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Disadvantages of 6 vs 5?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Kazz3lrath, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. Kazz3lrath


    Jan 5, 2012
    What are the disadvantages of a 6 string versus a 5 string? I realize that the weight is gonna be greater.
  2. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Eastern North Dakota
    Not necessarily. As with all things it depends on the bass. I had a Roscoe 6 that was very light. I picked up an LTD that must have weighed like 12 pounds.

    I guess the "disadvantages" would be a wider neck and more strings to mute. The rest is all personal taste/preference.
  3. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I play fiver because it's just right for me. Six stringers either have a wider neck or narrower string spacing, and neither is comfortable to me -- and I've played a bunch, including boutiques.

    Yes... emphasis on the "for me". There are many bassists who are comfortable on sixers.

    Another factor for me is that I've never heard a high C string that I've liked: too plinky and guitar-like. Again, I'm including the highest-end basses out there: MTD, Fodera, Brubaker, Pedulla, Elrick, Alembic.

    I don't believe I'd have trouble muting the extra string, but it's an issue for some.
  4. Disadvantages: Potentially more weight. Wider fingerboard (you get used to it & forget after awhile). Strings are more expensive & slightly harder to come by.

    That's really it.
  5. Bassdirty

    Bassdirty Supporting Member

    Jul 23, 2010
    You have that...pesky high string in the way.


    maybe thats just me.. im a fiver guy...always have always will.
    To me nothin else feels right..and ive tried.
  6. Doodaddy


    Jan 11, 2005
    West Monroe, LA
    You also have to think in terms of accessories if you're into modding your basses. There won't be quite as many options out there for a 6 string and they're often more expensive.
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    There are no hard and fast disadvantages. Basses vary. If you want to play a six that's the advantage. Find one that fits what you're trying to accomplish. And don't expect to immediately be comfortable on it. If you really want to play one and spend the time they're actually pretty easy to work with.

    Most folks never seem to figure that out.
  8. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Even wider neck then a fiver and more expensive for strings.
  9. jeff7bass


    Apr 9, 2009
    A 5 has only one string too many. ;)
  10. if someone starts on a 6 string right from the beginning then there is no disadvantage. only when you pick up a 6 after being used to a 5 or 4 does it seem awkward. in other words: a wider neck, more strings, a tiny bit more weight...it's nothing you can't get used to with a little time. i used to think that i couldn't handle a 5 until i found one that was relatively comfortable and cool looking, then it was just a matter of getting the hang of it. a 6 string would be much the same i guess.
  11. None. If anything the wide neck forced me to learn to free my hand from locking into any one position (loosened my grip) plus we all know that the E string sounds better on a five, well guess what, the G sounds better on a six than on a 4 or 5 (not a coincidence). I rarely use the C for crank'n on, but it make for some really nice chording. My 6 has a nice 4 string wide style spacing which is nice for me. Did I mention that a six looks bad ass. This is all just a matter of my opinion! Thought I'd add 2 cents for sixes;-) ImageUploadedByTalkBass1362904007.410165.jpg ImageUploadedByTalkBass1362904130.083478.jpg
    My baby. She was a '94 Ibanez 506 'till she landed next to me in a ditch after I flipped my van a few times;-) nothing like a band saw, a sander, and some Bartolini's.
  12. hsech

    hsech Work hard. My Social Security needs a raise.

    Jun 27, 2012
    Central Iowa
    I like my Carvin Icon 6 string, but I don't know as I will ever get completely used to it. I'm playing in two bands and my 6 string isn't really appropriate for either band. One band does Texas blues and the other band does Southern Rock and Classic Rock. A 4 string just works better with those genre's. I played in a jazz trio last year and a 6 string is great for jazz due to the added range.
  13. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    If you do a lot of slap there are more strings to mute. Not really a concern for me. The biggest advantage I've found is being able to stay in one position for walking lines while singing so I don't have to peek at the neck. It's not so much about the wider range for me.
  14. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I've been playing a six string bass for almost ten years now. I love it, but if you have small hands you may not be as comfortable as I am on it. Yes, there is another string to mute, but I dig having the extra notes, flexibility, harmonics, chording options, etc etc..

    Also, if you're pounding out 8th notes in a rock band you may not want to be onstage with another high string you will never use. I bring my PJ 4 string to the simple gigs, hehe.
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Funny thing about hand size... some folks with normal or even large hands can struggle on a six while many with small hands fly on them. Hand size really isn't a limitation so much as technique, which can be learned.

    Fretting hand thumb placement is key.
  16. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    I agree with the other guys about the physical differences. Wider neck, possibly narrower string spacing, different tone and that's going to be about all.

    I would also add that the pedagogical history of the 6 string is even newer within the electric bass itself. It more or less was popularized by Anthony Jackson and he's still alive and performing. So the 6 as a popular instrument is basically only a few decades old.

    This makes finding good instruction or information about playing a 6 much harder to find. It also leads to a lot of advice on it from players who don't know anything about the 6 or have never even played one. I've heard even instructors not familiar with the 6+ on here give advice that just made my hair stand on end....

    So you can be kind of on your own when it comes to 6-string-specific methods, etc. There's even more folklore and even downright bad information out there about the "ERB" (Extended Range Bass) than there is about the electric bass in general.

    I just throw that out in case you intend to pursue the 6 string "academically" as Jeff Berlin would say. The body of "academic" knowledge available for the 6-string specific stuff is a teeny fraction of the already teeny body of knowledge available for the electric in general, so it could be very difficult to study formally.
    Most of the pedagogical tradition of the 4 still applies to the 6, but the 6-string specific part is still utterly in its infancy.

    I've had to teach myself all the 6-string specific bits that I do know, like muting technique, fingering patterns, instrument fit, etc. I've gone the even more nutcase route of the unlined FL 6 string, which really paints me into a corner "academically". So I'd say be prepared to have to do that if you switch to it as a serious player.

    PS: I will say it's getting better. Roy Vogt for example is brilliant both in the academic and artistic sense with the 6 string and I bet you could study it with him and learn everything you need (He posts here on TB a lot also). Then we have Steve Bailey, Todd Johnson and others who are making headway with the ERB.
  17. For me, the trade-off of neck width and string spacing. Also, much more difficult to mute unused strings. Finally, many find the C string on many 6 string instruments unbalanced and 'thin' sounding.

    This is in the context of me being a 5 string player. Of course, each of the above points are often made by 4 string players describing the disadvantages of 5 strings (replacing the high C issue with the low B). So, pure IMO and totally relative.

    However, something to consider I think!
  18. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    Not to jump in again, but Jung makes a great point here about the C string.

    This is one of those "academic" elements of the 6 that's not available on the 4 and not on the 5 as traditionally strung B to G.

    So there are consequences to this in terms of what one has to, or at least should, learn on the 6 string (all the new fingering patterns available, etc).

    There are also "artistic" consequences, such as the different tones available when you shift a pattern to use the C (eg. the sharper, more nasally tone, etc).

    But academically alone, there's a crap ton more stuff to learn with that higher string available....

    Forgive the Jeff Berlin terminology, I've lately almost completely changed my mind about JB and his approach to the instrument, I'm now an avid follower. I think he's 100% right in how he distinguishes the facts of music from the art of music (I misunderstood what he was saying before, but that's another thread...)

  19. georgestrings

    georgestrings Inactive

    Nov 5, 2005
    Totally disagree with that - but to each their own...

    - georgestrings
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    So far the disadvantages listed have largely been personal. Bear that in mind.

    There are instruments with balanced C strings. Wider, narrower and anything in between spacing. The same fundamental muting techniques still apply. Weights vary. It's tuned in the same symmetry as the lower strings.

    It can definitely be harder if you think it is.

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