Who uses their B string for more of a thumb rest than to play notes?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Hevy T, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. Hevy T

    Hevy T Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2011
    Lethbridge, AB Canada
    Apparently I do!

    I have a 5ver actually 2 at the moment, though most material I play don't go below low E! The scattered song I use low D, though I have a D tuner on my jazz for such occasions :whistle:

    I find that when I play a 5ver I could very easily have gotten by with the 4, and the B string is used more as a ramp than anything!

    I actually force myself to hit notes on that B just to justify having the darn things!!!
  2. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    i bought a fiver just for the five extra low note tones
  3. Oleg BassPlayer

    Oleg BassPlayer

    Feb 4, 2016
    It all depends on how various your material is, and how different things you have to play throughout, say, one rehearsal or gig when you can't change the instrument.

    I've often resented not having a 5-string bass because currently I've got only one fretted bass which I usually tune normally and whenever I want to play something in low tuning it becomes a pain in the neck. Plus normal .45-.105 tuned fourth down sound like cxxp to me. Dropped tuning could work but it changes fingering patterns. IMHO the main advantage of a 5-string bass is it's versatility: you've got more range and still can use familiar finger patterns for lines which you usually play on 4-stringer with standard tuning.

    Perhaps, you should just modify your lines a bit to explore notes below E? New instrument gives you more opportunities which you didn't have before, and you may not be accustomed to it. Just start using them!

    Also, even if you play only a few or even just one note below E, then you do use the power of the 5-stringer, though on a limited scale. It's like having only one screw with a fancy triple-square drive in your car: you do need a respective screw-driver for it, even if it's only one screw ;)
    Phud likes this.
  4. BassAndReeds


    Oct 7, 2016
    I only gig on 5ers, and play maybe 6-10 notes on the B string over 3-4 sets. But, those particular songs wouldn't be the same without them, so 5ers it is. Even if a majority of the time it's just muting practice.

    I do think 4 string basses look less hip, but that aesthetics and personal preference.
  5. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    The point of a 5 string, for me anyway, isn't just to play lower. It's to be able to play lines without shifting as much as you would have to on a 4 string.
    Phud, zontar, Garret Graves and 3 others like this.
  6. beaglesandbass

    beaglesandbass Think first, then post? Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Philly Suburbs
    I don't use the notes lower than E too often. Maybe about 10% of our songs. I use the B string more for playing in different positions. For instance when we play "This Is How We Do It", I like playing the F on the 6th fret of the B string much more than the 1st fret of the E string.
    Lownote38 likes this.
  7. chaak


    Apr 25, 2013
    now here
    Started off with rarely using the B string then did something about it got Gary Willis's Fingerboard Harmony For Bass expanded my view of the instrument and its extended range, game changer for me especially in the context of my progressive metal and fusion rock band.

    Another thing i did and still do is start any lick on the B string and when transcribing solos or licks or grooves do the same even if the voicing is a tad different. That helps especially when transcribing Saxophone/trumpet stuff, and since I do not have a high C the B makes the lines sound more appropriate for bass

    same with Hanon fretting hand fingering exercises
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
  8. RickyT


    May 29, 2015
    Dee Why
    I got a 6 string with a Low F# just so I'd have a thumb rest for playing my B string :wacky:
    zontar, swooch and hondo4life like this.
  9. TheLowDown33

    TheLowDown33 Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2009
    SW Connecticut
    Bam. Glad someone said it. This is the main advantage to a 5 string. I know people use detuners, and I have too. They're great until you need a low C/C#. OP should explore it a bit more and see if you can find places to use the lower notes/less shifting. It's fun stuff to be able to throw a low d or c in on the tail end of an arpeggio, swell in on a low note, etc.
    Lownote38 and Oleg BassPlayer like this.
  10. hondo4life


    Feb 29, 2016
    I do play the B on occasion. I hate drop tuning, so I just transpose to the B string if I play a drop tuned song. Otherwise, it is a great thumb rest.
  11. Garret Graves

    Garret Graves Gold Supporting Member

    May 20, 2010
    Rosemead, Ca
    A lot of players get a mental block when they take up 5 or 6, and they reorient themselves by turning the B string into a 'thumbrest until I need to go below E' mentality. That, IMO, is a huge mistake in the long run. At first, you have to get used to new string(s), and you get through it the way you can. At some point though, you should take some time and get those notes up above the 5th fret, on all the strings, including the B string. The notes you have on the E string are right there on your B string too, starting at fret 5- if you embrace that and use it to your advantage by playing a lot of your lines higher up on the neck, you may not want your 4 strings in your hands very often, happened to me.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
    Lownote38 likes this.
  12. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    Most bassists I've seen playign a 5 string tend to use the B as a thumb rest more than they don't--most, not all.

    This guy had a 6 string--and didn't really do that...
  13. bassie12


    Aug 23, 2008