I'm interested in purchasing the perfect 6+ string electric bass to record my progressive metal record, but I know very little about the technical aspects of what makes basses sound and feel certain ways.
The qualities I'd like:
* most importantly: bright, precise tone for often fast fingerpicking, tapping, sweep-(finger)picking, harmonics, chord-strumming and slapping
* of secondary importance: punchy, powerful, "big" tone
* of tertiary importance: highly expressive response to different picking forces and vibrato (from mellow/soft to hard/aggressive) and a nice, long sustain
* 6 strings (I'd consider more for the right instrument, but I'm a little worried about hurting my hands on an overlarge fretboard, since I'm a professional programmer and a serious keyboardist/pianist as well)
* I also tend to prefer instruments with less distance between the strings; relatively smaller necks feel better, as does having to travel less space while playing arpeggiated or string-skipping passages
* top-quality craftsmanship: I want to be playing this bass until the day I die
* visual aesthetic is unimportant to me
I've been told that EMG active pickups might be the best choice for the bright, punchy tone I desire.
As for strings, my current favorite is Fodera's Diamond Stainless Steel strings because of their brightness and tightness. I also like DR Hi-Beams Stainless Steel strings, but I think they're a little "clangier" and not as precise sounding as Diamond.
As for wood choice, I'm told that maple might be best for the kind of tone I'd like, but that wood choice lends a much subtler coloring to the sound than the more prevalent pickups and strings.
I've been playing a Cort 6-string electric bass with Mighty Mite active pickups for fifteen years, and while the instrument feels so comfortable in my hands, its tone isn't what I want for my next record.
(I also Direct Input my bass whenever I record. I just make sure what comes out of my instrument sounds good to me, and leave it to the sound engineer to follow my direction as far as preamplification, mixing, etc are concerned)
I'm certainly willing to spend thousands of dollars for the right instrument, or maybe even more if I find a bass that is really *it*.
What luthiers, pickups, wood and strings would you all recommend I audition?
(And thanks so much in advance for your thoughts!)