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Caz

4-string with octave pedal instead of 5-string?

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If there are classic songs where the bass is tuned to Eb, I prefer to just have a five string or a four string tuned to Eb. 

Being really pedantic I think that a downtuned four string gives a more authentic tone of the original tracks, which were usually recorded was slightly slacker strings because of a downtuning. Sometimes a crystal clear low Eb on a tight B string on a brilliantly constructed active five string just sounds too crystal clear and modern for my tastes. However, the audience really wouldn't notice the difference over the course of a live gig. In practical terms if I am playing 2+ hours of covers in standard and Eb tuning, then being able to play all songs on one instrument is better than either switching basses or retuning the whole time. 

An octave pedal just has too much of an 'effect' sound for me. I had the Aguilar one for years which was a great unit but I never used it after getting a five string. 

There is a Digitech Drop Pedal but even that has a bit of an 'effect' sound for me. 

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1 hour ago, acidbass said:

I use the pitch shift feature on my HX Stomp to shift all the notes down 5 semitones, have a patch specifically for this which I flick to when I need that low B.  The tracking is excellent.

Same here, excellent tool. For one of our songs I just shift it 2 semitones down to maintain the playing pattern for the riff with loose strings and all like the original but transposed to match our singer. So I have a couple of preset depending on how much I want to shift. If you listen closely you can here some artifacts but in the mix with a coverband on a big party? No one will notice and I can happily continue to play my 4-string p-bass. 😀

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39 minutes ago, thodrik said:

If there are classic songs where the bass is tuned to Eb, I prefer to just have a five string or a four string tuned to Eb. 

Often these are guitar songs (Sweet Child O Mine, The Boys are Back In Town, etc) where the original band detuned a semitone. In these cases my band just plays them in regular tuning, as long as the singer is happy with it.

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I would go the 5 string route, but don't go torturing your 5 string to play songs that can be played much more effectively and efficiently on the 4 string, though.

Best practice is to use a 4 string as standard because that's all that most songs require, and only use the 5 string when you absolutely have to. It's about using the best tool for the job.

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2 hours ago, pineweasel said:

Often these are guitar songs (Sweet Child O Mine, The Boys are Back In Town, etc) where the original band detuned a semitone. In these cases my band just plays them in regular tuning, as long as the singer is happy with it.

Exactly, if the original bands just tuned down a semitone, I would tend to do the same unless the singer preferred otherwise and/or if most of the set is in standard tuning to being with. 

Generally, I don't think that the extra half step down is worth it for 'authenticity' or 'extra heavyness' if the rest of the band are happy playing it in standard tuning. Having a five string is handy, but the ability to play everything on one bass is lost if the guitarist is constantly switching between a standard tuned guitar and Eb tuned guitar over the course of a set. 

It is only when you get to 'classic' Sabbath songs or Queens of the Stoneage songs in very low tunings (C# standard or C standard), where I find that the songs sound a bit odd when pitched up to standard tuning.  However these songs are not generally part of a standard pop/rock/blues/funk function band setlist. 
 

Edited by thodrik
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1 hour ago, NancyJohnson said:

This is my point.  Because of the units shortcomings, an octave pedal will force you into playing stuff in (an unnatural?) higher register and/or having you switch it off when you hit a lower register.

But most of the players who use an octaver are going to be playing pretty much everything in the middle to higher range of the instrument.  It's not like you're going to play a line and kick the pedal on or off for one or two notes. 

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1 hour ago, pineweasel said:

Often these are guitar songs (Sweet Child O Mine, The Boys are Back In Town, etc) where the original band detuned a semitone. In these cases my band just plays them in regular tuning, as long as the singer is happy with it.

that is a whole different issue 🤣

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I have drop tuners on my gigging basses for a 'natural' D when that's all I need, but the Helix Stomp tracks superbly for further drop tuning. I have all my tone/effects patches (6, IIRC - it's been a while since I switched it on 😕) copied into Eb, D and C, just in case.

Having said that we used to cover both Uptown Funk and Get Lucky, and the keyboards can cover that lower end just fine - was never an issue...

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Thank you all for your helpful input. I've taken these comments on board and have been considering the various options - and I'm not quite sure how this has happened but I've just found myself ordering a 5-string fender deluxe active jazz bass with next day delivery from GAK 😃 have to say, it looks very cool!

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4 minutes ago, Caz said:

Thank you all for your helpful input. I've taken these comments on board and have been considering the various options - and I'm not quite sure how this has happened but I've just found myself ordering a 5-string fender deluxe active jazz bass with next day delivery from GAK 😃 have to say, it looks very cool!

Pictures or it didn't happen! ;)

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54 minutes ago, Doddy said:

But most of the players who use an octaver are going to be playing pretty much everything in the middle to higher range of the instrument.  It's not like you're going to play a line and kick the pedal on or off for one or two notes. 

I do. 

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Most of my gigs are functions, playing covers and I use a Jazz V. However, I did it for years with a 4 string P bass. It’s perfectly doable. I’d use the octave pedal for that effect though, not to try get lower notes as it’ll likely sound rubbish anyway on the lowest notes. You’re better off just increasing your repertoire and learning popular songs and playing them as best you can with what you have for now. 
When you get the gig you’re after, you might feel that you NEED a 5, especially if you’re doing lots of 80s stuff. 
Also, many guitarists are scared of playing in Eb, so you’ll likely do all the usual Eb tunes in E anyway!

Edited to say just seen the OP’s last post, great, get stuck in! Have fun with those low notes! It does put you in a better position when a singer wants to drop the song a semi tone too, which for me is far more useful than the extra notes gained. 

Edited by [email protected]

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10 minutes ago, Caz said:

.....and I'm not quite sure how this has happened but I've just found myself ordering a 5-string fender deluxe active jazz bass with next day delivery from GAK 😃

That's the Basschat way.

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Like @NancyJohnson says, pictures are required, preferably in a NBD* topic just for that purpose.  You'll enjoy having both options, four or five strings, I am sure.

*New Bass Day

 

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I’m definitely in the camp of both haha. I have one covers band where the leader only wants me to play a 4 string Precision, fine by me, that’s my natural inclination. With that band I take an OC-2 octave pedal for if I want any low C’s or low D’s.

Another artist I play with writes a lot in C & D keys, as well as a habit of changing keys on the night depending on how her voice is. So with that in mind, I’m much more comfortable on a 5 string (easier to move keys around in my experience, I’m reliant on patterns haha).

So yeah, both is my vote ☺️

Si

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2 hours ago, Caz said:

Thank you all for your helpful input. I've taken these comments on board and have been considering the various options - and I'm not quite sure how this has happened but I've just found myself ordering a 5-string fender deluxe active jazz bass with next day delivery from GAK 😃 have to say, it looks very cool!

Brilliant, a true Basschatter! 😆

It has been mentioned previously, but if you find a fiver isn’t for you, go with the drop D tuner, I’ve used them for years and have them fitted to the majority of my 4 stringers. You get used to compensating for the lower tuning really quickly. The only drawback is when you forget to reset it and launch into a tune only to find you’re a tone flat (tell folk it’s a jazz harmony 😉😆). An octave pedal probably won’t really do what you want, I’ll use it in that scenario for maybe a note or two at the end of a song, or a particular section, but not for the whole thing (unless I’m channeling Tony Levin, Pino or Guy Pratt of course).

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Wow just read through all your replies, great experience and input, best i've seen on here for a while.

I've join in after you have bought a five 😄

Echo all the above, I have just finished in our covers band after 30 years, I spend the first 5 years needing a five and playing a 4 string P bass. and an octave pedal.

once i had bought a 5 string I used it all the time and now have lots of them, But Over the last 15 years I have not really needed one maybe the odd song in the set, But I was so ingrained in 5 strings because I had learnt all our sets on them. To the extent i couldn't play the songs on a four string because my muscle memory was on a five.  So my advice is keep the four string and rehears on both don't allow yourself to loose the four string touch. I have now finally got my self back into a P bass. and the fives are gathering dust.

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Drop tuning is a cool way to go - the intervals are not confusing and if you really want just do it without the D tuner and leave it in that tuning.

if Drop D - your original open E is fretted on the second fret, if doing octaves on the lowermost (E but now D) string then instead of spanning 2 frets it’s the same as the one you are fretting - so low and high E you fret both D strings on the second fret.

The real fun is Drop C or Drop B

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1 minute ago, Cuzzie said:

The real fun is Drop C or Drop B

My producer wanted to see how low I could go and still have a usable tone. 

I got down to low G/G# on my five string; things got a bit rattly, but interestingly the notes had pretty much zero clarity, it just sounded like background hum, could have been playing anything.

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2 minutes ago, NancyJohnson said:

My producer wanted to see how low I could go and still have a usable tone. 

I got down to low G/G# on my five string; things got a bit rattly, but interestingly the notes had pretty much zero clarity, it just sounded like background hum, could have been playing anything.

I would imagine lower than a B would be mushy G’s - but if you are going to play Songs like Black the sky and Shoes or even just Drop D songs a bit lower Drop B is wicked

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I play both the songs the OP mentions in one of my bands. I just manually drop the low E down to D for both and Bob’s yer uncle. It’s easy to do accurately after a bit of practice and you can usually feel thru the neck even if you can’t hear it properly. Or just use a tuner obvs.

The same band also plays a number of songs which are traditionally tuned down a half step, so we just pick the nearest ‘regular’ note (ie Boys Are Back In Town in A for example).

For the one song I cant get around - Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You,” which relies on a low  E flat, I have my spare bass tuned down a half step and just grab it for that song.

Saying all of that, I have recently bought a five string with the aim of just taking that to gigs. However I prefer my four strings anyway so will probably still end up taking both. 

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If you don't have clarity on the B string then you need a better bass, better set up or better strings. One of the three.

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In my covers/function band, it's just the BL/singer/geetard and me, plus a drummer, so the BL likes the flexibility to call not only the song but the tuning, hence the Stomp presets; if he says 'We're playing blah-de-blah...in Eb', I just, ahem, Stomp a switch, and I'm in Eb. He has a full Helix, so he can bugger about with tunings all night, and I'll eventually hunt him down... 🙂

Yes, I know I should be able to transpose on the fly (and I can up to a point), but if the technology's there, why not use it?

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Apologies if this has been mentioned before, but it might be relevant whether you play in one band or if you dep around with lots of bands. If you're with one band, then presumably the singer will sing each song in the same key every gig (though I have worked with singers who have changed the key in the same breath as calling the song!) so learning the song in a drop tuning is a bit of extra work at the front end, but you get to use the bass you like.

However, if you dep around and play with lots of different singers who sing songs in all different keys, it might be easier to get a 5-string as when you change key all the shapes are more or less the same, just in a different position.

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40 minutes ago, bassbiscuits said:

For the one song I cant get around - Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You,” which relies on a low  E flat, I have my spare bass tuned down a half step and just grab it for that song.

MarloweDK can't be bothered to detune (or use a P bass...) but I think he still does a fine job.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0GQ1F9HDVU

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