well with me i use the higher octaves and frets for little chords during slow instrumentals
That's cool - I suspect it's a balance. If I tried that in my situation I'd get raised eyebrows from the keyboardist and rhythm guitarist as they're already in that frequency space.
There's a youtube video from Paul Baloche (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MgDdHrctkM) where he basically says:
1. Learn the basics of bass first: Tempo (and inferred, sync to the kick drum).
2. Don't distract the worshipers with your bass playing.
3. If you're an advanced bassist, go ahead, just don't distract the worshipers.
4. Keep in mind what the mood of the song is supposed to be and stick to it.
There's something very similar from Jesse Reeves on the Musicademy Intermediate Bass DVDs as well.
Not easy is it? Arguably the thing about a 5 string is that it carves out some space where no-one but the drummer is going to be.
All the best,
I really wanted a 5 string at one time but I decided 4 is better for me since I don't care for the wide neck. I play an acoustic Breedlove 4 string bass and I really like this guitar.
My Schecter's neck is really not much wider than my old Peavey T-40's neck...it all depends upon the instrument. I also used to have a Dean 5-string and its neck was narrower than my Peavey...you can find one you'd like, I'm sure of it.
Six for me. I jumped straight there from four strings because I really couldn't make up my mind whether I wanted to extend my range down or up. Down is good for laying foundational notes for a song and up is good when your band is quite small and you might also need to fill in with some chords or playing the melody at some point.
The other advantages of extra strings are that you have more notes under your fingers without shifting (good when you are trying to keep up with some music and checking your shift was accurate might cause you to lose your place) and also that playing the same note in different places gives different tones, which increases the range of expression and appropriate sounds you can eke out of the bass without turning to twisting dials on other bits of gear.
24 frets rarely comes into play with the music you might play in most churches or, indeed, most other settings. However, it is nice to have the option if you want to use it and a bass designed for a 24 fret neck will also probably give better access to higher positions than one designed for less.
FWIW, I now tune my main bass from a low D to a high Eb, as it was so rare that I needed notes below D and so often that I wanted higher notes without having to reach all the way up the neck. It took me longer than I expected to get used to it but I think it works better for the keys that typically come up in my church.