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5 and 6, please read!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Licketysplit, Sep 3, 2000.

  1. Licketysplit


    Mar 15, 2000
    I know the issue of 5 and 6 string basses have been discussed a lot. But i've been seriously thinking about getting one (5 or 6) and I really need/would like some help with this subject. So... What is the advantage of a low B or a High C? Does the extra string(s) get in the way? I've played a 5string before and it "feels" alright. But for the longest time I wanted a six-string and when i finally played one i basically changed my mind. The neck was way too wide. But I was wondering if I would eventually get used to the width? I play mainly in a jam band that will do Phish-like/ Grateful-Dead like Jams and sometimes some jams that are way out there. Would the six be a good addition? Thanks for any help in advance :)
  2. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Ask yourself, why do you want a 5 or 6? Because it's cool? Wrong answer!

    Try to figure out for yourself what you'd like to do musically and then you'll probably know whether a low B and/or a high C will help. You can play in a jam band with a 3 string so that's not extremely relevant.

    Do you want to play lower than E, without detuning or HipShots?
    Do you want to play with less position shifts for your fretting hand?
    Do the extra strings get in the way? When I first started they "all" got in the way:D
    Do you like the sound of the low B? High C?
    Do you want to play chords? (you can do this on a 4;))
    Do you realize that one experience with one bass is slightly better than none? 5's and 6's are different, just like everything else, you could feasably find another six that doesn't feel so uncomfortable.
    Are you willing to spend the time to learn how to play a 5 or 6?

    These are for starters, ask yourself and you'll probably figure out whether they're for you.

    I play mainly fives.
  3. gmstudio99


    Mar 11, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    Brad's asking you some excellent questions...unfortunately, questions that might be unanswerable until you sit down for a few weeks with one...

    That's what I did...got myself a 5 string and have played and played and played it and decided that I'm really more of a 4 string guy...(and, yes, I play chords and all sorts of melodic stuff...check out "Alex's Song" at http://www.mp3.com/prlj/ ). The style I write and play in (jazz/new age/instrumental) led me to believe that I really could use a 5 or 6 or 7, but, really, the 4 is the most comfortable for ME.

    But it took the purchase of a 5 and months of hacking away at it to discover that...I still have the 5 and use it ocassionally, but I'm a 4 kinda guy...you might have to do the same thing...it's hard to tell when you spend 30 minutes playing one in a store...

    Good luck, and think about all that stuff Brad asked...

  4. 6-stringer

    6-stringer Guest

    Feb 5, 2000
    Well, do you want extended range, and more mobility around the neck? Then maybe a 6 is for you. If your more of a root-note type player then the extra two strings may just get in the way. I play with a jamband also. and the 6 has
    done wonders for my playing. It really adds a whole new element to the bass, and improvisational music is all about experamentation. Once you have some time to get used to it,
    you will get used to the wide neck thing. If you're a Mike-Phil style pick player, alot of companies make 6s' with thinner necks. I say a 6 is good for any jam style player,
    but it's all up to you really. Try a few out before you buy.
  5. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    also, be aware that string spacing varies from instrument to instrument - i've played 6 strings, like the yamaha trb6p, that have wider string spacing then my 7 string conklins. there's wide diversity in string spacing among extended range instruments.
  6. Licketysplit


    Mar 15, 2000
    Thanks for all the help so far. A few more questions and I'll stop bothering you guys. First of all what's a good first six or 5 string? What about the IbanezSR406? Also, how wide is considered thin on a six-string neck? How hard is it to find strings for a six-string? How about slapping? (I've tried before, but some of the strings got in the way) Will I get used to slapping on a 6? Thanks again!
  7. I.'.I.'.Nakoa

    I.'.I.'.Nakoa Guest

    Aug 10, 2000
    Fort Worth.
    NO lick.. the sr406 is awful.. that has to be one of the worst 6 string basses i have played... maybe try a conklin 6 or a yamaha 6.. or if u like luthite try a cort/curbow 6 string ... ok im through
  8. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    for a six try an Ibanez forget what seris 706 [i think] i tried it & it felt ok but not as good as the 705. Conklin 6s are good [so i've heard]. Try all of the 6s,7s,12s what ever stringed instruments you can find. 12 string basses feel unnatural to me though. that's all
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    If you guys are talking about the Conklin Groove Tools, they come in a 4,5 and 7, no 6 AFAIK.

    There are several low cost sixes available. Ibanez, Dean, Cort sixes are pretty easy to find. A little farther up in price would be Carvins, Yamaha, etc. Used sixes, like most used basses, can be much less than new, look around if you can.
  10. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    A deal on a pretty cool 6 came my way lately. I should have it soon....:)
  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I switched from four to five about four years ago and never looked back. I still have my little P-Deluxe, but it only comes out of the case when I feel like messin' around. The convenience of that fifth string has made me a much more versatile player (technique is technique, so I wouldn't say I play a heck of a lot better). You can spend more time higher on the fretboard, where the frets are closer together. When you need a low note, it's right there; no need to take a trip down to the nut.

    As far as six strings, I don't solo much, so I don't need that C string (or the F string). My other excuse is that I have stubby fingers, but John says you can work around that. I think the five string is plenty for me. I'll never buy another four string. This might be a bummer, because my current GAS has got me looking awful hard at a Lakland hollow body. I've asked Dan if he'd build me a five, he says "nope." That's why I'm also eyeing that Azola Jazzman 5.
  12. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    yeah, conklin gt's don't come in 6 string versions, just 4, 5 and 7.

    well, as for the ibanez 406, one of the guys who came over to the atlanta bass player get together had one, and i played it, and it wasn't too bad, definitely fine for a starter 6 string. i would suggest it over the cort curbow 6's that i've played at mars, as well as the john myung yamahas, which cost about 2x as much.

    i don't know what everybody's problems with ibanez gear is - it isn't that bad. i know some professional bass players that use ibanez stuff pretty heavily. don't judge a company just because you "heard" it sucked.
  13. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    I play 4,5 and 6 string basses. I went to a 5 string about 15 years ago and to 6 about 7 years ago. I had some times when the additional strings would cause me to think I was playing the wrong note even whem my ears said everything was cool. You'll get used to it.

    The main reason I play extended range basses is because the low B string is so nice to have. Those low notes sound so good when they are used tastefully. Also reading is easier because more notes are available in each position.

    I'm just an ok slapper and am much more comfortable on a 4 string when slapping. There are lots of folks who can slap on a 6 (or 7) and they sound great. If I slapped more often, I'd probably learn to slap OK on my 6 string.

    One thing to consider is your amp. Does it have what it takes to do a good job with those low notes? I've found that it takes a minimum of 300 watts to reproduce the low B with authority.

    The least expensive 5 string that I really like is the Fender Roscoe Beck. The best "bang for the buck" IMHO.
    It is not cheap, however. I've not played any cheap 6 string that I really liked but the Yamaha's sound better than the Ibanez basses to me. YMMV!!

  14. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    "I've found that it takes a minimum of 300 watts to reproduce the low B with authority."

    Unless you have an Ampeg B-100R ;)
  15. rojo412

    rojo412 Walnut is fun! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    You are in a jam band. Listen to Mike Gordon's bass lines. He uses a five and very tastefully, I might add. He plays high register stuff on his 5 which would be easier (IMO) on a 6. Lesh may not have played more than a 4 (I respect him, but don't follow him. I think he plays a 5 string ABG, see SWR ad).
    You can do what you want, I'm not here to tell you what to do. I do the jam band thing occassionally and love my 5, wish I had a 6. The guys from Widespread Panic and String Cheese incident play 5/6. P-Nut (311) plays a 5, Mike Gordon plays a 5... the question is "Do you want to fit in?"
    J/K :)
  16. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    Or even an Ampeg BA-112 :D
  17. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I think 5 strings are ideal, the sr406 is a great 1st time 5 string. But i think they lack a bit in tone, Fender makes a good 5 also the Deluxe Active Jazz Bass and they are roughly the same price, and I think it has a much deeper tone, and better mids to it. Shop around Yamaha makes some nice 5's too. If ya want a 6 id go with the Ibanez 406..
  18. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    phil lesh was one of the first, if not the first, to play a modulus 6 string. he's been playing 6 for a LOOOOONNNGGG time.
  19. rojo412

    rojo412 Walnut is fun! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Well slap my bass and call me victor! I didn't know that... but it makes him cooler now in my book.
  20. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    Hey Victor! :D

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