Help me.

Help me.

Postby kennans » Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:49 pm

Okay, so here's the deal; I am, for all intent and purpose, an 'old dog'. I grew up playing 4 strings, and dammit, it's always been good enough for me. Even in my current gig, I get by with a Hipshot tuned to D.

But I have tried the five string Kool-aid, and tried to enjoy it. My first 5 was like a bad realtionship that neither of us wanted to admit was a failure. Best not to speak of it.

About a year ago, I aquired a Fender Roscoe Beck 5, and I love it. The range of tones is incredible, the feel of the neck is wonderful.

Did this inspire me to start taking it to gigs? Nope. I just waited around for a RB IV. I've never come close to using the 5.

So I ask you people - the multi-stringed - do I keep the 5 because I have to have a 5, or do I trade it for something I'll use, like one of those Genz Benz Neo 2x12's? Is it better to have a wall hanger that I might use one day, or do I cast off my guilt and put this into someone's hands who will use it?
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Postby GonzoBass » Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:31 pm

Can't answer as one of the "multi stringed people",
but can speak as a sympathetic "old dog" who went through the same situation
and feels your pain!

Luckily, I had a borrowed 5er from one of my students
for my first foray into the world of the Low B,
and when we both realized the relationship was doomed
I just "sent her home to Papa".

My answer is the classic 4 string, strung B-E-A-D
for times when I need any of those 5 extra notes.

Don't tell anyone this,
but when I started with this bass,
I even went as far as writing chord charts for these tunes in "4 string" language.

In other words:

When I needed to play a "C" I wrote "F" on the chart.
So that way, I'd play the first fret on my top string.
(...but at the time tunes were coming pretty fast and it was a case of "whatever it takes")
Crazy though! Huh?

I'll stick with a 4.

Old Dog/No New Tricks here too.

...but I did just get a fretless neck!
Uh, it's a 4.


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Postby harleyyy » Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:32 pm

I'll just sit back and watch this thread, as I too, owned a few, took one ONCE to a gig , not because it was yellow with big yellow LED lights. I get along well with a Hipshot d-tuner as well. [smilie=fun_84.gif]
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Postby ~lightwaveryder~ » Thu Jan 25, 2007 2:37 pm

im with the others. old dog.

however comma (,)
i used a 5 in gigging situations , fretless even, and LOVED it.
but i noticed that my low notes were not really necessary, and i dont
like the string spacing on most 5s.

i ended up playing in 5th position most of the time, and the e note
that rides on where you usally fret A on the E string (see gonzo, we think alike)
tuned to a low b, is 'flabbier' and has more meat.

after realizing that the low note gets used rarely, i stepped away from my 5.

also, its band specific. If i was playin techno/electronica i wouldn't imagine using
a 4 , since key-tards usually base everything around a low C.

same for jazz/adult contemporary, in fact, if i was playing with Seal (all Seal records
have badass bass players on them) i'd have to use a 5.

i wont play a 6 or a 7 because there aint nothin 'badass bass playin' about a high c string . IMO ;-)

in reference to gonzo's post about changing note names to match a 4 string bass.....

i ws a gee-tard for a year in a techno/metal band and i tuned my guitar to a low c.
i transposed every note name to match standard e tuning, especially past the 5th fret...;-)

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Postby ghiadub » Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:29 pm

I have played 5s and the occasional 6 (modulus Quantams) for 6 years, and I got this fretless with a jazz profile neck and fell back in love with 4 strings. Over the past 2 years I have completely switched back over to 4s.

6 string basses are great for chords, but that is about it (for me)

To what Gonzo said, I have one tuned up BEAD, with the thicker strings like a 5.

I have no issues with notes, just the 5/6 necks are not as comfortable to play for long periods. The BEAD is great even if you do not play the lower notes much because you can play higher on the neck, which (IMO) is more comfortable.

I hope this helps. JMTC
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Postby higher1 » Thu Jan 25, 2007 10:59 pm

if you're not going to play it, you're not going to play it. I found out many moons ago you either are or you are'nt a 5 'er kinda dude.

I play 4 's as well. but all of my 4 's are strung with the BEAD tuning.

if you're not going to play it, then get rid of it and get a 4 banger you wanna play and will use!
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Postby luve2fli » Fri Jan 26, 2007 7:04 pm

If you're not going to use it - off it. No shame in that - I've got a couple of fives and a couple of fours, I switch it up as I see fit but I'm just as at home on a 4 or a 5. Whatever works for you bro. Hate to see a nice bass like that sittin' under your bed though - put it into someone's hands who will gig it and go get yourself another RB with only 4 strings on it. Hell, just play that Antigua P of yours - it sounds awesome!
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Postby noahvale » Fri Jan 26, 2007 9:49 pm

I bounced back and forth from 4's to 5's for years. Then I got a L2500 that I really liked. I forced myself to just play it at gigs until I got used to it. I also practiced really thinking about what notes were where, rather than just going for it. Now I have the opposite problem - I get lost on 4's now. I even got a 5 string EUB. Now my other problem is that I never play electric basses anymore. Be careful what you wish for....
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Postby oogie boogie » Sun Jan 28, 2007 5:31 pm

Quite simply: use what works best for you. If a 4-banger tuned down to BEAD works more easily than a 5 then that's what you should be using. No sense in trying to fight the instrument or your own head, you know?
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Postby Bob Amstadt » Sat Mar 17, 2007 9:32 am

I don't gig as much as the rest of you, but here is my take. Never own a bass just because you feel you have to.

As for needing 5's, I've found that all the modern songs with those ultralow notes can be covered quite nicely using a Hipshot d-tuner. In fact, I have them on both of my 4's now.

I also tune my 6-string basses EADGCF. So, I don't look at extended range for more low notes. I use them for more high notes.
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Postby bigfatbass » Sat Mar 17, 2007 10:23 am

The keys to loving the 5 are to first find one that you like the neck feel of, next play it for a few weeks through a rig that will properly handle the extra nuggets down low at stage volume. You'd be surprised how many rigs that sound KILLER with a 4, deliver a low b that carries all the cohesion of a mud pie on a rainy day. Something you'd never know until you played it out on stage at full gig juice, right? I've had several students over the years that whined about needing a 5 with a better b string, when the only real troubles were bad attack with the pluckin' hand, and a combo amp that waffled like a waffle when they tried to crank up a big, metal-ey, low B. I've found that regardless of ax, it just takes a different touch to get that B to bubble.

When I got my first 5, I picked 3 songs that I built a little B string part into and brought it as a second bass to the gig. After one more test gig with a back up on hand I couldn't put the thing down all night. There is just something about the expression on peoples faces when you drop a big, fat B-bomb in just the right place in the tune. I'll go 3-4 tunes in a row without touching the 5th, but it just carries so much emotional power when properly delivered to the privates with a strong fundamental. My 4s have mostly sat on the rack until about 2 years ago when I got the SX P-ho I've been frankenbassing. Other than the open jam beater I just mentioned, I actually can't justify buying a 4 anytime soon because I just won't be playing it out. I still do a fair bit of my writing on my unity 4, but that's mostly because my main 5 lives in a gig bag near the door. [smilie=music-smiley-008.gif]
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Postby jefbar » Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:35 am

After years of thinking that no one needed more than four strings, I'm pretty much a five-string guy now. My experience is similar to noahvale's in that the bass started making more "sense" from a music theory perspective once I was playing the fiver. To me the main argument for either a fiver or a sixer is not the extra range (though that low B is nice once you have a rig that can properly amplify it as BFB mentions), but the added ease of "reach" that the extra string(s) give(s). Meaning I can reach two octaves without moving the position of my left hand with any note, not just the open strings. I also play with an orchestra quite a bit, so I use the Eb A LOT.

For those that argue that I could accomplish the same thing with a D-tuner I say yes and no. Technically it is true that you gain two lower notes, but it also changes your technique for the entire song. This can be a good or a bad thing. It can render some runs/riffs/etc. unplayable. It can also create new runs/riffs previously unavailable. So all that to say that I really consider a drop-tuned bass and an "extended range" bass as two different types of tools.
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Re: Help me.

Postby GLJeff » Tue Jul 17, 2007 7:02 pm

I say keep it! old thread I know... this is a Yamaha TRB I used to own, and I never should have sold it. I gigged a lot with it, a great slap bass or whatever other style you're into. If I could get it back I would.



Postby Mike Childree » Wed Jul 18, 2007 3:25 am

noahvale wrote: Now my other problem is that I never play electric basses anymore. Be careful what you wish for....

Yeah, me too.....

Kennan, I did that "just in case" bass ownership thing most of my life too. But at this point, I think we're all pretty much at the place we're going to be. You're gigging as much or more than any of us....if you're not using it now....
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Re: Help me.

Postby jshilgebass » Wed Jul 18, 2007 1:05 pm

I play 5 and 6 string basses these days for 1) the extended range, low (5 and 6 string) to high (6 string), and 2) the ease of fingering.

As mentioned already, a well-placed bomb-drop on the B string shakes the nether regions like nothing else, but again, if used when needed, and not gratuitously. A C string lets me do soloing and not have the problem I used to have in the past where I would run out of frets as I went higher...hey, I still play guitar; old habits die hard, like some of us "old" farts have already alluded to [smilie=grinning-smiley-044.gif] And chording is easier, too. All of these situations have happened to me on a regular basis over the years in various gigs. I'm just a guy who likes to have more options available to me as I need them.

As also mentioned, notes that used to be further away on a 4 string neck are now brought closer with the extra string. Some runs that I used to have trouble doing on a 4 string became much easier to do on extended range instruments.

However, I don't totally turn my back on 4 strings. For me, at least, slapping and popping is easier on a 4. Some songs I play just don't "sound" or "feel" right to me unless I do it on a 4 string.

So...for what it's worth, play whatever is comfortable to you on whatever instrument feels good to you. If you prefer 4 strings and nothing else, I say stick to your guns and don't let anyone try to convince you to change because you "have" to. If you like extended range basses and can't see yourself going back to a 4 string, then I say "Bravo" and again, don't let anyone make fun of you playing like a Guitard instead of a "real" bass player.

There's room on the planet for bass players of all types. From what I know of ol' kennans (got to know him a tiny bit at School of Bass), he's a bad ass player who doesn't need to change what he's doing. Rock on with the 4 banger!!!

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