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Fender Bass VI players with LaBella 26-95s, can you strum it?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Treadstone71, Apr 16, 2015.

  1. Hi everyone, odd question for you Bass VI players, I recently got my hands on a pawn shop bass vi, and I'm surprised by how much I'm digging it. Somewhere along the way it has become my go-to bass for idle strumming and fleshing out songs.

    Shortly after I bought it, I got it set up at the store with the d'Addario 24-86 set, and I'm encountering the floppy low-E thing, but I've been adjusting my pick/pluck strength so it's not as bad, but I've been seriously considering the heavier LaBella set for more low end.

    My question to you guys with the LaBellas though, is can you still strum it (comfortably) like a guitar? Sorry if this is a dumb question but it's a whole new realm for me. I will probably get the rounds if I did, but I think this would be crazy hot with flats as well.

    The reason why I ask is because I think this would be awesome for one hard rocker song we play based on a very basic E-A riff, and I think it would sound great with both the guitarist and me strumming it, instead of me in the corner, eating a meatball sub while playing two open strings.

    Thanks in advance everyone. BTW I'm completely aware I could strum chords on a four-string P if I wanted to, but please stay on topic. :)
  2. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Banned

    Yes, they're strummable, but generally chords that low are very muddy. YMMV, but it takes just the right EQ and pickup selection to get low low chords to be clear without a lot of mud.
    Treadstone71 likes this.
  3. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Specific intervals start sounding muddy the lower you go in frequency. It's something to do with the difficulty of the inner ear membrane to transmit single frequencies that are too close to one another (and said too-closeness being register dependent) and the brain attaching a feeling of roughness to the received signal.
    In other words it's not a question of tone but fundamentals - it's the same on piano and even on a synth playing sine waves. (The preceding and following applies to basses of whatever scale length, type and number of strings - piccolo tuning doesn't count of course - not specifically bass VI objects.) EQ can de-mud an overly narrow interval if you pretty much remove the fundamentals. My solution is being aware of where to stop playing those intervals. My lower limit for major third double stops is the one between the lowest G and B on the guitar; the lowest fourth is that between open E and A on a guitar (and it's already too rough for my taste); the lowest fifth is (bass) low A with E; from there on down it's just sixths, sevenths, but usually octaves or wider for me.
    IMO this is what sets apart the bass VI from baritone tunings: with the latter you can do just about everything you would on a guitar because it's still mostly on this side of the mud threshold; with the former you need to leave at least one unfretted, muted (usually A) string in many cases.

    But yeah, you can strum it all right, I do it in many songs. I use flats (currently mixing/experimenting) but not La Bellas; however I maintain my suggestions above are valid regardless of type, make and model of strings - whether or not the La Bellas sound OK when strummed in not potentially muddy voicings, as e.g. high up the neck, I cannot say. (I'm willing to bet they do, better than OK in fact.)
    Are they going to feel too taut for strumming? Hm, again no direct experience But I've tried various gauges and I've never found myself especially hindered when I felt like strumming the snot out of the thing.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
    Treadstone71 likes this.
  4. Thank you both, that was a lot of useful information. I'm going to play the d'Addarios until they're spent and then switch to the LaBellas. Well, unless they drive me nuts, in which case I'll switch sooner and let you know how it goes. :)
  5. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Banned

    Honestly, the Daddario set has such a light, floppy E string I'd bite the bullet and order some La Bella's for it right away.

    I actually got strings for my VI before the bass itself actually arrived in the mail.
  6. Y'know, I'm actually fighting the urge, only because these D'Addarios are brand new (and I just paid $20 for them).
  7. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Banned

    IMO, you can actually get away with using the top 5 strings from the D'addario set, and just get a new, heavier low string. Bassstringsonline.com should be able to hook you up with what you need.
    Treadstone71 likes this.

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