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why not 6 or 7?

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by dancehallclasher, Jan 4, 2002.

  1. hi mike, after reading your interview on the front page (by the way, nice job max) i became curious as to why you choose a 4-string over a 6 or 7. i rarely use polyphony in my playing, but it seems to me that a many-stringed bass would present more options, chordally.
  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    You're probably right.

    I probably could do more with 5,6 or 7 strings. Perhaps I'm just an old dog who cannot learn the new tricks. It also might be that I am too lazy to redevelop the technique on more strings ;)

    Actually, I love my 4 strings. I feel very comfortable with them. The creation of music has less to do with the number of strings then what is inside you. Tony Levin does it with 3 strings and Mark Sandman did wonderful work with 1. Jaco, Victor and Stanley use(d) predominantly 4 string basses.

    I just think that the 4 string is my voice. I respect and admire those who play more strings. I have just never felt comfortable with even a 5 string in my hand.

    The funny thing is that you mentioned that with more strings the chordal possibilities open up. I sometimes jones for a 5 string with a high C to develop the melodic possibilities.

  3. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    Thanks for reading the interview. I think Max did a wonderful job.

  4. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    there's always the option that stanley took - have multiple 4's tuned in different registers. you've probably thought of that one already, though. :D :rolleyes: ;)
  5. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    I've been contemplating tuning one of my basses to A,D,G,C. There is also the possibility of a Piccolo bass

  6. Chip


    May 2, 2000
    I'd just like to say (semi-irelevant) is that if you are going to use 5+ strings they are only good if you actually use them well, for example i saw this video clip of this guy who sorta looked like bob marley, this guy who was making funny noises with his mouth+mic and this awesome bassist, he did the most awesome bass solo and he had like 6 or so strings(and he did a solo with the guy making noises with his mouth). However some of these new rock bands have 5+ strings just for the sake of having more strings, when they could just as easily tune down or play a higher note.

    thats just my 2cents :p
  7. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    That goes for any amount of strings!

  8. LifeSpitter

    LifeSpitter Guest

    Apr 6, 2002
    Bass Heaven
    Vic Wooten does this and calls it a Tenor Bass i think....very lovely melodically.

    well this is true,...but sometimes you want a certain chord in a song to be "highlighted" or have a little bit more push to it. This is the benefit of having that low end,...plus the versatility of being able to play 2 whole octaves while only slightly changing hand position.

    Just my thoughts.
  9. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    LifeSpitter, I see you are fairly new to the forum - so first please let me welcome you aboard.

    Here is a rhetorical question. If you were in an accident tomorrow and lost the use of your hands, would you still be a musician?

    If the answer is "YES" then the number of strings you play is totally irrelevant.

    If your argument is to have more strings in order to highlight a certain chord or be able to reach 2 octaves easier than talk to John Turner - he's probably got the 3 octave thing down pretty easily with some of his basses.

    If on the other hand, the concept is to be a musician first and foremost, then I would argue, once again, that the number of strings is irrelevant.

    I have never felt limited by a 4 string and, in fact, have always felt and continue to feel that the 4 string is a wonderful challange.

    Whether you choose 1,3,4,5,6,7 or more strings - just play them well. As I tell my students, EVERY note is important.


  10. Si-bob


    Jun 30, 2001
    Hemel Hempstead, UK
    Focusrite / Novation
    thouoght i'd add my 2 pennies to the discussion. For 2 years i played 4 string, and loved every minute of it, if it wasn't for the reasons i'm about to tell u, i'd go back to playing 4's....but i play 5's, mainly because
    1) I like having the B there, not just cos of the lower notes, one position etc, but just for something to bring my fingers back onto wen i'm playing the E, its.....well...comfortable :)

    2) I prefer the wider Neck proportions, i know you can get wide neck 4's, but i prefer smaller string spacing.

    i think multi-stringed instruments are a lot to do with what your compfortable with, and what best suits your technique, with 5 strings, its helped my overall string muting abilty because its a neccesitiy, on 4's its not (finerstyle, not chordal).

    i have often considered the argument that "<brilliant bassist> only needed 4 strings, why do you need more", and i went with this train of thought for a while, and i said to my bass teacher "i want to get some piccolo strings for my old 4 string", and he said "why not just get a 6 string bass"......made sense to me, but thats only me :)

    small novel but hey :)

  11. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
  12. Chip


    May 2, 2000
    and i cant play guitar cos my fingers are to big :p
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Strings don't limit bassists... bassists limit themselves.

    With practice you can make whatever bass you decide to play work for you, regardless of the number of strings. The exception would be music that required tuning lower than a standard four... higher is rarely "required". When Victor Bailey had his Madonna gig a low B equipped 5. OTOH I recently saw Matt Garrison with a 5 strung high with Herbie Hancock and the B definitely wasn't missed.

    I play fours, fives, a six and have a seven on the way... I have fun playing all of them for what they are. I love my four strings. I can certainly understand why someone would stick with a four, there will never be a lack of challenges on it or any other bass IMO. That's the fun part:)

    In Mike's case, a better question might be "Why a 6 or 7?"
  14. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    Bobby McFerrin?
  15. Regarding the question of having more than five strings:

    In high school I played bass in my school orchestra and jazz band although i am a guitarist who dabbles in bass. At the time i had a crappy magnum 5 string. When we did our school musical (pirates of penzanse) the person who orchestrated it didn't do a seperate part for the bass and gave me the cello parts which contained Eb's and D's below the E. If I had a four string I would have had to rewrite the parts myself.

    For guitarist who play bass only when needed having more than 4 strings can be disorienting. The low string can throw you out e.g. you go to play a low G and end up playing a D. On a guitar the next highest string after g is a third higher(B) but it is a forth higher on bass so all your patterns are thrown out . It also makes it harder to read if your used to guitar tuning.
  16. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    That's really what it's all about, isn't it?


    ps brad - I think I'll steal that quote for myself
  17. Chip


    May 2, 2000
    dont know his name :)
    i saw it about 1-2 years ago on rage (MTV with style) at about 2am
    all i know is that the guy looked like bob marley, and there was this guy going "mm, pa, cha, pa, pa"
    something like that, and this awesome bassist with like 6 or so strings and he did the most awesome bass solo :)
  18. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Actually, I have talked to Michael Manring about this and he's talked about it in clinics too. Four strings is an excellent number to play any type of chordal material. Sure, more strings give you a greater pitch palette, but also give you a new set of headaches, including muting the extra string (s) and string crossing. I have found that a four string is perfect for the chordal things I do, although I'm currently playing a 6. I'll probably scale down to a 5 just because I like having the low B and the other notes below the 5th fret. If it weren't for that I'd play a 4 all the time.
  19. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    Nicely said
  20. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i like headaches. :D

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