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Jaco Only Needed 4 Strings… and I Don’t Care by Jonathan Moody

My whole take on the infamous “Jaco Only Needed 4 Strings” comment that people seem to use as an argumentative point.

Weigh in… what do you think?

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. ChTB

    February 1, 2013 at 6:13 am

    I really don’t care either about the number of strings the bass player has. And the discussion is the same about the techniques (“slaping is for showing off”) and some saying “he’s playing guitar, not bass…”. Giving any kind of limitation to a musician is stupid.

    I just want to comment a little about the saying that the electric bass is a “young” instrument (about 60 years). I would say it differently : Bass guitar is an evolution from upright bass. Basically, at the beginning and still now, its function is generally the same. Would we say that guitar is “new” ? No, it just went electric. I think it’s the same for electric bass. Only the way we play it is different. The same thing can be said about guitar.

    Other than that, I agree 100% with what your saying.

    My 2 cents, Cheers

  2. Gerry

    February 1, 2013 at 8:30 am

    4, 5, 6, 12 strings who cares?
    Whatever allows you to express yourself and play music the way you want to is the way to go.
    I have both a 4 and 6 string. Love them both!
    I actually look at both of them as two separate instruments. Use the right tool for the job right?

    Good discussion/vid!

  3. TK Weigl

    February 1, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Whatever tool fits the music best. That’s why I have both 4 and 6 string basses. Some of the music I play needs those lower or higher range tones. To me that’s asking fork or knife? Both have their purpose and one isn’t interchangeable with the other.

  4. Brandon KJM

    February 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Well, it’s kind of like saying Charlie Parker only needed an Alto Saxophone or Michael Brecker only needed a Tenor Saxophone. Well, those things might be true for those people, but there are great Bari players, great Soprano players (Liebman, for instance), much like there are great 6 string bassists (Anthony Jackson, Rich Brown, Steve Bailey, etc.) who changed the game. A lot of this comes down to the semantics of language, how we’re fighting over words. Some music calls for different things. Like, I’ve written a piece for Soprano Sax, so are we going to cut on anyone who plays Soprano? NO! I need that person for my gig. The same way a six string might be called for if the bassist is in unison with the very bottom of a keyboard or a fast horn line written near or above middle C. Timbre is something we could discuss all day and I suppose the issue might be that some people just don’t know the glory yet of having a larger range on a given instrument. It’s more possibility and I suppose some people just want to keep playing the same music all the time. Well, that’s fine for those people and we need those people to keep the tradition alive, but innovators are just as important. It’ll catch on eventually.

  5. Jay Dwyer

    February 2, 2013 at 7:28 am

    because my right hand technique is pretty agressive,I find 5’s and 6’s have strings that are too close together…but thank god for the hipshot…I’ve had one on every bass i’ve owned for 30 years…

  6. Louis

    February 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Until I master 4 strings…then maybe a 5 string. But I doubt it, I find the fingerboard too wide for the hand

  7. Manex

    February 10, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    i use to play 6 strings before until somebody told me, do you really use and need all those strings? that made me think of what other people think about us who use a bass that have more than 4 strings. in reality, i’m not a solo player, i’m a rhythm section player, but it doesn’t mean i can’t use a 6, right? if there are passages that goes way up more than the 12 fret of the G string, i find it more taxing on my wrist than playing it just below the middle neck but on a high C strings. makes my playing easier, though i’m not soloing but it helps me. plus there are few songs that are played with 6, and since i’m in a cover band, getting all the range is an advantage for me. and i regretted selling my 6 because of that remarks that guy has told me, i doubted my purpose of using a 6. but now i’m hunting and planning to buy another 6 again, and this time i won’t care whatever other people will say, because at the end of the day, i’m happy with my gear, with my tone and with my performance with it. but this is of course IMHO only.

  8. Manex

    February 10, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    and to Louis, maybe you’re right. but for me, mastering the bass 4 or 5 or 6 will take forever. i’m just an average joe and i play for living. having a 6 will be an advantage for me. its not for soloing, its for playing.

  9. Jonathan Moody

    Jonathan Moody

    March 10, 2013 at 4:55 am

    Wow, thanks for all the comments, gents! Sorry it’s taken me this long to get back to everyone.

    ChTB: In regard to the bass guitar being an evolution from the string bass, I agree to a point. While it started as that (a more portable version of the upright bass), there was a point in time when it broke from just being a natural evolution to an instrument of its own. The techniques used on the bass guitar as opposed to the string bass are quite different and many will tell you require different skill sets, although we’re playing the same notes. And while both instruments share the same function, you could throw ANY instrument in there and have someone holding down the bass duties; that’s a role in music that is not limited to the instrument.

    Whereas with the guitar, you can see the similarities throughout the centuries, and notice that making it electric was an evolution, but not to the point where the electric guitar became its own unique instrument by itself.

    Brandon KJM: I agree completely. I hear a lot of people (living in a university town, this happens a lot) get upset when someone doesn’t get a gig because they don’t play _______, and then poo-poo the person hiring. I’ve been turned down for gigs because I don’t have an upright bass anymore (sold it a couple years back and bought an NS upright instead), and I have no ill-will. They want THAT specific sound, and if I can’t provide it for them, they need to find someone who can.

  10. Manex

    March 10, 2013 at 11:07 am

    just a quick update, i eventually bought a TRB JP2 and i’m loving it. and i really don’t care now whatever the others will say whether i’m worthy of a 6 or not. hahaha!

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