by Ben Saren
Even though we primarily address issues concerning guitar players in these columns, as we grow with our abilities found on the guitar, and eventually begin creating music with additional musicians, it’s helpful to become aware of a few of the nuances of the alternative instrumentation we will encounter in a group condition.
One such instrument is the bass guitar. The bass has the responsibility in a group or band, of carrying the bottom end of the rhythm section.
The bass player functions carefully with all the drummer, along with a top notch rhythm section is 1 in which the bass player and drummer work seamlessly together, almost as 1 device.
On a regular 4-string bass guitar, the 4 strings are tuned merely like the third, 4th, 5th and 6th strings found on the guitar. The difference being that the bass strings are much “thicker” in diameter and gauge, and are tuned to a lower “octave” than a guitar string.
The strings on a 4-string bass are tuned like this:
E A D G
Many bass guitars are of the 4-string range, but an ever improving model that has been in existence for very a while today, is the 5-string bass.
On a 5-string bass, and additional string is added to the low end of the bass guitar.
In many situations, this string is of the big diameter width, and is tuned to a low “B”.
This tuning enables the bassist to extend the low end range of the instrument beyond that of the general 4-string bass, which may add a complete brand-new dimension to the music.
Then notes on a 5-string bass are tuned like this:
B E A D G
Although this additional “B” string would clearly add some new tonal possibilities for the bassist in the key of “B” – among the more usual methods the additional 5th string is chosen is when playing in the key of “D”.
On the additional 5th string, the “D” note is found found on the third fret of the brand-new 5th string. With a general 4-string bass, the player is limited to the open D string (or the 5th fret of the A string), to provide them the lowest possible bass note when playing in the key of D.
Then, with a 5-string, the bassists will “reach down” an octave from that and add some severe bottom end to songs in the well-known key of “D”.
Bass players that are utilized to a 4-string bass, and then attempt to play a 5-string bass, occasionally face a challenge creating the transition. Why is, that they are utilized to the “E” string being nearest to them when playing, but today that is changed by the new “B” string, thus a big adjustment need to be produced.