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Fender Pawn Shop Bass VI: Practical applications

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Mark Nye, Mar 28, 2013.

  1. Mark Nye

    Mark Nye

    Sep 18, 2012
    Since these things have been out for a few months now, I'm curious as to what people are doing with them in real world gigging/recording scenarios.

    *What are you doing with your Bass VI?
    *Bass rig or guitar rig? (or both?)
    *What role is it taking in your arrangements? (Traditional bass? baritone/extended range guitar i.e. The Cure? or something different?)
    *What kind of feedback are you getting from your bandmates and/or listeners regarding your Bass VI?

    (Note: I respectfully request that we keep the "this is a bass" vs. "this is not a bass" debate out of this thread. It's old hat and no one wins. For the purposes of this thread, there are no rules for how this instrument is being played. I just want to know how people are actually using it in the wild.)
    javi_bassist likes this.
  2. chrisplaysbass

    chrisplaysbass Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2007
    White Plains NY
    Endorsing Artist: labella strings, Aguilar Amplification, Cusack Electronics, Xotic effects
    Subscribed. I love the idea of using it in the studio to double and make tic tac parts. Ive been eyeing one for a while.
  3. jbiscuti


    Dec 22, 2007
    NYC / LA
    Endorsing Artist: Grolsch Strap Locks
    I have only had mine for two days, and I'm waiting for the "right" strings (LaBella flats) to arrive, so I'll have to wait a little while before I participate here.

    Without question it's going to be a great overdubbing tool in the studio - not necessarily for traditional bass, though - the Bass VI really shines on ringing arpeggios using open strings up around the 5th position, so I could see doubling arpeggios using a normal guitar and the Bass VI to get this lush baritone 12-string esque sound.

    I could also see myself using it for a tic-tac esque thing - simply doubling a traditional bassline, one octave up.

    As far as using it live, with my band - that remains to be seen.
    javi_bassist likes this.
  4. grisezd


    Oct 14, 2009
    I've been using my (non-fender) VI as a bass that can also hold down fuller chords in my rock cover 3-piece band. I've not played it out yet, just got pickups in in that I like, but at practice I just play through my bass rig with a little overdrive mixed with the clean. At home I've been toying with using my 35W guitar head through a bass 4X10. The guitar 4X12 cab isn't doing well with the low notes, but the bass cab is nice and punchy.
  5. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I would love to get one I'm just afraid I wouldn't use it much.
  6. grisezd


    Oct 14, 2009
    That's why I pieced one together. I do like it, still not sure it's going to be a go-to for me. I think if I was in an originals project I'd find more uses for it, but I'm about 20 years and a family past that stage in my life!
  7. Mark Nye

    Mark Nye

    Sep 18, 2012
    I gotta say, when I first got mine, it was hard not to just kick on an overdrive and play stoner metal riffs all day. They're really cool in that capacity. At this point, I'm sitting with it and combing through my music collection just playing through things and seeing where it does/doesn't sound cool.
  8. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    Brian Wilson loved his Bass VI. I hear it all OVER "Pet Sounds".
    I'm not saying he was the bassist on all or any of those tracks, but he was the producer and had 100% control over arrangements on the album. Take a listen and hear all the arpeggios, and even some metal-like pick driven figures!
    If I was producing music this instrument would be mandatory in my studio.
    DHart likes this.
  9. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    Don't own one of these, but every time I try one in stores I end up playing very post-rock sort of stuff with it. Curious if anyone would take it in that direction.
  10. ShoeManiac

    ShoeManiac Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    New Jersey
    As far as applications of the Bass VI, check out the record Rome by composer Daniel Luppi & Danger Mouse. They were going very much for that Ennio Morricone sound that you hear in the soundtracks of those great spaghetti westerns. And I believe they tried to use some of the italian session musicians who worked on those old recordings.
    DHart likes this.
  11. mp40smg


    Aug 11, 2010
    Worcester, Ma.
    Everybody just learn to play "Back in Saddle Again" by Aerosmith...
    And then make your guitar player play bass...
    Even better make the guitarist play a piccolo bass!!!

    And yes, I know it was actually done on a Dano...
  12. Mark Nye

    Mark Nye

    Sep 18, 2012
    A little further experimentation led me to try a capo on it last night (no rules, right?). With the capo on the 5th fret, the Bass VI does the "baritone guitar" thing very convincingly. The pickup configuration gives you tons of options. I ran through a few country ballads with that setup and a small tube guitar combo with favorable results.

    I would say if the Bass VI is going to take more of the baritone guitar role in your music, the stock strings might be the way to go. Personally, I'm waiting on a set of LaBella .025-.095 strings to replace the .024-.084 set that came on it, but I can see the use for the thinner strings of you're looking for a twangier, less bass-y tone.
  13. mgash


    Mar 8, 2006
    folsom ca
    Not sure of the practically of it, but i want one
  14. Mark Nye

    Mark Nye

    Sep 18, 2012
    Took mine out on a gig last night, just for sh-ts and giggles. I ran it through my Genz Benz Streamliner 900 and 2 x Ampeg SVT210HE cabs. I decided ahead of time that I wouldn't go too crazy (intentionally left the trem arm at home), because I wanted to evaluate the potential for this instrument to serve the traditional bass role in a standard rock band. I was just going to play the same lines I'd play on a 4-string and see how the Bass VI would fare.

    I've gotta say, I'm impressed. I had my rig dialed in the same way it would be for my Precision basses, and the VI supplied every bit as much low end as any other bass I've played. The neck pickup served as a quasi-"mudbucker" tone, but with a much more defined high end (as one would guess). The middle pickup yielded a much more Precision-ey tone (Precision-EY, mind you. not exactly, but close). The bridge humbucker was my least used. It pretty much sounded like a baritone guitar anywhere on the neck except for the low E. It was a blast to play, and being able to toss in a chord or two from time to time, just to screw with my guitarists' heads was a little slice of heaven. ;)

    All that said, the stock strings have got to go. The .084 gague low E has nowhere near enough tension to stay consistently in tune. It's cool though. The Labellas are on their way.

    So, for a first "get to know you" gig, I say the Bass VI is definitely capable of functioning as a regular old bass in a regular old rock band, and has some pretty usable tones for that application. I got a number of complements on it, too, including from my band members.
  15. chrisplaysbass

    chrisplaysbass Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2007
    White Plains NY
    Endorsing Artist: labella strings, Aguilar Amplification, Cusack Electronics, Xotic effects
    This is inspiring to hear. I cant wait until you get the flats on it.
  16. can_v


    Feb 2, 2010
    I just bought mine yesterday. Been fiddling around with it since last night. And, I too, think that .084 gauge would have to go.
  17. CBNJ

    CBNJ Sorry brother.

    Feb 13, 2009
    New Jersey
    Can this hang with a 4's lows? Anyone use it as a primary bass?
  18. Mark Nye

    Mark Nye

    Sep 18, 2012
    You'll probably get a bunch of conflicting opinions on this question (and half will come from people that haven't actually used a Bass VI). Read my post two above yours for my first gig trial. I got all the lows I needed through my bass rig (dialed in the same as I would have it for my Precision bass). Lots of folks run Bass VIs through guitar amps, so I imagine the lows would be lacking in that situation.

    My only complaint was the complete lack of any real tension on the .084 low E (the A wasn't all that hot either). I'm gonna fix that with the LaBella .025-.095 set.
  19. CBNJ

    CBNJ Sorry brother.

    Feb 13, 2009
    New Jersey
    Great review! Any videos? Did you use a pick to play? How much does a set of strings cost for this? I have some GAS right now.. Wish there was somewhere I could play one instead of just buying..
  20. Mark Nye

    Mark Nye

    Sep 18, 2012
    I don't have any videos as of right now. I've been toying with the idea, but I don't really have any video equipment capable of capturing the sound.

    For the gig in question, I did play with a pick - and a light one at that (Dunlop Tortex, yellow, which IIRC is .72 mm). If you're going to play a Bass VI fingerstyle, it's gonna require some pretty heavy modification of your technique. I have been practicing it, and have figured out that standard two-finger walking is do-able on the E and the A, but gets a little hairy on the other strings. I've taken to playing it almost like a classical guitar at times, and the results are good so far. I haven't had it for very long, so I'm still in the "throw it at the wall and see what sticks" phase.

    As for strings, Fender and D'Addario make sets that are the same as the stock strings (.024-.084). Pretty sure they're around $20/set. However, the general consensus here is that the low E and A are pretty much unusably light. GHS made a set of Boomers that we re .025-.095 but discontinued them (as did Fender). So, if you want anything heavier than stock, you're stuck paying $45-60 (depending if you want rounds or flats) for the LaBella .025-.095 set right now.

    GAS can be a challenging condition. I only got to play a Bass VI one time in a Big Box store before buying. As you can imagine, the setup was godawful. However, despite that, I saw potential. Found my Bass VI on craigslist and worked a trade deal for a J bass I wasn't using. If you think you'll use it, I say pull the trigger. It's a fun instrument to play, and the quality (at least of the one that I ended up with) is totally acceptable. Don't know about you, but I always get inspired whenever I get a new instrument, and this one is no exception. There are really no rules for how to play one of these things, so the possibilities are pretty much unlimited.

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