Number of Strings & Tonal Range
Both 4-string and 5-string bass guitars are super versatile. The 4-string one is like an all-purpose musician, perfect for lots of music styles—rock, jazz, you name it! It’s easy to learn and fits in well with most bands.
On the other hand, a 5-string bass guitar is like a specialist. It’s excellent for music styles that need deeper, heavier notes, like metal or jazz fusion. The extra low string adds a lot of depth to the music.
Either way you can adjust your bass to play in different tunings through drop tuning or downtuning.
You can do all sorts of cool stuff with both types of bass guitars. Whether it’s slap/pop, tapping, picking, fingerstyle, or strumming, both the 4-string and 5-string bass guitars let you do it all. There’s no limit to the techniques you can try!
If you are looking to learn or improve your tapping technique, check out these videos:
Transposition and Fretboard Navigation
Changing the key of a song is totally doable on both 4-string and 5-string bass guitars. The 5-string bass has a cool perk with that extra string, giving you lower notes to play around with. But here’s the neat trick: with both bass types, you can mess with the tuning!
If you want different tones, you can try drop tuning or downtuning.
Weight and Neck Width
A 4-string bass guitar is usually lighter and has a slimmer neck. It won’t weigh you down, and the neck feels just right for most people. It’s great for long gigs and practice sessions.
On the other hand, a 5-string bass can be a bit heavier because of the extra string, and it often has a wider neck. It might take a little getting used to, but it can handle the extra string and the deep notes it brings. Some bassists find it super comfortable, while others prefer the lighter feel of a 4-string.
4-String Bass Guitars: Just Googling 4-string basses, I saw basses priced as low as $79.99 (non-name brand) and as high as $1,200 and above.
5-String Bass Guitars: The lowest price point I found started at $99.99 and could go all the way up to $2,790. 🤯
In general, 5-string bass guitars tend to be slightly more expensive than their 4-string counterparts due to the added string and potentially more complex construction.
For the most current and accurate pricing, it’s best to check the official websites of the brands mentioned or reputable music retailers like Guitar Center, Sweetwater, or local instrument shops. Prices can fluctuate based on promotions, sales, or changes in the market.
Genre and Personal Preference
Explore the role of musical genre and personal preference in a bassist’s choice between a 4-string and a 5-string bass, and discover why some bassists opt for both to cover a broader spectrum of musical situations.
The decision between a 4-string and a 5-string bass guitar is a nuanced one, encompassing factors like tonal range, playing style, and musical genre. By thoroughly understanding these distinctions, you can confidently select the instrument that suits your needs and preferences, ultimately enhancing your musical journey. Whether you’re drawn to the simplicity of a 4-string bass or the extended possibilities of a 5-string, this guide equips you with the knowledge to make an informed choice.