5 String or Short Scale?

Hello! I am brand new to bass and preparing to delve into B2B and was just wondering if I should start on my Fender Affinity 5-String or my Epiphone EB-0. I’ve read around and seen that in general it seems like a good idea to start with a 4 string bass (which would be the Epiphone) but I mean my issue isn’t that I have small hands or anything, I just didn’t consider or even know to consider short scale basses when I got the Epiphone because I saw the SG style and hit buy.

I’m sure in the future if I were to get any more I wouldn’t opt for a short scale bass, and a lot of the bassists I admire watching play mainly 5-string, but in terms of starting from pretty much 0 experience, should I just go with the 5-string and try to figure out muting from the get go or will switching from a short scale to a more normal sized bass not really be much of an issue? Thanks for reading!


I did the entire course on my 5 string and it was fine. Just follow the tab that Josh provides and use the B string for a thumb rest at the beginning. Once you begin to understand what notes you’re playing, and where they are on the finger board, you can begin to incorporate the B string into your practicing/playing.

The problem I have with learning on a short scale, is muscle memory. When you switch back to the long scale, you have to retrain your muscle memory to locate the root notes on the board.


I on the other hand did the entire course on a 4 string.
I have decided to learn bass on 4 string, and then adjust to 5 string later.
But this is purely personal preference, there is no real RIGHT or WRONG.
As far as Short Scale (SS) basses, there is not much adjusting, you just spread your fingers a little wider with standard scale.
Two things,
1- the choice is yours, no right or wrong answer
2- you can always change from one to the other, mid course, if you think you made the wrong choice to start out.

I would only urge you to not “get too hung up on weather you made the right choice or not”
and just get to work, you will know if the choice was right in time, and if you want to switch, you can do that too.

I too love 5 string bassists, and will play both 5 and 4 string thru my playing days, I only opted to do the course, and fully learn on a 4 string before picking up 5 strings for serious play. I do have 2 five string basses that I play around with some, but when its time to study, practice, or play serious, I stick to my 4 string for now.
again, that is only because it is how I want to do it, so it works for me.


If you’re sticking with one of your two present basses it’s another vote for the 5 string from me but you could always give a home to a poor lonely 4 string hence making the world a better place :wink:


I agree, your choice. I really don’t think you would have much issue with switching from either a ss or 5 string.


Switching between 4 and 5 is not hard. You might develop a preference for one over the other, but going between them just takes a little adjustment.

I have owned both and have a strong preference for 4-strings. YMMV.


I have 3 basses: a full scale, a short scale and a bass ukele. I switch back and forth with them every day and I don’t really notice a difference anymore. Except when playing above the 12 fret on the uke which is REALLY tiny :joy: