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How did you adapt to 6 string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by HypersoulRocks, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. HypersoulRocks

    HypersoulRocks Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    After 25 years of playing 4 string, I want to explore the chord and melody opportunities that a 6 string provides...just looking for thoughts on how some players adapted to the switch.

    I'm not giving up 4-just adding to my bag of tricks...

    and gassing for that Ibanez singlecut 6!
  2. Hi.

    I found it to be easier when strung F#BEADG than the "traditional" BEADGC.

    The narrower string spacing and the wide neck takes some time to get used to, but for me it was surprisingly quick.

    Switching back and forth between 4 string and a 6er between songs, that's still pretty hard for me.

  3. How did I adapt? I bought a 6-er Ibanez BTB for $500 because I wanted a 5-string and this was available and cheap.
    No real adapting necessary. It was pretty intuitive.
  4. Alowishus


    Feb 28, 2005
    I'm not sure if this is the "right" way but I just dove right into it. I saw a beautiful 6 string and had some money burning a hole in my pocket.

    I spent a bunch of time practicing scales and playing along to songs. It didn't seem to take that long to adapt.
  5. conebeckham


    Jun 27, 2008
    Bay Area CA
    Put away the four string. Stick it in the case, and put the case in the closet. Or the Attic. Or somewhere you can't get at it.

    Then play only the six string for a few months.

    That's my advice. I'd say it worked for me, but I still can't play the six string. Though I've been doing it since 1988. I still suck. It's a lot of bass.

    (One other thing: Six string allows for more horizontal, across the neck, approach...rather than vertical, up and down the neck.....this is a big key, I think....)
  6. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I adapted extremely easily personally. The 6 string is easy, everything is still tuned to 4ths and you have 2 extra strings to work with so you can get away without adjusting your position as much. I played 6 string almost exclusively for 3 years. I recently went back to playing 4s and have been loving it, so to each their own.
  7. I never got the hang of one I owned for a year, but I never tried too hard either.

    I know that doesn't contribute in any way to the thread but I was astounded to hear about someone GASing for the new BTB singlecut six. There was a thread about it not that long ago and IIRC, the likers were the minority. I bet it's a fantastic bass, but I feel they made the top "non-cutaway" too humpy.
  8. jonmerickson


    Jan 26, 2011
    Katy, TX
    I adapted quickly. I have large hands so I am comfortable on the wide neck and I enjoy not having to shift as much for higher notes in scale runs. For melody and chordal playing it is nice to have the extra high range also. I know plenty of solo guys kill on "just" 4 strings...I just like the extra range.
  9. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    I started with 5.
    Evenso it's taken a small adjustment that G isn't the outside string any more.
    The 6 is all I play with now, the 5's are in their cases.
    Still working up the courage to play with chording - I have enough issues with intonation on one string, let alone multiples (fretless...)

    But I just decided that this is the instrument I want to master.
  10. Put away the four string. Stick it in the case, and put the case in the closet. Or the Attic. Or somewhere you can't get at it.


    Sometimes helps to just focus on playing the 4 strings in between and ignoring the 2 new strings , which teaches how to mute the new strings and gradually branch out adding new notes...before long a 4 string will feel like somethings missing
  11. SRFSterling5


    Sep 24, 2011
    Always wanted a 6, as I have been playing 5 strings since 1988. I built 1 from parts years ago, but the spacing was to narrow at the bridge and with P bass spacing at the neck, a killer on my fretting hand. Finally got a Smith 6 a few years ago and while much better in all respects, I wasn't making use out of the chordal stuff since I'm a roots player. Got rid of it and got a Fodera E5S, and it just feels right for me. Assuming you do a lot of chord stuff, narrow string spacing would probably be a good idea. You can slap on a narrow 6 but you gotta concentrate more. Good luck with the 6 and have fun.
  12. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    This. I tried a couple times, but I don't know if I gave it enough time either time. I went weeks, probably need months.
  13. basschanges

    basschanges Unconditionally Loving Member

    Jun 20, 2012
    Brooklyn, NY
    The thing is still tuned in fourths, so the same patterns that you learned on the 4 string apply on the 6 string. Every pattern that you learn starting from the B string will be the same an octave up starting from the A string.

    Fretboard familiarity is king, so take the time to work out all the different pentatonic scales, major scales and their modes, and melodic minor scales and their modes.

    Then do some familiarity tests. You're going to want to know immediately where notes are on the high C and low B strings when chords and string skipping comes into play and you don't have time to rely on the intervals.

    Overall, just play it, and only it, for months.
  14. 6stringpanda


    Aug 9, 2013
    To me it is as simple as changing octives on a piano or keyboard-

    Switched to 6 string almost immediately after starting bass at age 14 because I need lower and higher notes than the 4 could provide.

    It is a mater of personal taste, some people cannot adapt to the 6 string.

    Wish you luck in your efforts!!
  15. learning what notes are where on the high C wasn't hard at all. if you know the notes on the d string and you know how to play octaves its really not that bad. I used the same concept back when I went from 4 to 5 as well just visualized the octave relationship between the low b string and the a string.

    one learning method I highly recommend is using DR neon strings to help you "adjust" to more strings, so if your going from a 4 to a 6 buy a 4 string set of neons, and buy 2 normal single strings for the low b and high c. Itll help you see where the 4 strings are that your used to having and it will help you not accidentally play the high c when your wanting to play the g string or the low b when when your wanting to play the e string and so on. obviously it looks a bit silly, but you don't have to do it forever. I only bought one set of DR neons and did this while the band didn't have any shows. you'd be surprised how much it helps.

    the biggest factor with dealing with the wider neck is having your strap adjusted so your bass is at a good height. I've played up to 8 string (single course) and don't have any problems reaching and I have pretty average sized hands. but if the bass is hanging down to me knees it damn near impossible to even play a 6 much less a 7 or 8
  16. What the guys above said - just get one and play on it.

    Scale and arpeggio exercises are great for familiarizing yourself with the neck and the new fingering/position options you have. But honestly my approach is to play my sixes like four strings and only use the B and C for things that I can't do on a four. While the lower range of the C string and the notes above E on the B string are totally useable, I personally feel those notes sit better if played where they lay out on a four.

    I love having the notes below E but I feel they're most powerful if used sparingly, and I love the clarity of the C string but because it's a thinner sound I only use it for the chord/melody stuff you mentioned. 90% of what I do could be done on a four but I feel like the extra 10% is what makes things interesting.

    Basically what I'm saying is that while a six string does offer a lot of new possibilities, you don't necessarily need to utilize them all right off the bat. Sure, try to familiarize yourself with the your new instrument as much as possible, but don't be afraid to just play the four string that exists in the middle of the neck if that's what works best. That could make the transition a little easier.

    Edit: ^Just saw the DR Neon idea above. GREAT idea.
  17. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    Do you know how to play guitar? I started on violin & guitar so I tune B:B like a baritone guitar. I love 6 strings, don't like the weight. You can do what I did & buy a cheap one & practice on it. Practice is the best way to acclimation. It's not so bad.
  18. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    Also, 6 was overwhelming at first but unless you're adam nitti or john myung you're not really playing all six strings at least fr me I'm not but it's nice to have the strings there. There are some songs I need that first string as a B & not a C & it's worked out for me. Low B 6th string is a nice shortcut when you're up at 10th pos etc; and of course it's nice having those five lower notes when you need them.
    So, don't look at all the strings at once; & practice practice.
  19. HypersoulRocks

    HypersoulRocks Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    This is all great stuff..thanks!
    I may tune one of my guitars like a 6 string bass just to start practicing...I like to keep pushing my skills to the next level, so that's why I'm trying it..
  20. :eek: Somebody beat me to it :eek:
    I think F# should be the new standard :rolleyes: like that would ever happen.