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6 string bassists: C string in a band setting?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Matthew_84, Feb 22, 2015.

  1. I have a few questions for you 6 string bassists out there, what do you use the C string for in a band setting? What kind of music do you play? And how often do you use the C string?

    I've been set on getting a 6'er for the last few months, but now I'm only a few weeks away from getting it, and I'm wondering if I should just get a fiver. I know I'll use the C string around the house to transcribe melodies and stuff, but not sure about how much I'd use it in a band... Thoughts?

    FWIW, I only have one 4 string bass, and it's tuned to BEAD. Once I get the 6'er, I was planning on putting flats on the 4 banger, for more traditional music - it'll still be tuned to BEAD though.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2015
  2. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    Not a 6 player, but I'd think any time you venture above the C on the G string, you'll just play across the strings and not have to shift.
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  3. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Dunno, it is there, just like all the other strings ... I don't look at if I use it enough or whatever. I know it is part of my language now, so I use it when I hear it, just all the other strings.

    You may find it usefull in situation you have to go very high and throw a low note just after it as you don't have to move your hand as much.

    Ya know, probably that the more you play with it, to more you'll hear something that would make life so much easier if it was there.
    singlemalt and Matthew_84 like this.
  4. That does make sense... Right now I can't imagine too many uses for it, but I do think you're right. Thanks.
  5. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I'm kinda weird as the moment I was about to buy a 5, I knew what I could do with it that I couldn't previously. While I was practicing I imagined the B strings and what would be there ( which note ) so when I got it, it was pretty much as it always been there.

    I did the same thing with the 6 but in this case I restrung my 5 to C-E to feel it and I was sold especially since in my original band and at music school I found some situation that what I heard was playable on my 5 but would make life so so so much easier with the C string and it did.

    Now I play and if I need it, it is there, otherwise it is there ! Just like any other strings that may be useless in one song but the most usefull thing in the next.
    Vinny Tomassetti and Matthew_84 like this.
  6. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    I have a great 6er but prefer 5ers strung B-G. Just what I am most comfortable with.

    I can cover a lot of ground from my B string (modes, scales, arpeggios, etc.) and don't really need a C string for the vast majority of my playing. I also tend to play up high when I do a rare solo (21st/22nd fret on the D and G strings is pretty common), so don't need higher notes.

    Lastly, because I don't solo a lot and play mainly in rock bands, I don't find that a C string always cuts thru the mix.

    Play what you like in any case!!!
    Cgar and Matthew_84 like this.
  7. Ive been playing 6 string basses for almost 11 years.
    The C string is seldom used but for popping, chording or playing guitar like solos, the c string is super handy.

    At the same time, the fact that every root note is covered in the first 3 frets of all strings forces me to have an ergonomical approach to the fretboard as i was forced to change my technique due to wrist injuring 8 years ago.
    swspiers, Jon Moody and Matthew_84 like this.
  8. I've been playing on 6'ers for a number of years now. All of the above is true....popping, chording, solos, elimination of position shifting. I'll definitely use the open C to help me transition through more severe position shifts. Don't discount basic power chords either. Nice and clean because you won't have to play them all the way up the neck.

    However,the best piece of advice I was given on incorporating that C string, as well as just plain ole' good playing advice, was to think of a piano/pianist. On average, as the left/bass hand gets into lower notes, his right/treble hand does NOT follow...it's going the opposite way, into higher notes. So when jamming or writing music, I try, at the very least, to keep that in mind. If my guitarist is getting into some of his lowest notes, (especially when we downtuned,) then I use that opportunity to go high. That C string can help you do that w/o having to go all the way up the neck and have the nasty overtones that can be in there.
  9. Thank for this tidbit! I will incorporate this into my playing when I get my 6'er... That's right. You reaffirmed my initial decision to get a 6 string. Thank you.
  10. In a band setting mostly just for chords and tapping. But I recently went back to playing 5 string and funny thing is every single part I wrote on my 7 string (f#-c) I can play on my 5. I might have to droptune the b for some songs but I never used the high c above the 12 fret with the band. In that range the g string has more body imo and I didn't use the highest notes on the high c that i can't get on the g string at all. It was a fun adventure playing the 7 and I definetly don't regret it but I probably won't buy another 6 or 7 in the future.
  11. Dash Lashes

    Dash Lashes Inactive

    Feb 20, 2015
    Whenever I play melodies, such as Taylor Swift's Shake It Off, I believe the high C string is essential in getting into her register w/o going up to super high frets.

    The 6 string felt more open as in; a lot of possibilities, when I picked one up after years on a 4.
  12. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    Without rehashing a lot of what's already been said, I use the C string on my 6 more as a way to have more octaves across the fretboard instead of shifting up and down. Ergonomics was a very big part of my education when I was taking upright bass lessons, so to have that much more options available immediately is nice. Plus, my "home base" as it were is usually at the 5th fret, so it works out really, really well.
    raventepes likes this.
  13. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    You coud do some nice solo's with it. Two hand tapping, bass sweeping, maybe some slap 'n pop.

    One of my favorite 6 string bass players is Franck Hermanny from the France Progressive Metal band Adagio. He played 6 string basses exclusively for years and now plays a 7 string bass as well. He does some amazing stuff with it. Here some examples :

    *Bass solo The Mirror Stage

    *Bass solo From My Sleep To Someone Else

    And some example from his Double instruction DVD's

    Matthew_84 and soupofthedave like this.
  14. J Gold

    J Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    I play 6 in an original heavy metal band. For me, the C is mostly used when I'm playing chords/arpeggios under a guitar solo. Or when I'm doubling a specific riff in unison or an octave under the guitar.
    gebass6 likes this.
  15. The only way I would move to a 6 string, is if I was adding another string below my B.
    static0verdrive likes this.
  16. I do a lot of jazz work so I typically solo on every tune and play a lot of chords. I use the C all the time. I've played six strings in rock bands before and never used the C much outside of some odd chordal part.
  17. OP: If you want to go beyond relegating the C string to chords/tapping/solos, I'd recommend checking out the Australian band Karnivool. Bassist Jon Stockman uses a Warwick 6'er and utilizes the C string frequently. Check out songs such as: Umbra, All I Know, Simple Boy, Goliath, Eidolon. Massive tone, superb player.
  18. I think a lot depends on the music and how much space you have to move around. Playing metal, unless you are doing runs with the guitars, the C is not really used much. The same goes for R&B, Country, Classic Rock, or any other genre where you mostly maintain a root structured bass line. However, in any walking bass line context, that C comes in handy. It is also handy for double stops or root/chord style lines. But, for 80-90% of the bass role, it will be unused.
  19. tsheldon


    Jun 20, 2005
    Western New York
    As a 6 string player exclusively for the last 20 years there has definitely been times I've wanted a 5 when playing in cover bands. When there's 8+ players on stage including multiple guitars and keyboards, horn section, etc. there's not much space up there.

    Jazz gigs and trio stuff? That's where I'd feel naked without the C string.
  20. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    Wow - I use C quite a bit.

    It saves me time from having to run "up" the fingerboard quite as much as I would without it. It's great when chording or doing fills and you want a quick something thrown in. The few covers we play use it (all but 1).
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