1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
  2. Welcome Back!  Please see this thread for more info about the site outage.  Thank you for your patience as we work out bugs and tweak server configs.

5 string or 6 string??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Basso Gruvitas, Oct 29, 2003.

  1. for the styles/gigs you mentioned, a good solid 5 string is all that's needed IMO. i personally feel that a 6 string or higher is useful for jazz, more complex voicings, cello suites, etc, etc. for straight up gigging a 5 is enough. i love the 6 string though.
  2. Basso Gruvitas

    Basso Gruvitas Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth TX
    I agree with what you say, Cephas. Most gigs could be handled with a 5-string. (Heck most punk, metal, and Alternative music can be handled with 4 strings! Some even 3!!)

    I guess my point is that I could see myself jumping to a 6 without a huge learning curve. Plus it would be a lot of fun! I don't want to lose gigs because I do.

    Another concern is how well I could slap on a 6. Who slaps on a 6 and doesn't have any problems with that? The bass I'm looking into will have a Hipshot "A" bridge so I can adjust string width.
  3. Basso Gruvitas

    Basso Gruvitas Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth TX
    This is going to be a fretted bass. The Roscoe SKB 5 handles the fretless.

    I've really been digging Fred Hammond's music lately and he plays both 5's and 6's. I thought if he can go with a 6 and do what he does, I'd like to try it too.
  4. I hear you. I think that you should play what you want to play and forget about people who turn you down because of the 6. Life is too short to not do what you really want, you know? Get into the 6, embrace it, enjoy it, create your niche, and love it! That's my advice. If you're trying to fit into some alternative rock/pop thing where a certain vibe is needed than get an old beat up P with sunburst finish or something :)

    As far as slapping on a 6 goes, Keith Horne and Alain Caron come to mind immediately. Keith blows my mind man... he slaps like a fiend with the strings upside down!

    check out the solo in this video:

    jeez louise. see what i'm saying? slapping upside down on a 6er. :)
  5. Basso Gruvitas

    Basso Gruvitas Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth TX
    :eek: :eek: :eek:

    Okay, forget about it!! No 6-string! No bass!! After seeing and hearing Keith Horne, I think I'm going to sell all my bass gear and paint stripes in the road for a living.
  6. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    OK John, who's Fred Hammond?

    For a couple of years I was trying to get into the straight ahead jazz scene locally. Come to find out 99% of straight ahead jazz musicians despise the electric bass, let alone the six string electric. I felt that I had to go back to playing the upright. I had a friend tell me over and over to follow the path that was in front of me and to use the voice that I had been given. That path has led me to towards playing the six string electric from the beginning. The fact is that this instrument is MY voice. I'm not supposed to use someone else's voice. I can't use someone else's voice. Did I sound good on upright? Yup. Am I more creative on the six string electric? Sure am. It's my instrument. It's what people know me for. It's not good or bad, it just is.

    My point? It may be your instrument as well John. You won't know unless you try it.:bassist:
  7. emjazz, i'm in the same boat. at this year's university jazz band auditions, i was sure i'd be cut because i couldn't play very well on DB. i don't play much DB at all, but ballad-type songs i can usually get through ok.

    the director actually said the only bass for jazz is a double bass.

    back on topic: i say get a six. just because you own a six doesn't mean you can't still play 4 or 5 string basses. if someone really has a problem with a 6er, then (depending on the person/your mood) you can say screw it, or pull out the old 4-banger.
  8. Basso Gruvitas

    Basso Gruvitas Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth TX
    Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement, Andy. WORD!!

    BTW, here's some info on Fred Hammond. He is a gospel bassist, writer, arranger, producer, who is taking Urban Gospel by storm with his music! If you have the Bassplayer mag with Milt Hinton on the cover (2001 issue) he's interviewed in there.

    Here's some links. He's the bomb!


  9. GooseYArd

    GooseYArd Guest

    May 15, 2003
    The kind of guys Andy is talking about walk the world of jazz with the confidence of giant toothed reptiles who can be slain by absolutely nothing, unaware that it is not other players who threaten their stature, but rather, little "changes in landscape".

    As with any clan, there's always an effort to be insular, to assure your spot in the order, and when some cat like Andy D. comes along (it's hard to tell from reading posts here if someone is a serious player, but make no mistake about it, in this case) who is not so wrapped up in the tradition, they often forget the importance of change, and use the opportunity to play the purist, which is probably gratifying.

    But if you look back at the history of this music, at least a third of the people who play it (perhaps the ones who matter most) were never, never content to smallmindedly stick to the traditional instrumentation, feeling that the music, and the ways of playing it, that hadn't been discovered yet was going to be as good or better than what had. Miles Davis is an excellent example of the kind of restlessness. Tough to argue that.

    For Miloth: I've heard that from instructors (none of whom played bass) before, and my response is something to the effect of: Was your head up your ass during the entire span that produced Jaco Pastorius, Stanely Clarke, Steve Swallow, Mark Egan, Anthony Jackson, Marcus Miller, Brian Bromberg, Jeff Berlin? Or how about recently? Jimmy Haslip, Oscar Stagnaro? Ringing any bells, chief? Did you suffer a blackout and missing-time episode after you heard Gary Willis? If so, I understand, but come on. And lastly, do you think that you, or the offspring of Jimmy Garrison, are more qualified to make pronouncements about what qualifies as legitimate bass in this music?

    I had to bite my tongue once when some bigshot alto player critiquing my school at a clinic made only a single remark about what I had played: "I would have like to have seen a double bass for this tune", and I was thinking "well I would much rather have seen Joshua Redman up there than you playing that mess I just heard, but I'll take what I can get and talk about that instead!". If I sucked, I want to know, but don't go getting me all nervous thinking I'm playing the wrong piece of wood.

    Now one thing that I have seen happen is that you'll get a group of guys who are serious players, often horns, who have studied their instrument in an academic environment for years and years before getting to the point they could go out and play jazz for people. And then some kid who bought a guitar or bass at a shopping mall comes bopping along, can't even play the standardest of standards without a chart, who has never seen much less touched an upright and cannot play a flat 9 without stopping to count on both hands, but boy does this kid want to play jazz. Some of these kids are terrible and won't stop slapping and carrying on with garbage, but many of them are sincere but inexperienced.

    And what these guys will often say, when faced with such a player, is some disparaging remark about the instrument the kid has brought in, as if its the bass's fault that the kid can play a semi-passable bass line even without years and years of study. They'll pick out everything because they're biased against the instrument, or the relative ease of approaching it.

    So anyway, ignore the dinosaurs, there are plenty of new species out there to study, who bassists in the know (like Andy D., or the guy we study with, Lucas Pickford) will happily turn you on to. Don't worry, I think these bass guitar things will catch on, yet.
  10. Basso Gruvitas

    Basso Gruvitas Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth TX
    Wow, Goose! That was inspiring! WORD!!

    Having come from the halls of music academia myself, I can totally relate. I was the first electric bass major at the University I attended ('82-'87) and MAN did I daily encounter the stuff you were talking about.

    I really appreciate the perspective here that, if it's a part of me that wishes to express itself, I shouldn't let others dictate that. :bassist:
  11. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    I always love hearing from Andy (gooseyard). I feel that when he puts his thoughts down here there really is nothing more to be said. Noone else can put it so matter of factly, intelligently, and correctly. I always appreciate his input.

    Oh, and Andy, thanks.
  12. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    John, did you happen to go to North Texas State?
  13. Basso Gruvitas

    Basso Gruvitas Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth TX
    I did for one year. I was going to work on a Master's in Jazz Studies, but decided to branch out into audio production and radio (my day gig) -- with bass guitar on the side.

    Why do you ask? Did you go there? I was there 1987 academic year.

    I got my Bachelor's in Music at the University of Wisconsin. Studied under Richard Davis for 5 or 6 years there. ANYONE do a web search if you don't know who Richard is. HE'S HEAVY!!!!!
  14. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    So now back to the original topic: get a 6, John. You wont regret it. I love mine. and here the scene is much more dominated by fours, sixes are a rarity - yet people are often more interested about it than have distaste and remarks for it
  15. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    WHOA!!!! Richard Davis is heavy!!!

    I asked because N. Texas is really well known. A drummer I play with went there, Linda Maalouf. She's pretty unreal.

    OK, one more thing to add (for now). If you need another reason to play an extended range bass than go out and buy John Mclaughlin's Que Allegria with Dominique Dipiazza. He changed my musical life forever after I listened to that album.
  16. GooseYArd

    GooseYArd Guest

    May 15, 2003
    Hey which campus of Uwisc were you at? I played at the Elmhurst festival several years ago and there was a big contingent of Wisc. people there, and they were all super nasty. It was when Nicholas Payton was there, I can't remember the actual year.
  17. Victor Wooten98

    Victor Wooten98 Guest

    Jul 31, 2003
    South of Heaven...
    I dont think any band would not want a player with a six string bass...

    If it is for an audition, just blow 'em away. If they have a 'problem' with you having more than four string's just make em hear you first (but only if that would be a GOOD thing).

    Having more than Four strings is a MUST for me, if I am not playing funk (I like 4 strings for funk) Jazz, I like 6 string, Blues (same) Prog (of course)

    the sad thing is I cant afford a 'Good six string' So I have a sweet five string (almost adequite)

    On a side note, I think that all bassists should have these four basses. (not specific models)

    Fretted 4 String
    Fretless 4 String

    Five String (Fretted)

    Six String (fretted)
  18. 6?! Psh. Get a 7.

    You know, last year I had the most standard of the standard jazz band teachers. I walked in the first day with my 7 and my upright, and he kind of gave me some funny looks and snide remarks. As the year went on, I played probably 2/3 upright and 1/3 electric, but the tunes that I played electric on were smokin', because it's -my- electric bass.

    Then again, I do agree that old swing tunes sometimes just need to be played on upright. Get good at both; it couldn't hurt you musically. :)
  19. Joe BassPlayer

    Joe BassPlayer Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    A good question with lots of great replies. I switched to 5 string in 1989 and never looked back. I wouldn't even consider making a high-end 4-string purchase now. On the other hand, I've tried 6 strings basses and just haven’t been able to get motivated to make the move.
    For me, the primary positive of playing a 6 string is that it makes reading charts easier because you have more note choices while playing in position thus minimizing the need to look at your bass neck. I've lost my place on some long charts because I've had to look at my neck to change positions and when I look back at my chart I temporary loose my place.
    The primary down side for me is the hand fatigue that I experience while playing a 6. When I do the proper hand exercises and warm ups, the 5 string doesn't bother me much at all. The 6 is a different story. I'm sure that I would build up a better tolerance to it but playing for 30 years (and doing using a computer keyboard and mouse for 20 years) have taken a toll on my hands. I would also be concerned that since I have (3) five string basses it would be a problem constantly switching from a 5 to a 6 and vise versa. And don’t say upgrade them all to 6 strings. That would create the added cost of keeping fresh strings on my basses.
    To sum it up, I’ve had to cover a few songs that certainly would have been easier to play on a 6 string but I’ve always found a way to play them on a 5.
    I fully agree with EMJAZZ when he stated that knowing when to play the high C and the low B are extremely important. I’ve always seen the low B as an effect. It’s there when you need it but using it all of the time ruins the effect. There’s no substitute for good taste!
    Just a few of my thoughts on the subject.
  20. sheepdog


    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    I agree (only alternate option might be a fretless 5 string instead of fretless 4)
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Apr 13, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.