Explain the Fender Bass VI

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jason42, Apr 25, 2019.

  1. onestring


    Aug 25, 2009
    Richmond, CA
    I have the recent 30" scale Gretsch that they have shipped as both an E to E Bass VI style bass and a B-B baritone guitar (aside from the nut and the strings it's the same instrument).

    I've flipped it back and forth between the two, and as much as I like the idea of a Bass VI, like most here it just doesn't do it for me in reality. The sweet spot for me is an A-A tuning, because I can do familiar bass-y stuff one the A-D-G strings, and also get chords without muddiness all over the neck. It's still a novelty for the most part though.
  2. lizardking837


    Jan 28, 2009
    I just ordered one and I can't be more excited. I plan on using it as a hybrid-baritone and songwriting tool. I've been really drawn to music featuring baritones and listening to soundtracks from spaghetti westerns recently. I see the Bass VI as a great way for me to bridge the gap between guitar and bass (and force myself to actually develop an understanding of chord shapes and theory), experiment with a baritone guitar register and get a different sound out of my gear.
  3. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    It's more of a bass for guitar players than for bassists, however it does get some great low tones and should not be underestimated for its versatility
  4. G-Dog

    G-Dog What a fun place! Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2016
    It can also be a bass for guitarists who don't normally play bass, such as John Lennon and George Harrison. Good enough for The Beatles!
    Tony In Philly, Flad, vroc38 and 9 others like this.
  5. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Top Of the Pops is not where I usually go to for live videos :laugh: because it's a recorded version of a song that it was used on in the studio.

    Honestly what he was using on A Forest did escape me, but I read that the studio version of that was also done using one.

    Either way neither of those examples are meant to replace the bass with, as I took the OP to be inquiring about.

    I appreciate the factual correction
    Mike.C. and matante like this.
  6. bearfoot

    bearfoot Inactive

    Jan 27, 2005
    Chittenango, NY
    As in vocal designation, I think the Fender Bass VI , is best classified as a Bass-Baritone.

    "A bass-baritone is a high-lying bass or low-lying "classical" baritone voice type which shares certain qualities with the true baritone voice.
  7. hypercarrots


    Jan 28, 2009
    skipping straight to the bassVI solo!

  8. Ba
    Beatles used them too.
    Simon Fretless and Winoman like this.
  9. Jonithen


    Dec 3, 2012
    Seacoast NH
    It's a six stringed instrument intended to be tuned an octave lower than standard guitars, after that do whatever the heck you want with it.

    I love the things. Play it like a bass. Play it like a guitar. Whatever. Plug it in, hit some strings and make noises. Don't get caught up on what it's supposed to be. If it talks to you roll with it, if not keep on doing your own thing.
  10. J Gold

    J Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    It’s the main riff on Back In The Saddle too.
  11. Dabndug

    Dabndug Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2017
    Somewhere in Oz
    I use mine for what I would loosely describe as an "indie alt-folk-rock" trio (acoustic/vocals, keys/vocals and me), covering bass parts and "lead" guitar. If you're used to guitar string spacing, they're a cinch to play. You can get great bass sounds if you work at your eq and your technique - a lighter attack is required than on a regular bass, as the low "E" provided in most string sets is a bit floppy. The extended range allows me to play melodic lead parts, riffs, chords, or whatever comes into my addled brain at the time (with the aid of stomp boxes and a bit of judicious whammy), but 85% of what I play would be considered standard bass lines.

    A pick is pretty much a necessity unless you can drastically alter your finger style to a more "flamenco" or "Knopfleresque" approach, but we shouldn't be afraid to learn.

    Mine is not at all heavy - about the same as a J. It's extraordinarily versatile, unless you want to play slap, in which case the string spacing and ergonomics are going to derail you. If you want to expand your horizons, and still be able to hold down the bottom end, they're great, and the Squier models provide a well-priced entry point. Fender VI.jpg
  12. As Dabndug said I think you’d have to be pretty handy with a pick in order to get anywhere with it.
    lizardking837 likes this.
  13. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    Ah, never realized this was a full octave below the guitar. Okay maybe it's a bass after all! Thanks for the education.
    Simon Fretless likes this.
  14. Jonithen


    Dec 3, 2012
    Seacoast NH
    Should be required viewing / hearing.

  15. waynobass


    Feb 27, 2008
    As a Cure fan, I had one once (Burns model), but it's much more a guitar than a bass IMO. I didn't like it at all.
  16. mexicanyella


    Feb 16, 2015
    Troy, MO
    I’ve never tried one but I like the “Wichita Lineman” licks and that red/white one sure is a pretty instrument!
  17. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I disclose nothing
    It was the 1960s
    Justinian and Jason42 like this.
  18. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Although it sounds good on paper, I didn’t care for Fender’s Bass VI sound despite me wanting to like it. A piccolo bass sounded better to my ears in that range.

    However, there’s now this new instrument (Mayones Cali Mini Basd) that looks very promising. Seems to get that octave up from bass sound much better than the B-VI. Soon to spawn several imitators if I’m guessing correctly.

  19. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    Los Angeles
    I think the Bass VI is a bit pointless if used for single notes. He may have used it on seventeen seconds and faith but it's not obvious. Where it's more obvious is on Disintegration because he's playing chords. It gives a sound you can't get with a normal guitar or bass. "Pictures of You" is probably the best example.
    catcauphonic likes this.
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