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Would you rather have a 4, 5, or 6 string bass, and why?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Neal Brakey, Sep 25, 2018.

  1. 4 string

  2. 5 string

  3. 6 String

  4. Higher number of strings than 6

  1. Neal Brakey

    Neal Brakey Warwick Vs Spector Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2018
    Midlothian, Texas
    I was just pondering this question, I know the reason most people choose one or the other, but why specifically do you choose one over the other?
    What drew you to one? or what made you switch to another?
    Me personally I have one 4 string and one 5 string, so I can have the best of both worlds.
    I liked the 6 string, but it was not comfortable at all for me.
    I like the idea of having 7, or 12 strings, but nothing I would use as my main performer.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2018
  2. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    I prefer a 1.5" neck. I have owned a 5 string. Neck is too wide for me. So 6 string would be out too.

    @BassCliff plays a 6 string several nights a week. I can see the need because of the different types if music he plays. More power to him.
  3. I have 3 4-string bass and one 5-string. When I bought the 5 (Yamaha BB735) I was worried that it was gonna be very uncomfortable for me (I really can tell the difference when I switch between my jazz and my epi jack casady). But I tried it out and absolutely loved it.

    I found the 5-string to have something very special. IMO, the fifth string adds a lot. You have much more positions in just one spot of the neck. To me, that's something to take into account. However, I voted 4 strings. When I play my jazz it just feels like home. Maybe I'm still getting used to the 5
    reddog, Neal Brakey and Stumbo like this.
  4. I currently own 4 string basses only. I had a 5er and a 6er but I could not get used to it. The additional strings confused me, especially the low B! But I somehow like the idea of restringing a 5er E to C. I might try that in the near future, though I'm a litte concerned I might end up reselling the 5er again...
  5. nolezmaj


    Sep 22, 2011
    I use what works best for music I play. At the moment, 4 strings work best and look right. I would have no problem playing any other type of bass guitar, as I have earlier.
  6. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    Use the right tool for the job. I play my Carvin LB76 most of the time because it's the most versatile bass I own, lots of sounds, lots of notes. I have a four string Fender JBS ('84) with flats for more traditional country/rock music. I have a four string acoustic bass guitar, Fender Kingman, for more folksy/bluegrass tunes. I've got a five string Guild Pilot that is more or less a backup to my six string. I use it for my practice bass in my home office/music room/computer room. When I really want to get into the classic rock mode I pull out my old Gibson RD Artist, an active four string bass from 1980. I wish I still had my Gibson Ripper that I bought in '76, just because it was a beauty.


    Thank you for your indulgence,

  7. I eventually went back to 4 strings because I play acoustic guitar too. First 4 strings of the acoustic has the same notes (of a different octave) like a 4 string bass; so the shapes I learn and the muscle memory I build on either guitar works on the other one as well.
  8. chaak


    Apr 25, 2013
    now here
    I have both 4 and 5 they serve me well in my role in my band. i have no need and use for a 6 strings.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I went from 4 to 6. But I never used the high C and absolutely love the low B.

    So I came home to 5 strings.
  10. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    I took to the 5 string format like a duck (dunn) to water. After more than 25 years the geography of a 5 string bass still perfectly suits my style of playing.

    I love the additional flexibility and the same great instruments (a Sadowsky Jazz and Lull PJ) can cover every gig and every song. I do gigs and play numbers where a 4 string bass would have worked equally well, but I like to look down and see the same landscape on every gig.

    As always YMMV
  11. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012

    ^^^This. /thread

    I would rather have a 4-, a 5-, and a 6-string bass. (As well as an 8-string bass. And some fretless variants on some or all of those.) This whole "Pick One" thing is a red herring; you don't have to choose...but you do have to use your ears to figure out what the music requires.
  12. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I have mostly fours, but if I could only have one bass, it would be a five. I played fours exclusively for years, but in 2005 joined a band whose main songwriter often wrote in D, E flat, and other flat keys. For most songs in D, a drop tuner was great, but I soon realized a five would have been better for tracks in E flat and some others. So I started thinking about a five, but didn't take the plunge until after that band's demise.

    Since getting my first fiver in 2008, I've still played fours most of the time, but fives have been essential for two musical theater shows and one studio project. I've also found them useful, though not essential, in rock bands. In my former original band, I didn't use fives too much, but in 2016 I played in a cover band with material from the 1960s-2000s, and eventually settled on using a five most of the time.

    In recent years I've played a five more frequently, largely because my G&L USA M-2500 is such a great bass apart from its string count. I actually prefer the narrow string spacing, and it has fantastic playability and monstrous tone. It works for everything.
    Luka likes this.
  13. Four, just always played fours and liked them. Never had any desire to play a five or five+ stringer.
    FugaziBomb and LoTone like this.
  14. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Never needed a 5th string so far, and never will. Probably 90% of the songs on my iPod feature 4-string basses.
    LoTone likes this.
  15. I used to swear by passive 4's (P & J). Then I acquired my first active 5HH back in April, which is quickly becoming my main axe. I finally saw the light!

    I will still keep playing my 4's. Absolutely no need for a 6.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  16. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA
    5 strings for me.

    Have played basses from 4 strings all the way to 8 string Conklins. 5 feels like home. Plus the music I play, both in the country cover band and in my original rock band, requires a low B.
    Quantized Harmonic and bassbully like this.
  17. ZAR14


    May 15, 2016
    I learned on a 4, Played 5 & 6...
    I have 7 Basses. 6 are 4's one is a 5
  18. CatchaCuda


    Feb 3, 2018
    Transfer, PA
    Only have 4's right now, it's what I'm most familiar with. Though I'm wanting a 5 so I can stop drop tuning as needed. I also don't want to file the nut on any of my 4's to accommodate BEAD.

    A 5 will cover everything a four can do without fussing with the setup. Not vice versa.
  19. I have played electric 4 string basses for 49 years. I borrow a 5 about 3 years ago and took the time to learn about a year. I gigged it once rarely hit the B string playing Classic Rock music. I returned it to it's owner who wanted to sell it to me, but it wasn't cost effective to buy and not gig it. :bassist:
    sneha1965 likes this.
  20. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    I play fives exclusively.

    I prefer the versatility of two full octaves within five frets, being able to avoid open strings when I want, the flexibility to play with guitars tuned drop D or down a half, full or even two and a half steps without retuning or packing extra basses, and the few low notes (nice to hit a low D in standard tuning). It’s also a bit of fun to watch guitarists try to sight what note I’m playing.

    The big downside is there are fewer basses available as five strings. There just are not enough five players to warrant the option for every bass.

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