7-string bass players question...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by drdog, Mar 12, 2016.

  1. drdog


    Apr 17, 2007
    Milwaukee, WI
    Ok, I have been wrestling with something in my head for quite some time I want to share with you and get your opinions on my issue :)

    I have a 7 string bass that I absolutely love. I bought it because it is the best sounding bass I have ever heard....it sounds better than ALL my bass collection (I have 9 bass guitars). I also love the feel of the bass more than any others.

    Here is my problem I have been wrestling with...for 3 years now....

    I have begun to feel self conscious when playing the 7 string on stage because suppressed in the back of my mind I am worrying about what other people out there in the audience are thinking of me when I am playing the 7 string.
    I worry if spectators may be thinking negative of me when they see that I am playing a 7 string....questions like do they think I am playing a 7 just to get attention? Or is he playing it just to show off?, or do they think a 7 string is "over the top", or do they may have attitudes like "Cmon, man, really, a 7 string???".
    This all started about 3 years ago when a person approached me as I came off stage and made a comment that I was being "self indulgent" :(
    That shocked me...actually hurt me inside.
    Since then, I played the 7 much much less publically as I became self conscious.

    In reality, showing off, and self indulgence is the extreme opposite side of the spectrum of who I really am. The above is FAR FAR FROM THE TRUTH of who I am...of what type of person I am, it is not in my Christian nature and my upbringing. The important thing is, I bought this 7 string because I fell in love with the sound, as well as the looks (very pretty color/finish). I like it better than any of my other basses. However, I am an extremely humble person, but I cannot seem to shake this feeling.
    I normally play 6 string, and the styles of music I play, I do use all 6 of the strings. When I play the 7, I use only 6 of the 7 strings.

    So, I am seeking opinions of my fellow bass players out there....
    Are the issues as described above, a reality, or is it mostly all in my head only?
    The only true reality situation that exists to date so far, is the one person who approached me and "bashed" me for playing a 7. Since then, it did change me.
    Do you think the general audience out there really think these ill attitudes towards seeing a 7 string bass player, or do they simply just not care? I would feel much better if the general consensus is that they just don't care.
    If I could get over this feeling (that is why I am opening up to you)....if it turns out that many of you determine that this was just an isolated incident, that these fears are all just in my own head, I would feel much more comfortable to start playing the 7 more often again.

    I know you could say "don't worry about what other people think", or "don't worry about making other people happy", but again, this shows my humbleness, that I do (probably shouldn't though) care what people think of me.

    Anyway, any thoughts from all of you are greatly appreciated.

    I welcome the opinions of ALL bass players out there, but please, no "bashing" or rudeness or putdowns if you dislike 6 or 7 strings. I still welcome your opinion, but please be respectful.

    Thanks in advance everyone.
  2. KulNova


    Oct 9, 2012
    Saigon, Vietnam
    Well, let just ask yourself if you would be negative to another guy who were playing a 7 string or more on stage? From you though, I think that the audience will do exactly what you might do.

    I don't even care about their instrument as long as player does his good job, playing good music.

    In conclusion, who cares, bring whatever you like and most comfortable with to the stage. All is yours!
    Dug2 likes this.
  3. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Seriously? :eyebrow:
    Roberto Nunez, RickyT and tfer like this.
  4. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Reviewer: Bass Player Magazine
    Acceptance comes from familiarity. The only way people will get used to seeing 7-strings is for people to play them out all the time. Meaning you.

    Also remember that negative comments about your gear will almost solely come from other musicians; you'd expect them to be more open-minded than most, but that's often not the case. Most regular audience members don't give a crap.

    The only comment that was questionable that I ever got from using a 6-string on stage was from, you guessed it, another bass player.
    r10 and Nephilymbass like this.
  5. I seriously doubt most people are counting the strings. 6 vs. 7 is basically a non-issue most of the time. You have to be confident in your choice of instrument and yourself. That being said, 7 string bass seemed to put a lot more stress on my fretting hand and 6 was way more comfy for me.
    Roberto Nunez likes this.
  6. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Don't take this the wrong way; it comes with respect from one spiritual person to another.

    You can look at this as your "humbleness", but you can also look at it as ego. I mean, what difference does it make what someone else thinks about you? You're craving acceptance and external validation from someone whose opinion doesn't really matter.

    When someone else gets judgmental about something I do, I try to remember that it's not a reflection on me, it's a reflection on them.
    Dug2, drdog, bassbully and 3 others like this.
  7. A lot of people don't know the difference between a bass and a guitar, and cannot differentiate the sound difference in a band setting. I used to play my Kala Ubass at a church quite a bit. Most people thought I was playing a traditional Ukelele. The person that became uncomfortable with me playing it was the new Worship leader who took over. He didn't like me playing the Ubass, he wanted me to play a Precision. The sound guy who was really good liked the ubass better, he thought it sounded great and easy for him to eq. I ended up leaving for all kinds of reasons, but the point is nobody in the audience really cares what your playing. The only ones that may be critical are other bass players, and if that's so that is their own insecurity rearing its ugly head. Play whatever you want as long as you are happy playing it!
    CaseyJ and Roberto Nunez like this.
  8. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    There are those who have no respect for any instrument that is not the standard.
    Many are threatened by the edge.

    Until they see what can be done with that instrument.
    The seven string bass is no exception.
    Untill they see the full spectrum of what it can do,for instance playing it solo like a Chapman Stick,they generally are negative.
    Some are just afraid of something different.
    For some it just "Sour Grapes"

    As far as "self indulgent":There are plenty of examples of "self indulgence" in all other music forms.
    Alcohol,drugs,gaudy theatrics,hatred,violence,satanism(real or perceived) and licencetiousness is the standard in many.

    So think:Is the "transgression" of seven strings worse than every other type of "self indulgence?"
    Ask them what music are they into.
    Then point out the "self indulgence" in thier music.
    Quite likely it's far worse that a seven string. Snapshot_20151101.JPG
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2016
    drdog and el_Bajo_Verde like this.
  9. drdog


    Apr 17, 2007
    Milwaukee, WI
    To each and everyone of you so far,
    Bryan R Tyler
    Spades2 you
    thank you for your comments. I really appreciate your time and efforts to offer your comments and to help me see this from a different perspective.
    1stnamebassist likes this.
  10. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Well, you are a bass player so generally speaking "showing off" tends not to be your way. That's just the nature of the instrument and it's place. But allow me to point out that getting on stage IS showing off! In fact it's what the whole purpose of the thing is: To show off so as to influence those people watching and get emotional responses out of them.

    But the bass is a supportive instrument. It is also a very powerful instrument. A bass player can make everyone in the band do just about anything he wants (and the people on the dance floor as well). So what I always say is that what guitar players and vocalists do is grab and hold the audience What bass players do is grab and hold the BAND!

    But the deal is that you are playing a 7 string bass. The higher range of that instrument (I own two myself) puts you up into the range of holding the audience. And that means "showing off". It's a different attitude for a bass player I know. I write songs, sing and play guitar. I've also been a dancer. I know what "showing off" is about. It's a different mindset from bass playing. But you are thinking all wrong if you think of it as self-indulgent. It's never about YOU. It's about CONNECTING with your audience however you are able to do that. You are there to make them feel something. A bass player can get their toe tapping but when you break into the 7 string stuff you are there to grab them and say, hey, listen to this because I have something to SAY to you. And then you say it on your bass and if you are good they listen and agree. If all you do is play 6 (or 5 or 4) string stuff on a 7 string bass, then you are wasting the whole thing. The bass is screaming "This guy has something to SAY!" and then you don't say it!

    But because it's show business, there are things you have to respect. Most people out there don't much understand what you are trying to do. That's why you are there to teach them through example. But traditions die hard. I'm currently playing blues and a 6 string makes great sense in blues. But if you try to play one you have to take all kinds of crap. And if you don't play a Fender or "Fenderish" bass you have people coming up all night giving you the "serious" advice of buying a Fender bass instead of that nonsense you are playing. It's not you. It's what they know. Changing a tradition takes time but LOTS of musicians have done it successfully...even if after a big hassle. Remember when they booed Dylan off the stage for playing an electric guitar? So I've put together a "Fenderish" 6 string bass (avatar) to see if it will fly under the radar! That crowd is clearly not ready for the appearance of a 7 string though!

    Of course none of us like bad reviews. But when you are breaking new ground it's going to be inevitable. By the time everyone is falling all over themselves praising you, you can be sure you are already stagnated and just doing the same old stuff.

    So forget about your feelings. Think about the SHOW. Think about what you are trying to SAY with your bass. Think how you can best get it across. And if a few don't get it (there are always a few who don't) just figure it goes with the territory and keep at it. Practice makes perfect.

    Hope this helps.
    r10, drdog and Dirtyfrenchman like this.
  11. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    Being humble is great, its an admirable trait. But don't be so humble that you allow others to define you. Sometimes you just have to tell them "you play your bass, and I'll play mine."

    I used to take guff from people I knew for playing SS basses. I'd tell them the reasons why I play one, how I like how they sound, they play easier for a guy who works with his hands all day, etc. They'd keep on. So now I just tell them that I've no need to play the largest bass I can find since my penis isn't tiny and I've no need to compensate. That usually gets a good laugh from others and shuts them up. Point is, don't let others opinions matter to you unless it's something to help you serve the song.
    drdog, el_Bajo_Verde and gebass6 like this.
  12. Sav'nBass


    Jan 18, 2009
    Virginia Beach
    The only way I would feel self conscious about it is if I wass not yet profient on it... in which case I would not play it onstage until I was. That is one reason why I have not played my 6 out yet because the string spacing is a little tighter and I stumble a bit in utiializing the extra real estate... I really don't care what others think.... Well let me correct that I do care to anextent, no one likes to stink up the joint, but I am my worst critic so I follow the KISS principle until I am comfortable. I never wanted to be that guy with the fancy gear that did not know how to use it
    drdog and gebass6 like this.
  13. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    Also.The erroneous assumption many have about a seven string is that you have to play all the strings all the time.
    Or that you must be a top notch virtuoso.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
  14. Razman


    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    Saw your thread whilst poking around TB for 7 string info. What bass might this be, and what others has it surpassed?

    I'm hoping my next bass acquisition will be a 7 string of some kind; there was an Ibanez local to me that I need to check to see if it is still available - and I've missed out on a couple of good buys on two Bill Dicken's GT-7's. More will come I'm sure. However, tone is very important - and I was curious, hence my post. PM if you would prefer.


    gebass6 likes this.
  15. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    i'm guessing only musicians will even notice you're playing a 7 string bass. i once played an acoustic show using a composite acoustics cargo, which is an all carbon fiber guitar with a swoopy shape in a small size. afterward a budding player came up and asked me the same thing i often got asked after shows no matter what guitar i played - "is that a martin?" it looked like this


    which is about as far from a martin as you can get *shakes head*

    believe me, they'll probably just think it's a guitar if they think about it at all.
    gebass6 likes this.
  16. Maybe from snobby musicians. I really don't think the average concert goer cares and that's who really matters when it comes down to it. If anything they might think it's cool. I had a 7 for a while. This pic is when I had it stung f#-C IMG_0120.JPG I ended up selling it because mine was too heavy For me to be able to move around and rock out like I like to. Which is a big part of my band. But when I had it I never for a second worried about what anyone thought. I've played everything onstage from a peavey fury p clone to a $6k Warwick. IMG_0118.JPG And everything from 4 strings to 6 strings. These days my main player is an ltd f-415fm. It's only $970 new with a case. Dramatically cheaper than than the warwicks ive used but actually better IMO for the dirtier tones I use these days with my b7k, duality fuzz,and sans amp RBI. IMG_1650.JPG Really my wife was kind of upset when I sold my 7 and replaced it with the silver stingray. She liked hearing me play the more melodic stuff I'd play on the 7 at home. The guys in my band thought it was cool and liked some of the stuff I wrote on the 7. But the guys in my band are also into non traditional gear. both the wife and my band gave me crap about my silver sparkle stingray. Wife said it looked gay and the band complained it looked too Fenderish (not Fender fans obviously) my biggest issue with the stingray was i wanted to go somewhere different tone wise IMG_0167.JPG I'm also kind of burned out on fender and fender style basses myself. I like neck through basses with at least 24 frets. I know the average player doesn't play up there but not everyone is in an 80s cover band lol. And really I can't think of a single song where I actually play the 24th fret but 24 fret basses tend to have much better access up high regardless of how many frets there are.

    I also have to mention a serious pro to 6 and 7 string basses with two truss rods. It's awesome how stable the necks are. If I could get the f-415fm in a 6 string with two truss rods I'd be all over it.
  17. 12BitSlab

    12BitSlab Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2016
    Liberty Township
    99.999% of non-musicians have no idea how many strings are on a bass. They will probably think that you are a guitar player if they have any opinion at all.
    lfmn16 and gebass6 like this.
  18. Razman


    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    This. And, since I'm tall, my sixer looks like a guitar on me.
  19. silvertone


    Nov 6, 2007
    SF, CA
    I recently watched a Youtube interview of Oteil Burbridge (who plays 6 string basses).
    I watched a few of them recently so I can't site or provide a link to the exact vid, but the essence of the best part of the interview was that Oteil avered that a bass player should let go of the notion of trying to emulate a musical hero when playing bass because when you try and play a line or passage the way you think Jaco, or Stanley or John Entwhistle might play it what you are obscuring is the essence you yourself bring to the music: your "you-ness." And that shouldn't be hidden.

    So play that 7 string bass and let your unique musician ship ring out loud and proud.
    It's not self-indulgent if the tool being used to make music supports the song and / or singer and is used to bring the greatest possible expression to the stage.
    drdog likes this.
  20. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I'm more surprised somebody approached you to make that lame ass comment. More than likely they were a wanna bee Musicman. Do your thing man and if it's a seven ...play it proud.
    drdog and gebass6 like this.