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how hard is it going to be to go from 4 to 6?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by narcopolo, Sep 26, 2005.


  1. narcopolo

    narcopolo

    Sep 12, 2005
    richmond, va
    i'm ready to make the switch, and i just want to know what i'm getting into. any suggestions for easing the transition would be awesome.
     
  2. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    Depends on who you are. For me it was easy. But I still liked fours better, so I sold my six-string (never really played it). A solid tip is to not anchor your plucking hand's thumb on a pickup all the time. You can get away with it on a four, but it just gets awkward the more strings you get. Other than that, just play the thing and get used to it. You will adapt to it in no time with a little effort, I'm sure.
     
  3. dougjwray

    dougjwray

    Jul 20, 2005
    I've never played a six-string, but when I started playing a five-string I put away my four-strings and didn't touch them, so that I would be forced to adapt.
    I imagine it would be similar with a six-string. As is usually the case, there are no shortcuts. You have to just DO it!
    Hope this helps...
     
  4. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    Sweden
    IT's easy..
     
  5. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    Sweden
    Yeah, i started to use floating-thumb technique when i got my 5string but when i tried to play the 4string again it was awkward...

    now i use a moving anchor all the time...
     
  6. narcopolo

    narcopolo

    Sep 12, 2005
    richmond, va
    cool, cool.
    any recommendations for learning material?
     
  7. I don't understand where this "awkward" talk is coming from. I still anchor my thumb on the pick-up, it's not awkward at all, or dibilitating. (As a six string bass player). I can see how 8 or 9 string basses could be awkward with the thumb anchored there, but six really isn't (or shouldn't) be considered a lot of strings, just more than normal.

    One thing that helped me transition was an inspiration of existentialism. I invested all I had at the time on my current bass, having never played a six string, because it was EXACTLY what I was looking for in a bass, and it was used, so I was getting a deal off the the fact that it couldn't be sold for new price.

    As of now, I only play one version of each intrument I play: One jazz/classical double bass, one bass guitar, and one chapman stick. I like to manifest quality, rather than spread it out.
     
  8. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    Two reasons:
    1) The reach can get uncomfortable for my smallish hands, and
    2) Without aid from the right (plucking hand) thumb, it gets an awful lot harder to properly mute all of the unplayed strings. If you move your anchor to the highest unplayed string instead, muting sort of takes care of itself.

    Just my experience, yours may be different.
     
  9. Pruitt

    Pruitt

    Jun 30, 2005
    Danbury, CT
    I had very little problem switching from 4 to 6 last spring. In fact, it was fairly easy. The first week or two were a little confusing getting used to teh extra strings, but thae went away quickly. Now I don't even think about it.

    I will say that what I did was to ONLY play the 6 and not play my 4's at all until I was comfortable. What I ended up finding out is I had no interest in playing any of my 4 strings and rarely touch them anymore. And that was after 25 years of only playing a 4. Who'd a thunk? :D

    Good luck and have fun! :bassist:
     
  10. Yeah, like everyone says you just have to do it. Probably the quickest way is to use the 6 any time you play a gig. And then you just have to force yourself to use the extra strings instead of sticking with the four you already know. Piece of cake! :bassist:
     
  11. dougjwray

    dougjwray

    Jul 20, 2005
    And then, once you get comfortable with the extra strings, the next challenge will be forcing yourself not to use them constantly! :)
    It's funny-- I love my 5-string because it happens to be a great sounding instrument, period, and will use it even when I may not need to play below E all night. Sometimes it's occurred to me that there may be a bass player in the audience thinking, "He hasn't touched his B string all night. He must not know those notes. He sucks." Then I have to struggle not to let that influence me! Crazy.
     
  12. I know what you mean...another issue I sometimes struggle with is not overdoing it while I'm playing. I have to remind myself that it's okay for the bass to play a lot of the same stuff over and that I shouldn't worry about coming up with something new all the time. It's easy to over do it.
     
  13. dougjwray

    dougjwray

    Jul 20, 2005
    Exactly. It's all about trying to get outside yourself and hearing the music in its totality, rather than blurting out every idea you get, or wiggling your fingers because you've got a bass with a comfy, slim neck, or whatever.
    I like to relate playing music to carrying on a conversation with a bunch of people. If someone else is saying something interesting, you don't suddenly yell, or even whisper, some unrelated nonsense just because you think you're clever.
     
  14. narcopolo

    narcopolo

    Sep 12, 2005
    richmond, va
    man, one of the weird things about it is that you almost feel pressured to get all virtuoso on the sixer (and the five, too), simply because it's kind of a stereotype that people with more than four strings are crazy shredders. i'm just now figuring out that the extra two strings can simply mean that you want an extended range. i hope we eventually get to a point where enough people are using the six simply as a bass with more options, and then it will be viewed less as a novelty.
    when i told my friends i was getting a six, they reacted cynically: "why do you need six strings?"
    my response was "your stratocaster has six strings, doesn't it?"
     
  15. narcopolo

    narcopolo

    Sep 12, 2005
    richmond, va
    i wish more people conversed this way. :meh:
     
  16. Dkerwood

    Dkerwood

    Aug 5, 2005
    Midwest
    When I switched to my 5 string, after a week or so, I discovered that I no longer had to live under the fifth fret (ie, the B string has more use than just to play Eb and D). So for a good while, I really enjoyed being able to live in the comfortable 5-9th fret world.

    Of course, then I went back to 4 for a while (simply because my 5 lived in its case, and my 4 sat out on a stand, so practice sessions became easier with the 4). Now, I'm back to living under the 5th fret. I'm starting to creep up again, but the lesson is... Play your new baby to death, and play it more than anything else.

    On a related note, I was auditioning for a college jazz group a few months ago with my 5 string. I had been practicing hard for a few weeks on my 4 (and my bass player's 4 between band rehearsals). I did pull out my 5 about 2 days before the music just to make sure the notes still fell where they were supposed to. No problem. So I get to the audition.

    It was an open audition, so I got to hear about three bassists before me, including the two "top" bassists in the school. I got up, and for the first tune and a half, I shredded both of them. Then it happened. My G string popped. I had played without a G before, most notably on a short tour when I was younger and dumber and didn't carry backup strings on tour.

    I didn't want to stop the audition since I was doing so well (plus it was in the middle of a song), so I just popped back up to the fifth fret world and started reading there. Then it got much worse. Notes started popping up faster, and my muscle memory started taking over. As far as my hand was concerned, I was back playing my 4 string. Problem was, of course, that my 4 strings were BEAD, rather than EADG, so I was hitting some crazy sounding fourths. Yeah. Not good. I still made the second jazz band, but I was very disappointed.

    Like I said, play on your primary instrument as much as you can. It'll help. Also, I'd encourage you to think about moving up to that 5th-9th fret land to start out with. You'll be able to start as low as you're used to, but have an extra octave or so on top in the same position.

    I'm done talking, I promise.
     
  17. bad_andy

    bad_andy

    Sep 21, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    I jumped from 4 to 6 after my first year of playing, after hearing Tim Boggart say that beginners who are interested in more strings should dive right in. The trick that I used for the first couple of weeks was to play the instrument exactly like my 4 string and just ignore the outer strings. At that point I was comfortable knowing where the strings I was familiar with were. Then I started adding the notes from the B string in open position and then in 5th postition, etc.

    I stayed on 6 for four years, then I bought a great 5 so my left hand could stay more relaxed on longer gigs. Two years ago I started playing two man shows with an acoustic guitar player and ended up buying a 4 string ABG that I use exclusively on those gigs. After years thinking I couldn't live without a B string, I don't miss it when I pick up my 4.

    The thing that strikes me now is that the majority of the parts I'm playing these days can be played on all three instruments without much extra thought or effort. It's mostly a matter of whether or not I want to move vertically or horizontally on the neck. The thing I like about my 6 is playing a whole set with my left hand parked in one position, unless I just want a lower note or a different tone.