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Are 6 stringers real useful?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by wyleeboxer, Mar 31, 2006.

  1. wyleeboxer

    wyleeboxer Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2005
    Orange County, CA
    I have a Ibanez SR496 6 string bass on the way. Im not sure why I got it, I got a good deal so maybe thats why? :) Ive got about 13 basses total, all are 4 string I always wanted to get a 5 string bass so I thought why not just get a 6 string insted! Ive played the SR506 at GC and the neck seems manageable. But now Im wondering if a 6 string bass is a bit excessive? Ive got a funk band side project Im doing and thought this might be a fun experience with using a 6'er. Anyone else use a 6 string bass for this type of style of music, are they just kind of a play one/two songs in the set or goof around at home novelty sort of thaaang?
  2. are they useful?

    I think 6 string basses are just as functional as 5'ers, because where the 5 was made to accomidate players who wanted to go lower, why not accomidate the player who wants to go higher (and lower!)

    of course, if you are a punk rock bass star, and you only ride the root note for your songs, 6 may be a bit much...then again, 4 can be overkill too in that case :)
  3. Pruitt


    Jun 30, 2005
    Danbury, CT
    Since buying my 6er early last summer, it's the only bass I play. I use it for everything I do, whether it's pop, rock, metal, jazz, country, folk, whatever. I'm involved in playing just about all styles at the moment, and while I may not use all 6 strings in every song (obviously), it's nice to know they're there when I do want to use them. ;)

    Best of luck and have fun!! :bassist:
  4. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Depends on what you're playing and whether you think the extra range helps. My main band is a straightforward Rock & Roll / Blues band with a little Country mixed in for good measure. In that situation I only play my 4 strings. In my church contemporary choir I like to play chords and play notes lower than the "E" so a 6 string works great.
  5. wyleeboxer

    wyleeboxer Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2005
    Orange County, CA
    I think my biggest concern is the wide neck size causing fatigue and being to cumbersome for heavy riff stuff for example EW&F’s "sing a song". Of course I wont really know until Im personally jamming with the band for 3 hours. Thanks guys, I just wanted to get some feedback and opinions as I wont get the bass until next Friday.
  6. Yes -
    My 4 stringer now stays in the closet, since it's worth more than my other 3 basses put together (and my other 3's are all sixers).

    It's incredible for jazz and world music (such as the Celtic Rock project I'm in now).

    As for rock, if you have a lead guitar player, and the rhythm guitarist decides to start a fight with a bar patron, you can play the rhythm part on the higher 3 strings while using the lower 3 for root bass work (especially useful if the song is in E) :D
  7. ...

    You make the use of the bass, not the other way around.
  8. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    I find mine useful, I guess. They are all that I use.
  9. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    I think that if you play in a band with two accompanying instruments (2 guitars, or 1 guitar and 1 keys/piano) is really hard to squeeze in any chordal work with the bass - you are just stepping in other people's territory. . .

    Unless you solo a lot, I don-t see how a 6 string would be useful - and if you do solo, but just in a fraction of a gig, why bother having the extra string if you are only going to use it in a couple of bars?

    Now, for playing at home, composing, recording, studying, etc., a can see how a 6 can be a useful tool.

    I personally don't like the sound of a high C or B string in a bass - I always hear the "chipmunk effect."

    But also, like some cats mentioned, some people only play 6-stringer and they are used to them and wouldn't have it any other way, so. . .
  10. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I am happy with the 5's I've been using since 1999. I would use a lot more tapping with a 6.
  11. wyleeboxer

    wyleeboxer Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2005
    Orange County, CA
    Its sounding more and more like the high C is only good for chords and tapping, which is cool, I would like to have that option. But Im really wondering if the 6'ers in general are to much of a beast to play 3 1hour long sets a night with (I realize that 6'ers are all some of you TB'ers play) but do you still find them a lot more to handle over a 4 or 5 string? Thanks for all the feedback!
  12. They're not fatiguing as long as they're light enough and you have a nice padded strap. Conversely, you can have 4 stringers that sound fabulous with tons of sustain and weigh 11 pounds. The only thing that weighed 11 pounds and sat on my shoulder did so for 25 minutes as we walked to the car after a day at the amusement park.
  13. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    I have no problems playing my 6ers for 4 full sets. And I use my C string for more than chords and tapping, in fact, I find myself using it quite a bit.

    I don't find mine the least bit more difficult to play than the 5 strings I played before. But all of my sixers have very comfortable necks, so that helps out in that department.
  14. From a different point of view they're fatiguing for the way you have your wrist crimped more to reach the lower notes. You have to have a tighter angle to fret the lower registers of the E and B strings with the added width of the neck.
    For those who worry about hand issues; more crimp = more fatigue.
    IMO it's not bad. Depends on how much time you spend down there of if you change your technique to be more on second position of lower strings. Also if you practice floating your left hand rather than using ur thumb for support it helps with the crimping too.
  15. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    I want a 6-string . . .
  16. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    In short, yes they are very useful. You get added economy of movement with the upper string, more chordal possibilities and IMO they are on average better sounding and easier to play than 5-ers once you can negotiate the extra string. This theory of mine is a bit contraversial among my bassist friends but in short, your ratio of added neck bass per added string tension is higher with a 6-er than a 5-er. Here is my thinking:

    With a fiver you get some added mass and alot of extra tension (a low b) so there is a low extra mass to extra tension ration. With 6-ers you get more addes mass but not too much more tension than if you just added a B-string (because the C tension is lower than the B) so you get a higher added mass to added tensin ratio. Thus I find on average that 6-ers are more stable and responsive. Add to that most 6-er have double truss rods wheres 5-er do not. I think this is the key to why so many people cannot find a 5-er they like. And BTW, I've tested this theory with 7bangers at all price ranges and it holds true for me at least.

    On that note, if you are looking for a 6-er, try to stick to one with wider strng spacing (at least 17mm) as this will give you more incremental neck mass and stiffness all else equal.

    Just my 2 cents.
  17. ibz


    Apr 14, 2005
    Columbus, OH
    Interesting theory, I haven't switched between 5's and 6's to have a clear opinion on it.

  18. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    It would seem that way but it's actually the other way. Here's one example but you can look at all their strings.


    In this set the G string has about 30% more tension than the B and the high C has way more than the low B.

    C 40.6
    G 41.9
    D 47.3
    A 40.5
    E 34.4
    B 31.7
  19. wyleeboxer

    wyleeboxer Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2005
    Orange County, CA
    Damn this is getting good! Exactely the kind of in-depth info Im looking for with a touch of controversy :)
  20. BillytheBassist


    Aug 18, 2005
    As the previous poster pointed out, the C string has quite a bit more tension than the B string. I use 4, 5, and 6 strings to do different things. Really it's whatever feels best for the music, if your composing music on a bass, 9 times out of 10 a 6er is much more useful than a 4 banger or a 5 string. The only real issue I personly have had to overcome is learning muting techniques to accomidate the 6.

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