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8 String Technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Razor, Oct 13, 2005.


  1. Razor

    Razor

    Sep 22, 2002
    Dallas
    Ok, for all you guys and gals out there who have played or play an 8 string bass (octaves) I have a question.

    All of the interviews I have read, and pictures I have seen of an 8 string bass being played have no mention of fingerstyle playing. Everything I've seen is about playing with a pick when wrestling an 8.

    I can totally see how this would be the "way to go" when playing strings doubled that close together...my question is:

    Does anybody here play an 8 fingerstyle? What are your thoughts on it?

    I'd really love to get an 8 but I really don't care much for using a pick.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. I've been wondering this fro a while too, I'd be intereested to know if you can finger an 8 strings
     
  3. Mudfuzz

    Mudfuzz

    Apr 3, 2004
    WA...
    Fretting hand= aim for the ocvtive string with the tip, this = no buzzing.
    Pluckerring hand = dig in with the tip of your fingers a bit.
     
  4. hieronymous

    hieronymous

    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    Unfortunately I can't really give you a good answer, but I'll relate some of my experience. I've got two 8-strings: a Tune and a Rickenbacker 4003S/8. It's kind of hard to explain but the Tune has the octave string on the bass side, the Rick is opposite. So if you do a downstroke with a pick, on the Tune you hit the octave string first, on the Rick you hit the thick string first. I think the way the Tune is set up is the "standard" for the most part. Here's a silly pic:
    [​IMG]

    Here's one issue: when playing the Tune with fingers, I found that when my finger came to rest on the thick string, often the octave string would ring out. Inadequate left-hand-muting on my part perhaps, but I found it really annoying so I only play it with a pick. I think playing with fingers is do-able - I've played my Rick like that on occasion, but not much.

    One player who does play an 8-string with fingers, in fact I think he even slaps on it, is Narucho of the Japanese fusion band Casiopea. So it is possible. I hope you get some more answers! Definitely try and play one, though I know that's difficult since they're pretty rare...
     
  5. I don't own an 8 string, but I have played them before. I've never tried it with a pick; I've only used fingers. It worked well. It was a little different because I had to make sure to get both strings rather than jsut one, but it wasn't a big adjustment. I can't see a problem with fingerstyle on an 8 string.
     
  6. Razor

    Razor

    Sep 22, 2002
    Dallas
    Thanks everybody....looks like I gotta go out and find one to try. But it really does help to see some positive light on the subject...at least theres hope!!!
     
  7. The period that I owned one is when I also kept my finger nails kind of long on my plucking hand (read that Geddy Lee did it) so I was able to catch both strings with the nails.
     
  8. KPJ

    KPJ

    Oct 2, 2001
    Methuen, MA USA
    I primarily play my 8 string fingerstyle. If I'm looking for a more agressive sound, I will use a pick. I have developed my technique where I can play only the fundamentals when playing fingerstyle by muting the octve with my left hand and striking the fundamental with my right hand fingers. Works well when you don't want the full power of the 8 on certain passages, or if the rest of the band starts the next song before you can switch basses! :eek:
     
  9. tonedeaf

    tonedeaf Supporting Member

    I don't own an 8-string, but I have played one. I didn't differ my technique from 4-string at all. The strings are close enough together that it was no problem for me to fret both of them. In my opinion, the 8-string I played (Schecter Elite, I think) was much more suited to melodic/riffy lines than rhythmic/funky ones.
     
  10. Mudfuzz

    Mudfuzz

    Apr 3, 2004
    WA...
    I think it's more of a getting use to it thing, it takes a bit of concentration getting use to the spacing. Funk? Yes you CAN play rhythmic/funky on a 8 without any really problems, but you might have to adjust a bit at first.
    And... anytime you see anything on the history of Funkadelic they always show a piece of footage of Billy the bass Nelson playing a Hagstrom 8 string.
    You can also mute the fundamentals and play guitar parts for intros and brakes; this is really cool if your guitarist switches from guitar to keys or you don't have a guitarist at all.

    One reason I like 8 string is because you can mimic a organ playing finger style with a little muting.



    One other thing I do is: I don't buy 8 string sets, I buy piccolo stings for the octaves and use flats for the fundamentals, this gives me to my ear a little more separation with in the courses and a bigger sound. Also I'm tuning it BEAD right now as well.
     
  11. tonedeaf

    tonedeaf Supporting Member

    Aaron, I wasn't referring to playability, I was talking about the sound of the instrument. Just like 12-string guitar sounds cool in some cases but doesn't fit in every song or style, I felt the same way about the 8-string bass that I played. Playability was no different to me, I just didn't think the sound was well suited for all styles. YMMV, of course, and different 8-string basses probably sound different.
     
  12. I've found that you can also alter just your plucking angle to play just the low string, just the high string, or any balance between the two, which is cool.
     
  13. KPJ

    KPJ

    Oct 2, 2001
    Methuen, MA USA
    I do play the octaves by themselves also, just not as often!
     
  14. OK, the 8 string (octave) bass is really cool, etc., but just how useful is it really?
     
  15. hieronymous

    hieronymous

    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    It depends on what your goals are. If you want to fulfill the traditional bassist's role, then it certainly isn't necessary, and may very well not be useful either. If, on the other hand, you want to extend the boundaries of the bass, then it can be really cool.

    Today, I was thinking of players that have used the 8-string, and this is what I came up with: Chris Squire, Greg Lake, John Paul Jones (check out Zooma!), Mark Egan, Monty Colvin (Galactic Cowboys). John Paul Jones is the one I'm most impressed with at the moment. You could probably throw in Tom Petersson and Doug Pinnick, though they play 12-string (root & doubled octaves).

    I've probably repeated stuff said earlier in the thread, but I'm too lazy to go back and read it...
     
  16. JAUQO III-X

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    CHICAGO,IL.
    Endorsing artist:see profile.

  17. Thanks. I have the opportunity to pick up a mint condition (the store says it is still new, but it was made in 2001, so I'm not so sure) Rickenbacker 4003S/8 and now that I've sorted out a string supply, I think I'll take the plunge.
     
  18. Razor

    Razor

    Sep 22, 2002
    Dallas
    Lots of folks around who wish they could wrap their hands around one of these.........
     
  19. hieronymous

    hieronymous

    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    Congratulations! Let us know how you like it!
     
  20. jady

    jady

    Jul 21, 2006
    Modesto, CA
    The way I have had it explained to me (I have never played one myself) is if you use a pick have the bass string up so it is the first string stuck on a downstoke. if you play fingerstyle, have the bass string on the bottom so it is hit first on the pluck upwards. In the early 90's I looked into one like Doug Pinnick uses (King's X) and the manufacturer had 2 options, 1 for pickstyle and 1 for fingerstyle. The only difference was how the nut was cut.