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"Extending" the 6 String

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Bassist4Life, Nov 13, 2005.


  1. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Mike / Steve,

    Hey guys! I have been experimenting a lot recently with altered tunings and multitrack bass recording (wish I had a looper). This exploration has taken place on a 4 string.

    I am going to purchase a Spector Legend 6 very soon. I really want to explore the range of a 6 string bass (and the Spector is in my price range). I will be able to play those low notes without tuning my E way down. I will have more chord voicing and range in the upper register. It's very exciting; however, I would like some advice before I lay down the money for the Spector.

    I would like to start using a capo.
    1.Will I be able to find a capo that will work with a 6 string neck?

    2.Can you use a capo over just a few strings at a time while leaving the lower strings alone? Perhaps I could capo some lower strings while leaving the upper strings alone. I am also concerned about the contour of the capo against the back of the neck. Will this work?

    I would like to explore the possibilities of piccolo strings. I've never used them before, but I'd like to start expanding my altered tuning options.
    3. Are there any piccolo strings made for 6 string basses(B,E,A,D,G,C)?

    4. If there aren't complete piccolo string sets, could I blend normal strings with piccolo strings? Perhaps I could keep the B and E string while replacing the A, D, G, and C with piccolo strings... Has anyone done this?

    5. There is probably more tension on a 6 string neck than there is on a 4 string. Am I going to destroy the neck on the new Spector if I do the things I have suggested? I'd love to have a Zon, but my budget won't even let me get near that thought right now. Maybe when I'm old and retired. :meh:

    I might consider using a HipShot extender on the G and C string and possibly the Low B.
    6. Would a HipShot Extender work well on a Low B and/or a High C string? I am concerned about the string tension on the High C if I tune it up. I have tuned my regular G string up to a B-flat, so I'm not too worried about that string.

    I know that I've posted a lot of questions here, but I'm really looking to open up some creative possibilities. Any advice/answers/input is greatly appreciated. If anything, maybe we can give each other ideas for trying new things.

    Thanks,
    Joe
     
  2. it sounds like you are looking to go higher...have you ever considered tuning your bass EADGCF?
     
  3. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    You're right. I absolutely want to go higher; however, I want to go lower too. I love the low register. I actually tuned my E string down 1 octave! It sounded really cool. I was doing a multitrack recording and I was just trying different things out. The E was really floppy but it kept its pitch. I had to lean forward a little bit so it didn't flop against the fingerboard. I also had to pluck lightly near the bridge. It was a cool sound, but not right for what I was doing at that moment.

    So, I want to go in both directions. I can't see myself with more than 6 strings at this point. I am so used to 4 strings so it's going to take some getting used to.

    Thanks,
    Joe
     
  4. WillBuckingham

    WillBuckingham

    Mar 30, 2005
    John Patitucci plays a piccolo 6-string. He uses it on the tune "Sachi's Eyes", track on "One More Angel". Its a beutiful piece, I don't know where else he has used it or anything about it except that the liner notes say its a "prototype" and that he lists D'Addario Strings under the "thank yous."

    I'd be thrilled if you kept me updated if you wind up with a piccolo tuning on your 6-string.

    Best,

    Will
     
  5. you could also tune your bass EADGCF, and also have a hipshot detuner on the E, which i do believe can go down to C, that way, you'd have a bass that can go from low C to high F, which is similar to what you said in your first post!
     
  6. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Will,

    Thanks for this info! I haven't listened to Patitucci in a long time. I will check this out very soon.

    Joe
     
  7. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    I think that this is a great idea. What is the setup on your bass?

    Joe
     
  8. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Good suggestions so far (definitely have a listen to Saachi's Eyes - a beautiful piece from the album that is by far John's finest hour thus far. One More Angel is an incredible record)

    EADGCF does sound like a good way to go, especially if you add a hipshot - the hipshot should be able to take you down to Low B quite happily - this is what Matt Garrison does - 5 string tuned E-C with the E dropping to B. It's a great idea.

    For Capos, check out the G7 - I'm using it on my bass a fair bit at the moment, experimenting with some new tunings as well (it's finally got me, Michael!), so we'll see if any of it makes it onto my next record. The G7 is a fantastic capo for 6 string bass, and facilitates partial capo-ing as well. http://www.g7th.com/index.htm

    and lastly, it's not going to do any damage to your bass - if you started taking normal strings and trying to tune them up too far, that could cause problems, but switching to lighter strings isn't going to be an issue.

    cheers!

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
    www.recyclecollective.com
     
  9. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    You could start lowest string on D and use a hipshot to c or b and there won't be much difference in tension. Have you considered tuning in 5ths like a cello for example, you open a whole new world when you start changing tunings
     
  10. of course, there is always the alternative of getting an octave pedal or a whammy...
     
  11. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    indeed - while it certainly doesn't sound the same as a high-tuned or low-tuned string, pitch shifting technology is a great to access more frequencies in either direction. I use octave-up pitch shifting a lot, and I prefer the sound of that to what I've heard on almost all the 7/8/9 string basses I've heard. It all depends on what you're looking for! :)

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
    www.recyclecollective.com
     
  12. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Steve,

    Thanks for the info on the G7 Capo. I checked out the website. It's approximately $45. They said that in early 2006 a capo will be released with a longer arm made for 12-string guitars. I wonder if GC has these in stock...

    EADGCF does sound like a good way to go; however, I am concerned with a floppy string. Anything is worth a try. After all; if I don't like it, I can always change the strings.

    I would like to HipShot the upper string if possible. I like to use harmonics to creat a "sound canvas". It would be nice to alter the upper strings in the middle of a piece.

    TaySte_2000, I tried cello tuning recently. It worked out well when I did a recording of Prelude No.1 in C Major (Bach). It worked out really well for the left hand part in the score.

    WillBuckingham, Thanks for the listening suggestion. I heard a sound sample online. I dig it. :)

    superbassman2000, The octave pedal is a cool suggestion. It's a groovy sound, but not as "honest" sounding as I would like.

    I am really happy that I started this thread. You guys are offering up some great things.
     
  13. isn't a legend a 35" scale? with your lowest string being an E, you shouldn't have any real trouble with floppiness, even going down a fifth to B, you shouldn't have any trouble, as a 35" scale bass is 35 inch to combat low B floppiness i thought...with the hipshot, you might have some floppiness going down even further, but as Guru Manring said is his Bassics interview (paraphrased) "go with the flow ;)" and like you said, if you don't like it, you can always change it!
     
  14. jeff schmidt

    jeff schmidt no longer red carded, but my butt is still sore.

    Aug 27, 2004
    Novato, CA
    Great topic guys!

    I've used a capo since the late 80's when I picked up this nasty steel thing at a garage sale. I used it on beater basses only - it's kinda rough.

    I used a standard off the rack 12 string guitar capo for my arrangement of Little Sunflower at the Bass Extremes competition. It works fine on the MTD up to the 5th fret where the neck is just too wide. On a bass with closer string spacing (like my Carvin LB75) I can use this capo up to the 7th fret.

    I've also played around with this "sliding capo" but because of the curvature I don't find it works very well on my basses.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Yes, the Legend is a 35" scale bass. This does make me feel a bit better about using a HipShot on the E. However, the fact that I can change it whenever I want makes me feel even better. :)

    Joe
     
  16. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Jeff,

    Thanks for the capo info. I wasn't really sure what kind of capo to look for. This helps me out.

    Do you ever partially capo your strings?

    Joe
     
  17. jeff schmidt

    jeff schmidt no longer red carded, but my butt is still sore.

    Aug 27, 2004
    Novato, CA
    Yeah. But I haven't composed anything using the capo that way.

    But, now that you bring it up- that does open up the idea of using a partial capo on the high strings - or the low strings. Something I hadn't really thought about before.
    :)
     
  18. I use a EADGCF tuning on my Status Graphite fretless 6 with great sonic results.

    It all starts out with your choice of bass, recognizing how that particular piece of gear will react to different tunings, tensions, capo usage, effects, etc.

    Regarding your bass purchasing decisions, I would strongly urge you to KEEP LOOKING and find the right piece of gear for the SOUND that you want regardless of how long it takes to save. Patience will pay off here, trust me.

    Since you are posting here, you are obviously familiar with the sounds of Mike and Steve, both of whom use Zon and Modulus gear respectively. They play great high-end basses with incredibly responsive composite fingerboards and stable necks, which ultimately afford them the opportunity to create unique compositions using different tunings that place different tensions on the neck.

    A couple of other things to consider are scale length, pickup choices, number of knobs (kidding!!!) etc, each of which affect your end result sound. If you do buy an off the shelf bass, chances are, you will need to take the bass into a shop and get a new nut cut for your higher E-F tuning.

    There are many advantages to finding the right piece of gear for your hands in order to obtain the sound that is in your MELON. The used gear market is phenomenal these days with TONS of high-end pieces being sold for sometimes $2,000 less than what the original owner paid for.

     
  19. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Good points Jay, though the above isn't quite right - both of my 6s have wooden fingerboards. :)

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
    www.recyclecollective.com
     
  20. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    I'm happy that I could spark a new idea for you. TB is a great place to pick up new things.

    Joe