5 Reasons Why You Should Play a 5-String Bass & 4 Reasons Why You Should NOT

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5 Reasons Why You Should Play a 5-String Bass & 4 Reasons Why You Should NOT
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Mr. Scott Devine from Scott's Bass Lesson shared an interesting clip featuring what he sees as five reasons for and 4 reasons against playing a five-string bass.

You can check out the lists below, watch the video for detailed explanation.

5 reasons why you should play a 5-string bass

1. Extended range
2. Some gigs simply need a 5-string
3. Efficient shifting
4. You don't have to alter your tuning
5. Great for transposing riffs

4 reasons why you should NOT play a 5-string bass

1. Just because you're advancing as a bassist doesn't mean you need to play a 5-string
2. Getting your muting together is going to take practice
3. Don't play a 5-string if you've got no intention of using the B string
4. There's going to be a learning curve

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14 comments sorted by best / new / date

    TombOfHorror
    I'm calling bullshit on 3 of the 4 reasons not to. I recently picked up a 5 string, after 20+ years of 4 string exclusively.  Muting isn't even an issue for me - I basically reach over the strings I'm not playing. Learning curve also wasn't an issue, but I'm mostly playing above the 5th fret. I got it so I can play lower notes at higher positions. Yes, I use the low B string. Not just to hit the lowest notes either.
    Parthan
    I think this is aimed more at newbies rather than people like yourself who have 20+ years of experience. A lot of guitarists these days want 7 and 8 string guitars because it's trendy, without realising that it takes a fair bit of practice and a significant revamping of technique in order to play an 8-string properly. I'm sure a lot of young bassists look at 5-string basses as "cool" basses rather than basses with specific functions, capabilities and requirements and end up just using the 4 strings because 99% of the time that's all they need and are comfortable with. I knew a guy whose first bass (he had learned how to play guitar already, but this was the first bass he owned) was a 5 string and he knew nothing about it and ended up tuning it to EADGB rather than BEADG and then complained about the tension on the strings until I put him straight.
    Bollockser
    Just tune to BEAD
    wesley.zimmerma
    Alright, let's buy brand new strings just for one tuning. Yeah, I wont buy expensive strings just to have one tuning. Most bass players don't don't go lower than D Standard. I'd rather buy a 5 string and just tune the normal 4 strings to D if I don't need the Low B
    Bollockser
    Theres no point even having the highest notes on the G string, and you might as well get the lower notes on the B string. 
    Redfinton22
    Well that would be true if the notes you fret on the G string sounded 100% sonically identical to the same notes fretted on the D string, but that's not the case is it? Completely different timbre, those G string notes are gonna pop out in a different way than they ever would on the D string. 
    Lucifer_94
    For me the 5th string just gets in the way, especially if I wanna slap and pop. I've only used my mate's 5 string bass, I don't own one myself so it could just be getting to know the instrument that I'm missing. That it's just unfamiliar I'm happy with four strings tho'.
    t_simp1209
    Next up:  10 reasons why you should replace your drummer with a drum machine
    nick.sacco
    I'm using a 4,5,6 or 7 depending on what I need it for. Seems a little silly to discuss. Some people like to explore different ranges and build on their own chops anyone who switches around like this knows exactly what I'm talking about.
    rockstarbear
    Reason *not* to use a 5-string:  I play "Let There Be Rock" at most of my shows, and it's 5 steady minutes of fast grinding on the E-string.  And you know what else is grinding?  The side of my thumb knuckle against the low B-string.  Skinned myself down to bleeding after only two minutes in.  Learned then to play the bass you need for the right music. Other times though, I'm also playing the 5-string down a whole step and can attest how amazing the DDT strings are for retaining full tension while being turned down, and not having to increase the gauge.