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Is this a reason to get a 5 string bass?


TValeri

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I'm 41 years old and I've played a 4 string bass since before I needed to shaved. It seems these days that I'm constantly having to tune my E string down to a D, which is a royal pain. I thought my solution was to take the plunge and get a 5 string bass and tried several at my local music shop. Unfortunately, the 5-string feels VERY uncomfortable.

 

I'm sure I'm among about 100,000 bass players who've had this problem. What did you decide? Was it easy enough to adapt to the 5 string or did you just interupt everyone to retune?

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I opted to go to a 5 string after many, many years of playing 4 string, due to playing with a guitar player who played open tunings on slide and also used the Dropped D tuning, for the first

few months I played it like a 4 and only would use the low B as a finger rest and to once in while drop in a low D etc..., once I got comfortable with the spacing and feel of the neck

(this was a narrow spaced 5 string, that I converted back to a 4 recently) I started using

the lower string for different fingering postions

& actually feel like I'm missing something when I go back to a 4 string, although I still dig jamming on the 4, sometimes there has to be more thinkin' goin' on !

Good Luck

:thu:

I'm Todbass62 on MySpace
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At one time, I had 4, 5 and 6 string basses.

 

Currently, I have 4's and a 5' and really don't think it is difficult to switch between them --nor was it that difficult to learn the 5 and 6 strings.

 

Just need to apply oneself.

 

Suggestion: see if you can rent or borrow a 5 string for a week. Play it and see what you think.

Steve Force,

Durham, North Carolina

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My Professional Websites

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Welcome to the Lowdown, TV.

I changed to a five about 8 years ago, but still use my 4s. Horses for courses.

 

How did the 5 feel uncomfortable? Was it the spacing? I play a Yamaha and it has nice, wide spacing. I found the back of my fretting hand would feel a little tight when I first changed, but that soon went away.

 

The B took a little getting used to, sometimes I would play it thinking it was the E, but that was a practising issue.

 

Good luck, the 5 is quite a useful tool.

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Originally posted by davebassman:

How did the 5 feel uncomfortable? Was it the spacing?

Good question. Or was it something else?

 

We might be able to suggest some 5ers that would be a better match for you if you could explain in more detail what was uncomfortable.

 

Also, Lizzy Roscoe Bergantino made a good point about them thar Hipshot D-Tuners. That might really be the answer to your problem.

 

Peace.

--s-dub

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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I originally decided I needed a 5 string so I could play along with my Stevie Ray Vaughn cds without detuning. He usually plays in E flat and you have to play too high on a 4. Hey, how much reason do you need to get more stuff.

My wife thinks I should get a 6 string and learn to play that. I've tried talking her out of it but to no avail.

 

I like Ibanez basses so with the smaller string spacing and narrower neck I've had no problem with discomfort switching to 5 (yes, I've switched: going back to 4 just messes me up since I relate everything to the string closest to me).

Will play bass for food.
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Is there anyone out there that started on a 5 and feels very naked with a 4 in hand...even for songs that only require 4 strings? I do.

 

I remember being told in a rather blunt way by someone here on the board that the only way to get comfortable with something new (in my case slapping 6string bass) is to practice it. I'd like to take some time out in my next sentence to pass that same message along to you. Do it.

 

I'd recommend a 5 for the sole reason that it makes playing songs in keys like E and F that much easier.

 

my two cents

 

jason

2cor5:21

Soli Deo Gloria

 

"it's the beauty of a community. it takes a village to raise a[n] [LLroomtempJ]." -robb

 

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I have never played a 5 string. If I need to play those notes I play em up where they are, on the A and D strings. Its just my style. Sure its cool to have those extra low notes though.But low notes does not equal low end. And downtuning is just a pain in the ass.

I do see the necessity for a 5 string bass, but only in a very limited sense. Some of my favorite metal songs feature a 5 string, for example.

And 6 string basses? Come on...just grab a frickin guitar already and stop jerking off.

"The world will still be turning when you've gone." - Black Sabbath

 

Band site: www.finespunmusic.com

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Originally posted by Gospel5string:

Is there anyone out there that started on a 5 and feels very naked with a 4 in hand...even for songs that only require 4 strings? I do.

Now that I play 5 strings I actually avoid 4 string basses. When I'm out window shopping I hardly even look at a bass with less than 5 strings. Kinda sad because some very nice basses don't come in a 5 string model (and even less come with 6).
Will play bass for food.
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Well, I doubt anyone who has been playing a 4 string just picks up a 5 and feels comfortable. You need to live with it for a little while. I like the rent/borrow idea. I bet you can get your local store to let you take one at least over night.

 

I think your reason is a justifiable one. The Hipshot D-Tuner is also a very good suggestion. I did that on one of my jazz basses as the band I played in only "required" a low Eb for 1 tune and a D for another. I recently did a reunion gig with them and played a regular jazz bass. It sounded great even up an octave.

 

I play 4, 5 and 6 string basses and upright. I think they ALL have their place. After some practice and experience, I find I can switch back and forth without diffficulty.

 

(Listen to some Yellowjackets - I would suggest Politics or Mint Jam - and hear what a great player can do with a fretless 6 string bass.)

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Originally posted by II Cliff Burton II:

And 6 string basses? Come on...just grab a frickin guitar already and stop jerking off.

ouch. I can think of a few times when a 6 would've done me some good. I love it when i can do a lot without changing my hand position..save for hand adjustment for playing a different kind of scale over changes.

 

i see a 6 with the high c as an outlet for a bass player to leave the pocket for a second and hop right back in without making it look hard. But we could be coming from two different schools of thought. different genres...different requirements from a bassist...you know?

 

jason

2cor5:21

Soli Deo Gloria

 

"it's the beauty of a community. it takes a village to raise a[n] [LLroomtempJ]." -robb

 

My YouTube Channel

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The reason is the five extra notes. If you're in a musical situation where you feel you have to play them...go for it. You'll get used to the extra string.

 

I second Lizzy's recommendation on the Hipshot XTender key. I have one on every electric bass I own (all 4 strings). They rock.

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I started on a 4 string, switched to a 5 string and have been playing that for about 10 years off and on. I love the flexibility that a 5 string provides, and the ability to get underneath the other instruments is just fantastic in my opinion. I kept my 4 string only because it was my first bass...I think I've played it 3-4 times in the past 10 years. :D

 

The string spacing (and just having an extra string) does take a little getting used to. There are 5 string basses that keep the same string spacing as a 4 string (ideal in my opinion, especially if you want to switch back and forth between 4 and 5, the Fender 5 strings come to mind), some are the other extreme...pack 5 strings onto the same neck width as a normal 4 string (I really don't like that but some folks really do, the Ibanez basses come to mind), and there are many that are somewhere in between, usually favoring the wider side of string spacing (MusicMan Stringray and Warwick come to mind).

 

My suggestion would be to go try as many 5 string basses as you can...you will definitely find one or several that you like. Take your time and enjoy the hunt.

 

And "yes", IMHO, hitting D and lower without retuning is a valid reason for a 5 string. Take a song in B and move the bass line an octave lower and you will feel it in your gut! I think 5 strings are awesome personally! :thu:

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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I just love my five string, but I gots ta get me an extender key for my 1994 P-Bass Special. And maybe my five, too, as I sometimes drop the low B to an A.

 

Having a low A sounds great not only for rock, but for jazz, blues, and if you have one of those huge upright 5-string monsters, classical. :)

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Thanks for your thoughts. You've convinced me to suck it up and find a 5 string. Worst case is that I don't like it and I end up playing my 12 year old daughter's Ibanez.

 

tonight I tried three different 5 string basses that were in my price range and had promise. These were my observations.

 

Ibanez SR505: Nice thin neck, but almost too narrow to confortably play with fingers.

 

Ibanez SRX705: Again, reasonably thin neck, but was a bit wider and a bit more playable. The action seemed too high. I can only assume the thing wasn't setup well. Nice neck through body design is a plus.

 

Schecter Stiletto Elite 5: Wow! what a beautiful instrument. Many pluses, but the neck was as thick as a telephone pole. I suppose I could get used to that.

 

Of these three basses that appear to work for me, anyone have any recomendations or words of wisdom/caution. I'm also open to any other suggestions you may have in this price range.

 

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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I would be happy to make some recommendations. My hands aren't huge, so neck size is definitely an issue I keep in mind. Having an idea of your price range would be a big help in suggesting a 5 string to you.

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Originally posted by TValeri:

I'm sure I'm among about 100,000 bass players who've had this problem. What did you decide? Was it easy enough to adapt to the 5 string or did you just interupt everyone to retune?

It took me over two solid years of playing and woodshedding to get used to it. I find at times I need to sit down with a 4 string for 10 minutes to get used to playing without a B string. During those two years I alternated between bringing an extra 4 string and going it alone with the 5. The limitations, I discovered, were all in my head.

:wave:

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ClarkW; Ha. Ha. Ha. :P:D

 

TValeri: If you want a wider spaced 5er without a baseball bat type of neck, try the Ibanez BTB line . I had a 405 and still have a 406 and I find the neck shape to be quite ideal for my left hand. The price is right too - $594 @ Musician's Friend.

 

When I changed from 4 to 5 strings, it wasn't the added string that caused problems - It was going from a 34" scale to a 35". Now I have both 34" and 35" scaled basses, with 4,5 and 6 strings, and I have no problems going between them. All it takes is just some elbow grease to get used to the new dimensions and possibilities.

 

-P

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It took me a while to adjust to my 5. I was also coming from short scale, so I was pretty screwed up. The additional string hurt more than the scale change, and I still have times where I'm fretting one string and plucking another. One player who was 6 months into the switch said "I'm fine with songs I've learned from scratch on the 5, but I'm still adjusting to songs I learned on the 4".

 

I haven't played with the Hipshot, but I've tried alternate tunings - very briefly. That takes some mental adjustments as well.

 

I have not been asked to play lots of stuff in D, but having the 5 has been cool - especially for that low D when you are in G and walk up.

 

There is one song in D that has a killer riff that was played on a 4 with the E dropped to D. I have tried to play it with the 5, but the author of the part and his current bassist told me I'd be much better off with drop D. I'd like to add a nice 4 to my collection for just such a moment.

 

As to recommendations, I'd say Kubicki except that it's out of your price range. I like the Schecter Elite and the Warwick Rockbass.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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I started on four. My first decent bass, my current baby, is a 5 string Peavy Cirrus. Now when I grab a 4 is feel very naked. It is just lack of practice on a four.

One of the things that I enjoy about a 5er is not so much the extra 5 notes you get. I enjoy having the extra string to allow for less movement when playing runs, scales and chords. Instead of having to move up a whole bunch of frets I can just move to the next string. The extra 5 notes are just a bonus. At the point I am at right now the only way I would take a 4 if is if I got it free or someone is paying me to take it. No offense to all the 4ers out there, but I love my five.

Let your speech be better than silence, or be silent.

 

For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not, none will suffice.

 

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Here's what it comes down to in my most humblest of opinions: the only reason to get a 5 or a 6 string is because you want one.

 

Try a few out, see if you like how they feel (I too recommend the Ibanez BTB series, have a BTB405QM myself) and if you like it, buy it.

 

And like someone else here said: leave all the 4-string/more string bias out of it. It's just a matter of personal preference.

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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Originally posted by TValeri:

It seems these days that I'm constantly having to tune my E string down to a D, which is a royal pain.

Is the pain due to the rethinking of fretboard shapes in drop D due to the 5th interval between the low D and A string, or is it due to the time it takes to tune down and then up again?

 

If it's the former keep trying 5-strings until you find one that fits, if it's the latter fit a Hipshot Detuner - they're only about $60 and it may solve your problem perfectly.

 

Or become a bandleader/writer and revel in everyone else being subservient to your tuning whims and not vice versa! :D

 

Alex

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I had played only a 4 string fretless for many years when I bought my fretted 5. Played a party that night and stunk the place out.

Went at practicing like crazy, maybe a couple months was all, and it was like it had been there forever.

That was way over 10 years ago, and I still play 5. I own a 4, it is occasionally useful, but I can do all that I need for the music I tend to play with my 5. Nothing against those who dig theirs, but 6 seems like too much for me to feel comfortable with, either musically or neck comfort-wise. Different strokes.

As others have said, the best avenue is to try some, choose one, and jump in running.

It sounds as if you are well on your way. I would also recommend the BTB line, well made and reasonably priced, and the resale is pretty good, as Ibanez' basses go.

Oh, and remember to have fun!

 

And welcome to the Low Down!!!

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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