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8 String vs 12 String

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by FRST, Jan 27, 2004.

  1. FRST


    Jan 27, 2004
    based in Athens, GA
    Just joined the forums, and was looking for opinions from bass owners on 8 string basses versus 12 string basses. I'm looking to get a superthick sound with heavy distortion. Clarity is a necesity, but is a 12 string overkill? (we sometimes like to detune to double 'a' (Aadg)
    any thoughts?
  2. FRST


    Jan 27, 2004
    based in Athens, GA
    Great. I lean twords 8 String because when I play, I use alot of chords and don't want to get too muddy. But, I play in a 3-piece, so I could use the thickness.
    The other 2 guys in the band are scared of me getting a 12 or 8 string, but screw that, I think I should just go for it.
    (reason for question...the area I live in only has a few music stores and won't carry an 8 string, only 12. so I can't compare the two basses directly)

  3. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Not technique related. I'll move you to the Basses forum.
  4. I tried both 8's and 12ers, and found for a thick chorusy sound the 12-er was the way to go.

    I found the 8 strings to be essentially playing a 4. Not too much different, and tone wise its was like playing a 4 thru a chorus box.
    The 12-er however was a new experience. You really have to try out a few 12ers to see which one will work for you. Deans, Galveston, Musicvox and Hamer are fairly common, and all have different thickness and width necks. Also the spacing between pairing is quite different. They all have very different tones.
    If you want that Kings X sound expect to send your high end thru a distortion/chorus box and a guitar amp while your lows go thru your bass... Classic X & cheap trick tone.
    I ended up w/ the Musicvox, as it has dual outputs and i route the neck thru my bass amp and the bridge p'up thru a guitar amp w/ effects. However i can only play the bass for 2 or 3 songs at a time (the neck it at least 2.5" wide and thick, and fretting take a fair amount of grip strength.
    Lastly, the classic tones come from pick playing w/ downstrokes.
    Sorry about being long winded
  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I agree with everything Frank said.

    The only reason that I wouldn't recommend the 12 is the fact that you play a lot of chords. They tend to sound pretty nasty on a 12, with all of the natural chorusing that is involved. Say you are playing a doublestop, root+10. Due to the way physics work, the three strings playing the root are all going to be slightly out of tune with each other. That's where the unique sound of the 12 comes from. Add that tenth, with it's two octave strings, slightly out of tune, and you wind up with a mess. I will dare an occasional root+5 doublestop, but nothing else. A full on three or four note chord would make a beginner playing violin sound good.
  6. one thing to think about is if you do use a 12-er; is to tuned the paired strings to something else. Like 5ths or 5th & 7th 5th& octave, etc. My G string triplet is setup to sound the fundemental then 5th & octave, so i get a power chord out of each note. So depending on what type of chord you use and how frequently you use them you can tune accordingly
  7. CopperheadLXXIX


    Aug 9, 2003
    Jax, FL
    I originally had a 12 string, but later switched to an 8 as I found the 12ver just a bit too cumbersome for my small paws. The "shimmer" or chorus effect is definetly more pronounced on most 12vers; though I disagree that an 8 string sounds simply like a 4 running through a chorus pedal.
    A few advantages you might find to playing an 8 as opposed to a 12 is that an 8 string is generally speaking a bit easier to play because of the nut being more narrow compared to a 12 and would probably make an easier transition for someone moving up from a 4 or 5. If you slap at all, you would also probably find an 8 more to your liking-I've never heard of anyone slapping on a 12ver, though I'm sure it can and has been done. I actually never even liked slapping until I started doing it on my 8. And there is also the already mentioned chordal playing.
    I think the best and maybe most obvious thing to do would be to try out several 12 and 8 string basses and then decide which would best fit into your own style of playing and your band situation. (Edit: I just now noticed that you mention your local area stores don't carry 8 string basses, so you can't compare the two directly. Sorry! :meh: )
    Dean makes both 12 and 8 string bass models that look and sound great for their price range.
  8. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA
    I think it would be fun to get a 12 String-Lightwave Bass and use it on those slow, beautiful type songs. Stuff like Havona, etc.
  9. FRST


    Jan 27, 2004
    based in Athens, GA
    That's awesome, thanks for all the great ideas. As of this moment, I like the 8 String idea better to fit my style. I gotta get one in my hands in Atlanta (I hate cities, but visiting them is ok).

    Thanks again!


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