5 sring bass or 4 string bass

as a 5 year guitarist should i get 5 string bass or 4 string bass

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Being a guitar player doesn’t really factor in to the question. Instead, choose the type of bass that works best for the styles and genres of music you want to play.

For example, some metal and jazz players make use of the B string on 5-strings.

That said, bassists have more often used 4-strings to play every conceivable genre.

4-strings are also lighter in weight, have narrower necks, and their strings are easier to mute.


I like the band 311. Their bassist is one of my favorite bassists and he plays a 5 string, so I got a 5 string or two. All my others are 4 string. I actually haven’t played a 5 sting in several months.

Do you plan to use a pick?

Oooooooorrrrrr: get a Hipshot Bass Extender for a 4 string. Many songs are either EADG or Drop D.

Switching is effortlessly…

It would be great if someone just told you what to do, but the truth is you will need to find out for yourself (and thank us later for that insight :wink:)

Still, personally I would always use a 4-string to learn the initial basics of bass, and then get a 5-string a little while later for exploring that option as well. You don’t need a high-end instrument to find out whether a 5-string could be something for you or not; good 5-string basses can be found for around 200 dollars (and potentially cheaper on the used market).


Can’t say better than what’s already been said. I would suggest anyone whose starting on bass or even transitioning from guitar to bass begin with a 4 string. There’s also the question of scale length. Standard scale is 34" but many guitarist prefer 30" short scale basses starting out simply because it’s much closer to what you’re playing now. These are usually 4 string too.

I’ve owned only one 5 string bass in my entire time playing and that was because I was doing some recording that called for a 5 string. Once I no longer needed it for that I sold the 5 string and replaced it with a similar 4 string version of the same bass. You’ll be able to cover most of what you want to with a 4 string and if later you find the need for a 5 string buy one then.

If you don’t mind a suggestion I would recommend you look at G&L Tribute models in your search. They’re made by Cor-Tek and very well built using US produced MFD pickups a design Leo Fender created after he sold Fender. There are also models which use more typical Alnico pickups. There are ten different models including 4 and 5 strings, a fretless, and short scale.

Also check out the G&L Store where they sell deeply discounted “Blems” and “B” Stock.



btw gl tribute model is out of budget

Then a good question will be “what’s your budget?”

Definitely 4 string. In general 5 string will run $100 more than 4, little less on cheaper models but still more than 4 string. It’s better bang on your bucks to go with 4 string on the same model. Not to mention more selections as well.

Unless you have a need for 5, play 4. And if you do need a B string, you can always tune a 4 to BEAD tuning. You only lose the top 5 notes on the G string, which aren’t played that often

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My only bass is an Ibanez SR305* 5 string and I don’t regret getting a 5 string. I’m absolutely a metal head though and figured if I got a 4 string I’d pretty much instantly want another bass to tune BEAD. The extra $50 for the 5 string actually saved me money in my accounting. Somebody should do a tiktok on that, you’ve got boy math and girl math, now here’s bassist math.

*How have they not improved the naming beyond this, it’s absurd.

What Al said :+1:
There’s always the option of goin 4 string, use the $100 or so you saved to get like a Zoom B1 four, and use the pitch shifter to down tune, and a whole bunch of other useful features :+1:

Then you can tune down (or up if you want to lol) without even touching the tuners :+1:

Majority of stuff I’ve played that’s called for the B string don’t even bother with the G string anyway, so that works for me :slightly_smiling_face:


There’s a misconception that 5-strings are more complex or expressive than four strings. This is not the case. It’s not a more advanced bass you move up to; it just serves a different purpose. Most professional bass players stick with 4-strings.

As a bass player coming up on five years experience in a month or two (i.e. still a relative beginner but maybe more intermediate level), I’ve owned both 5’s and 4’s and I prefer 4-string by a mile. YMMV.

A 5-string gets you only five extra notes, and the B string on most has an odd timbre above about the sixth or seventh fret, where they start to sound dull. The additional utility is less than one would think. However, they do go down to low B, which is cool.

The people that opt to instead string them EADGC - yeah I just don’t get that, I don’t need my bass to go higher, I have other instruments for that, but to each their own.


Think of it this way. Would you advise a new guitarist to get a 7 string or a 6?

Seven strings?!

C’mon, go big or go home!

It’d not harder or easier to learn because when you start learning, everything is difficult. Most people who move up from 4 string to 5 would make a bigger deal out of the muting because that’s a new skill to them. Fortunately for the beginners everything is new., lol.

I would say there is not doubt that you are right here, but probably the majority is not as large as one might think. I know a LOT of players whose main axe is a fiver (or more) :wink:

This though!! It’s clearly a very personal thing, a matter of preference.


Mostly yes… on better basses, you can extend that to the 9th fret or so :smile:

What really often is overlooked is the fact that you can finger stuff more economically by dipping down on the B string instead of having to move to, say, the low F or G.
In fact, the sound argument made above can be turned around - if you rather want to fret a motif around the high E on the 7th fret of the A string instead of the second fret of the D string (because it sounds better), then you can stay in that fret range and still access low notes on the B string.

Why not? It’s an option that can be used to nice effect for chordal playing or soloing, for example. It shouldn’t be your only 5-string, but it’s an interesting complement to the sonic palette that the bass guitar can offer.

That all said, at the end of the day, if I were forced to choose, I’d pick a 4-string :rofl:


I never knew that existed. Freakin awesome idea, may have to look into getting one of those. I have the zoom ms-60b which I love but you’ve given me GAS sir, thanks :rofl:

Worth every penny :wink:

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