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Fender Bass VI

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by hieronymous, Jan 25, 2004.

  1. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    Any Fender Bass VI owners out there? I'm talking about the kind that's in-between a regular guitar and bass, sometimes called a baritone guitar.

    The reason I'm asking is that Fender Japan has just released a new version - not like the reissue (that I've never seen) of the 60s version, but a variation on the Jaguar. It has a silly name, the "Bottom Master", but it's actually very nice.

    Fender Japan website: http://fenderjapan.co.jp/fender/e_guitar_bass/jgb_95sfz_hfz.htm
    Translation at a Cure website (?!!) http://www.musicfordreams.org/engine/tiki-read_article.php?articleId=8

    Still haven't gotten to my question: what kind of pickups did the original Bass VIs have? Were they just Jaguar pickups? The sunburst has Jag pups, while the gunmetal blue one has Fender Japan "Dragster" humbuckers.

    Basically if anyone has any experience with the Fender Bass VI (or Jaguar Bottom Master for that matter) please comment!
  2. aria


    Jan 25, 2004
    Yes the original has regular Jaguar single-coil pickups. At least, my '62 one does ;).

    I imagine the humbuckers on the JBM would change the sound quite a lot, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet. Schecter's new Hellcat VI supposedly has a sound very close to the original Bass VI.

    I guess you shouldn't be surprised about the translation being on a Cure site, seeing as Robert Smith is one of the few legendary Bass VI players ;)!
  3. Apparently Mark Hoppus used a Fender Bass VI on the new Blink album. If you read the little tidbits of info they put in the book that comes with the cd.
  4. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    Alright!!! I wasn't expecting answers so quick!

    Well, for the third time in four days I went to the store and tried out the Bottom Master. Actually, the store I went to (Music Key in Kyoto) had both versions (single-coil & humbucker), so I was able to A/B them. The humbucker version won out. The sunburst single coil version had too much hum, and the humbuckers were a lot punchier. Also, I wasn't after a reissue - I'm not an avid fan of the classic vintage sound - I probably couldn't even recognize it if I heard it. I'm just as happy approaching this as a new instrument. And since I play both guitar and bass, it's perfect!

    RE: the 90s Fender Japan reissues: I've never seen one! All the guitar store guys I talk to here in Japan agree that they sold out quickly when they were introduced and you almost never see them used. Of course, I haven't been paying attention until the past couple of years or so...

    Thanks everybody!!!:bassist:
  5. The Lurker

    The Lurker

    Aug 16, 2002
    Hmm, I could be blundering here, but the VI has 3 pickups, the Bottom Master (i assume it's more poetic in Japanese!) has 2, and though my math could be off it looks like it has shorter scale and lighter strings?

    so 2 diff instruments, I think?

    Bass VI is fun, I would love to have one someday.
  6. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    RE: Hmm, I could be blundering here, but the VI has 3 pickups, the Bottom Master (i assume it's more poetic in Japanese!) has 2, and though my math could be off it looks like it has shorter scale and lighter strings?

    OK, here is where you can help me. What are the scale length and string guages for the Bass VI? 30"? The only thing I can find on the Bottom Master is "364 scale", which I assume is metric. For some reason I haven't done the conversion. (I'm sickk of converting Farenheit to Celsius I guess.) What is that in inches, and what is the scale length of the Bass VI?

    Also, the Bass VI strings that Fender sells are listed as .025/.035/.045/.055/.075/.095, while the JBM is .020/.030/.042/.054/.074/.090, so the high strings are a little lighter, but not by much...

    Can you tell I'm kind of obsessing about this?

    It's definitely a different instrument, maybe more of an update? But still closely related as far as I can tell. A Bass VI would be cool, but the vintage ones that I have come across cost $3000.00 and $7000.00 - WAY out of my range. And all I ever hear about the Fender Japan reissues is "they don't sound as good as the old ones, blahblahblah". Treena is the first person I've heard make positive comments. (By the way, thanks for the links Treena!)
  7. CopperheadLXXIX


    Aug 9, 2003
    Jax, FL
    The "364mm scale" must only be the length of the fingerboard-otherwise it would put the scale of the instrument at about 14". :p
  8. CopperheadLXXIX


    Aug 9, 2003
    Jax, FL
    Actually, even that doesn't make sense because the length of the fingerboard on my standard-tuned acoustic guitar is more than 14"... :confused:
  9. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    Well duh! I have an inches tape measure (that belonged to my dad - Sears Craftsman) and am now the proud owner of a Jaguar Bottom Master (hereafter JBM), so why not just measure the scale length???

    I'm going to call it 28-1/2" So it's a little shorter than a Bass VI, even shorter than the Ernie Ball/Music Man Silhouette bass guitar (which is 29-5/8"). Not sure about the Schecter Hellcat VI.

    (Tentative) Conclusion: the JBM, while a different instrument than the Fender Bass VI, is still part of the same family of instruments, with some interesting variations.

    By the way, I played my JBM for a while last night. I really enjoyed it! I had to stop when my fingers started to really hurt (haven't been playing much lately). The two fuzz sounds are great - sound especially good through a phaser...
  10. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    RE: scale length

    Interesting huh? Now you see what I'm dealing with :D

    OK, here are some measurements from the most recent Fender Japan catalog, called TWANG:

    Strat and Tele: 324 scale
    P-bass & J-bass: 432 scale
    Mustang bass: 385 scale
    JBM: 364

    What's going on???

    OK, I thought of someone to ask, will post the reply...
  11. Take your tape measure and measuring from the inside of the nut to the center of the 12th fret (the wire, not the fingerboard). Double that measurement to find the scale length of your bass or any string instrument.........

  12. mc2ny


    Aug 1, 2003
    Hi. Someone who knows I had a Bass VI aksed me to jump in here...I no longer own it but it was a Jan 1963 from what I recall. I used it on my first album on a couple of tracks and ended up selling it to John Entwistle in the mid-80s (yes, THAT Entwistle.) It was one of the few basses he held onto over the years that was still with him when he passed away last year. He told me it was so much nicer than any other one he'd ever owned. It got auctioned off by Sothebys. Here's a link to see it for anyone interested:

    http://www.12stringbass.com/John Entwistle.htm

    Regarding the exact scale length...damned if I remember but baritones vary in scale length by differing makers...there's no "written in stone" rule on scale. Since it says "bass" on the headstock and it's included in the book "The Fender Bass," I guess it's officially a "bass" and not a baritone "guitar."

    That same book also states that the pickups were "modeled after those on the Jaguar guitar," so my guess would be they were wound slightly differently for more bass, although they looked the same.

    My favorite description of the tone came from someone I used it on a session with...he told me it sounded like "melted butter" and that always stuck in my mind over the years. That tic-tak bass sound from a bari is definitely unique. I've almost bought another baritone a few times and recently tried to get Hamer to convert my short-scale 12 bass [E-to-G with dual octaves] to a baritone 12-string guitar with E-to-E with octaves (with no luck as of yet.)
    I used to use the Fender Bass VI string set on it because that was all that was available at the time.
    I had the bass refinished the same original white w/matching headstock because it was a little worn. The place that did the refin was top-notch...so good that I actually contacted Sothebys before the auction to let them know it was a refin...they had it listed as all-original!
    If it hadn't sold for a small fortune, I would have definitley bought it back.
  13. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Fender Bass VI and the new Schecter Hellcat VI are both 30" scale.

    Schecter is also now making some guitars designed to be tuned down, but with a 26.5" scale length or something like that - between regular and baritone.
  14. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    There's also the Aria "Perry Bamonte" signature model - the BB-1000.


    There is a cheaper BB-500 too, though I don't know the difference. I just now found out what this was (saw him playing it in the videos and wondered).

    It looks pretty nice. I can only find one place selling either online, and they want $600 for the 500 and close to $2k for the real thing.

    It has a 33-1/3" scale :eek: And they call it a baritone!
  15. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    Hey Geshel, I was just looking at the measurements given on the Aria website, and I think they screwed up on the Perry Bamonte model.

    They say 770mm/33-1/3", but their jazz bass model gives 864mm/34". The second one looks correct to me. The first one should be more like the Mustang bass, which Fender calls 385. This would match what Treena said about measuring from the nut to the 12th fret and doubling for scale length. Fender Japan's are listed in milimeters, but they only give the measurement for the nut to the 12th fret. So what's the scale lenght of a Mustang bass? :) I came up with 30.14" which would make more sense. Maybe they Aria meant 30-1/3"?
  16. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Ah, yes - that makes much more sense. (especially now that I read he based the design on the Fender VI :) )
  17. jaffabass


    Mar 28, 2002
    hieronymous, how is the Bottom Master tuned? Is it EADGBE or something like ADGCEA; I know baritone guitars are quite often tuned a fourth or fifth below guitar tuning as opposed to a full octave down. Also how is the tension of the strings as at that scale length, I imagine them being quite loose?

    I must say the bottom master looks great. I've lusted after a Bass VI for years but the only one I've ever seen was about £3000 in a shop in London. It'll be interesting to see when the Bottom Master crops up here in the UK, if at all.
  18. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    It's tuned EADGBE. It's definitely more a six-string bass guitar than a baritone guitar. I haven't found the tension to be that loose. I find it quite comfortable to play, though I have been playing guitar a lot more recently.

    Speaking of Bass VI lust, check out this quote from Doug McCombs of Tortoise and Brokeback, about making the first Brokeback album:

    "Brokeback wouldn't exist without the Fender six-string bass. I consider myself a bass player, and though I have dabbled with slide instruments (lap steel and dobro) I was never really interested in moving into the higher register until I became aware of this instrument and its perfect blend of twang and low tone. I began planning this album years before I could even afford to purchase one. It may seem ridiculous to give so much credit to the instrument, but most of these melodies practically wrote themselves, and they were exactly what I wanted to hear."
    -quoted from http://www.thrilljockey.com/bandpage.html?artistnum=14, under "history"
  19. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Then there's always the Shergold Marathon 6-string bass:


    30" scale, tuned EADGBE. As used by Peter Hook in New Order.

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