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Cheap 6 string sounds great???? Whaa?? Position question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by vindibona1, Mar 25, 2020 at 6:23 PM.


  1. vindibona1

    vindibona1

    Apr 18, 2015
    Probably more than a year ago I picked up an Ibanez Gio 6 string. The deal was $100, including a Gator soft case. I'll spare you with the details other than the body was a bit beat and I had a spare cheap Chinese preamp that I had on hand. I retouched the body and swapped out the preamp. But for whatever reason I never really played it.

    But today, with time on my hands, inspired by and other thread in the technique section I pulled it out. It still has the strings on it that it had before I bought it. It so happens that I have a Fishman Platinum Pro preamp (lists around $300)that I have for my acoustic gigs and it has a built-in tuner and a switch for bass, so I plugged the Gio in, tuned it, then unmuted.

    I played with the dials a bit and then thought; I've never set this bass up. How low can I get the action to go? With allen wrench in hand I was able to lower the bridge 1.5 full turns (not sure how that corresponds with measurements and was too lazy to check). Ok.. Plays MUCH easier. I don't know why I didn't recognize that I could lower the action. But ok. So I mess with the dials on the bass and preamp. Sounds pretty good.

    As I'm playing, my S.O. walks in and says "wow, that's a deep sound". She is used to hearing my bass practice every day on my other basses,and has a pretty good ear for a non-musician- and can describe what she hears in pretty accurate layman's terms. I listened more closely and had to agree. It had this certain depth. I don't own a P Bass, but would think that might be very close to that sound. My J's and other basses don't have that.

    So I continue playing and with the lowered action am having an easier time getting around on it; not as bothered with the extra C string as I had been before. I guess with time on my hands I can afford to spend some time to get more used to it. I've been wanting to try it on a gig but just didn't feel comfortable with feel or sound. Now? Different, I think.

    But here's a question for you 6 players: I see a lot of guys playing 6's strapped up really high on their bodies. I know that I like to play my 5's a bit higher than my 4 string. How do you choose the best height for your 6 string? Higher or lower than your 4's or 5's?

    Sorry for the long post. But with home confinement, not a lot else to do except write and practice;). Photo of my 6er below...

    Gio_6_1412.jpg Gio_206B_before-after_SM.jpg
     
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Nice job matching the original stain, BTW. Always nice when you can turn what you thought was pretty crappy into something good. I don't play a 6, but I think a lot of 6 players like to jack them up high because they tend to be more from the jazz school, where wearing it up high makes getting under the neck on the higher frets easier and is probably more overall ergonomic to them. But no law says that's the only way to play one.
     
  3. vindibona1

    vindibona1

    Apr 18, 2015
    Thanks. My dad owned a furniture store so I learned a lot about furniture retouching when I worked for him. Being a commercial photographer didn't hurt in terms of retouching either.

    The 6 string has been uncomfortable because the extended width at the C string would hit my hand in a way that I didn't like and the flat-backed neck limited how my hand has to fall on the neck. But I think lowering the action solved 50% of that. I think the other part of that is how high or low I have to position the bass.

    BTW... I always knew it was a little on the lighter side, but 8.3 pounds and balanced... for a 6er??? Whaa?? This is a freakin' Ibanez Gio, for gosh sakes.
     
    JimmyM likes this.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That is VERY crazy for a 6!
     
  5. Gnal

    Gnal Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2014
    I recently picked up a 6 string again. Currently I am playing it at the same strap length as my 4's and 5's. I did question myself at first and tried several lengths moving between what was "normal" for me and up to maybe four inches higher. Normal for me is as close to matching my sitting height without the strap lifting it off my leg (in either the typical playing position or classical position).

    What I found,was that the the higher the bass sits the harder (more uncomfortable) it was to reach the 1st position C on the B string, but the lower it was the more difficult it is to shape chords with a voicing that is fairly spread out.

    In the end, it is a compromise and I stuck with what was most comfortable/familiar to me as I've been using the same strap length for several years on Low B and High C tuned 5's.
     
    vindibona1 likes this.
  6. A9X

    A9X

    Dec 27, 2003
    Australia
    My first 6 was the bottom of the line SR256B (I think it has a different model number in different markets) and it's a great little bass for the money. The only thing I don't like about it is the finish. After I got the SR706, I had planned to sell it, but for the couple of hundred I'll get for it, I think a set of flats will make it a useful alternate. Here's a stock photo as its 330am here.
    6042521.jpg
    •GSR6 Maple neck
    •Mahogany body
    •Treated New Zealand Pine fretboard w/White dot inlay
    •Medium frets
    •Std. neck pickup
    •Std. bridge pickup
    •EQB-IIID 3-band EQ
    •B16 bridge (16.5mm string spacing)
    •Black hardware
     
  7. vindibona1

    vindibona1

    Apr 18, 2015
    I had to do a double-take as I thought you were posting a picture of MY bass that I might have taken some time ago!! Now, the 206B only came with a 2 band EQ but I put a 3 band in. And when I did I wasn't quite sure where to put the extra pot, but without knowing I did what Ibanez was doing with the 256B.

    The finish on the bass is very similar to the SR505,which tends to scrape down to bare wood with just a light fingernail. But it made it easy to retouch so you can barely see where it was damaged. The photo below was taken moments ago, 12:50pm CDST (GMT-5, I think). As I look closer at your pic, I think the finish is a little more refined than on mine, which tends to show more grain texture.

    [​IMG] Ibanez_Gio_206B_SM.jpg
     
  8. Nashrakh

    Nashrakh

    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    I like to wear my 6 higher than my 4 for two reasons:
    The neck is so wide that, if I wore it lower, I would have a really bad wrist angle going on on my fretting hand. Secondly, the extra note choices make me play higher up the neck and that doesn't work for me when slinging low; playing in the money zone feels off with such a wide neck too. Can't pistol grip it that easily either.

    I, for one, don't need the access to the super high notes. 15th fret max.
     
  9. gebass6

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

    I wear mine high enough to play above the twelfth,but angled up enough to play the first fret.
    Snapshot_20180621_12.JPG
     
    jfh2112 and jchrisk1 like this.
  10. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    My main bass is a sixer, plus I have a few beloved fours. I don't play five much but I do own one. I strap them all at the same height; basically so they feel the same whether sitting or standing.
     
  11. A9X

    A9X

    Dec 27, 2003
    Australia
    Do you mind telling us what you actually used to retouch it with? I have 3 Ibbys with that sort of finish and it would be handy to know what product to use.

    I wear all my basses so the neck is as vertical as possible to get the best wrist angle, but the middle of the body would be near or just below my belt buckle. Best of all is my XL2 which I play almost vertically.
     
  12. jfh2112

    jfh2112

    Jun 18, 2013
    Brookhaven, MS
    I am constantly adjusting the strap height on my 6er. I can't seem to find the compromise between getting my left hand to get up under the neck past the 12th fret, and having the right arm extended enough so that it doesn't impact my playing notes. I'm fat around the middle - I'm built like a pear with toothpicks stuck in it :D - and I think that's actually making it more difficult to find that sweet spot.

    I've considered moving the back strap pin up higher, or even on the front of the bass, but I can't bring myself to drill a hole in it. If it were a $200-$300 bass, I'd have already done it, but this is My Baby(tm), you know?
     
  13. Tekkers

    Tekkers

    Dec 16, 2018
    GMT
    My Ibanez 506 is pretty high on the strap. I play a lot of partial chords and do a good bit of tapping, so I like to have the neck as horizontal as possible. Also the width of the neck means you really need it to be high so you can get your whole hand around it to access the lower strings.

    It was my first extended-range bass and when I got it, it’s slowly crept up higher and higher on the strap until it got to a point that I didn’t need to adjust it again, so I’d say just go for some trial and error until you find the position that you can reach all the notes you want with the most comfort.

    EDIT: I’ve always found Ibby sixers to have great ergonomics. Yours looks cool, so if you think you’re going to be using it a lot more, I guess welcome to the club.
     
  14. vindibona1

    vindibona1

    Apr 18, 2015
    Have you considered putting a pad on the backside of the bass, probably at the top, to tilt it more vertical? It will be a bit futher away from your body, but not appreciably so much. But it will rotate the neck away, bringing the lower strings closer to your fingers without stretching. Try rolling up a dish towel and placing it in various positions to see if something like that helps.

    For this I used retouching markers designed for furniture and wood products. I just added a bit of Johnson's paste wax in the area as an experiment and I think made the sheen a bit more uniform, matching the rest of the body. Not perfect, but 90%.

    There are also wood filler crayons for deeper jobs, but tougher to use and match color. When I got my Squier VM Jazz4 (for $150) it had a deep gouge on the bottom of the lower bout(see photos). I filled it with a filler crayon, sanded the area and put an acrylic (clear nail polish) over it. Not so good cosmetically, but its on the bottom where nobody looks anyway, and is good enough from a distance.

    Gio_206B_before-after_SM.jpg Wood_retouch_colors.jpg Jazz4_booboo1.jpg Jazz4_booboo2.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020 at 1:50 PM
    jfh2112 likes this.
  15. jfh2112

    jfh2112

    Jun 18, 2013
    Brookhaven, MS
    I'll try that out. Thanks for the tip!
     
  16. Crystalman85

    Crystalman85

    Nov 30, 2008
    Chicago, Il.
    That's a nice looking 6-string bass. I've tried out the ibanez gsr basses before and I think they sounded pretty cool. they have a killer sound for the price. and speaking of 6-string basses, I have been looking at a dean edge 1 6-string bass. it's got a nice vintage mahogany finish and best of all, it's passive. I'm thinking about getting one out of curiosity.
     
  17. You got to hand it to Ibanez. The breadth of their bass product lines is far bigger than anyone else I can think of.

    And I'd be interested to see just how many 6-string players started with an inexpensive Ibanez six, seems like every pawn shop or used department in music stores have one for not much money. I can't think of just how I'd be any good with one, but I see them for cheap often enough, I always think ' . . . . ya know, one of these days . . . '
     
  18. vindibona1

    vindibona1

    Apr 18, 2015
    I'm probably repeating myself. If so, chalk it up to old age...

    Being on home confinement, with my show canceled that was supposed to start tomorrow, I am free to explore. Having found that I really like the sound of my Gio6 I've been trying to play it more. I want to share why I think I haven't played it more...

    IT WASN'T SET UP FOR ME!!
    I have no explanation or excuse. I've set up many guitars and a few basses and am not afraid or lacking the know-how. For whatever reason I thought it was ok. The string height measurements were within generally accepted specs, so I never thought to play with it. But with time on my hands I wanted to see how much I could lower the action.

    With allen wrench in hand, I unscrewed the set screws by 2 full turns. I got a *small* bit of "choking" in the sound of most of the strings, but no real buzzing. I tightened each of the set screws by 1/2 turn until I got the strings sounding good again. When I finished I was surprised at how much differently this bass felt. Not only that, my hands seemed to know where to go better than before. And my thumb wasn't feeling the same discomfort on the flatter neck.

    Since lowering the action it's gone from being something I've avoided to a fun little :) instrument. I feel that were I to have to do a gig today I wouldn't hesistate to use this bass. The action really only changed 1 or 2 64ths, but the difference in familiarity, comfort and playability changed significantly.

    In actuality, I really don't have a need for a 6 string at this point. But the sound? Plugged into my Fishman Platium Pro EQ box (with OLD strings) it seems as close to a P sound that I'm able to get without a P bass.

    BTW... If anyone is contemplating an external preamp, I just want to say how happy I've been with this Fishman Platinum Pro EQ/DI, particularly because it seems to have been designed for both guitar and bass and has a lot of features that aren't available on most internal or external preamps. FWIW, I had 5 external preamps here (plus my active basses) here to compare. For me the Fishman Pro checks all the boxes. JMO
     

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