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why play 5 string bass?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by sickboyxxx, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. sickboyxxx


    Feb 14, 2013
    i recently started playing bass after playing guitar for many years, i play in a slayer/hatebreed type band, i play a 4 string bass but i feel the urge to play a 5 string bass, could anyone tell me pros and cons of switching from 4 to 5?
  2. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    You don't need pros or cons, just do it if you want to or if you need the lower notes or just try it to see if you like it.
    exidor and Orangeclawhammr like this.
  3. yup.

    if your considering it, try it.

    its not like back in the day when 5 strings were rare or uncommon or hated on or whatever. they're totally normal, and quite practical.
  4. basscase42


    Jul 12, 2012
    There's nothing wrong with switching to a 5-er, just an extra string to get used to. It gives you a bit of extra lower notes too.
  5. rhino333

    rhino333 Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    Western NY State
    I play a 5 for a couple of reasons:

    • It gives me more note position choices.
    • It allows me to fret lower notes on the B which makes it easier on my fretting hand shoulder which has arthritis (I don't have to stretch for lower notes).
    JLY, Bob Clayton and exidor like this.
  6. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    the 5 string bass is the best way to get an extended low range and still have the other 4 strings the same.
  7. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I started to play a five stringer so I could play 311 one of my favorite bands.
  8. rocket45

    rocket45 Supporting Member

    I play both, love the sleek 4 string neck but go to 5 for more options.
  9. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    The main benefits are more fingering options and more meat at the low end for songs in D and Eb. Beyond that there is no fundamental difference in sound. Every bass should be judged on its own merits.

    It's five additional notes. It is amazing to me how this becomes such a matter of obsession.
    Leo Smith and thunderkyss like this.
  10. This ^^^
  11. stichintime


    Oct 11, 2011
    Chester NH
    I love it whenever I go to a new band audition and the guitarists tell me over and over "we do these tunes in Drop D" and then stand there blankly staring at me waiting for me to detune my 5er's.
  12. andreiscv

    andreiscv Supporting Member

    I like the feel of a nice 5 string neck (flat, wide, & thin) and that the strings are usually a little closer together near the nut, compared to a 4 string.
  13. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Don't forget the nice thumb rest the B string provides.
  14. Don't own a 5 string and never have in decades of playing but,
    I am keeping my eye out for one as we speak. Been recently working with a singer that does lots of songs in C & D and I'd like to be able to get that low C on the B string, first fret rather than the thinner C on the A string and it's even thinner octave on the G string.

    ...and if you are thinkin', just tune to drop C, that ain't an option.
    Too many other songs require standard tuning.
  15. dozicusmaximus


    Mar 18, 2009
    Austin, TX
    If you hardly ever use the G string, just tune it up BEAD.

    Try a 5er.

    $30 vs $300-$1000
    LowTalkin57 and Atshen like this.
  16. I use the G string a lot, so BEAD ain't an option.
    Yes, acquiring a 5er is the way to go.
    But I ain't the OP either.
  17. JDLowEnd

    JDLowEnd Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2010
    Norwich, CT
    I play them because we play some songs in D and I don't have to change instruments like my guitarist, or tune on the fly and downtune a string. Also having use of lower octave notes makes for some great sounds in a band setting. Playing similar notes on the A string with a guitar can sound lost, I feel nice and apparent in my band.
  18. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    This covers it all, actually..

  19. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Try one and see if you like it. No need for one for me personally. Everyone's different.
  20. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    I like the feel of the spacing (dependent of course on particular bass)
    I like playing up on the neck and having all those notes available from one position and I like the tone from there (again dependent on bass and strings etc)

    If one were to get into slapping and popping, narrow spacing may not be so suitable.

    Sit down with a few at a friendly music store and reorient your E to the 5th fret of the B string and see how that works for you.
    and then you can confirm or deny the existence of the so-called floppy B string

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