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5th string


shex

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hmm... i've never played a five string... but if you're playing with a 6 string guitarist, what's the point of having a string lower?? is it just to octave down, or play the occasional note?

i can't imagine that it would be used heaps, compared to the other strings, but then again im inexperienced with it...

did any pre-1980 bands use them?

- roses on your breath but graveyards on your soul -
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Ihave played at my school where i work, at churches and in different bands. I have played folk, blues, rock and the occasional bit o metal. I use my low B in all these areas. Give one a try it will change your world. For me it was like discovering a whole new world.

Remember when Homer walked into the third dimension - kinda like that.

 

-Still trying to find a word to rhyme with MONTH-

Providence over serendipity any day.
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I am forever grateful that I spent the first 7 years of my 11 years of bass playing (to date) playing a 4 string bass. There is a HUGE argument that many people will most likely launch into on this thread about how many strings are good to have on a bass, and thay a 4 string is good for some while a 7 string bass is ideal for others. Personally, I thought I'd never move to anything above a 4 string. Most of the people I heard playing 5+ string basses used the extra low notes entirely too often and in my mind, just to have more "low end" in their playing. Then I started paying a lot of attention to Tony Levin and Bryan Beller in particular. They both use the extra low notes very tastefully. When they would play a low C, it really jumped out and made a statement, like "wow, check this out!!". It wasn't like all the metal bands that just play low for the sake of playing low. It eventually made me pick up a 5 string, and now that's what I play most of the time.

 

Having extra low notes, or extra high notes for that matter, is just another way you can express yourself on the instrument. If used tastefully, I think all those notes have their place.

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Well, not to debate which is better, but, I find I have to think when I play a 5 or 6 where a 4 just comes to me naturally. I can find just about every note without problems. On a 5, I'm lost and I find myself staring at the neck, too worried I will mess up. I even bought a very nice 5 string, determined to learn. After more than a year, I sold it. It never got any easier for me. I know this wasn't really your question, but, it's my excuse as to why I'm too lazy to learn a 5.
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yeah i found i had problems remembering the notes for about 6 months but i wasnt swapping from 4 to 5 strings all the time. Now i get confused when i pick up a 4 string.

 

Having said that, it doesn't confuse me when i play a regular 6 string guitar.

 

But each to his own.

Providence over serendipity any day.
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could one fit a 4 string bass with the fattest 5 strings from a five string, as i cant be bothered to move my fingers that much but i like the low b's and c's from a 5 string and its just impracticle to lower ma 3 string to that extent.

 

would that just tear apart the bridge/tuners.

 

im pondering building a 4or3 string bass using Fat sounds :)

I say you strap a nuke to my forehead and i'll nut the smegger
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Originally posted by Partyboydan:

could one fit a 4 string bass with the fattest 5 strings from a five string, as i cant be bothered to move my fingers that much but i like the low b's and c's from a 5 string and its just impracticle to lower ma 3 string to that extent.

 

would that just tear apart the bridge/tuners.

 

im pondering building a 4or3 string bass using Fat sounds :)

I don't know about the bride/tuners, but i've read that putting a 5 string set on a 4 string bass can cause neck problems due to the extra tension. Somebody else will have more experience here I'm sure.
Ah, nice marmot.
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Actually, putting the lowest strings of a 5 string set on a 4 string wouldn't cause more tension, it would cause less. You'd definitely want to get your neck adjusted for that purpose. But I don't see the point in that, because often the G string is very valuable, depending on what's being played.

 

I like my 5er, it really gets down deep into my soul. I use the B string very occasionally, though, like stated above, just for effect, really. It doesn't slap well because of the lack of tension (in my opinion), but the occasional strum or pluck will really add some dimensions to your playing.

 

As for a 6 string bass, there have been many throughout the times. I like them for that extra zing from the high C string...of course, I play up high all the time, and often find myself (when listening to recordings with a 6er) trying to fret where the C would be, but there isn't one. If I can find one with a small enough neck (I've got small hands), then I'll definitely try to get it.

 

Of course, you really need to know when to use those notes, as all those heavy bands use it as if it were required...I use it for shits and giggles, mostly.

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Bump sed:

Then I started paying a lot of attention to Tony Levin and Bryan Beller in particular. They both use the extra low notes very tastefully. When they would play a low C, it really jumped out and made a statement, like "wow, check this out!!".
Tony Levin and Bryan Beller were the dudes that got me jonesin' for a 5 as well.

 

Bump, were we separated at birth?

 

I still play 4 strings exclusively. I have hipshots on both, though. I drop a low D or Eb every once in a while...and I even set my hipshot down to C# on my fretless when I was copping Pino Palladino's line on "New York Minute". That low C# in unison with the piano part just had to be played. There were no two ways about it! (he punched those low notes in on a 5 string in the studio...the rest of the part was on a 4)

 

Then Cowbell wrote:

A bucnh. Led Zeppelin.....Cream had a 6 string bass. Popular stuff. Try one out. Rock you world.
Zeppelin with 5 string bass? JPJ played a Fender Bass V with Zep, but that instrument had a high C string instead of a low B. And Jack Bruce's Fender bass VI was a similar thing...like a guitar but an octave lower (EADGBE).

 

The point had more to do with playing bass along with pianos and organs than guitars... Anthony Jackson heard famous organist Jimmy Smith playing some INCREDIBLE left-handed basslines, but when he was copping 'em, he got really frustrated every time the part went below E. Taking it up an octave just sounded wimpy by comparison. So he took his Fender and re -strung it BEAD.

 

Jimmy Johnson had a similar impulse at around the same time...and had Alembic build him a 5 string with a low B instead of a high C.

 

Both these events happened during the 70's, a firtle period where a LOT of experimentation went on...too bad the 70's is remembered more for disco and bellbottoms...

 

Double bassists have been playing 5-string uprights (or using C extensions) in symphony orchestras forever. Ever since that jerk Beethoven started writing parts below E. :D

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Yeah, so this is one of those topics that comes up once or twice a month.

 

I have always played (as in, always owned and played regularly) a 5- or 6-string. 4-strings are okay but I simply prefer having the low B, for going a little lower than necessary, different voicings and positions for things above the low E, etc.

 

If people prefer 4-strings, that is cool...but don't buy into the nonsense that 'everyone should learn on a 4' (I learned on a 5) or that 4-stringers are inherently some sort of purer form of the electric bass...completely not true.

 

Figure out what you need...then go for it!

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I got my 5 string 15 years ago after hearing Jimmy (Flim) Johnson. Currently I have 4, 5, and 6 string basses. I use them all pretty much interchangeably....when I'm going out to a gig, I just grab the first one handy and go.

 

To answer the questions:

1) guitars aren't the only instrument in the world you will be playing with, and even if they were, they often play in the key of D. Having a low D is a good thing.

 

The low note on a synth is a C. I first started playing 5 string because I had to cover bass parts which were recorded on synths and the low C's, C#'s, D's, and Eb's were in the parts.

 

Yeah, that's it, all you get si 5 extra notes, that's it. (I didn't mention B in the last paragraph , because synths don't go that low).

 

I often have to play written parts where the arranger (who should know better) writes in low Eb's. Tons of music written for saxes and trumpets is in the key of Bb or Eb.

 

2) You can string your bass BEAD, do a search using the word BEAD, we've discussed this before. No harm will come to your bass.

 

3) Even if you never play a note below E (which some weeks I won't), a 5 string allows you to play in the key of E on the 5th fret. This is easier in many cases than playing the open strings. It also allows you to play in the key of G on the 8th fret which is really cool. All the stretches are much easier and you can get up to the high G on the G string very quickly.

 

4) And if you are a "traditionalist" and think that basses have to have 4 strings, remember that the electric bass was only invented in 1950. There are bass instruments going back hundreds of years with a variety of tunings and numbers of strings. The "Tradition" of electric bass is being reinvented every day.

 

Hopefully someone on this forum will come up with something new which we will then all learn and in a few years people will take it for granted that this innovation is a normal part of bass playing.

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My brother BenLoy said:

[QB]Bump sed:

Then I started paying a lot of attention to Tony Levin and Bryan Beller in particular. They both use the extra low notes very tastefully. When they would play a low C, it really jumped out and made a statement, like "wow, check this out!!".
Tony Levin and Bryan Beller were the dudes that got me jonesin' for a 5 as well.

 

Bump, were we separated at birth?

I've been wondering the same thing lately. I'm going to have to go with it. We must be long lost brothers or something.

 

Then BenLoy corrected cowbell before I could:

Zeppelin with 5 string bass? JPJ played a Fender Bass V with Zep, but that instrument had a high C string instead of a low B. And Jack Bruce's Fender bass VI was a similar thing...like a guitar but an octave lower (EADGBE).
Yep yep.

 

Then bro BenLoy preached:

 

The point had more to do with playing bass along with pianos and organs than guitars... Anthony Jackson heard famous organist Jimmy Smith playing some INCREDIBLE left-handed basslines, but when he was copping 'em, he got really frustrated every time the part went below E. Taking it up an octave just sounded wimpy by comparison. So he took his Fender and re -strung it BEAD.
I did not know that. (think Johnny Carson when reading that last statement :D )

 

The departing shot:

Double bassists have been playing 5-string uprights (or using C extensions) in symphony orchestras forever. Ever since that jerk Beethoven started writing parts below E. :D
Beethoven was a clever bastard like that. :D
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I bought the cheapest soundgear that ibanez made in a 5-string model several years ago just to give it a whirl; thought it was kind of cool to have that bit of extra range, and it was pretty easy to get used to with a little practice. After about a year I found that I really didn't make that much use of the extra low end, and have been playing 4's ever since. Just a traditionalist I guess...

 

Bottom line - it's all a matter of taste. You just gotta try it and decide for yourself if that's your thing.

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