Custom Built 6 String Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Stevobassfreak, Dec 18, 2020.

  1. Stevobassfreak


    Jun 14, 2020
    Hi Guys,
    Really appreciate some advice! My band is lucky enough to have received an endorsement from the amazing Siggie Braun who will be building each of us a custom instrument. I will be getting a custom 6 string bass with the neck and head in the style of a Dingwall with a lot of amazing bells and whistles:

    Question: I am struggling with the neck thickness. I loved the idea of John Myungs custom bass that he has 6 strings on a 5 string neck. However on the Dingwall combustion I also feel comfortable. Do you guys know the specifications and any advice for me??

    Thanks so much :) every bassists dream to get a custom instrument!
  2. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    AFAIK Siggi Braun is rather known for building Guitars - and might not have too many multiscale basses sitting around in his shop. Because normally, I'd suggest that you just try at least one bass he's built and use that as a reference when talking about specs. Multiscale basses usually come with separated bridges, so there is a lot of wiggle room for the string spacing.

    The problem, however, is that there is no such thing as 'the best neck profile'. It's all down to the size of your hands and your personal preference. When you reduce the width of the neck, the strings are closer together.
    For some (like me) that's a horror scenario while for others, that's great.

    People in the Internet will not be able to tell you what you prefer.
    I suggest talking to the man himself.
    He knows best what he's capable of and what works in his builds.
    JRA, BazzaBass, JES and 4 others like this.
  3. Stevobassfreak


    Jun 14, 2020
    Thanks a lot for your reply! Really appreciate it. I have had a couple of meetings with Siggie (he is a top guy) and we have discussed for hours. He calls my bass an alien bass as this is an experiment for him too building a bass like this :) :) I don’t have the biggest hands and they struggle with the stretch sometimes, hence my reason for asking what the actual specifications are of the two basses I mentioned? In reading the specifications I can’t pick out what the neck width is- that’s the main issue.

  4. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Reviewer: Bass Player Magazine
    You’re talking about a couple different measurements here. The neck thickness is going to be how thick it is from the back to the front of the neck which is usually determined by the neck shape. The width is going to be determined by the string spacing at the bridge and the nut with. The John Myung Bongo has a 1 3/4” nut width which is about as small is you’ll find on a 6-string. The Dingwall is 2.2” I believe, which isn’t a giant difference but it’s enough where you would notice it. The Dingwall is 18mm at the bridge I think and the Bongo 15mm, which is tiny.

    You should try to get your hands on both and see which options feel best for you. You may want to try spacings in between the two, such as a 2” nut and 17mm bridge.
    son_of_mogh, JRA and smperry like this.
  5. Stevobassfreak


    Jun 14, 2020
    Thanks so much- this is majorly helpful! Tbh I’ve not got my hands on the jmx bass yet- so it would be a risk to get it built with that spec! Could you possibly send me where you found the specs for the combustion 6? I have looked everywhere and can’t find it. That is a comfortable fit.
    thanks again!
  6. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Reviewer: Bass Player Magazine

    Actually I wouldn’t go with what the builder suggests on this as far as spacing goes. The chances of him being an experienced 6-string bass player are small, and the chances of that also coinciding with having the same preferences as you are even smaller. Rob Elrick, one of the best builders in the world and an experienced 6-string player (his company only produced 6-string basses for a time if that tells you anything) prefers a 35” scale and 19mm spacing, and that’s what comes standard on his basses. He also has a Steve Lawson model that has a 33” scale with a 2” nut, and 17mm spacing at the bridge. I (and obviously Steve) greatly prefer this set of specs, but it’s going to be different for everyone.

    These kind of specs can make the difference between playing a 6 feel absolutely natural or feel like you’re fighting the instrument, so these are things you should be sure of ahead of time. Try as many 6s as you can to figure out what feels best.
  7. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Reviewer: Bass Player Magazine
    Dingwall Combustion 6-String Electric Bass w/ Gig Bag-DW_C
  8. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    Dingwall necks have quite a stretch with 37" to 33,25"
    I see the advantages behind this, but I also see two disadvantages:
    -A 37" B string is hard to play for people with smaller hands, especially on a 6 string neck.
    -Your choice of strings is quite limited.

    I've had a custom build with a more moderate 36" to 34" stretch, which felt like a good compromise. The E and B strings were less floppy and the string tension more even than on a straight instrument, but the fingers needed less stretch. That meant (for me) the neck could be wider with more string spacing - which I prefer.

    What bass are you playing at the moment?
  9. Stevobassfreak


    Jun 14, 2020
    This is a helpful insight thanks! At the moment I am playing mainly a 5 string (Spector Legend 5). It’s an incredibly comfortable bass to play. My main 4 stringer is the Fender Jazz Aerodyne. I do prefer lighter basses with thinner necks
  10. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013

    Solid advice - but there are two sides to building a great bass. One is the technical side and the other is ergonomics. In terms of ergonomics, the user should provide wishes and preferences. The builder should accommodate these as much as possible - but sometimes your wishes and reality don't work as a team.
    So when you want a 4 string with 8mm string spacing and a 30" scale that weighs below 5lbs there might be someone building it, but it will most likely come with several problems - the strings will bang together when plucked hard, the neck will be riddled with dead spots and there will be not much sustain, among other things.

    A good builder knows what works for his builds and when to expect problems. Sometimes it might not affect you. You push factor A, but doing so will decrease factor B. Your personal taste and style do not care at all for factor B, so it is no problem.
    Then you push factor C, but doing so decreases factor D - but you care for both C and D. That's where you need to find the balance. And that's where the difference between a Luthier and a great Lutihier lies. One will be able to tell you exactly how that will turn out while the other might not be as specific.
  11. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    I can only stress that point.

    Try 6 string basses - and try to figure out what works for you - but also what does not. Sometimes stating what you dislike is as helpful as stating what you like.

    And - super important thing -
    There often is a difference between what you think you want and what you actually want. Make sure that does not happen !
  12. Drzejzi


    Aug 6, 2014
    I have a 6 string Jazz Bass with 19mm spacing and the neck is enormous. It feels familiar for the right hand, so I don't have problems with slapping, but it's uncomfortable for the left hand. 19mm is definitely too wide for a 6 string bass and I would not recommend it.
  13. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    Not many fanned fret basses on the market, especially with 6 strings.
    I'm used to wider spaced 6's, comfortable on 35" scale standards but the Dingwall was a bit too extreme for me in scale.
    Took a risk and got an Ibanez EHB1506ms without playing it first, but it has turned out to be quite comfortable- not as extreme a fan. Minimal radius as well, that should be something for you to consider, also.
    If you can get your hands on one of those or the 5 string version (more common), it would be worth it for reference value.
  14. TheLowDown33

    TheLowDown33 Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2009
    Western MA
    I had a Dingwall combustion 6 for a while and it felt massive, bordering on unwieldy for my anatomy. I'm 5' 10" and about 180 lbs. Playing the B and E string below fret 5 was tougher than I would have liked. My personal recommendation as someone who is super picky with instrument ergonomics is to try as many string spacings, figuring out what is the lower limit and sort of work back from there. The tightest I can comfortably go is 17.5 mm on a 6 string. Then figure out the nut width. 2" is typical, but again, I'd go as narrow as you feel comfortable. From there, fretboard radius, neck profile and scale lengths can be figured out. I'd suggest going with a 36" or 35.5" scale length on the bottom, and maybe a 34" or 33.5" on top.

    Also part of the consideration should be the location of the parallel fret. This greatly influenced the playability of a multiscale instrument. Putting it in different places creates certain "zones" that are more comfortable to play in than others. For example, putting it at fret 5 will make the lower frets easier to play, but the upper frets will be tough. The inverse is true as well, where placing it too high will make the lower frets more difficult. 7th fret seems to be somewhat standard, but this is contingent on the severity of the fan.
  15. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    I would play as many 6 strings as you can, see what specs you like, and pass those on to the builder.

    For me, 6 string has to have a perfect neck to be a good fit.
  16. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile, ਵਿਦਿਆਰਥੀ Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    If you don't like what you get, feel free to send it my way :thumbsup::cool::smug:
    nbsipics likes this.
  17. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    I like a shallower thickness kind of like a dingwall ng-2 or an old Tobias. You don’t want to have to perform a reach around on a 6 but no clue on spacing.
  18. The Dingwall six strings are 18mm at the bridge. 37”-34” scale length. There is a detailed specs page on their website to allow you to compare models side by side.

    There’s a lot going on with the Dingwall neck, it is a compound radius, flattening as you go up the neck. I found my six string Afterburner to be very comfortable. The neck was slim front to back, but very stable and one truss rod did a fine job.

    I think the weight played a huge part in that. The alder body, maple cap and maple neck with wenge board weighed in well under 9 lb. closer to 8.5 if I recall. I can’t stress how much weight matters with a bass you’ll probably wear fairly high on your chest.

    Because the bridge reaches to the extreme edge of the body, the reach to the nut was manageable. Since then, Dingwall has added the recessed strap lock on the rear of the body to let you move the bass even further to your right.

    Good luck with the build!
  19. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    As string count goes up, my hands feel comfortable with narrower spacing. I didn't keep my Tune around because it was just a monster, and even with my giant hands, it just wasn't comfortable on long gigs with my heavy RH technique.
  20. eastcoasteddie

    eastcoasteddie Guest

    Mar 24, 2006
    This can’t be stressed enough.
    You play a 4 and a 5. Close enough...but 6 is a different beast altogether.
    I’ve been playing 4’s since 1993 and 5’s since 1997, I can easily switch back and forth without more than a minute to adjust.
    I have tried 6’s, even owned about 3 of them...and cannot, for the life of me, get comfortable with one. I have stricken 6’s from my mind altogether.

    you might want to make sure you can hang with a 6 before you get a custom made...
    el murdoque likes this.