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Why 5?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassbully43, Jan 17, 2006.

  1. bassbully43


    Jul 1, 2005
    I did a search and got a few answers..but why 5 stringers. I see them replacing the 4s alot and almost every bass local shops carry are mostly 5s...is this the trend? I play 4's but have a shot at a good Fender 5 the new one with the bi-pole pups groule (spell) tuners and Pau fero fretboard its a beast.I play classic rock and am getting better at using the b but unless you are playing down tuned music...what is the b good for...is it only to get you in the lower than e register?
  2. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA
    Uh, yeah. pretty much. Just like the E is only there to get you lower than an A.
    ... :eyebrow:
  3. bassbully43


    Jul 1, 2005
    I know what you are saying but such a sub low octive than A to E jump...if i play an open E on a 5 and a fretted E on the B string it is very low sounding due to it being an octive down...sometimes it sounds to low.
  4. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA
    Uh. I think you have your 5 tuned waaaay wrong.
    If you fret an E on the B string it should be the exact same note as the open E string.

    And I've never owned a 5er, but I think people usually tune it to a Bflat...?
  5. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    If you ever feel the need to go below E, the 5-string is a good alternative/addition to a 4-string. I personally use it for the following reasons:
    1) I wanted to go lower. That was the sound I was hearing in my head.
    2) You don't have to detune when you have to play a low D or Eb. Many bands tune down a half step. I personally don't like the feel when the strings are tuned down. Plus, when you tune down the sound gets muddier.
    3) You have more facility when you want transpose songs down.
    4) You have more position choices with the extra strings, especially if you want a darker sounding low E, for example.
    5) And if you generally don't use the 5th string (assuming you are tuning it to low B), you have a built in massive thumb rest!
  6. OrionManMatt


    Feb 17, 2004
    That's not an issue of being an octave down at all.

    1) String thickness
    2) Pickups
    3) ____________
  7. Also, the B makes a nice thumbrest(did someone say that?)for low E work- and I like to go below E & come up to whatever key we're in.
  8. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I had a five string Cirrus for a long time, but went back to 4 string Fender P-Bass (just because I wanted to get back to my musical roots).

    I'm playing in a classic rock group and I'm finding that learning some of the songs, there are a few that go below E...either hitting Eb's or D's and it really makes the song. Hitting the higher Eb and D on the A string just doesn't give the song the same sound. I live with it but the lower notes are, on occassion, something that gives a song more definition.

    Think about it...if you play an E, why play on the open E string? Why not play it on the A, or D, or G string? Because you might want to play that nice, fat low E. Lower than that? On a four string, you're out of luck (unless you string a 4 stringer BEAD, instead of the traditional EADG).

    I found I didn't use the low B enough and I wanted a change back to a standard 4 string P-Bass. But I still miss some of those LOW notes.
  9. lowender


    Aug 10, 2005
    Staffs, UK
    effectively you're only getting 5 extra semitones out of that extra string (although I think as previously touched upon, you will get a different tone out of the higher notes on the b), personally i stick with a four but in the future if i do go for a five i'll trade the low b and restring EADGB and have the b as a high string for extra space melody and chord wise.
    Not saying either ways wrong or right, just sticking my 2 cents (or where i come from, 2 pence) worth in - as that seems to be the way these forums work!! ;)
    I personally think the original 4 string shouldn't be 'devalued' as you think of all those classic basslines out there - lopsy lu, if you want me to stay, for the love of money, master blaster (jammin') - all those notes are right there on a four.
    horses for courses i suppose, i'd never rule one out but for now my baeutiful 4 string foes everything i need it too, its my fingers that are the problem!
    one last point i would like to make is that if you go fo a four or five or six or whatever live may i suggest that you do a good job with it, i saw a 6 string player live recently and he was awful - drawing all that attention to himself and not being able to back it up with any good playing.
  10. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    +1... nice summary. I see no advantage to a four string any more. Once you get your string muting technique down (slapping on a 5 string takes a little time to get used to to make sure you don't have any open ringing strings), there's very little downside to the five string IMO.
  11. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I agree. It really is a matter of personal choice. For me, I just wanted a classic 4 string P-Bass. I'm not really missing much...three songs out of eighty where I actually NEED it. And of those three, there are only two or three parts of those three songs where I'd hit it.

    A lot of it depends on what your needs are and what kind of music you are playing. Classic rock? I doubt you'd ever use it much, unless you consciously play on the B (as noted before, for playing songs in a key without having to tune down) or just happen to like playing higher up on a fatter sounding string.

    There's also very little downside to a four string. ;)
  12. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Here are my thoughts about 5 string (some of them have already been mentioned):

    It's nice to play that low Eb and D. I rarely drop all the way down to C, but it's nice to know that it's there.

    What I discovered most is that now I can still use 4 string chops, but instead of stretching all the way down to the first five frets, I can play it all between the 5th and 10th frets. The frets are closer together, my hand is in a better position to hit notes, and I also can go higher in one hand position.

    Think about it. Nearly 2 octaves of range without changing your hand position. If you're playing fast lines or sweeping melodic lines, this will open up new musical ideas that hadn't even crossed your mind yet.

    Try it out. See if you like it. For me, the key was finding a 5 banger whose neck wasn't too fat. I didn't want to feel as if I was playing a 2x4, and some of the 5s (and most all of the 6+ stringers) felt like that. But I found a good axe that felt great, and since then, everything's been cherry.
  13. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Ditto. I went to five exclusively back in Y2K, and wish I had done so back around 1990 when fivers were becoming more common.
  14. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    P.S. I rarely play notes below low D all by themselves, however I do often build octaves from those lowest notes.
  15. I think that it all depends on what style of music you play. If you play a lot of ballads and such, the low b can be a sweet addition to the music. It can add the low octaves that can complement the music well. On the other hand, if you play a lot of faster punk and what have you, the lower string can be nice if you know what you are doing but it can also hinder you as well. The string spacings are closer so if you arent used to it, it can make playing faster music harder. I would find someone you know and play one for a while... think about it and dont rush into a sale and you will be fine with what ever you choose... oh yea and +1 for personal preferance.
  16. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I mostly play classic rock covers. I play most of them in four-string range, but even so, I use the B string on my fivers a lot. That is, I often play classic rock tunes five frets farther up: partly for fatter tone, and partly for additional usable range in the same fingering position.

    But also, I rarely play cover songs exactly like the record. Often the band changes the groove and/or key of the song, other times I change the bass line on my own. If traveling below low E is appropriate for the feel and groove of a song, I'll go ahead and do it, regardless of when the song was written and recorded. :)
  17. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I often did the same thing when I had my 5 string.
    I really enjoyed my five stringer. There is no doubt that there is a place for them and they certainly do open up some possibilities. I rarely play covers exactly like the record, but we do have some slow songs that a note lower than the low E would fill out the music more. Without a five string I have to compromise. And I also agree about being able to use the upper positions in a more effective manner.

    And who can argue with those LOW notes...you know, the kind that send some people to the restrooms to "clean up". :D

    I may get another someday...but I'm too busy enjoying the heck out of my 4 string P-Bass at the moment. ;)
  18. Theonestarchild

    Theonestarchild Artfully lost

    Aug 23, 2005
    North Carolina
    I've just found my sound. I downtuned my 4 to the low b like someone mentioned. It's muddy, it's thrashy, it sounds GREAT. This is my sound from now on. :) Also, as a little added bonus, releasing alot of the string tension seemed to make it so easy to play. Just barely press and you get a monstrous sound.
  19. gr8stdane


    Oct 10, 2005
    I play a 5-string, and still have to mess with tunings sometimes, (tune the B string up to C, etc). Just depends on what your guitar players are doing. If they play standard rock/blues, even metal which has a lot of Standard E tunings you may never need that extra string, and it might just get in your way.

    I like to play 4 strings, just because it's definitely easier to slap, (more space between strings). But sometimes I'd even like to have a 6 string and tune it to standard guitar tuning (eadgbe). Or maybe even pull a Jean Baudin and get a 13-stringer, then we could probably get rid of one our guitar players.... heh...j/k.
  20. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    Just play Al Caldwell's 11 String. You could probably play entire classical pieces in one position!