8-String or 12-String

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by benevan, Jun 6, 2002.

  1. benevan


    May 2, 2002
    I've been thinking about getting either an 8- or 12-string bass for sometime now. What would you guys recommend? What are the pros and cons between the two?

    I should probably just compare them myself (and I'm sure I will before I buy) but there are no stores around here that regularly stock them. I'm thinking of going with a Dean as they look to be good starters and the price is right.
  2. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    I've got a Dean Rhapsody 8. It's a good starter and the price is right.

    I don't know 'between the two...', as I haven't met a 12 stringer yet, but I am enjoying the 8 a lot.

    Any specific questions?
  3. benevan


    May 2, 2002
    Yeah, I saw that guy on eBay. Those prices look good. I may have to bite. I hate to not try them first, though it wouldn't be the first time.

    How do most players play an 8- or 12-string - finger style or pick? I prefer finger style but it seems that would be difficult with multiple strings, especially on a 12-string.
  4. Dave C

    Dave C

    May 20, 2002
    Boston, MA
    I have a Hamer 12, and I use a pick. I tried fingerstyle at first because I prefer that, but it's tough with a 12 because of the string spacing. I don't know about an 8 though...I bet you could get away with fingerstyle, (though I'm sure it would take some getting used to). Anyway, I say go for the 12 if you can...I love mine, such a huge sound. Too bad you can't try it out first. But even if you do try one, don't get put off to easily...it's not easy to play at first, but once you get it down it's worth it!
  5. Winston TK

    Winston TK Hairpiece Adventurer

    Oct 8, 2001
    Burnaby, BC Canada
    I was faced with the same dilemma a year and half ago. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go the 8- or 12-string route. Right up until the time I placed the order, I still was undecided. Finally, I decided on the 8-string. My reasoning was that the 12-string, although a fantastic instrument in its own right, is very much a specialty bass. Unless your band had the classic 12-string bass "sound" (a la Cheap Trick, or Kings X), you would probably only be strapping it on for a couple of songs. The 8-string, on the other hand, seemed to me to be a bit more versatile and would fit into a wider variety of musical styles. Try to seriously consider how and when you would be playing this instrument.

    I purchased mine online from Bass Northwest, so I was taking a bit of a gamble. Like everyone else here, I noticed that the Deans were extremely rare finds in any store. I still can't figure this out. I never had a chance to try one first. Luckily, the transaction was smooth, and the bass itself was extremely playable and well set up right out of the box.

    I play a Dean Rhapsody 8-string. This is an excellent instrument. (As I have stated in many a post here in TalkBass.) It can be played fingerstyle quite easily because of its somewhat wider string spacing between octave pairs (compared to the Hamers). Lately, however, I've been brushing up on my picking technique. Played with a pick, the bass really comes alive. And, don't forget, when using a pick, depending on your technique, you can get many distinctly different sounds, from just the bass strings to just the octave strings to both.

    I would tend to shy away from the idea of getting a 12-string then removing octave strings if you don't like the sound. Instruments like that are really designed to be at a certain tension. I would think that removing strings would be a bad idea. But that's just my opinion.

    Keep us posted on your decision!
  6. RS


    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    Go with the Dean 8. Great woods,construction, and pups. The Eq is even usable. Easy to play and stays in tune well. I use both a pick and fingerstyle, both sound good. Fingerstyle gives it a little meatier sound.
    12 is too much, I feel. Even the 8 string is not an all purpose bass.
    You can find them on ebay cheap.
  7. benevan


    May 2, 2002
    Thanks for all of the great feedback!

    Where do you get the octave strings for either design? Are there special strings that you have to buy? Do you buy a set of guitar strings and dump the B and high E's? I wouldn't think guitar strings are long enough.

    I hate to keep asking such tedious questions - I just want to cover all of my bases before I dive in.
  8. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    You have to put together a set of strings out of singles. Dean Markley and a couple of other manufacturers make singles long enough for the octaves.

    I play a Hamer CH-12. I only use it on 1 original song, but it is seeing a lot of action on the 70's hard rock stuff that my oldies band does.

    I play all of my other basses fingerstyle, but to get the powerful tone of the 12, you have to use a pick
  9. Winston TK

    Winston TK Hairpiece Adventurer

    Oct 8, 2001
    Burnaby, BC Canada
    Actually, a few manufacturers make string sets specifically for the 8-string bass.

    A little while ago, I picked up a pack of D'Addario XL8's. They're nickel wound, regular gauge strings with a .100 E -- Cool! According to various sources, I've read that the factory strings on the Dean Rhapsody have a .95 low E-string. I'm a big fan of lighter gauge strings, so either of these sets should be good. (I still have yet to restring this thing!)

    Keep and eye open. Special sets for this kind of bass are definitely available, either at your local store or online.

    It is advisable NOT to use regular guitar strings. As you suggest, these are most likely not long enough for the scale length of basses such as the Dean (34").

    Good luck, and don't be afraid to keep those questions coming.