Jump to content
Left leaderboard
Kevin Dean

Moving to 5-string: would it be a problem?

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

I've only ever played 4 String , But I've seen a bass I've wanted for a long time ,the only thing is that it's a 5 string version It's going for a silly price So would I be able to play it the same as my 4 string & just ignore the 5th string or does it interfere with technique ? Has anyone had this experience ...I really wouldn't give it a second look but It's such a good price ?

Edited by wateroftyne

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I go between 4, 5 and 6 strings with ease but that's with practise. When you first pick one up it will be different and the B string will get in your way, stick with it and that will get better with time, eventually you won't notice.

Also, you can include the 5th string in your actual playing rather than pretend it isn't there.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I've been going between 4 and 5 for years now. 

First three times with a 5'er I gave up, flogged it and went back to 4. Each time I thought 'this is the time', bought a 5-string, played it, ended up with fingers in a tangle (and once memorably played a tune at a gig an entire string down!). 

However, the last time I persevered and actually sat down to figure out what it was that was causing me difficulties. I realised that I can't cope with a narrow string spacing, so looked for a 5'er that was close to the spacing of my 4'er and that seems to have done the trick, along with forcing myself to only play the 5-string. I recently picked up the 4 string and the neck felt too thin and I constantly found myself looking for the missing B-string. I didn't actually realise how much I used it/relied on it until then. 

I've since done a couple of gigs and recording with it and it's fine. 

If you're really struggling though, one option might be to string it E - C. I tried this as part of my coping strategy the last bass-but-one, and it worked fine - I just realised I'd be better off with the B than the top C. 

Edited by Jakester
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Totally agree about the string spacing.

When getting started, you can easily treat the Low B as an extended thumb-rest, which actually makes the bass very easy to play as a 4-string.

Once you start using the B-string 'properly', don't get carried away with playing really low notes ... think instead about playing across the neck rather than zooming up and down it. If you're playing in E, for example, make your foundation E the 5th fret on the B-string rather than the open E string. You may be surprised how much more versatile you become.

 

Edited by Happy Jack
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve only tried 5-string basses a couple of times and I was surprised at how easy I found it. But then I just played all my regular lines in the same places so essentially as a 4-string. Nothing against 5s, I have considered getting one as am sure it would help on some of the music in my new project.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you don't mind the narrower string spacing, playing a 5er allows you to play across rather than along the fretboard. Some people don't see any point/advantage in that, others love it. (I'm in the latter camp.)

Nothing, but nothing beats the majesty of the sound from a good, properly amplified, open low B from a 5er. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, Kevin Dean said:

I've only ever played 4 String , But I've seen a bass I've wanted for a long time ,the only thing is that it's a 5 string version It's going for a silly price So would I be able to play it the same as my 4 string & just ignore the 5th string or does it interfere with technique ? Has anyone had this experience ...I really wouldn't give it a second look but It's such a good price ?

So, if I've read this right, you don't want to play a 5 string bass but you're buying one because you can't get the 4 string version!

If you don't mind me saying, planning to only use the top 4 strings on a 5 string bass is a weird idea. If you buy a 5 string bass you should be intending to play all the notes on all strings. You're not buying this bass for the right reason. I predict you'll be selling it inside 6 months.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, chris_b said:

So, if I've read this right, you don't want to play a 5 string bass but you're buying one because you can't get the 4 string version!

If you don't mind me saying, planning to only use the top 4 strings on a 5 string bass is a weird idea. If you buy a 5 string bass you should be intending to play all the notes on all strings. You're not buying this bass for the right reason. I predict you'll be selling it inside 6 months.

Correct ..so best I leave it then .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Kevin Dean said:

Correct ..so best I leave it then .

Keep a lookout for the 4 string version. What bass is it?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it really is a silly price (and you can afford it) then why not give 5 strings a go? I am assuming it is secondhand so if you don't get on with it then you shouldn't lose anything when selling it on (or you might find someone that wants to swap a 4 string version for a 5)

What bass is it? Some models seem to be more popular in 5 string than 4 (I have seen far more  ibanez sr505 than the sr500 but that might just be me) 

 

Matt

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Silvia Bluejay said:

Except perhaps a low F#? @Dood knows what I'm talking about! :D

I've got a Shuker with a low F#   tried to do some chapman stick stuff on it , It's been up for sale for ages in a mainland music shop .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am thinking of getting my 5 er down from the loft. 

I used to play 5s almost exclusively (see also fretless) but decided I hadn't come close to knowing what I was doing on a 4 yet, so parked the 5s.

Just this morning I'm learning a line and spending quite a lot of time working out when to play one part up around fifth and seventh, then the easiest way to get back to first and third for the low F. On a 5 this would all be played in the same position. 

You do know if you get one you'll get two don't you? I mean if you're gigging and your bass stops working then you need a back up right? 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

No less an authority than Leland Sklar has said that he treats his five strings as four strings with a few extra low notes, so it is a perfectly acceptable way to think your way around the instrument. I started on 6, but regularly switch things up between 4, 5 and 6 string now. I find 5 the easiest generally.

Edited by therealting
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also switch from 4 to 5 and back, depending on situation/need/requirement. Just takes some practice and all is well soon enough.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Scott Devine offers useful advice in a post called 'reasons not to play a five string', and then shows you how to do it.

 

Edited by lownote12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

It's a bit like discovering the opposite sex when you were a teenager. It's different and really quite pleasurable. After a few fumbling attempts at the unfamiliar bottom end you soon feel at home🙂

Edited by pmjos
  • Like 1
  • Haha 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got my first 5 string last year. 
I expected to either hate it, or find it life changing. 
It's neither. It's an extra string and a few more notes

Mine has similar string spacing to my 4s, and I've a reasonable right hand position so I found the change to be really easy. It took a while to work out which string was which without looking but simple enough. Muting strings is a bit more challenging.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bought a Yamaha 415 last year, 1 to try a 5 string , and 2 to try a Yamaha, and for me the notes were the easy part because I know my fretboard, but at first I regularly hit the wrong string,    especially if the Bassline involved  quite a bit of string crossing  ,  it took a lot of practice to rectify it .     Imo, the best thing to do would be to put the 4 away and just use the 5 until you’re happy with your playing, and then you can switch between them whenever you want 🙂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I picked up a lovely 5 string G+L a while ago with the intention of trying to switch from 4 strings. I found that playing fingerstyle i could manage reasonably easily on it but as soon as i used a pick i kept tangling myself up on it. And in my band i always use a pick. I persevered for about 3 months and gigged it twice but couldn't get confident on it. Advice from fellow Basschatters was to throw the 4 strings away completely and commit to the 5 but a hectic gigging schedule meant that i couldn't find the time to do it (plenty of time now, doh!). 
Sold it on and bought a 4 string version of the same bass and stuck a detuner on it like my other basses.
Itch duly scratched but i know my limits....

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Silvia Bluejay said:

Except perhaps a low F#? @Dood knows what I'm talking about! :D

What is interesting about adding more strings is that scale patterns actually make more sense. When you have enough strings you can see how shapes repeat in each position. Going back to four string made even more sense because of it. The funny thing is that I have been playing 6 strings for so many years, I actually am more likely to get confused playing a four string which is "missing" strings! A little mental adjustment and I am back in the zone!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never played a five string, but after 45 years of playing 4 strings, I spent a year (autumn 2018 - 2019) playing only six string basses. At the end of the year, I decided it wasn't for me and now have only 4 strings again. I don't regret giving the sixes a good go, though, it was the only way to find out if I was suited to them.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I swap between 4 and 5 but mainly use 4 at the moment.

No problems swapping, but I don't like to change basses on a gig. If the set needs a 5 then I'll play the whole thing on the 5.

I like to minimise changes at a gig - do the soundcheck and then stick with what I've got. The pickups in my 5 are very different to my 4s and I'd need different EQ set ups. And I can't be bothered with that!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...