Originally Posted by lz4005
In my experience bass VI type instruments supplement but don't replace normal guitars and basses.
Funny, in my experience normal guitars and basses don't replace bass VI type instruments!
Seriously, whenever I don't have access to mine and have to make do with a four stringer I miss the 2 extra strings or just plain can't play the song the way I intended it. OTOH, I only play fingerstyle (guitar, bass VI or bass) with a less than perfect technique, so when I play with a drummer I tend to dig in and the narrow spacing of the VI is a problem for that; for the moment a 4 is more confortable to me
in those contexts.
Functionally they're more similar to guitars than basses.
Except they aren't in many respects: string tension makes them less bend-friendly than Spanish-tuned electrics, and you simply can't expect to be able to play whatever narrow voiced chord you feel like because it's going to sound muddy, and the human ear is to blame for that, not the instrument or the amp/cab (something well known to composers and piano players). You need to put some distance between the lowest voice of the chord and the second-lowest.
(This is the biggest difference with a long-guitar-tuned-baritone, B to B or A to A: you can play those just as you would a normal guitar, and it will still sound good because the lowest chords are still outside the mud zone.)
As far as their bassness, well, they are short scale basses with small gauge strings. (Yes, with 2 more strings and narrow string spacing, but it's not like these aspects magically impact the sound of the 4 other strings, do they?)
Thus not-a-P-bass in the first place. If, in a particular application, you have to have a P for sound or feel you're not gonna like these in the same application.
This said, they are or aren't adequate as basses in the same ways as other short scale basses with small guage strings are. Sure, they might have pickups lacking in bass response (or in the wrong locations, but heck, Fender/Squier VIs have three of 'em to choose from!) but that's a possibility for individual models of long stringers: you have to try them, hear for yourself, and decide with your brain, not your eyes.
(And yeah, in order to use a bass VI as a bass you pretty much need to use a bass amp and cab: guitar stuff filters out lows by design, so it's guaranteed to sound guitary/thin.)
As for me, I use an OLP MM5 Baritone tuned as a VI (with flats) in a piano duo. According to what the song (or my vision of it) calls for, I play normal bass lines, strummed chords (up the neck and/or on the thinnest four strings), arpeggios and a couple "hybrid" arrangements with low notes on the odd beats, high plucked or strummed chords on the even. Oh, and the occasional lead part!
I guess a normal sixer (as in, the aircraft carrier-y ones) allows you to do all this stuff and more. However, there's something to be said for narrow spacing for chordal work, the short scale is confortable to me, and I feel at home with the octave guitar tuning. Plus, mine came dirt cheap.