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Bass Guitar Lesson: An Introduction to 5-String Bass


Conceptualized by Leo Fender in 1951, the electric bass guitar was initially designed to replicate and amplify the deep low-end tone of an acoustic upright bass. Much like the upright bass, the first electric basses featured four strings tuned to E-A-D-G from low to high. However, unlike the acoustic bass, electric basses featured frets much like a guitar, which allowed for perfect intonation and sonic precision (hence the name of the instrument’s first model—the “Precision Bass”).


Since its creation, the electric bass has evolved greatly. The electronics, pickups, preamps, and construction have all become increasingly modern, and, most notably, there have been models that feature additional strings. Basses with 5, 6, 7, or even 8 strings have become common among players of all styles, and many contemporary players prefer them over their 4-string predecessors.


In this online bass lesson, Grammy Award-winning bassist and ArtistWorks instructor, Nathan East, introduces us to the 5-string bass and discusses why he gravitates toward a 5-string model when writing bass lines in the studio and supporting legendary artists like Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Daft Punk, and more.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play the bass guitar from a master musician like Nathan East? Try some free online bass lessons now!


“As bass players, we can definitely get the job done on 4 strings. Iconic musicians like Jaco Pastorius have certainly proven that you can say a whole lot on a 4-stringed instrument,” Nathan explains. “However, the addition of a 5th string allows for added musical possibilities, tonal options, and even physical comfort while performing.”


In addition to providing an expanded register (either lower or higher, depending on how you prefer to tune your instrument), 5-string basses allow players to perform lines that they may technically be able to play on a 4-string in one hand position. This often makes playing bass lines that would typically be difficult to execute on a 4-string much easier to play.


“With my 4-string bass, I found myself frequently tuning the low E string down to an E-flat or even a D. I wanted to have that extra range on the bottom end,” explains Nathan. “I love the 5-string because it provides me with that extended range without the hassle of having to down-tune my E string. It’s so convenient and sounds great!”


To learn more about the benefits of the 5-string bass and how to transition from a 4-string to a 5-stringed instrument, dive into this online bass lesson from Nathan East:


An Introduction to 5-String Bass with Nathan East:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play the electric bass guitar? Through our comprehensive bass lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Nathan East, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Nathan’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner bass guitar to advanced performance techniques, tunes, and grooves. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as bassists and musicians!


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Electric Bass Lesson: Using Space & Simplicity with Nathan East

ArtistWorks Music Series Podcast—The Art of Recording for Film: Nathan East

Electric Bass Lesson: Note Length with Nathan East




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Each subscription is for a single school. Pricing and features can vary slightly per school.

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