Advice on wide 6 string fretboards

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by echo008, Jun 12, 2004.

  1. echo008

    echo008 Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2004
    Long Island, NY
    I just bought a Roscoe SKB-3006 and its all I thought it would be!
    But I have a problem and I was hoping to get some advice.
    After playing for an hour or so I begin to feel discomfort in both my wrists, Now the Neck on mine is wide and I do not have large hands (not small either). Ive owned 6's before Ibanez and Modulus and have never had this become an issue. (I know they have smaller string spacing, and maybe thats why)

    Anyway, what Im asking in hopes of not having to send this beauty back, is that:
    Does it maybe take a few days for my hands to get used to the width of the fretboard from being away from a 6 for so long?
    Again looking at the angle of my wrists, they are not at too harsh an angle at all so I can only think its the width of the board it self and the stretching my hands are doing!
    - Tom

    Roscoe SKB-3006
    Quilt Maple under amberburst
    Ash Body
    Splated Purpleheart fretboard
    Bart 3 Band EQ
  2. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    hell yeah it does! My fingers @ 1 to 4 hours a day of playing my new 6 (about a month) and the ache has just about left. Muscles learn the size of the neck, to change the size drasticly makes them need to be conditioned to the change.

    Sounds Killer! I played a 5 string on Memorial day that other then a bad neck repair was a killer bass! I'd love to try out fretless 6.
  3. echo008

    echo008 Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2004
    Long Island, NY
    Ahhhhh, you bring relief to my worried mind...thank you!
    I played it for like 6 hours yesterday, I did not want to put it down, today maybe I wont go for quite so long but at least I know this will come to pass!

    These are great basses, I used to own a LG3005 that was also a killer little bass. But this SKB just nails it tone wise, jazz, funk and a liitle rock.
  4. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    One thing I found is that the wider the neck is, the higher I need to wear the bass to feel comfortable on the neck. Wearing it higher lessens the angle of my left wrist even more, makes it easier to keep my thumb in the center of the neck, and lets me get easier access to the lower strings. So, you might try raising the bass up a bit just to see if it feels any better.

  5. echo008

    echo008 Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2004
    Long Island, NY
    Hi Mike,
    I've been wearing my bass, pretty much right under my chest, I like it pretty high.
    what Im finding is that in the upper registers the neck widens to about 3 inches or so (around the 15th fret)... so its hard to keep my thumb on the neck at all, not that its a problem so far but I am going to try lowering it a little bit on my strap to better access the places on the fretboard I tend to play more.
    - Tom
  6. Try sitting with your bass on the "left" knee (if your'e right handed) in the classical guitar position and see what that does for you for easier access to the higher (wider) frets.

    Also, if you're anchoring your picking hand thumb anywhere (B string/on the pickup) try using a "floating thumb" anchoring/muting technique. (Moving your thumb to the "next" string each time you play across the body from E to G and vice versa.) This technique will "turn your six" into a "four" so to speak because you'll only be dealing with three strings at a time with your picking hand. It takes about two weeks of practice for this to feel natural but you'll never go back and you'll be muted all the time! For me the string spacing isn't as much of an issue as scale length is.

    Wearing your bass high helps when standing and holding it at a bit more of an upright bass angle can help keep your wrist straight. Sometimes the total opposite helps-bass horizontal.
    It depends on the neck/bass. I have VERY small hands and prefer a short scale bass but my six is a 20mm wide neck 34" scale and with floating thumb the picking hand is no problem. I'd guess that on your Roscoe, the 35" scale is the hardest part to conquer and your left hand feels the most strain?

    Definitely warm your hands and wrists with hot water before playing and run an ice pack up and down your wrists and arms for about one minute after playing to help keep tendinitus away or at bay.
    If you're practicing for more than an hour at a time without stretches and getting circulation back into your wrists (shake 'em like you're shaking off water with your arms straight down for a count of 20) you're asking for eventual injury.

    I have rather severe flare ups of tendinitus and all of the above has really helped to keep it away. If you stay loose, float your thumb, keep your wrists straight as possible you should be ok.

    Only you will be able to decide if the longer scale will work out in the long run. If you think you'll want to play fretless also, the 35" may not work out for you later. If you intend to play only fretted Roscoes, then it doesn't matter! You probably know that a lot of Roscoes have 18mm spacing... if yours is wider and can't be changed enough, maybe you could trade for another Roscoe?

    Best of luck!
  7. echo008

    echo008 Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2004
    Long Island, NY
    I am anchoring my right hand thumb to the B string! this floating thumb technique is a great idea (subtle changes going a long way) and it is something I will try.
    The scale length I dont personally think is an issue I feel very comfortable while Im playing the neck, I was just concerned about the physical discomfort I was starting to feel. but already I can feel a difference in my hands and wrists!
    Im not exactly sure how to go about measuring the spacing but I went from string to string and it was 3/4 inch spacing which I believe is 19mm. I never thought I would feel comfy on a neck this wide but I definitely am changing my opinion about that.

    I usually wear my bass right under my chest, and and tend to feel more comfortable holding it horizontal (the neck is heavy and tends to dive a bit), I can see with this floating thumb technique though how it should become alot easier to maneuver!

    I do definitely take time out to stretch when I play, I also work at a computer all day ( I know the importance of ergonomics and taking care of my wrists) but I have never tried the "warm water" approach before.

    Thanks alot for your suggestions!!!
  8. Cool. Glad things are working out for you!
    Bass Player Mag. had a column article by Adam Nitti a year or two ago. Perhaps it's in their archives.

    Good photos of the "floating thumb" muting thang. That's where I got the idea to try it. It did take 2 to 4 weeks of "making myself" do it consistently but it's made muting so easy.

    Another thing you can try is to just lay your thumb down across the strings behind the picking fingers.. This way there is NO anchor at all. If you only pick using two or three fingers and don't thumb pluck while using fingerpicking style (not counting slapping of course) you can really fly. Classical guitarists, I believe don't anchor at all...

    Lastly, John Patitucci's Electric Bass Video (DVD) II shows his muting technique, anchoring with his ring and pinky fingers.
    I could never get it down comfortably. Didn't seem to fit me somehow but it might be perfect for you. Great six string video anyway. It seems to make you stick to standard index/middle finger picking so if you use 3 fingers it probably won't work.

    I feel that floating thumb or no anchor at all give a player the most flexibility but hey, I'm no John Patitucci either!

    Glad to be of help. The world needs more six string players!
  9. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    You want to see a W-I-D-E board? This thing looks like an aircraft carrier. And with a 36" scale it get a bit hairy for a guy with a 33" sleeve length.

    What the guys have said already is right on the money. Only thing that I can add is get a setup as low as possible if it fits in your playing style. My Fodera is setup almost rediculously low which works out just great on this bass.

    Good luck with the Roscoe. I came very close to getting an SKB3006 just before getting the Fodera. I think that the SKB3006 is the best bass that Keith builds.
  10. You may find that you have to adjust your left-hand technique somewhat if you are one of those players who likes to cradle the neck in their hand. I personally wear my bass pretty high (you can see my belt), and I try to vary the neck angle to my hand moves into different positions which helps to stop the wrist from getting completely fatigued by doing the same thing. Use open strings where possible when you get tired, try reaching over and fretting a long note with your right hand and give your left a quick stretch. Change fingering patterns.
  11. echo008

    echo008 Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2004
    Long Island, NY
    you know I have been playing without anchoring my thumb!!! and this does seem to work best for me although I do have to still think about it at this point a little bit, but I can see it becoming a natural part of my playing style very easily.
    Just as a side note I caught John P. at the guitar center in NYC not too long ago and he just ooozed style, what I really tend to appreciate is how players of his caliber make it look easy and natural.

    Very very very!!! Nice Fodera!! How long did it take you to get used to the scale length or did you have other 36 inch scale basses before? My SKB is 35 inch as Im sure you know but it definitely feels good on me and not like Im stretching my arm out too far at all, which Im surprised about. I dont think I would go 36 inch but am interested in how much of a difference it makes
    My bass is setup very low as well, and is a "dream" to play, theres no buzzing at all, only thing is that theres a bit of neck dive which I mention only in passing it isint an issue for me but might be for some.
    I dig the SKB body style alot more than the LG (I used to own a LG3005) I also like a little weight and the LG was very light, too light for me.

    Im finding when I spend awhile in first hand position I need to shake it off, and I suppose it will get easier. ( I already feel alot better than I did last week!) I think Im holding the neck maybe a little too much as well. I also need to loosen my left hand thumb to ease some tension and let the strap do most of the work, but all in all Im adjusting well I think and cant put this thing down.

    Thanks alot guys for the input it really is appreciated
    - Tom