4-String to 5-String Learning Curve

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4-String to 5-String Learning Curve

Postby Ben Esparza » Sun Sep 06, 2009 3:04 pm

I just bought a MMSR5 from my nephew. He bought it from Scott Cutrer and, after playing a Lakland 5, decided to sell the MMSR5 for the Lakie. I've been a 4 stringer my whole life, but wanted to jump into the realm of 5 strings. I must admit it has not been easy the last couple of days. I'm playing every song I know in the wrong key and it seems as if I can't shake that. What did you guys that made the switch do to get comfortable on the 5? Are there any exercises or suggestions you might have to help in the transition. I must admit there is a learning curve. Any suggestions you have will help. I wanna take this thing out to gig ASAP!
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Re: 4-String to 5-String Learning Curve

Postby TomA » Sun Sep 06, 2009 5:15 pm

After 20 years on a 4 string, I started playing 5 strings in the mid nineties. I went through the same thing you're going through. There was a lot of missed notes and frustration. Once I got up to speed, I was able to switch back and forth between basses effortlessly. I believe it was at about 2 weeks that I started to get it; it just began to click. Give yourself another week or two.

While I never did this, my teacher at the time (a multi string player) suggested that I pull the B string off of the 5 string and play it like that for a while to get acclimated.

Good luck,

Tom
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Re: 4-String to 5-String Learning Curve

Postby jshilgebass » Sun Sep 06, 2009 5:53 pm

About 21 years ago, I thought about getting a 5 string bass when I heard songs with the bass guitar notes going lower than the E string of a regular 4 string. I was picking up songs by ear by playing along with them on the radio or on a record, and I got mighty peeved when I got to the point in a song with a note lower than the E string and I could not play it. I saved up my money and went out and got my first 5 string bass; a Guild Pilot. I still have that bass, although nowadays it's a converted fretless with a John East U-Retro preamp installed by Gil Escalera. Anyway, I took this bass and went back to practicing those same songs with the lower-than-E notes and got up to speed on playing a 5 string that way. After this kind of practicing I started to practice all my regular songs with the 5 string and forced myself to learn all the little nuances of such a bass; notes were closer together and made fingering easier, more chord forms were now opened up to me, and just knowing I could drop in a low D or C in a song due to the increased lower range gave me more note choices to use.

Summary: Find some songs that force you to play a note lower than E on a regular 4 string and practice your 5 string playing on them.


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Re: 4-String to 5-String Learning Curve

Postby GonzoBass » Sun Sep 06, 2009 10:14 pm

I feel ya Ben and wish I had the answer.
Other than "practice" that is...

I played BEAD for a while in a country band
to allow me easy access to the low fifth
and actually charted in the wrong key
(songs in G I wrote out in C)
so my fingers would go to the right string/fret when the time came
without having to think first.

I know...
Weak.

Now I noodle on my son's 6 string
and it's got a learning curve at BOTH freakin' ends.
[smilie=smilie_kopf.gif]

I still use the BEAD for songs that require any of those five extra notes
but have found that songs I learn on the extended range come easier.
It's tunes I have played previously on the 4
and try to "bring over" that give me the most problems.

Old dog/New trick I guess.
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Re: 4-String to 5-String Learning Curve

Postby harleyyy » Sun Sep 06, 2009 11:00 pm

We tune down a whole step in my original project, and I drop it down another step with a Hipshot on some. Luckily my custom Dual Darkstar handles it, and we're both comforatble. Good luck with that Ben [smilie=grinning-smiley-003.gif]
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Re: 4-String to 5-String Learning Curve

Postby ghiadub » Sun Sep 06, 2009 11:16 pm

These are a few things that helped me:

Until you get used to it, just bring in new songs on a it and keep the old songs on a 4 string.

Also, at least for me, it helped to think of things in a closed posistion without using open strings until I got used to it. Makes it really easy when the singer wants to change keys.

If I am going to a jam, I will almost always bring a BEAD or a 5er for just that reason.
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Re: 4-String to 5-String Learning Curve

Postby KPJ » Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:17 am

ghiadub wrote:These are a few things that helped me:

Until you get used to it, just bring in new songs on a it and keep the old songs on a 4 string.

Also, at least for me, it helped to think of things in a closed posistion without using open strings until I got used to it. Makes it really easy when the singer wants to change keys.

If I am going to a jam, I will almost always bring a BEAD or a 5er for just that reason.


This is almost precisely what I do, the only difference being that I do no tune any four strings BEAD, so if I get a last minute fill-in call for a band I haven't played with before, the fiver comes.
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Re: 4-String to 5-String Learning Curve

Postby Gil Escalera » Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:38 pm

I could get away with doing the 'Drop D' thing on my 4-bangers for a long time, but then the musical director started introducing all these songs that went even lower. That's when I got a 5 string.

I started by learning the songs that required a 5 on the 5. The existing songs that I did on a 4 I would play (at home) on a 4 and then play again on the 5. Going from the 4 to the 5 like that allowed my brain and hands to adapt. Later I would just practice on the 5 at home (i.e. scales, exercises, playing with songs on the mp3 player, etc.) and only take the 5 to rehearsals. It forced me out of my comfort zone. Pretty soon I felt at home with the 5. [smilie=cool-smiley-031.gif]

Everyone's different, and that's what seemed to have worked for me. Obviously YMMV.

Good luck!

- Gil
To "B" or not to "B"... that is the question. ;)
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Re: 4-String to 5-String Learning Curve

Postby noahvale » Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:09 am

I bounced back and forth for a while, never could get used to the five. Then I starting only bringing the five to gigs, forcing myself to play it. One thing that really helped me was actually thinking about where the notes were rather than just going for them by memory. Now I have the opposite problem - I can't play a four string.
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Re: 4-String to 5-String Learning Curve

Postby jfh2424 » Tue Sep 08, 2009 10:49 pm

I always told myself that I would graduate to a 5 string once I had mastered the 4.

I am still on the 4, over twenty years later. Can't help you.

John
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