February 26, 2021

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5 String Bass Guitar Info

5 String Bass Guitar Info

The 5 String Bass – Now, Later, or Never?

A question that usually comes up by a beginner bass guitarist is should they start off on a 5 string bass or a 4 string bass guitar.  Some musicians say that you should start off on a 4-string, some say that since you have never played bass before go ahead and start with a 5-string.  I tend to lean towards starting out with the 5-string as a beginner.  It really all comes down to your preference, and you will need to decide this for yourself.  Keep in mind, that either way you choose – you really can’t go wrong (as long as you stick with it, and work hard).


Standard 4-string

Has four strings (E, A, D, and G).  Easy to learn, tons of books and lessons out there.  There are thousands of songs that you could learn that have 4-string bass tabs.  This Bass is pretty much the standard bass used in today’s music.  A 4-string may be easier to learn on than the 5-string?  The 4-string has a thinner neck than a 5-string also…

5 String Bass Guitar Info


The 5-string

Has five strings (B, E, A, D, and G).  Could be a little harder to learn, books and lessons are available, but not as many as the 4-string.  The neck is wider on a 5-string bass to make room for the 5th string.  The notes on the low “B” string can get just as low as notes on a synthesizer (heavier bottom end).

5 String Bass Guitar Info



Advantages of the 5-string…

The main advantage of the 5-string is that it goes “lower” – down to a “B” note.  This additional range of notes makes for some extreme heavy bottom end.   The 5-string is also used by experienced players for “soloing” – yes, I said “soloing” (bass players like to play solo’s also).  And even though you won’t hear many bass solo’s during a song, the 5-string is excellent for those bass players that get the chance to “solo” during a show, etc. Cost?  Advantage or disadvantage?


Disadvantages of the 5-string…

The one main disadvantage is that the neck of a 5-string is much wider than that of a standard 4-string (the fret board has to accommodate the extra string).  So if you have large hands, you may be well suited for the 5-string.   The other disadvantage (that could be debated) is that since there are 5 strings, it could be more difficult and take longer to learn on the 5-string?  I still say that if you work hard at it, it doesn’t really matter which bass you choose…


So if you are trying to decide on whether to start off or switch to a 5-string bass – here are some suggestions…

1.  Go to a music store, ask to try out a few 5-strings.  Play one for yourself.

2.  Talk to other musicians that have experience with the 5-string and ask their opinion.

3.  Do you need the extra “bottom end” in the style of music you are playing?

4.  Pricing – Can you afford a 5-string?  Can you afford the strings?

5.  Does your hand fit ok on the wider fret board?

6.  Even if your hand doesn’t fit the fret board right now, doesn’t mean your hand will never fit the fret board (time usually fixes this type of thing – eventually).

7.  Will you be able to find someone who can give you lessons on the 5-string?


The bottom line is that you need to decide if the 5 string bass is right for you, and don’t be afraid to take the chance if you really want to play the 5-string.  You need to feel good about any decision you make, and remember, if you don’t work hard or practice as much as you should, it really won’t matter which bass you choose…


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