I searched but didnt find much info about this..if there is a thread about this please tell me and i will check it out...I am looking into getting a bass for Christmas. I play guitar and will stick with that as my main instrument more than likely, I just thought it'd be fun to pick up bass on the side, help improve my rhythm and timing possibly. Anyway, I cant decide whether I want to go with a 4 or 5 string... Can anybody point out some pros and cons of each to help me decide?

Thanks to all for any help
Probably best to start out on a four string.

There's not much call for 5 strings as it's rare for a band to use them.
Pros of a 5-String: Even if you don't use the B very much, it'll be there if you do need it.
Pros of a 4-String: Probably more variety available.
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Look up the tab to songs you want to play? How many incorporate 5 strings? Chances are none to hardly any, so go with a 4 string. If you decide you want to make bass your main instrument, then perhaps it is time to upgrade. Until then a 4 string will work fine.
Play dropped tunings? If so, 5. Small hands? Completely and ABSOLUTELY sure you'll NEVER use the lower notes? 4.
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I used to be of the 4 string belief, but the more I play, the more I want that low B.

I'm with Ben, get the 5er.

And if you have smaller hands, a 5 is even better because of what Ben said--Economy of motion.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
Play dropped tunings? If so, 5. Small hands? Completely and ABSOLUTELY sure you'll NEVER use the lower notes? 4.



That low B is positively, absolutely NOT a licence to never down or drop tune. There are plenty of songs that would be harder to play if you simply left the bass in B standard rather than retune.

And small hands is no excuse. If you have good technique, you'll be fine. Hell, 5 string necks are barely that much wider than 4 string necks on the most part.
Probably most of what I'll play is classic rock..but occassionally I will dive into some metal...Usually with my guitar though I dont go with any songs below drop C... Is there any difference in string spacing between 4 and 5 stings?
If you can get a nice thin necked 5, and feel the B will be useful, why not? I started with a 4 string, and had no interest in getting a 5 string, but a great used Korean made squier 5 string came across my lap, and I got used to the B really quick.

One thing I like is that it's standardizing my fingerstyle plucks, in that now I play the same pluck style on the E as I do on the A, since now with a B string, my E strokes end up resting on the B, just like they do on the other 3 strings. I havn't used the B very much yet, but like others said, its there if I need it.

It IS an extra string to mute though...if you can get a thin necked 5er and feel you will use it, why not. If you get a 4 string though, make sure its a bass you will keep for at least 5 years, IE, be preparded to spend at least $500...anything else is a waste of money if you are surte you are going to stick with bass.
well there's the issue of reading tabs for 4/5 strings...it confuses me all the time because i have a 4 string and tabs for 5 strings always throw me off at some point. might just be my lack of skill.
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4 is easier and cheaper to get your replacement strings. other than that? it's fine.
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i say get a 5 string. the strings are closer together so it you be easier coming over from guitar or if you have small hands. and the necks are really not much bigger. my 5 string is about the same as my 4 in width at the nut. even if you don't use the B string which i find useful most of the time it is there if you eve want it.
you'll get the same quality guitar for a cheaper price if you get a 4 string I think.

The cheapest 5 string I've seen is a JimDeacon at about £170 or something?

Personally, I heid for 5 strings. I've never really played one properly so It's really a predudice on my part - They remind me of the hordes of shitty "metal" bands that used to turn up at my local gig venue every over 14's night.

One advantage of a 4 string is it makes it easier to sight-learn from the guitarist.
Last edited by jimRH7 at Nov 17, 2008,
Quote by SeeEmilyPlay
I'd say go with the 4 string. You'll have more to choose from starting off. And really the only difference is you'll have the "B" string if you really need it, but less of a selection.

And that low B makes a lot of difference, IMO. And only for good. As I have reiterated many times, it isn't about the low notes- it about having more notes in one hand position.

And to whoever said it's easier to sight read from a guitarist with a 4 string- again, it's ALL IN YOUR HEAD. It really isn't that hard to sight read from a guitar with a 5 string at all.
Wow, massive support for five strings here. I'm surprised.

Personally, i would say get a four to start, and then move on to a five when you feel the need. The bass is traditionally a four stringed instrument, so may as well start with the basic version first and then move up.

If you start on a five, your development may suffer as there will be less of a need to move around the neck.
I would go with the 5. You have the all the range (down to an A without serious retuning) and you can find the notes easily. Also, people are denying economy of movement. Anyone heard of capos? This will effectively put the bass in <whatever note you capo it at> Standard with an extra high string. You could even go to Drop A then capo it. However if you are getting a 5-string, get one with smaller string spacing, so it will be easier to play a 4-string when you want to.

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I for one just bought myself a 5 string this weekend... But best go with the four cause no one realy NEEDs a 5string... they just WANT a 5 string...
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I for one just bought myself a 5 string this weekend... But best go with the four cause no one realy NEEDs a 5string... they just WANT a 5 string...

Yeah, nobody needs extra range and economy of motion, what an idiotic idea.
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