And then there were 5

I started playing bass on a 4 stringer. It was great it was fun it was typical. Then one night a friend let me use his 5 string bass. Needless to say I had no idea what to do with the B string. So I ignored it for a while and pretended it was not there . Suddenly I figured out what it did !!  Sure made it easier to scale around .... 

I went back to my 4 string bass, felt as though something was missing. Carol Kaye told me once that a bassist only needs four strings and to get all the juice out of those 4. I get the idea less is more etc. And it is surprising that an ex guitarist like Carol would not find it comfortable to use more strings on bass. She is right about learning all the ins and outs of 4 string layouts. Once you add another string the learning curve increases substantially.

Not sure if I would enjoy playing a mega bass, but I do Love the extra string :)



  • I love the 5. That is absolutely my choice for a working bass and it is what I bring to sessions and sideman gigs. 

    For solo performances, though, I do use the crazy 8 and 10 string basses.

    : )
  • Yes for performances where you need to play 4 parts at the same time lol !!   That just blows me away , it does beat just one image
  • I was trained on a 5 early on, to play at the 5th position most of the time to make use of the economy of motion. playing a solo scale is a trip for me E-C is just weird.
  • Yes I totally agree, I find it uncomfortable when I go from 5 to 4 strings. I suppose one just gets used to something. Victor Wooten is amazing on his 4 string. 

    Maybe it is a matter of personal choice. However there are many "Purists" who say 4 should be the limit. 
    I don't understand why must there be a limit as long as it works with the music that is being played. ;)
    edited April 2014
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