Re: Pros and cons of 5's ....I'm really surprised

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Posted by El Pájaro on July 25, 2000 at 07:31:01:

In Reply to: Pros and cons of 5's ....I'm really surprised posted by Kenny on July 25, 2000 at 06:47:27:

: I have to say that I'm really surprised at alot of the misinformation given in the thread labeled "5 string pros and cons" I'm not trying to be a jerk, I just read alot of things that just don't ring true in my ears. First of all, there have been 5 string basses around for hundreds of years, not just the last couple of decades. Next: the string spacing on 5's can be made in three different sizes: same spacing as a four......larger .......and smaller. Some companies offer the option on new instruments and others make their basses one way or the other. Someone mentioned a heavier string gauge to increase tension on the B string, I believe it would really be the other way around. i started out playing 5's with .130 gauge and they were a bit sloppy, but I switched to .125 and made a few bridge adjustments and the B is just fine. As far as slapping goes, the B string will certainly be in your way at first....but like anything else......If you want to be effective and play a 5... you learn how. If you think about it, it is no different than putting you thumb to the A string. (the E string is right there) Another small point is that anyone who thinks all B strings sound sloppy and bad haven't been playin the right ones.
: Lastly, it seems that alot of folks missed the point of playing a 5 string bass. Those few lower notes are not the only reason for playing the instrument. Infact, I would say they are only a piece of the reason. The 5 offers you fingering options that you just don't get on a 4. If you are playing in position with your index finger on D(a string) and you want to go low......say to an F...F#......or even a do not have to move. The notes are right there. Stay in position and use that B string to free you up to play more. This just a stupid example, but my point is simply that the real benefit of a 5 is getting the chance to be a more efficient player and to open up options that you did not have previously. And if you dare to look at the B string in a more creative sense rather than a mechanical one you might be surprised at your findings. one should misunderstand me......I AM NOT knocking the 4 string bass. Of my 16 years of learning and understanding the bass I played 4 strings for 8 of them and loved it. Later on it turned out that the 5 was better for me. (played one and never looked back). peace everyone........remember......this is just my humble opinion...Kenny

You raised quite a few interesting points, Kenny (and, BTW, voicing your opinions eloquently but politely at the same time doesn't make you a jerk nor it won't get you flamed ...not by me anyway).
While, as you implied, the "4 vs. 5" discussion is kinda pointless, and the advantages of 5 string basses are pretty much obvious (more range, less shifting, etc.), I believe 5-string basses also have disadvantages, most of which come down to this: many manufacturers became aware of the fact that extended range basses were becoming increasingly popular and immediately wanted to jump the sales train ....without doing the necessary research about what it takes to make a decent sounding 5 string!! They simply slapped one more string onto instruments that could perform as 4 string pretty well. Not many manufacturers took the time and/or the effort to make their B strings feel and/or sound like the others. Thus, a host of poor 5-string basses invaded the market and many unexperienced players went for it with enthusiasm, but after a little time frustration set in and they realized the were stuck with inferior instruments (it never ceases to amaze me how many cheap 5-strings end up hanging in the windows of used instrument stores).
That being said, my advice to the guy who started the thread remains true: 5-string basses are great, and they definitely have their place in contemporary music, but finding a good sounding one won't be easy, neither will it come cheap.
That's my two cents worth. Buena suerte and keep all of your basses up front in the mix,

El Pájaro

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