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4 or 6 to start with

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by TeeZeeMee90, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. TeeZeeMee90


    Jan 22, 2013
    North AL
    Hey everyone, quick question:

    I am picking up bass and want to learn it inside and out. I am into all genres of music and really want to get good enough that I can learn to do some solo stuff (seeing how I dont have many people to play with). My question is, would it be hard learning everything on a 6? I have fairly large hands so the fret board being larger may help actually at times. I am just worried that it will be more difficult for some reason.

    I have been playing a 4 string Epiphone lately and it is nice, just a loaner though. I am looking at getting a preowned Cort Curbow, just need to know how many strings lol.

    Experiences and opinions are greatly wanted!
  2. garmenteros

    garmenteros Bass Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2008
    Dominican Republic
    How long have you been playing? I'd say stick with the 4 and get a second bass to experiment on, preferably a 5 string before moving up to 6.
  3. TeeZeeMee90


    Jan 22, 2013
    North AL
    I have been playing for just a few months total. Been picking it up real fast, and I have tons of practice time now that I graduated college.

    I guess what Allures me to 6 string is the different tonal capabilities...but honestly I have been looking at people who use short scale basses with piccolo strings too... and it sounds mighty wicked...kinda what I am looking for sounds wise. I just figured 6 would be all in all
  4. Ah... the age-old question.
    Ask piano players to start on out a keyboard with less range and they'd look at you askance... but the range that extra strings provide is still a topic of lively debate in the electric bass community.
    Ignore all salient bass-culture imperatives- start on a 6 string and don't look back. There's a huge sonic world waiting, along with tremendous varieties of written material ancient and futuristic, and no genre of music will suffer. The Mojo of all styles will be intact, and the enhanced possibilities are unassailable.
    I started playing in '72 and made the transition to 6 in '92, so with a good 20 years on each so far, i can sincerely say that you'll appreciate the extra range of a 6 way sooner than later.
  5. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    I do not play a 6, but I see no reason why you could start there. Start on a six strong fretless and really give yourself a challenge. Four strings are not training wheels for more strings.

    Have fun.
  6. TeeZeeMee90


    Jan 22, 2013
    North AL
    Thanks everyone, yea I see it the same way. Why not learn on it, and get used to it now rather than later...really its just getting used to the neck as far as I see it. The extra strings can be ignored when not needed
  7. T2k5


    Feb 16, 2011
    Kerava, Finland
    Also, more strings does not always mean it's more difficult. I started with 4, moved onto 6 after many years and found it much easier to play than a 4-string. When I got my 8-string, it felt even more natural for me. I'd recommend trying your options out before you buy and see how they feel. If you already know that you will make the transition to more strings later, I don't see any reason to delay it.
  8. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Exactly. I hate it when people always talk about "moving up" to a 6 string.

    It's not like that. Nope, not training wheels. In fact just the opposite. It's like saying: "I can't decide if I should start learning a saxophone or a clarinet?" Sure there are things that transfer from one instrument to another but they aren't the same and one is not "better" than the other. They do different things.

    So what kind of music do you have a strong interest in? I know you said all kinds, but I mean right now. If it's "old school" then probably a 4 string is the way to go to get those authentic basslines down. If it's jazz or something modern enough to need some extended range. Then a 6er is in my opinion THE place to start even if you want to play 5er later.

    A 6 string isn't any more difficult. It's just different. You have to learn how the scales go across the neck, now to deal with a wide fretboard, how to damp the strings with both hands and all the notes on the extra strings. It's just called learning how to play the instrument. That the 6 string forces you to do things more or less correctly is why I suggest you learn it first so you don't develop bad ERB habits by learning on a 5 string.

    As for bmc's joke about starting on a fretless... I started playing bass on a fretless (upright) and my first 6 string was a fretless. Yes, it's got some things you have to learn to deal with, but so would any instrument you chose to learn. For me I really didn "get" what ERB was about UNTIL I got my 6er. Up to then I was like so many you hear here that thought that a 5er is just a 4 string with a handfull of extra low notes.

    Ask yourself what instrument YOU are currently interested in (later doesn't matter right now). If you aren't really interested then it's less likely you'll make the effort to get the various features of the given instrument down. For me I was in love with my Fretless Alembic 6er and though it took a while to get it going, it was worth the effort.
  9. sawzalot

    sawzalot Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    My experience was that I started playing on a 4, mostly because 5 and 6 string basses just weren't all that popular (or good) at the time. At some point it was like my brain and hands wanted to jump to that lower string--I was looking for it and it wasn't there, so I bought my first 5 string. I've never had a similar feeling (looking for a higher string) and the 6-string neck feels too BIG to me, so I've never moved to a 6.

    The transition was what was a little weird though--I was so used the lowest string being an E that for a little while I had to really think when I was playing to make sure I didn't go for the wrong string. But if you're just starting out on a 6, you might have the same problem in reverse if someday you decide to move to a 4. So, my suggestion: buy both!

    Seriously, music is music--who cares if you start on a 4 and move to a 5 or 6 or just go straight for the 6. Do what feels right for your heart and hands and go with it.

  10. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    I didn't mean for the fretless thing as a joke at all. Five year old kids learn violin, which is fretless. There are no hard fast rules about learning a particular instrument.

    I remember years ago there was this weird mindset that you should learn acoustic guitar before learning electric. It makes no sense.
  11. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    As others have explained, I strongly recommend that you start on the instrument you want to play. You've given great reasons for wanting to play six, so start on six.

    FWIW: I played four string for 20 years before switching to five. There was some value in the transition: it broke me out of some bad habits and provided some inspiration. That said, I have continued other bad habits :p, and overall, I still wish that I had started on five string (I couldn't, because it simply wasn't a valid option 35 years ago).
  12. TeeZeeMee90


    Jan 22, 2013
    North AL
    You guys give some great advice!

    To answer a question I read, I seriously will go through phases of music...it is hard to label myself to one genre at any given day because today may be some R&B but I know tomorrow will probably be some Bluegrass/Americana stuff. I figured maybe that alone would be a good reason to have more flexibility tonaly with 6 strings. Right now, my computer is playing some Polar Bear Club, and John Mayer (odd mix I know).

    I am going to get a 6. I can feel it in my bones. Especially since I want to one day get into technical solo stuff.

    I have another question if you dont mind. I am looking at two 6 stringers.
    1. A used Cort Curbow 6 for roughly 250 plus shipping and 14 day returns.
    2 A new SX Ursa Jazz 6 for roughly 200$ with shipping and 30 day returns.

    Returns dont matter to me unless it doesnt work. Any opinions?
  13. TeeZeeMee90


    Jan 22, 2013
    North AL
    Oh and the Cort comes with a hard case...just fyi
  14. Corts are awesome instruments imo and from all the love SX gets on talkbass i'd guess that they are awesome instruments as well. I'd go for whatever you think looks better.
  15. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    It really was the policy here in Italy from early '70s onward...

    Incredible... like if Dylan ever was a somewhat contemporary composer (George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein and so on...)

    I mean: I'm not messin' with the minstrel himself, I'm just tryin' to let you figure out how a then major culture could influence teachin' programs (italian songwriters Giorgio Gaber and Fabrizio DeAndré being Dylan critically acclaimed disciples)

    If contemporary pupils (teachers of tomorrow) will move Lady Gaga into programs?:rollno:

    Only thing I can relate to the thread so far is that, for me, is way simpler pursue a 5er unlined fretless approach nowadays than it was to adopt a 6er a five years ago, I don't know why.

    Anyway, it's new to me the existence of a Cort Curbow 6er...

  16. TeeZeeMee90


    Jan 22, 2013
    North AL
    Both a style their own for sure, I just think about long term with how a lot of people are puting pre-amps in their SX's over time, when the Cort is already there... the bolt on neck construction looks more solid from the Cort also.

    J Basses have that look though...vintage and cool... hmm

    Attached Files:

  17. TeeZeeMee90


    Jan 22, 2013
    North AL
    Dang, I guess I got my answer... someone bought the Cort. Probably because I mentioned it here...LOL
  18. Go with what you think you'll use more. Nothing stopping you from changing or adding more to the stable later on.

    I start on a banger 4 string, then got a decent 5 string, then a decent 6 string. I still have them, but now I only really play 4 string basses. Things change and nothing is set in stone when it comes to how you play now and what you play in the future. Just go with what feels right :)
  19. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    I would really push you toward 4 if you were my student. If you properly learn to play a 4 then playing a 6 (or 5) will be exactly the same, the theory is the same, they are both tuned to 4ths. A 6 string is not good in all cases, there are plenty of times when you will avoid that low B and high C as they will sound extremely out of place in the range of the song, you need to be tasteful when playing a 6. You will also find people think of you as a wanker if you show up with a 6.

    The fretboard is not any larger on a 6 than a 4 unless the two basses you are comparing vary in scale. You will also be able to play much faster and easier on a 4 string.

    I would also avoid a 6er as your first bass because a good 6 (even 5) requires a pretty good instrument, the cheapest awesome B string you can get is a Carvin for around $1000 new, maybe if you found a used one. A sloppy B will detract from the overall bass, if the B is sloppy and muddy you will avoid it, making it useless. I do not recommend an expensive instrument for a beginner as many beginners quit within the first year.

    At the end of the day it is your bass and there is no wrong answer, but that is my two cents.
  20. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    If you have just started it doesn't matter...... at all. It's kind of like learning to drive in a Ferrari or a jacked up 4 wheel drive pickup. It doesn't matter. You're just learning so you can learn on whatever. You have no preconceived notions to "block" you in any way. So go for it. Get whichever you like best.

    (My context is that have taught as many as 32 students at a time, and they started on everything from 4s to 6s, acoustic and electric basses, with and without reading music, cheap and expensive basses, with and without amps at home, etc. Your starting point doesn't matter as long as you head in the right direction. I was able to teach all of them just fine.)
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    Primary TB Assistant

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