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Having a "Bass VI" as only bass. Doable?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jordanl92, May 19, 2017.

  1. jordanl92


    Jan 1, 2014
    So I'm playing bass with a 4 piece band in my new home of Germany, Drums/bass/guitar/keys. kinda like spacey pop, a bit rocky at times. My own bass is still in America till i can get it in November when i go visit. So right now I'm using the singers '74 Jazz Bass which is actually awesome but I want my own bass to tinker with have at the house. So I was thinking to buy a cheap bass till November. So as I was sorting my options I seen the Harley Benton Bass VI copy. Seems cool but not enough reviews really. I am worried about not having enough low end. I would change the strings to flats, but wonder how it'll fit with out instruments. My search results show me alot of post about people using it in a 3 piece band. but with my band sometimes two guitars are playing or just guitar and some synth. I just want to get it to do something different i guess.
  2. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    If you don't have enough low end, change your amp.

    An E0 is going to have the same frequency no matter what instrument you play as long as it is in tune.
    TolerancEJ and HaphAsSard like this.
  3. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    The balance between fundamental and harmonics is different though.

    In any case, yes, it's possible, Jack Bruce did so with Cream for at least a couple of albums.
    CooWoo likes this.
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Some auditions demand a 4-string bass, but since you are already in the band, I say: go for it, play whatever you like! :)
    Zane DeBord likes this.
  5. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    ^ This. [EDIT: well, since we're not discussing Bösendorfers or organs I assumed you meant E1... :p]

    @jordanl92: for all you know, the GuitarBass might be too strong in the lows. Nothing points out to bass-shyness in the way it's constructed, except for the fact that it's visually a guitar, only longer, and we associate those with plinky sounds.

    Let's break it down further:
    1) short scale? Same scale as short-scale 4-stringers, and plenty bassists use them successfully;
    2) guitar tuners? Ditto (see Danelectros and Höfners), and of course you don't expect tonal repercussions out of those;
    3) number of strings? Does the high C on a regular 6-string bass weaken the tone of its lowest cousins, just because of it being there?
    4) tuning? Abraham Laboriel tunes his (long-scale, wide-spaced) sixes E to E, and again I doubt this fact magically sucks the lows out of the lowest four;
    5) narrow spacing? If you use regular two-finger pizz on a VI (I do) the shorter...run-up available might make you lose some of the attack you have on a 4-banger - then again, not everyone spanks the strings like they owe him money, even on a normal bass (same thing for pick playing: do you almost reach the next string when you play a Precision with a pick? If you don't you probably won't notice tonal differences solely due to narrow spacing on a VI);
    6) string gauge? Why, just use thicker strings;
    7) more to the point, guitar pickups? A number of instruments commonly understood to be basses use guitar pickups, with or without an adjustment to the number of polepieces: the above-mentioned Danelectros and Höfners, and also Rickenbackers. There is the chance you may not like the sound, but the same applies to every bass out there until you take it out for a fair spin.
    As for pickup position, there are three of them on the Harley Benton: there's a fighting chance at least one of the combinations does the trick.

    Also, don't judge a VI from a YouTube demo: chances are it's been recorded through a guitar amp, and especially speaker. Signal chain is paramount. Also also, amps have EQ: don't be afraid to use it.
    Last edited: May 20, 2017
    Blad51, blue4 and Zane DeBord like this.
  6. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast

    Jul 16, 2005
    Belfast, UK
    I don't see why it would have any downsides. I don't know much about the Harley Benton VI, but if it's like the Squier, it should have LOTS of tonal options.

    Only thing that sucks on a Bass VI is slap and pop, but it's only because the string spacing is so tight.
    corndog likes this.
  7. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    As others have said, the guitar-like string spacing is the only non-fixable issue.

    If you play with a pick it would probably work fine. Fingers, in my experience, make it a no-go.
    punchclock likes this.
  8. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Yeah, it's hard(er) to play bass fingerstyle on a bass VI type without starting to adopt the techniques of, and therefore sound like, guitar fingerstyle. I kind of like the effect, but yeah, doesn't fit in the traditional bass role in a band.
    gebass6 likes this.
  9. fermata


    Nov 10, 2015
    Go for it. One of the all-time most righteous live bass tones I've ever heard came from a Squier Bass VI (the act was Joey Dosik--keys, drums, and Bass VI). No idea what the signal chain was, but that bass sounded amazing (played normal fingerstyle, by the way). It was in a whole different category than most high end live act bass sounds I've experienced.
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  10. jordanl92


    Jan 1, 2014
    thanks all for the responses! I am considering it hard, slap and pop isn't what I'm doing in the band, just needed some reassurance that it can be enough bass guitar in a mix of more than a 3 piece band.
    HaphAsSard and TheEmptyCell like this.
  11. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Pacifica CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    David Pajo of Tortoise makes good use of a baritone guitar (Fender VI) - switches between that and a ('64) P-bass. Each played to specifically support the particular song.
  12. SpazzTheBassist


    Jun 20, 2006
    Any bass is do-able.....here are the only factors regardless of what bass you play in any situation:

    1) Salesmanship: How well you can sell what you do on your instrument of choice with consistency and confidence

    2) Filling The Musical Need: Like above, can you provide what the agency/bandleader/VIP with what they are seeking in the music itself on your instrument of choice

    3) Image Conscience Show Act OR Weenie-isms: Is the agency/bandleader/VIP of the act searching the bass need have a visual diorama need that also needs to be filled or are they going to be weenies about your gear for no reason? Im happy to say that Ive only peripherally experienced this twice in my entire career -- both times in good $$$ show situations for image consistency of the acts and visual appeal of the show itself. For that kind of money, Ill make concessions...however, for a typical bar band getting typical bar money to be gear-weenies I wouldnt even bother playing with because I think that will be a reflection on other aspects of the group situation.....I know that comes across as a 'tude but thats how I roll
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
    TheKingOfPants likes this.
  13. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    The way I think about VI instruments is that they're a little bit of a bass, a little bit of a guitar but mostly they're their own unique instrument that should be played as such.

    They're amazing for doubling deep, thumpy bass parts and doing snarly, low lead lines in ways neither other instrument can. And for interesting sounding chord work in the higher register that occupies its own slot in a mix. But it doesn't make a lot of sense to use one as either a full time bass or in a traditional guitar role.

    Which isn't to say OP shouldn't try it. As something to experiment with at home. They're fun.
    Blad51 likes this.
  14. Jonithen


    Dec 3, 2012
    Seacoast NH
    Of course it can be played fingerstyle, people do that on electric six strings all day long. If it is too hard for you sorry to hear it but there's no reason it can't be done.

    If you want to play one, go for it. It has to be approached a little differently and you need to spend time familiarizing yourself.
  15. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    Except for the DB parts this album was recorded using a Bass VI. Jack played one for a couple of years - the legend says until the psychedelic paint job he got later got sticky and oily.

    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  16. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    I have a Squier Bass VI, and if you go bigger on the low E and A strings they are nice. With the stock low E and A you have to palm mute or use a pick.
  17. pbassjbass


    Jun 21, 2013
    It looks like the Harley Benton VI does not have wammy bar. In my opinion that is a big improvement over the fender flavors. The tuning stability should be better.
  18. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Alien Audio / Mesa Fanatic!! Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    Unless you're in a tribute band going for a certain look, I wouldn't have a VI as my only bass. That's just my opinion, bit when you have to look for rare exceptions, it's probably not a great idea. Imho / YMMV.
    ba55i5t likes this.
  19. eldorado2001


    Oct 14, 2010
    Juno Probe
    I got a Squier VI a few years ago. The bridge mounting is flawed, and the bridge is able to slip forward and backward, it won't stay in place like a TOM. IIRC the holes for the bridge posts are much bigger than the posts, and it's a sloppy fit. My tech got it as close as he could. Unless they've addressed this with recent models I would pass.
    IMHO not a good choice for a main bass.
  20. nbsipics

    nbsipics Had to Cry Today Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    I have not tried this myself: Would some of the "octave" effects have a possible
    cooler impact on the sound of a VI than on a possibly muddier standard 4 or 5?

    Like that new Fishman Fission Bass Powerchord FX Pedal or similar? And maybe
    a lot of the guitar-oriented effects that don't seem to track/work so well on bass?

    I have one coming in soon ( the Fishman ) - I will let you all know!

    Edit: I do already have the Fender VI :)