 extra notes in a lower octave (B, C, C#, D, and Eb). It also allows to play in one area of the fingerboard instead of moving to the open string area of the fingerboard. Very useful if you know how and when to use the lower notes.
  3. malibu

    malibu Guest

    Dec 26, 2001
    yeah, what is that treble G string for anyway ?

    really, the fretted low D sounds really nice, better than an open drop D on four strings and
    the two octaves across is one thing the regular 5-bangers like though.
  4. Freakapotamus9


    Jun 20, 2001
    more notes.. sure. i like it for the convinience of playing higher on the B then guessing around on the E. also if youve ever had to tune down... the B takes care of that in a lot of situations. more range
  5. PolkaHero


    Jan 5, 2002
    Unfortunately, many 5-stringers tend to overplay the B string which to my ears becomes annoying very quick. I've played a four string since I started and that's all I'll ever need. Sure you have less position shifts with a 5 and extended bottom range but some of the best players "make do" with a 4. Victor Wooten comes to mind. . . .
  6. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    I enjoy the fact that I never have to downtune. And when I string my bass with a high C instead of a low B, I can play some purty sounding chords and double stops and whatnot.
  7. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Range is the key for me. I may not delve down to low C# or D all the time, but when I want to, it is there. The key is using it tastefully. I also prefer a 5+ string neck, I like the width. I prefer a 6 string neck to a 5, but as for a 7??? I haven't played one....yet.

  8. PolkaHero


    Jan 5, 2002

    Right on!
  9. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    You can play the same patterns, only five frets up. Why, you ask? Because the frets are closer together up there. I use the low notes (below E) sparingly. But when I want a low C or D, it's there, and it rules.
  10. KPO2000

    KPO2000 Supporting Member

    Sep 5, 2001
    THAT makes sense! Thanks everybody for the explanations!
  11. I hear that. It seems like there's a lot of bands out there who use the low B just as an excuse to have a new power chord to play besides 'E'. Metallica has made a career out of whanging the 'E', now bands like Godsmack are making careers out of whanging on 'B'.
  12. DOGsmack sounds like the diarrhea episode in "Dumb and Dumber..."


    Poptallica was great up to and including "...And Justice for All..." Everything after that (coughcoughselloutcoughcough), including the Black Album IMO despite what people say, was complete and utter crap. I could make better music with a skillet, a wooden spoon, and some cheap mexican food.
  13. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I happen to agree with you, but I hope that you brought your asbestos underwear!

    I use a 5 the way that most everyone else has described. The low D and C are used tastefully, the open B is used sparingly, and I spend a lot of my time above the 5th fret. Having 2 octaves under your fingertips up where the fret spacing is that small makes for some things that are pretty hard for a guy with my limited amount of technique:eek: to pull off on a 4.

    It also improves my playing when I switch back to 4 for a set, and have to play all of the stuff that I am used to playing in a totally different range.
  14. Interesting thoughts guys.

    I am hopefully going to get my "first" bass (I'm sharing my wife's at the moment) this spring or summer and am thinking about a 5-string for the extra range for some types of music I like to play.

    I hadn't thought of the closer fret spacing from the 5th fret up.
  15. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    If my fretting hand gets fatigued it can be very nice to play F-minor songs on sixth fret B string rather than 1st fret E string!
  16. It really fits in with keys that are not typical "rock guitar" keys, like F, Bb, Eb and other intersting keys that playing with horn players will introduce you to. If you learn to play all your tunes in "closed" fingerings (i.e. no open strings), it also makes transposition a breeze.

    Nothing like that eye-opening experience of being on your first night on a new gig and having the band leader call "Dock Of The Bay....in Bb!" :eek: or "Respect...in G" to make you fully appreciate that big 'ol B hangin' around.

    I even have a saying: "No B, no me." :)
  17. I like having a B around beacause a lot of bands use drop D tuning. With a five, you don't have to detune the E string, instead play at the 3rd fret on the B. Much easier to play, IMO, when you odn't have to jump up and down over the fretboard, and play across it instead. Since I got my five, I play it almost exclusively.

    Owning a five string has actually helped me in my quest to read notation. TABS almost never include a B line.

    Plus a low C at the right point sounds friggin awesome.

    I don't think I'll make the jump to six strings, just because I don't think I would utilize the high C string very much. A high G att he 12th fret is usually all I would ever need, other than the occasional high D or E way up on the fretboard.
  18. If you finger pick - it gives you a nice thumbrest too!!!

    Like everyone else, I use it for the ease of not having to move my hand much. ALso it does give you the extended range. The low B I use very spraingly ,but the C and D can be used more often in my playing.
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I use it for the same thing most people use a treadmill, stairmaster, etc. for...

    I hang clothes on it.
  20. I couldn't have said it better myself!

    I am deifnitely going to use that quote as my new signature, that is if you dont mind!

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