Adjusting to 6 string trouble- string spacing?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Rando100, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. I know there are similar threads out there, but I couldn't find one that specifically dealt with my problem- Last year while shopping for, and planning to buy a Fender (or Fenderish) 5 string Jazz Bass, I bought a 6-string Ibanez multiscale (fan fret) SRMS806. It was a bit of an impulse (Sweetwater GearFest, a great deal on a demo). I decided to focus on adjusting to the issues of-

    1) Multi scale- this took about 30 minutes! A very easy adjustment that feels pretty natural.

    2) Two extra strings-about 2 months to feel really good about fretting the right string, and knowing where to find the notes easily.

    3) String Spacing, finding the strings with my right hand- Over a year, and still not there! This one has got me. I don't play the wrong string, I just barely miss plucking the one I mean to play. Some days I seem to do better than others, but I can never play as smoothly or as quickly with my right hand as I can on my four string basses.

    I have pretty much ignored my fretted and fretless four stringers until a recent gig with the six string didn't go so well and I dusted the fours off. The Ibanez has a narrow spacing, and I thing this is the main problem for me. I like having the extended range on both ends, and the look and sound of the Ibanez, but it's just not working out. I tried out a Fender Elite Jazz V last week that felt great.

    Anyone else had issues adjusting to spacing?

  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Trouble adjusting is pretty common, but a year does seem pretty long. That's about how long I've had my Ibanez sixer too, though the first few months were rough.

    The only thing that helped me was playing on the narrow spacing - a lot. I assume you have this covered by the sounds of it.

    Maybe the spacing just isn't for you (I like it better than the 19mm I used to play). There are sixers with 19mm out there, though I don't know about multiscales. The Yamaha John Pattituci signature has 19mm spacing I think - and, man that's what you call an aircraft carrier.
    Rando100 likes this.
  3. Thanks, Nashrakh I appreciate the reply. I may keep the Ibanez, and use it mostly for recording, songwriting, etc, and use one of my P basses for live work. I may even try to spend more time on it, but I would figure a year should do it. Maybe a 19mm spacing 5 string is in my future.
  4. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    When I first started to play a 6 in around 2002 I pretty much made a decision. This is what I play now. I gave up the 5 completely. Granted I slowly weened myself off the 5 but I made my decision and stuck with it.

    Rev J
    Rando100 likes this.
  5. Spacing is an important consideration for multi string instruments. Many guys at even the pro level don't want to play a spacing they don't like, and I dunno if it's something you can get over. But now you know what you DON'T like, lol...
    Rando100 likes this.
  6. ixlramp

    ixlramp Guest

    Jan 25, 2005
    You can get used to anything, there's no reason why you can't, it's best to not play your 4s until you adjust, since you obviously like the Ibanez so much.
    Since you're having trouble, playing the 4s will just make the situation worse, seems best to never play them, maybe sell them and get a fretless 6.
    Wide spacing 6ers are very rare so giving up will prevent you playing what you want to play.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
    Rando100 likes this.
  7. I can’t help you. I picked up my first six string, and gigged with it that night.

    I will say that I pluck with an anchored, not a floating thumb, so it was just a matter of learning the gap between thumb and string.

    Also, each string has a different circumference, tension, and range of motion. I can feel if I’m on the wrong string.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
    craig0316 likes this.
  8. Thanks to all for your replies! I'm going to play only the six string for a while and see what happens. I just got a really good set up on it, and it's got the best action I've ever had on a bass, so even more reason to make this work.
  9. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    I play a MTD Z6 which has wide string spacing and I don't have any problem hitting the right string, my biggest problem is muting strings. I don't seem to have the problem on the wide spaced 5er.
  10. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I think small spaced 6 strings are much rarer than wide spaced. I prefer small spaced ones and have an Ibanez GVB with 14mm string spacing. I think it's the only non custom 6 string bass with that spacing. Most other Ibanez basses have 17mm I think (or 16.5 I am not sure).

    I don't like 6 strings with 19mm. Makes them too bulky and wide. 19mm are not so rare.
  11. gebass6

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

    I have two sixers.
    Fretted and fretless. 20190106_123751.jpg

    The fretted one is .625 (15.875 mm)
    The fretless is .750 (19.050 mm)

    Not much difference in spacing between the two IMO.
    I don't notice any adjustment issues.
  12. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    I have the same issue with Ibanez SR 6 string basses. I wanted that exact model you have. But I can't cope with that narrow spacing. Instead, I got a BTB with that nice wide and thin neck.
  13. Well, I kept trying to adjust, and it got better, but I played a Fender Elite five-string Jazz a couple times in a local music store, and was sold. It just fits better, and feels right. The six-string at least did show me that I really like having the low-B. I have it and a four string P bass for sale now though. Thanks again for all the input!