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visog

So where did 5's and 6's get us?

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I've played whatever was appropriate for the band I was in at the time (and sometimes not appropriate to "stick it to the man")

This has consisted of 4, 5, 6, 8 & 12 strings - fretted and fretless, solid bodied, acoustic and semi acoustic

I play mainly 4s now as it suits the band I am in with a Hipshot Xtender for the few songs I need a low D or B but wouldn't hesitate in getting a 5 or 6er if the need arose

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2 hours ago, Graham said:

Then there are guys like me, who're exclusively five string players, who's heroes are almost all four string players, but do so as a way to make "normal" bass playing easier.

Im one of these. I only play 5 strings, and I mostly (live) play in a cover band covering songs that people played on 4 string basses (and a few 5 string songs). I could take another 2 basses along to do e flat and drop d songs too, but find it easier with 1, especially when some of those songs dont have gaps between them.

And frankly some of the other songs are just easier on a 5, and I am terribly lazy (and would have to relearn them).

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8 hours ago, chris_b said:

Well you've got me just saying and wondering why anyone else gives a flying flip how many strings are on my basses!!

It offers an insight into your character, how you behave, react and treat others. The person behind the bass. :hi:

It allows others to judge you and your bass playing technique, your style, your levels of aggression, your depth of tone, your use of phrasing and of course how you stand on stage.

And of course i am talking TOSH. :laugh1::laugh1::laugh1:

As long as the bass player is competent and doing a good job. That's really all i'm interested in from any musician. 👍

 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Bill Wy,Aye,Man said:

5 strings eliminates the need to play an open E and that's about it

I play 5-string basses and I love the sound of open E.

Sometimes you need open strings and sometimes you need fretted ones. There's more to playing an instrument then playing the right notes in the right place. It's playing the right notes with the right sound in the right place. 

If you don't get that you're not much of a musician.

Edited by BigRedX
So that my post makes sense

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2 hours ago, BigRedX said:

I play five sting basses and I love the sound of open E.

Sometimes you need open strings and sometimes you need fretted ones. There's more to playing an instrument then playing the right notes in the right place. It's playing the right notes with the right sound in the right place. 

If you don't get that you're not much of a musician.

You must be a good musician if you can play 5 Sting basses all at the same time😊

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I like a 5 string for the fact that you can play certain things in different positions. 6 strings is too confusing and 4 strings sometimes feels like not enough strings.

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I tend to prefer the sound of a fretted E, but an open on has it's place too, and with a five I can choose

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18 hours ago, visog said:

{snip}: more strings does not make better music! (Sorry if I'm late to this party.)

No, music isn't a competition. More strings makes different music. 

 

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Why would anyone think more strings make better music?

 

More strings increase range thereby increasing compositional and playing choices but that's it! It's still up to the composer to write something worth listening to in the first place.

I happen to like 5 strings because I can use sheet music written for piano and not have to play octaves when the piano part goes too low for the 4 string bass. Not having the B string in that situation can make the music sound odd - all the other instruments in a downward pattern but the bass jumping octaves can ruin the effect.

 

Not to mention having that low B is an absolute godsend when playing in key signatures that have been picked to suit transposing instruments! I spend a lot of time playing with saxophones and clarinets and it is really useful.

 

It's also great to sit under more instruments. If I'm playing in the Big Band then I've got baritone saxes and trombones to deal with - with a low B I can still sit under them and not invade their sonic space in the arrangement.

 

Should probably also mention that the double bass was originally a 3 string IIRC.

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21 minutes ago, Bill Wy,Aye,Man said:

So what's Eurovision?

You're confusing the difference between making music and making money. :) 

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I'm in the 4 string camp, I prefer the feel of a 4 to a 5 but I'm more than happy to accept that a 5 would make my life easier for some of the stuff I play in my Glam Rock grouping as much is keyed down from the originals to suit the singist.

 

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More strings don't necessarily make better music, but I think they do sometimes raise or change expectations.

I have heard non-muso friends as well as bandmates say that they were disappointed not to get exhibition playing out of guys who tote basses with more than 4 strings and only use them to 'serve the song' with a less involved line than they felt the aesthetic promised. It's something I bear in mind whilst not letting it bother me too much!

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20 hours ago, visog said:

Just sayin'. Views and counter-examples welcome but I'm calling it: more strings does not make better music! (Sorry if I'm late to this party.)
 

Two things:

  1. Try as I might, I can't actually recall anyone ever claiming that more strings do make better music.
  2. And what exactly is 'better'? Is there a sliding scale of betterness? Who gets to decide if James Jamerson is officially better than Jimmy Haslip? Is it a competition?

I play five, for two reasons. One, because I play with a lot of brass and an ability to go below E often comes in handy in our songs. And two, because it makes my life easier in general in that I can go across the neck rather than up and down it. 
You'll notice there's no "Three, because it means I'm better than a four string player". :) 

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I'll state my personal position first of all - I play 4 string, in the main the music I'm into (if it has a bass guitar) was made on a four string, and I'm happy to work within the constraints of a four string. In art constraints of a medium are not a bad thing IMO. Give me a four string bass and I'm as happy as a pig in you-know-what. I can always change if the need arises.

In the last couple of years since I started reading basschat I have learned that a 5/6 string can be used to play in keys not easily accessible to a 4 string, can 'put the notes under your hand' and works well with some styles such as solo improvisation.

Onto the OP question, which I take to be asking how much the 5/6 string has contributed to the general developement of music.

There was an interesting thread on here about how different technologies have driven the developement of music - e.g Microphones, Electric Guitar, Overdrive, multi-track, synth, sampler etc. I think all of those plus the Bass guitar made big contribution, but the change to more than 4 strings is did not make a similar contribution.

The basic styles and methods of bass guitar (walking lines, root 8's, melodic bass, lead bass, funk bass, slap and so on) were developed on 4 strings or inherited from double bass as far as I know.

So I would conclude that 5/6 strings have not made a massive contribution to the way 99% of music actually sounds.

 

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TBH most of us could get away with a 2-string bass - either E and A or A and D depending on what you were playing. Certainly in my dad rock covers band days 90% of the songs could have been played comfortably on a bass with just 2 strings.

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21 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

TBH most of us could get away with a 2-string bass - either E and A or A and D depending on what you were playing. Certainly in my dad rock covers band days 90% of the songs could have been played comfortably on a bass with just 2 strings.

tumblr_mqdozwJ2om1syf1vho1_1280.jpg&f=1&

 

There you go.

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10 hours ago, binky_bass said:

@visog, as someone who plays only 6+ string basses, I must ask you - why even ask this question? What concern is it of yours to assume there's no merit in having any more strings just because you don't play anything past 4 strings? That's akin to saying 'I don't understand why you don't like mustard, I like mustard therefore surely everyone else must like it too'. People are different, choice is a beautiful thing.

I enjoy playing 6+ string basses because a 4 string simply can't do what I enjoy playing. Extended chords and tap style is far more conducive to a 6 than it is to a 4. And yes, I'm sure there's plenty of 'tappers' who make do with 4 strings, there's also some cyclists that prefer a unicycle.

At the end of the day, you might no be able to see past 4 strings, that doesn't mean we all have to be so closed minded! 

This is always an utterly moot arguement whenever someone has raised it. Do your own thing, I'll do mine, and let's be happy that we're both happy with our choices! 

Well said.  Quite restrained if I may say.

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For me, 5 and 6 string basses are useful as a lead indicator when attending gigs. It works like this:

  • Arrive at pub
  • Observe 5 or 6-er on instrument stand
  • Observe man standing apart from others, a grave expression on his face and a pork-pie hat on his head
  • Access memory banks, recall slot: 'immobile player, excessively busy bass lines'
  • Leave pub, go to off-license, buy pack of 8 Ace, sit on park bench
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3 hours ago, fretmeister said:

Should probably also mention that the double bass was originally a 3 string IIRC.

Now dear @fretmeister you should go to the end of the previous page and take another look.

The whole question about the amount of strings is pretty meaningless. Should you say to a pianist, that there are too many keys in a piano? And a Bösendorfer grand piano is for posers only, because there are two extra keys. Oh dear...

top40 music.jpeg

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9 hours ago, BigRedX said:

I play 5-string basses and I love the sound of open E.

Sometimes you need open strings and sometimes you need fretted ones. There's more to playing an instrument then playing the right notes in the right place. It's playing the right notes with the right sound in the right place. 

 

I’m always amazed how few people seem to be concerned with this, the actual sound produced in different areas of the neck. Ironically it’s one of the reasons that I’ve never managed to find a 5 or 6 that suits, because I’ve never played one (fretted) that sings out as you play up the neck, which is crucial to what I do. 

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1 hour ago, BigRedX said:

TBH most of us could get away with a 2-string bass - either E and A or A and D depending on what you were playing. Certainly in my dad rock covers band days 90% of the songs could have been played comfortably on a bass with just 2 strings.

I do prefer 4 over 5 and 6, but I play all those 4 all over the neck. 

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