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4 String vs 5 String Bass Guitar

4 or 5 string bass questions? Most traditional electric and acoustic bass guitars come in the four string variety, but the new trend is to move to a five string bass. To start off the comparison, all we have to do is to look at the strings. A traditional 4 string bass has an E, A, D and G string from top to bottom. The 5 string bass has an added B string just above the E string. Having the B string allows the bass player reach into the note pitch versus the traditional 4 string bass. A great example of this is playing a drop D pitch arrangement. Normally a 4 string bass would need to tune down the E string two frets in order to achieve the dropped D pitch. With a 5 string bass the drop D pitch is the 3rd fret of the 5th B string. This opens up a realm of possibilities in the range of music you can play. You can play lower lows and higher highs.

Playing a 5 string bass guitar will also allow less moving around the neck than a traditional 4 string bass as you have more notes closer to your disposal. The strings are a bit closer together as well on a 5 string bass and most find it actual easier to play than a 4 string. The longer the neck you choose on your 5 string model the less sloppy sounding the B string will sound. This also is often remedied by switching to a different type of bass strings depending on the model you are playing. If you are moving up from a 4 string to a 5 string, you will first feel the difference in keeping more strings quiet, but a little practice will take care of that and you should easily be able to incorporate your playing style comfortable. Slap bass on a 5 string is a bit trickier, but can be mastered with a little practice.

5 string basses are more geared to today's hipper, faster and deeper sounds. The popularity of the 5 string basses came erupted in the 80’s as bassists in that era were competing with electronic keyboards at the time. The 5 string bass allowed bassist to stave off the competition of computers and keyboards and remained a mainstay in the music world. Also at this time, bass solos were gaining in popularity and having more range in limited areas gave birth to some heart thumping solos.

It is safe to say that once you play and master a 5 string bass, you may never go back to playing the 4 string variety again. More and more bass guitar manufactures are coming out with better and easier to play 5 string models all the time. The fifth string is here to stay and all you need to do is to hear and play one and you will fully understand why.