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6-string basses - your opinion?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Matthew_84, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. I have two 4-string basses and in a week I am going to order a new bass, and I was completely settled on getting my first 5-string... Until 20 minutes ago when I saw THIS thread and respective YouTube clip.

    I have certainly debated stringing the 5 string from E to c, especially on a fretless. Then it just hit me, why not just get a 6 string?

    At the same time though, for the last few weeks, I've been toying with the idea of getting a regular 6-string guitar, likely a strat. I'm curious if the strat would just be better for any of the chordal/melody work I've been tempted to do lately, but I still feel like I'd like a fretless bass with the C string.

    Just looking for some opinions of people who have played 6-string basses. Thanks.
  2. marcblum


    Apr 29, 2008
    Aachen, Germany
    whatever seems interesting to you: stop talking, try it!

    you may debate for hours, with no outcome. but a simple try for 10 minutes gives you way more information to make a decent choice.

    in this case: buy some cheap (not too cheap) sixstring bass, maybe a Yamaha. Try it for days/weeks/months. And then decide on your own where to go further.
  3. jwr

    jwr Supporting Member

    Jun 28, 2010
    Overland Park, KS
    I would recommend going to a shop and trying one out before you buy one. Five and six stings are quite different. That being said, I've been playing a 5 for years, own and 4 and a 6. Love them all. It just depends on how your hands/wrists feel IMO after playing. I have short fingers, so it's a major adjustment to play a 6 string versus a 4 string. HUGE technique change as well. Not that that is a bad thing at all.
  4. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    I played rhythm guitar for years and got proficient with chords.
    I just can't make my brain shift shapes to the tuning difference - I am learning them all over again for bass (I can still find them just fine on guitar...).

    Interestingly, I am finding that the bass tuning symmetry makes it easier for me playing melodies than it was on guitar - where that silly 'B' 2nd string screws up the 4ths...

    If you want to learn chording on a fretless, be prepared for baby steps. Getting -1- note at a time right is something to learn - we never stop working on intonation. After playing just fretless for 6 months, my intonation is decent. My double-stops are decent. But it's kind of an exponential thing. Double-stops are twice as hard, but triads are 8 times as hard, and real four-note chords twice as hard as that.

    If chording is your goal, you -may- find it easier to start with a fretted 6-string and then transition to fretless. Or you can do it my way, and take baby steps...

    I have a 5-string fretless but I almost never play it because I'm concentrating on the 6-string fretless. Roscoe 6-string necks are some of the best out there. They are not inexpensive, but if you're willing to make the commitment, they'll hold up their side of the bargain.

    My best suggestion would be to try -any- fretless for a while and see if you have or believe you can develop the ear for it. Lots of people get frustrated and decide it's not for them. The upside is there's usually a good supply of cast-off fretless in the TB classifieds at any given time...
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  6. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Gold Supporting Member

    Mat plays fretless, so I wouldn't lose any sleep over the fretless side if I was him. For me personally, I played 6 string pretty much exclusively for the last few years and have recently gone back to playing 4. I feel more creative on the 4 and going back to it made me really think about a lot of my lines as many songs I play had come to involve the B and C strings. The 6 allows you to get more done without moving as much though, that is for sure.

    I personally preferred the high C more than the low B as I like to chord and double tap, it was also really nice for solos. I don't really miss it now though as my solos have been getting more rhythmic and less melodic and I feel my solos are far more interesting on the 4.

    I seem kind of negative on it after reading my post, but I did enjoy the six for years I have only recently (as in 2014) stopped playing it as my number 1. My answer probably would have been much different last year.
  7. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    There is a lot of nice thing done a fretless or a 6 strings. But outside the "wow" factor, do you hear it in your head ?

    Before I took the 6 strings and fretless route, I missed something ... I was like "dude I miss a string to make it happen" or whatever. After buying my first 6 strings that I looked up what some people do with it but I really didn't need a vid to convince me of what I could do it was obvious for me. I just picture it in my mind.
  8. I love mine. No limits. You can also pretend its a four and go basic/solid
  9. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    For me it's more a matter of physical limitation.
    6 string bass necks are just too wide.
    I don't mind 5 string basses with fairly tight spacing, but wide necks are out.
    If your hands are big enough to play a 6 comfortably, then you're good to go.

    Regarding just going with a 5 string, as far as the extra string goes, it matters which tuning you'd get the most use out of: BEADG or EADGC.
  10. Thanks everyone. I'm maybe even more torn now.

    I'm pretty loyal to Warwick basses and would definitely be getting them in 6 strings, or 5... But the store near me only stocks one or two at time. I've tried the 5 and the tighter spacing on it felt fine, but I'm not sure about the 6. I do have big hands, but I don't like huge necks. On a 6-string Warwick with the slimmer neck profile I may be fine, but I won't know for sure until I try one...

    Unfortunately, I kind of have to buy one to try it. As they won't bring in one, especially a 6, just for me to try. I've tried getting them to do this with other Warwicks and it's not too easy.
  11. Daedraziel


    Aug 19, 2013
    Toms River NJ
    Google a pic of a corvette 6 string... That neck is wider than a 2x4! It's Huge

    If you are anything like me, you are set in your 4 string ways and making the occasional jump to 5-6 strings is a regretful short term mess. Without playing a 6er first, I could never order one blindly to see if it works for me.
  12. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    I'm lefty and play lefty and I had to order my bass, so I never played a 6 strings nor a 5 prior to buy them.

    I'm quite small for a man but I still manage to play a 6 strings everyday for the past 8 years. Your technique is the most important thing to consider. You can't wrap your hand around the neck like many 4 strings player do (which is why many player have a preference for back of the neck profile), a movable Anchor or floating thumb is important.
  13. Randyt

    Randyt Supporting Member

    Jul 21, 2010
    Barrie, Canada
    Matthew...if you live in TO...you should take a drive out to Hamilton and test drive an FBASS!!!...

    I have been playing six strings for many years...too many uses..specially in my Jazz band..
  14. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    If unable to try something within reach of your area, you may want to shop for a good enough deal on what you think you'd like, buy it, try it (long enough to get a good opinion), then keep it, or sell it for something that would fit your wants. Shouldn't be out any real money that way, and if you're lucky, you'll find what you like, first try.
  15. For me, I was pretty much in the same position, but I bought a 5, loved it so much that I got a 6, & never regretted it. Both the 5 & 6 have totally opened up my style & interest. Turned out I had gotten stale w/o even knowing it. Those guitars cured that.
  16. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    I've played them, they're not my thing, but they weren't as bad as I thought.

    But hey, if you want to try one and you have the means to buy one, it is your choice.

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