5 String Bass help needed

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RockerRocker Frets: 2664
I play country and rock & roll type music with my friends every other week. I play a 4 string bass. Would I get any benefit from having a 5 string bass? Are the extra low notes of any use in that type of music? A shop in Dublin is selling what looks like a nice Epi Toby 5 string for reasonable money. Should I take the plunge or upgrade my 4 string bass?
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • mixolydmixolyd Frets: 336
    edited April 2017
    If you're already playing with four notes then shouldn't you have a good idea of whether you want those extra notes or not?

    That extra string will let you grab a bunch of low root notes like Eb, D and C so you won't have to go up for them, but then depending on your style maybe you grab notes below the root a lot anyway.  If you're already grabbing say the G and F below a C then you'd maybe have less to gain than a player who mostly just adds chord tones above the root.

    i guess what I'm saying is that it probably has more to do with your playing style than the genres you pay in.
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  • mixolydmixolyd Frets: 336
    edited April 2017
    You know what pisses me off on the guitar and on four string?

    Stand By Me.

    That beautiful descending bass line gorgeously mooches on down to E but then you run out of notes and have to fly up an octave for the D notes which so obviously wants to be the lowest note in the phrase.  Doesn't bother me enough to upgrade from my £45 Westfield bass though! 
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  • Surely you already know if you need those extra low notes?

    Be aware that the necks are a fair bit wider on a 5 string bass and you may not find you like that.  Give it a play and see what you think.  More range is only an upgrade if you use it and/or prefer that bass over your old one.
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14562
    You also need everything else in your signal chain to cope well with the extra low notes....
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17955
    For those genres you do not need the extra low notes, but that doesn't mean you can't make good use of them.

    It is your call, but the large majority of players in those genres don't have a 5 string and most of the songs don't require them.

    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31628
    And the Lord spake, saying, "Four shall be the number of the bass, and the number of the bass shall be four, no more, no less. Five shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, nor three excepting that thou then proceed to four. Six makes you look like a right prat."

    Four strings, four beats, four notes. The righteous bassist shall live by this rule.

    And you can always tune your bottom string down to D to play Stand By Me...
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 2664
    There are a lot of frets that I never go near on my bass - all above the 12th. I do like to gig the low notes, tuning down 2 steps is an option but it had taken me some study effort to learn the notes in standard tuning. Low is where it is at so I might give a 5 string a whirl, despite what @ICBM said.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31628
    edited April 2017
    Rocker said:
    There are a lot of frets that I never go near on my bass - all above the 12th.
    Interestingly I do it the other way - I do play above the 12th, but never as far as I can remember on the G string and rarely on the D.

    Rocker said:

    I do like to gig the low notes, tuning down 2 steps is an option but it had taken me some study effort to learn the notes in standard tuning. Low is where it is at so I might give a 5 string a whirl, despite what @ICBM said.
    I have sometimes wondered about tuning my bass BEAD exactly for that reason. So still four .
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • mixolydmixolyd Frets: 336
    ICBM said:
    And you can always tune your bottom string down to D to play Stand By Me...
    Mind. Blown.

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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14562
    mixolyd said:
    ICBM said:
    And you can always tune your bottom string down to D to play Stand By Me...
    Mind. Blown.

    Or, buy a Hipshot drop D tuner, flick the lever, play "Stand By Me", flick it up again and carry on... 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31628
    Bridgehouse said:

    Or, buy a Hipshot drop D tuner, flick the lever, play "Stand By Me", flick it up again and carry on... 
    I have one of those, but it won't fit on my Rick without drilling - since it has the 'wavy Grover' tuners - so it remains in the box of spare parts...
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14562
    ICBM said:
    Bridgehouse said:

    Or, buy a Hipshot drop D tuner, flick the lever, play "Stand By Me", flick it up again and carry on... 
    I have one of those, but it won't fit on my Rick without drilling - since it has the 'wavy Grover' tuners - so it remains in the box of spare parts...
    Got one for my 74 P - it's a straight swap - the screws line up and everything! (I know, I know, right?)
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 14562
    Actually, @Rocker - you should consider a detuner - you can get one that does drop d and drop c now.. damn site cheaper than a 5 string
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  • axisusaxisus Frets: 10566
    A 5 string is a very different beast, not everyone likes them. I played 5 string for years but eventually swapped to 4 and I've stuck with that. The extra 5 notes could be useful but to be honest I preferred a nice thin neck. The best thing to do is borrow one. I could lend you a 5 string Jack bass if you are anywhere near Luton or NW9. I have no idea where it is, probably buried in the loft somewhere.
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 2664
    Thanks @Axisus but I live in Ireland and you might never get it back :)
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 2763
    I personally find tuning a second bass to D more useful. The string tension feels better and I rarely use a low C# anyway. 
    Fwiw I have a 4 string tuned standard & a 5 tuned DGCFA#
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 7003
    Not that I have a 5 string and the extra low notes are probably a bit marginal and won't feature at all in rock and roll or much in country. However, a 5 string gives you the option of playing in different positions. Just as an example if you played the riff to Green Onions in F that's a 1st to 4th fret stretch over and over. You can play the same notes at the 6 and 9th frets on a low B string instead on a 5 string. For walking bass lines you can cover more notes within a single position. For some people it's an advantage, for some it's not and not worth the hassle of adjusting to a 5 string. 

    I cant say I've ever seen a lot of country bands but I did see the late Betsy Smittle once and she played 5 string and I'm pretty sure it was to reduce the stretches rather than for throwing in a few death metal licks. 
    The guy who plays bass in Toots and the Maytalls has a 6 string bass. He's quite fascinating to watch. These are songs from the 60s and 70s so he isn't using the extended rang up or down but to play stuff in one position. He's like a bass playing statue. 
    Dum dum dum, dum dum de dum, dum dum dum, dum dummmm.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31628
    Bridgehouse said:

    Got one for my 74 P - it's a straight swap - the screws line up and everything! (I know, I know, right?)
    I know, I had one on an old Jazz I had. The one I have now is a Gotoh-style one which was on a friend's Aria, but it still won't fit the Rick! Rickenbacker just have to be different don't they :).

    I think I will probably go for putting it in BEAD eventually - I went through the whole set list and I literally never touch the G string. It sounds thin compared to the other ones anyway - I prefer to play high notes by sliding up on one of the big strings, it sounds much better.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 9142
    A 5 string isn't just about the low notes it's also about playing across the board for smaller stretches and different fingering options.

    Playing up an octave doesn't always work, particularly in complex pieces with lots of instruments- playing up can get in the way of the other instruments. Everything needs its space.

    And anyone who claims bass should be 4 string because that is traditional needs a slap.

    the first double bass had 3 strings.

    Bottesini was the reason they went to 4 because he, as the first bass virtuoso, needed it.

    So anyone who says 4 only for that reason should only be playing 3 and should remove the G. 

    Never buy a 5 string unseen. On modest price instructions the low B can often be awful. Have to find a good one. Many bang on about needing a 35 scale but that's just not true. It's all about the quality of the construction and rigidity of the neck.

    Cheaper instruments may benefit from 35 scale but the very best B I've ever heard is in a 34 inch scale instrument. So I bought it.




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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31628
    edited April 2017

    the first double bass had 3 strings.

    Bottesini was the reason they went to 4 because he, as the first bass virtuoso, needed it.

    So anyone who says 4 only for that reason should only be playing 3 and should remove the G.

    See! I was right!









    Just for the wrong reason .

    I did know that actually - a friend of mine has a very old double bass that was originally built as a 3-string and later modified, there's a plugged hole in the headstock where the peg spacing was moved.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • DLMDLM Frets: 1781
    edited April 2017

    Cheaper instruments may benefit from 35 scale but the very best B I've ever heard is in a 34 inch scale instrument. So I bought it.
    @fretmeister Is that your Marleaux? Or the Ray?
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 9142
    Here is Rinat Ibragimov (again) playing an original Gagliano 3 string 



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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6907
    edited April 2017
    The neck stiffness is a big factor in the low B.  That can be improved with either multi laminate necks or with graphite-reinforcement.  Break angle seems to also matter, but to a lesser extent.  Even something as simple as how the nut slot is cut is a contributing factor, but again a lesser factor still.  Strings also matter.

    I've had multiple bass tuned to a low B, and the best is the US Jazz bass I have with graphite re-inforced neck, with the low B strung through the body (I've tried through body and through bridge low Bs in nickel and steel from .125-.135, settled on .130 steel).  It's also able to be set up with next to no relief and a pretty low action yet still has a lot of balls to it, the neck is super stable.

    The only non re-inforced/non-multi laminate neck low B's I've personally thought were good are on MM Stingrays.  No idea what factor is contributing there other than the overall build quality seems excellent on Music Man instruments.
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 2664
    Thanks guys for your input. I don't remember ever playing the G string so BEAD has become a possibility. Would I needling restring with  a 5 string set and not use the G?
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 9142
    I've had that same experience on 5 string rays.

    I'm going to guess that because the neck shape is narrower, but also thicker, that shape is stronger. Got to be harder to bend a thick bit of wood than a skinny one, no matter how wide the skinny one is.

    My Marleaux has the best B I've ever played irrespective of price - even a £12,000 Fodera I tried in a shop. The neck is 3 parts maple with wenge strips. No other reinforcement. Big slab of ebony for the fretboard.

    It's amazing.
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  • Rocker said:
    Thanks guys for your input. I don't remember ever playing the G string so BEAD has become a possibility. Would I needling restring with  a 5 string set and not use the G?
    Yes but it's likely the nut slots will need to be widened.

    If you don't have the necessary files I'd get this done by a tech. A correctly cut nut is important for both playability and intonation
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6907
    edited April 2017
    I've had that same experience on 5 string rays.

    I'm going to guess that because the neck shape is narrower, but also thicker, that shape is stronger. Got to be harder to bend a thick bit of wood than a skinny one, no matter how wide the skinny one is.

    I think this plus the fact it's a heel adjust truss rod (as cutting out at the headstock is theoretically a weaker design due to the wood being thinner there)  

    I'd love to try one with a Status neck one day too but that's not a cheap experiment.  
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  • DLMDLM Frets: 1781

    even a £12,000 Fodera I tried in a shop.
    @fretmeister What model was that, and what did you think of it? Thomann now have masses of them.
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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 2763
    Just an opinion here, I think the Ray B being good on 34 scales may also have to do with the bridge. Very solid and on my 4 it sounds sounds acoustically fatter than P basses even if the plugged in tone is brighter due to the pickup, even the low E has a better feel than fender basses.
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 9142
    DLM said:

    even a £12,000 Fodera I tried in a shop.
    @fretmeister What model was that, and what did you think of it? Thomann now have masses of them.
    It wasa Monarch that was built for the NAMM show. It was very good, but I'm sure three-quarters of the price is just there to cover what must horrific rent levels in New York.

    A new neck through Marleaux Consat Custom would be about £4000 (mine is a bolt on), and I can't see any quality difference. Far cheaper rent in the German hills though!
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