Is it hard to learn 5- or 6-string bass with 4-string instruction?


I always tell students to start on 4-string bass… unless they really want to not follow my advice, in which case I say go with that. :slight_smile:

So I’m curious for any of you who forgo my advice and start on 5 or 6 strings - is it ever confusing to watch teachers (like me) who teach on 4 string? Anything in particular about it that throws you?


I taught 4 string players for years using my 5 string. It’s not ideal, but it worked. I can’t speak to the opposite approach so much.

…but you DID remind me of a GREAT bass story. I’ll post it in its proper place. It speaks to the dangers of switching between 4-string and more-string… A wonderful cautionary tale.

Coming soon to a forum thread near you…


Well, I was given a bass and it’s a 5er. So I can’t see buying another just to learn on right now.

It is a little confusing when it comes to resting my thumb or knowing how to control the vibration on that B string. I’d love to see a one-off video or extra to the course where you discuss the technique needed to learn on a 5 so that in the future we won’t have to relearn things in another way. (If that’s the case.)


Yeah that can be tricky, which of course is the main reason I recommend learning on 4-string.

I might be able to help with some brief comments though - any time I say “rest your thumb on the pickup,” rest your thumb on the B string. And when you’re resting it on the E string, make sure you angle it so it’s catching the B string as well.

Other than that, muting is a tricky beast. If you can’t cover it with just the right thumb (which is the simplest/easiest method, but doesn’t always work contextually), you’ll need to find a spare finger or piece of finger on your fretting hand. Here’s an example:

I’m fretting a G on the 3rd fret of the E string with my index finger, but my middle finger is reaching over the E string to lightly touch the B string to keep it muted.

It takes a lot of work to develop fretting hand muting habits, because they change depending on which fingers you need for fretting in a given passage of music. But you can start playing with it in little bits, just looking for a free finger to mute with any time you hear ringing you don’t want.

Does that help?


Thank you! It does help. I’ll give this a try this evening or tomorrow. Having house guests is annoying when you want to keep learning and practice! haha


I’m currently using a 5 string because I was interested in gospel play. I’m honestly not having any issues controlling the b string. I rest my thumb on it during the courses and in my spare practice time, I “experiment” with that low b! I also implement an anchor method I using my ring finger. Loving these courses!!


Well that’s a good reason to learn on a 5 string! That low B is a big part of that sound (as you know). And I’m glad the muting is working okay for you! I do that same kind of thing with my ring finger, and sometimes my pinky, especially on 5 string. I do it on 4 string too, but it’s not really necessary 90% of the time (which is why I don’t talk about it in Beginner to Badass).


where is the story???


Duuuude!! Sorry for the delay. Here it is: