how many strings does a good bass player need?

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how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby leftieray » Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:56 am

After spending the holiday period watch quite few dvd's,why is there a predominates of five or even six string basses being used by players. there doesn;t seem to be any difference in tonal quality or bass respond. Give me a good four string any time. What are your thoughts.
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Re: how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby The Saint » Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:11 pm

A good friend, who has been playing jazz for over a decade and professionally for more like 40 years, says that any more than 4 string on 1 bass is too many. Playing several upright and bass guitars he pefers to change instruments. That might make for a tight stage with several basses on stands.
There is another guy in a band with my buddy who is now playing 7 strings. He is hoping to move to a 9 string instrument. The cost of his object of his desire is near 10K.
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Re: how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby multisounds » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:17 pm

Hi leftie,

I prefer 4 strings myself. I've seen 5-6 strings bass guitars used rarely and seeing alot of jazz players they use double bass. But that doesn't mean you can't go to 5 or more strings yourself-depending on what music genre(s) you're into.

Perhaps if the bass is an intergral part of constant soloing in your band you might consider a 5 string. But I find having a 4 string bass is ample adequate for soloing-just watch the jazz players-they can solo for hours-lol Also, if you can use the bass for harmonising the music you've written it lifts the song to another magical level.

cheers
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Re: how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby bigdaddy » Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:31 pm

One string, that's all. I have 4 on my bass so I have like the whole smorgasboard. I do have a song or two I play using only the 3rd string tho.
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Re: how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby BobHolland » Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:02 am

I play 4 string only. I can see the uses of the 5 string, but when it gets to 6 or even more the guitar players get nervous. I guess the number of strings a good bass player needs depends on the bass player & what's expected of him in the band or the song selection. :wink:
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Re: how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby MakaInOz » Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:19 am

Eldest of my two bass playing kids is a vehement advocate of 4 strings only - must come from his double bass start.

But he did play a 5 string the other day and said he now knows that the 5th string does have a use - its a good place to rest your thumb!
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Re: how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby BobHolland » Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:02 am

That low B String is also good for a fretted low E note, is you don't like playing open strings. I don't mind playing open strings. I also have played some upright bass. But if you need a low Eb note the 5 strings is also good for that or low D. Anything lower just sounds kind of flabby to me. But that's just me. To each his own. Sometimes I think I could get by without the G string & just play a 3 string bass. And now for the G string jokes. :wha: :blink: :lol:
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Re: how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby CashWiley » Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:53 pm

BobHolland wrote:I play 4 string only. I can see the uses of the 5 string, but when it gets to 6 or even more the guitar players get nervous. I guess the number of strings a good bass player needs depends on the bass player & what's expected of him in the band or the song selection. :wink:
Bob

Man, I really dislike people who think a bass should fulfill a set role and not step outside it. I played bass in a progressive metal band for years professionally, and it was so liberating. There was no roles, you played music. The only rule was it had to sound good. If the guitarist wants to put on a bass-sound filter while I throw on some overdrive and a wah and play "leads", yeah whatever. Some narrow-minded people say I play bass like a guitar and guitar like a bass. I play stringed instruments like stringed instruments.

When I first started playing blues, I was going to jam with a great guitarist, but he was one of those morons who wanted to be the frontman and the only guy playing non-standard. So the drums don't do anything but the most minimal fills, and the bassist sits on the stock line, you are only there to provide a backdrop for him. That's ok for mercenary work, I guess, but for a band? Who died and made guitar players god? Good thing there are a bajillion guitarists and good bassists are sought after :)

Ok, sorry about getting worked up on that one.

By now it probably won't be surprising to hear me "whatever works." I always played four string, but there is definitely a place for a few more strings. Watch the kid from Los Lonely Boys if you think a bass only needs four strings.
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Re: how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby bigdaddy » Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:32 pm

Oh my, I just got called "narrow minded and moron." Wait it minute a guitar player who plays like a bassist and is also a bassist who plays like a guitar player said it so I'll just discount it down to nothing. I feel better. Whew, for a minute there I thought I had been assaulted.
I have heard guitar players, lead players, play bass and over play the position. Bass has it's spot in the whole picture. I play blues so I am part of the rythym section. I do play a bass solo on the tune "One Way Out." I back up a real hot guitar player and the key word is backup. I dance around, jump around, I dress better than him, the ladies tend to watch me more than him but I am still there to back him up. The drummer does alot of cool stuff also which I tend to step aside and let the people watch. I am part of the big picture and I do not forget that all three of us are the picture.
As far as that low B string. I play in a full step drop so I can go down to Eb and even D. I don't very often but I can. I play in a full step drop on a four string bass because I like the tension on the strings a full step drop gives me. I like a loose string. I don't play open notes very often, I like to have string control in my left hand. I use a four string because the way I play and the position I cover doesn't need more than that. I am the bassist, period.
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Re: how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby CashWiley » Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:30 pm

I'm sorry about that.
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Re: how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby JakeyVimto » Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:35 pm

4 is plenty for me, but hell, if you wanna go pay for an instrument, get the number of strings that suits you.

It is your money and your bass.

Having said all that, my bass style is somewhat, well, basic. Less notes, lots o' noise.
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Re: how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby BobHolland » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:01 pm

Like I said "To each his own" I respect everyone's opinion. I was just throwing out my thoughts in response to the 4 string bass. Sorry if I offended anyone. I'm just an old bass player. Been playing the 4 string since about 1963. I'm still active at almost 60 years old. I enjoy what I do. Been a full time road musician a few times. Even toured with a one hit wonder group that had a million seller in the early 70's. But now mostly 1 or 2 nights a week. Like I said before, sorry if I offended anyone.
Bob :oops:
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Re: how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby leftieray » Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:02 am

I am glad this has sparked some discussion. If you are into five or six what would your preferred tuning. I would, as a four stringer rather have a second or third bass tuned differently.
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Re: how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby CashWiley » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:55 pm

BobHolland wrote:Like I said "To each his own" I respect everyone's opinion. I was just throwing out my thoughts in response to the 4 string bass. Sorry if I offended anyone.
Bob :oops:

No offense, and I echo your sentiments. And I can appreciate a decent rhythm section, though I prefer a more active section like Entwistle/Moon, Lee/Peart or McVie/Fleetwood. The reason it rubs me is that so many frontmen /expect/ to be the only one out there being the "star", and I don't dig the star attitude, I think we're all on the same stage and everyone should step up and play like a champ. I guess my issue is more about ego than playing, and your comment about other's expectations dictating how you should play kinda bugged me.

Like I said, it's more difficult coming from a progressive background where every instrument was equal. Our singer was extremely charismatic and talented, but there was no frontman, all of us were equals in every way. I wrote most of the songs on bass and guitar, sometimes the bass is a support instrument, sometimes the guitar is.

The idea that some instruments are just there as support and not as equals is tough for me. Also why I don't play blues bass, even though I used to be a wicked bassist and I love blues. It's just not worth the shit I get from people who are stuck thinking this one certain formula is the only way to play. It's not that I don't play stock stuff, too. It's just that when I play some wild bass under something, and it sounds great, I don't think someone else's ego or musical taste should dictate my playing (and I'll add that obviously it needs to sound good and be appropriate to the piece). You don't like the way I play, piss off and find another bassist who will obey you. Hell, get a pianist with a strong left hand.

Anyway, see the problems I cause in a bass forum? I'll just leave it at that and go back to the guitar forums. It's too bad so many people just want the bass to be a support role. You're missing out on a lot of great talent. Sorry I caused a problem here.
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Re: how many strings does a good bass player need?

Postby bigdaddy » Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:00 pm

CashWiley, sounds like you are your own problem. From your posts I get the jest that your ego is the dominate one in any band you play in. I back up a really hot guitarist and he sings well also. Yes the people yell and holler when this guy rips up that strat and brings the house down. Without me and the drummer he would not do as well. We all three know that. Just by the nature of the instrument and position Skinny gets alot of the attention. Does that bother me? Not at all, I love playing in this band. It ain't about egos it's all about the show. I do dress well, I do tear in on that bass and I get my fair share of compliments. I try to promote Skinny on and off the stage. Some times when I do people get a little irratated because I'm not bragging about my bass performance. If you saw our show I believe you would walk up to Skinny and tell him how great he is on that guitar, Skinny will humbly recieve your compliment and thank you. Tell me I'm good on the bass and I will do the same as will the drummer.
From what I get from you and your anger about playing the bass spot you have an ego problem. Lots of people compliment me but it's when fellow musicians do that I really listen to what they say. I can always improve. Yes I can play a 100 notes per measure but it wouldn't fit the style of music I get paid to play. Perhaps you can in metal, I don't know because I don't care for metal and hard rock all that much, well I don't care for it at all. If you are a metal guitarist then that's where you should be. I am a blues bassists, that's the genre I love to play and listen to so that's where I am. We can't run from what we really are and if we do so it makes for hard times. I know that is true becasue I have run from what I am for to many years. I will no longer do some thing just for the money, it ain't worth it.
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