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5 or 6? intermediate needs help pls

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by nikki_k, Aug 28, 2007.

  1. nikki_k

    nikki_k the i9 project

    Apr 19, 2002
    Portland, Or
    I am an intermediate level player (or close to that- lol). Finger player, just beginning to learn slap, poppin, funk, tapping, etc. I play prog rock primarily, and have always barely gotten by with the technique I have. Since I have decided to get serious, I have found the basses I bought are not what I want...well, some are not. I bought a Conklin GTBD-7 and GT-7 fretless, and they seemed cool and felt good. Until I discovered I rarely used that highest string, and the basses were too uncomfortable to play for more than 10 minutes or so. I am a paraplegic in a wheelchair, with full use of my arms and hands, but just below that, no control of my body. With no abdominal or leg control, sitting and playing is rough. The bodies are awkward and heavy for me, and the necks just a little too wide. I sold the fretless, am trying to sell the GTBD-7, and want to replace them with bases I can, and will, play...alot.

    But, I am stuck on the fence between 5 and 6 strings. I have searched, read, and battled in my head...and still I sit, unable to decide. I am leaning heavily toward 6, but fear I would end up with monster basses again for that one extra string, and then end up not wanting to play...again. What would be ideal is to find two basses, one fretted and one fretless that are nearly identical. My primary concern is comfort. As an example, I played an Ibanez SR505 BM, and the body was small enough...almost too small! I loved the contour and feel, but could see going slightly larger. Sorry guys, but some of us girls have a chest to consider when sitting and playing like I am forced to do...that Conklin was a bit painful for me with that top horn. The weight against me constantly...ugh (sorry if that was too much info). OK...so the SR505 felt nice. They did not have the 6 string version, so I could not compare them. No matter tho, as the string spacing was a little too tight for me. Specs listed it as 16.5mm at the bridge. I am thinking if the nut had been wider, and the bridge string spacing more like 17mm or 18mm, it would have been nearly perfect.

    I also tried out an Ibanez SR1006EFM Prestige. Wow. Really felt nice, but once again, I felt the spacing could be about 1mm more. Maybe even .5mm would have done it, who knows. The string spacing is 16.5mm like the other, but felt wider at the neck heel. The neck contour was perfect though. I believe it is a 34" scale...which I do not consider to be a bad thing, as I typically use standard tuning, and this one had a nice B on it. Played some horrible 5's and 6's with sloppy low B's...this was not one of them. If I went 5 string, I would most likely tune EADGC, and drop the E to D now and then.

    OK...with that said, the music I am now writing (since I have time due to the injuries and all- blessing in disguise!) is done with 7- and 6- string guitars. I am figuring I will be wanting a low B at some point, and actually used the low B on the 7-string basses enough to make this decision so difficult.

    In addition to choosing 5 or 6, I have to find comfort, and would prefer to have the same basic shape, size, electronics, etc...simply fretted and fretless being the difference, and maybe some wood differences (maybe ebony for fretless board, pau ferro for fretted..or whatever). I am leaning toward 34" scale regardless of 5 or 6. I dont have inhumanly long fingers like Steve Vai or Mr Claypool (nor the talent...lol...).

    I would like to stay under $1k for each. Used would be great. DIY would be fine as well, so Warmoth and others are a consideration. I own two basses from Rondo, a fretted 4 (SX SJB) and fretless 5 (SKB, lined). I do NOT want a lined fretless. I do not want any inlay work if I can avoid it either on the fretted. Plus, I am patient enough to wait for pieces to be made (ala Warmoth), or something used to pop up.

    So- advice? Suggestions? What do you think a minimum string spacing at bridge combined with what nut/heel width for a 5 would allow decent "funk" styles? On a 6? Or am I simply facing one of those "facts of life" when it comes to basses: some form of compromise that will leave me frustrated tring to get around? Have some of you gone from something like a 4-string P Bass to a 6 and simply adjusted your playing wthout losing technique (like, too much of a PITA to slap/pop, so simply dont do it much anymore one that bass...etc)? I am new to good thumb technique (ala Victor Wooten and his double-thumbing and such), so I am wondering if I simply start on a bass that has the smaller spacing, like 16.5-17mm, I will not have the problem of "adapting" to the smaller spacing? Or would it just make it that much more frustrating while learning?

    That damn SR1006 was so close. Too expensive, and no fretless version, and it had fretboard markers. But otherwise...wow... I only have a few places I can get into around here, and limited basses to try. So, you guys are the only other place I could think of to come to and create an inordinately long post, babbling on and on like this.

    Thx to anyone who can sympathize enough to actually read this and provide some constructive advice...
  2. I play a 5 string, and for me that gets the job done. When switching from a wide spaced 4 to a tight spaced 5, it only took about a week for my technique to get straightened out, and I ended up learning more of the Victor Wooten stuff on the 5 and I had no problems. You'll adjust if you just give it the time. Right now, I don't play a lot of melodies or chordal pieces, so the high C would be useless. If what you are writing now utilizes the higher register, I would suggest going with a 6. If not, the 5 would be great. It would give you that low B that you DO use.

    I play a Spector Legend, and it cost around $800 if I remember correctly. The string spacing is 18mm at the bridge, and it has a small body (I think thats what you were looking for...) so there is one good option. I've always liked the Ibanez basses I've tried (especially this ATK I played today) so that is a great choice as well. Ibanez has slim necks which would be good if you have small hands.

    Anyways, there is some food for thought, I hope this helps! Good luck.

  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    It seems like the 6th string (figuring the extra mass of neck, bridge, tuner, etc.) would add a lot of extra bulk and weight for not a lot of benefit to you as a player. Since in your circumstance comfort is paramount, I would search around for the most comfortable basses you can find, and not worry one bit about the number of strings. If you can find a 4-string that is super comfortable for you, and the comfortability means you actually play it often, wouldn't that be better than finding an ERB with more notes, but where you have to compromise on comfort, resulting in you not even bothering to play it?
  4. 88persuader


    Aug 5, 2007
    Unless you intend to do a lot of soloing and higher neck chord playing get a 5 string ... or even a 4 string. The low B string is useful but not usually NEEDED and the high c string on a 6 string neck is nice if you solo, play chords or simply don't like to move around the neck. BUT players have used mainly 4 string basses for ages ... Jaco played only 4 string basses, Victor Wooten plays mainly 4 string basses ... look what those guys can do! I play 5 and 6 string basses because I'm comfortable with them. But I'm the 1st to admit the extra strings aren't usually needed. Go for comfort man ... get a nice small 4 string or at most a 5 string you can handle and enjoy!
  5. nikki_k

    nikki_k the i9 project

    Apr 19, 2002
    Portland, Or
    Thx so much for the replies. This is such an incredibly tough decision for me, mostly because with my very limited monthly budget, it is the sale of the two 7's that funds the new basses. While the 7's were great in certain ways, and if I could stand or have mor emobility (read as: adjust my sitting position easily enough to get properly set), I think I might have tried to continue with them.

    I would love to trade my Carvin 4 fretless for a fretless I really love. Great bass, just the neck that does not fit me. My bass teacher's intial reaction to my SX jazz 4 was "HOLY ****!!!" He said he had wanted to play one before, heard of them, and he could not believe how it felt. Granted, it arrived to me broken in half (neck and body seperated, bolts bent and shredded wood), but I saw it as a perfect way to get intimate with it, and go from 3-bolt to 4-bolt, and make it MINE. So, I have a sweet 4 fretted I love.

    I just bought a Rondo special 5-string fretless from a TB'er, and he swapped the bridge out for a wider one, and did a really nice job getting the neck smooth and perfect. Lined, which I do not like very much, but I can ignore it. The neck pickup is too close to the neck for me...poppin will be rough on it. Strung EADGC, I find i use the C enough that I would miss it. When I pick up my fav 4, I do so because it is what I want to play, but if I wanted to get some groove or line out of it that might seem better suited, I would grab a 7 before.

    I will never forget the first time I heard the band Saga, and heard those magic guitar + synth harmony lines. And as I dug deeper and found bands that would be groovin along, and all of a sudden, bang! Guitar + Bass, sometimes even synth as well...running harmony lines, maybe stray apart for a second here or there.. I think that is where the desire for the 6 comes from. Then I watch someone like Lokire absolutely shredding away, whether it is jammin out "A Change of Seasons," or playing the guitar solo from "Forsaken," I realize that is one of my goals. To be versatile like that, and have those things at my beck and call should I want. I could do some of it on a 5 I guess. And the 5 might be lighter and more suited to my restrictive reasons.

    And this is why I am absolutely driving myself crazy inside my head trying to decide. If there are people who think it would be as easy to learn Wooten type techniques on an Ibanez SR505 as on a 5 with slightly wider spacing, then I think half my problem is solved. Cause the SR506 is so close to being the same.

    Back to bashing my head on the wall...:bag:
  6. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Since you have experience with the GT7's you already realize what those additional strings will give to you. But you're right, the extended range comes at a price, which is usually a somewhat larger body. Of course, that itself can be overcome by ordering a custom, however, the price tag limits that option for you somewhat.

    As a dedicated 7 string player, it would be difficult for me to go back down in string count. In my mind, a 6 string would be okay but anything less would be quite restrictive. If your goal is to expand your playing into more of a soloing or "multi-tasking" chord/bass style, IMO a 6 is the minimum I would need. Of course, there are a great many 4 & 5 string players with fantastic skills, but for my way of playing I need the higher string counts.

    You might want to look at the Brice line from Rondo. The Defiant and HXB lines are both 17.5-18mm, fairly light body weights, nicely balanced in the seated position. The trade-off for the Brice stuff is the electronics ..... they do provide a workable tone, but to get better definition you would need to upgrade. While the Brice and SX product lines are totally different from each other, they do share the common ailments of lesser electronics and lousy stock strings, in addition to being distributed by Rondo. And Rondo's liberal return policy would allow you to try the basses for a bit and see if the comfort factor is there for you.

    Good luck with the search, post up when you've reached a decision ..... :cool:
  7. nikki_k

    nikki_k the i9 project

    Apr 19, 2002
    Portland, Or
    Waiting for a reply from Rondo on a 6 in 34" scale. Figure at that price, why not?

    But, for my main basses, I have a fretted 4 I love. Everyone who plays it cannot believe what has been done with an SX. I need to find that magic fretless 4 at some point, but it will have to wait.

    Thx for the feedback and advice. I have decided to grab a 5 fretted, and a 5 fretted to keep that 4 company. Going to go 34" scale, active, and soapbars of some kind. Would like enough string spacing at the end of the fretboard to allow me to get my slap n tickle up to speed, but nothing too wide either. Would love to find a decently (not obscenely) thin neck (back to front, not width), and would be cool to find a model that comes in both fretted and fretless...family!!! Any suggestions appreciated!

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