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History of the 6 String Bass???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jokerjkny, Jan 17, 2006.

  1. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    i've been totally enamoured of my MTD 635, that as i sit here looking over a few charts, i was just sorta wondering aloud,

    who invented the first one? why are multi-string basses in fourths? and who made it popular?

    i could google it, but TB is SOOO much more informed. ;)
  2. Look no farther than Anthony Jackson, my man!

    He co-developed the first six with Carl Thompson. Carl kind've built it the way he thought it should be built and not really to AJ's specs. It was used a little at first but not much after that.

    He then went to Ken Smith and worked with Ken on a six. That led up to his current bass which is of course made by...

    Vinnie Fodera! This is where Anthony really developed the bass we all know today as the modern contrabass. I believe Anthony is now on #10 and each seems to improve upon the last.

    Anyone that follows AJ knows that he is quite the perfectionist and he is always improving and molding what he thinks is the perfect six string bass.

    The Groove Shoppe actually has pictures of Contrabass #9 on it's site. I'll grap a pic and post it.

    That's a very quick run-down but I hope it gives you a lil' insight into that wonderful instrument. :)

    Contrabass #9

  3. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Not to get too picky, but he and Ken pretty much nailed it...Ken made a fully functional six that was made the original standard; the granddaddies of six-string (Jackson, Dickens, and Patitucci) all had one.

    IIRC, Thompson and Jackson tried a couple times to create a usable six, but Thompson fell short in the playability department...I think the one that was finally the most playable had a 42" scale, which was not very usable.
  4. Ken may have built the six that some consider the first real six but I was speaking more of the bass that Anthony is now using. The changes and modifications between Anthonys Smith 6 and Contrabass #10 are many.

    Don't get me wrong, Ken was very instrumental in the development of the six string bass. His basses are legendary. Nobody can deny that. It's just that AJ's six has endured many changes since then and continues to evolve.
  5. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Oh, I know and that's cool. He was asking about the history of six-strings though and not specifically Jackson's six-strings, so I wanted to point that out. It's all good :)

    As far as tuning in fourths, electric bass acquired that from the upright, which is the only orchestral stringed instrument that is tuned that was AFAIK. It mostly has to do with the reach- the longer reach of an upright (and the longer reach of the electric bass compared to smaller electric instruments) made it tough to play in fifths; it's usually easier to access all the intervals in one position on a bass if it's tuned in fourths.
  6. Cool, no problem, BT!

    I guess my first post was a little more towards the AJ six more than the six as an instrument. My apologies.

    Anyone wanting to hear what amazing sounding instruments Ken's basses are, needs to check out Bruce Hornsby's new DVD, 'Three Nights on the Town.' JV Collier has a kicking tone on his vintage Smith. And he's quite a player too!
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Agreed... at least that's how I remember it.
  8. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL

    nice. think i'll stop by amazon on my way out.

    and thx guys for indulging my 6 string obsession...

    now if i can only get roger to build me a Sadowsky Modern 24-6. :p
  9. AndreasH


    Apr 8, 2005
    Thanks a bunch! I didn't know that he was working it out with Carl Thompson. I would really like to try one of the latest AJ's :D
  10. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    Oh man, I love those Contrabass 6 strings...a 34" scale one of those would do me just fine!