Is the 6 string your main bass? If so, why?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by de la mocha, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. de la mocha

    de la mocha

    Aug 20, 2005
    Just out of curiosity. I had an Ibanez 6 but I sold it. However, I miss it now, mainly because of this video!

    I think I want to get a six again. At the time, I didn't realize the potential the six had.
  2. gre107


    Dec 25, 2005
    Actually it is a 5 string but yes you can do all that on a 6 as well.

    It's just up to the individual as to what he or she is comfortable playing on.

    The six has a lot of advantages. I have played one for years and love it. I can cover a variety of styles with just one bass but I still have a Jazz as my standby.

  3. Thunderthumbs73

    Thunderthumbs73 Supporting Member

    May 5, 2008
    Sometimes it is. I play it mostly like a 4 string, venturing into the B string mostly for the notes below an open E. For the C string, I use it for filling in/adding to chords I would play on a four string bass- very helpful when guitar player solos, among other things. But by and large, I don't play it in a band context where I'm trying to make it clear that "yes, that IS a six-string bass player up there..."

    As a solo player, love it for chordings, bossa-nova patters and so on.
  4. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    I had a 6-string (MTD Z6) but had to sell it for financial reasons. I really enjoyed having that extra option, and it was great as far as keeping string noise down (fewer position shifts), and it wasn't any harder for me to play than my 5s. I'd like to get another one, soon. For most of what I do, I really don't get that high range-wise, so it's kind of unnecessary, but I also play in a trio and it's nice to be able to do chording/arpeggio stuff without moving all around, while the guitarist is soloing, to fill out the space. I especially liked being able to do complementary diads etc in between beats while holding down the groove on the low strings, while doing jazzier stuff a lá Charlie Hunter. I don't imagine sixes will replace my fives anytime soon, though. If I had a solo project, I would definitely play sixers or more primarily.
  5. Thunderthumbs73

    Thunderthumbs73 Supporting Member

    May 5, 2008

    Yeah, Charlie Hunter. Good call!

    I always think a six would mix well, particularly in higher registers with a fingerstyle classical guitar.
  6. andvari7


    Aug 28, 2004
    I do, because it's pretty much all I have available to me. Foolishly, I rid myself of a four-string (though, mine was a broken POS anyway, so...), and headless basses are darned difficult to find.
  7. conebeckham


    Jun 27, 2008
    Bay Area CA
    I've been playing a six since 1988, and until recently it was my only axe...I sold my 5 and two four strings back then. Now I've got a Squire J for those times I need that sound and look. But the six is my main thing. At first, it was all about range...but when you really look at it, the six string only goes a forth higher than a fiver. However, the tone of the thinner C string makes a difference. The primary advantage to a six, as someone mentioned, is the lack of needing to change positions--but again, an E on the 9th fret of a G string will sound different than an E on the fourth fret of a C string.

    I find that "Aging" the C strings a bit--using older ones, in other words-and also setting the EQ a certain way will minimize this difference. My bass has a Bart 3 band, and I roll off the highs quite a bit, and the mids at 800 hz somewhat, as well, and boost the bass...with the blend centered, this produces a pretty authentic wide-range yet somehow retro sound, akin to a Fender Jazz full-on all controls. Dialing the neck pickup in a bit more than the bridge, and maybe setting the mids closer to flat, at 250 Hz, gives you more of a P Bass sound--and both of these settings allow the C string to sound less "bright" and beefier.

    Of course, chords on a six are way cool, and chord-melody stuff is just much easier, if you're into that sort of thing.....
  8. Thunderthumbs73

    Thunderthumbs73 Supporting Member

    May 5, 2008
    You hit on the musically relevant reason I play mine like a four string in a band context. The tone. I love all the tones on the instrument, but I generally don't use the high C on the first 5 frets on the neck, despite the possibility I could probably easier play across the neck.

    The 12th fret octave G, as fretted on the G string (for me) is usually sounds much more powerful than the G on the C string, for example, despite the fact that the tone/output across all the strings is relatively consistent.

    And conversely, on solo stuff, I appreciate the thinner tone the C string has to offer when putting together chords (open or closely spaced) as well as the physical and technical benefits of having that string.
  9. de la mocha

    de la mocha

    Aug 20, 2005

    Interesting :)
  10. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Yorktown, VA
    I do. My instructor once told me (prior to 6 string acquisition) that you can do everything on a 6 that you can do on a 4, plus more if you want. I agree with that statement. I probably play it more like ol' Thunderthumbs. But I sure like the options (fingerings, extra notes, etc). It's expanding my creativity as well...having those things available.
  11. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Thoroughly Nice Guy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004
    From Bass Player's Anthony Jackson Interview, part 1:

    My feeling is: Why is four the standard and not six? As the lowest-pitched member of the guitar family, the instrument should have had six strings from the beginning. The only reason it had four was because Leo Fender was thinking in application terms of an upright bass, but he built it along guitar lines because that was his training. The logical conception for the bass guitar encompasses six strings. As regards the issue of "mastering the 4-string" before moving on to the six, consider that inasmuch as there is no point where one can be said to have "mastered" anything, to make this inane suggestion reveals the speakers to be idiots. As long as we remain seekers, never truly achieving our ultimate goals, we may as well start with the full basic blueprint and enjoy the expanded expressive possibilities of the extended range of the instrument. Of course, the undoubtedly famous-name superstars who utter this nonsense probably regard themselves as masters in their own right. So be it. For the rest of us, their attitude reveals them to be jealous, angry, and frustrated. Too damn bad.

    Can't say it any better than this.
  12. I will not harp on this...too long... :D

    but was it not you who started the "Hail the power of EADG!" thread?


    He hath returned to the dark side, Lord Vader!


    Anyway, quite seriously, I own a Schecter Stiletto Studio-6. For anyone who has ever held this instrument, you know it is heavy like the devil.

    That said, I enjoy the increased chordal convenience and variety with the high-C, and I think a 7-string would be perfection for me as far as that is concerned. Beyond that, I really don't think I would need or want any more.

    The C also has it's purposes for tone. It has a very nice midrange bite for me, so I use it on solos and related things, but when I roll off some treble and high mid, it becomes a wonderful chordal instrument.

    Of course, thus far you could say "well, why don't you play a 5-string tuned EADGC?"

    While I can't say I would terribly mind playing an instrument such as that, the above statement of tonal and chordal variation applies to the low-B as well. It is great to be able to hit a powerful part of the song and drop an octave to really bring out the BOOM!

    But the B-string, when it's a good one and controlled, also has the ability to create a beautifully deep root for a chord.

    I respect and wonder at the cats who can control and beautifully play 9, 10, 11, 13-stringed instruments, but I can't see myself needing that much neck to express my music, not even as a composer. Above high-F, it's time to call in the pianist (the tension just becomes too much for me), and below low-B, it becomes a question of creating bowel movements versus creating music.

    Above is a very long-winded way of saying, "Yes, it is my main instrument, and I love it to death."

  13. Sure you can - you can use about 600 fewer words. ;)

    Seriously - listen to Anthony Jackson with...well, anyone...Camilo, Whitlock, Stern, Khan, Atakoglu...and that can explain why a six would be one's main instrument. He's incredible!

    I use my six on just about every gig. The B is a necessity. The C makes for nice color. :D Having the range, whether or not you use it, is really great. Sometimes just adding some 10ths in there (or 11ths...or 13ths, if you're adventurous) can take the music to a new place.
    nonohmic likes this.
  14. All I own is 6's, I love the versatility of them. less shifts, the C is great for playing chords and soloing.
  15. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    I don't own a 6.
    Jumped from 4 to 7
  16. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Thoroughly Nice Guy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004
    Well, it could be shorter, but I don't think that's AJ's style :D

    I posted it because his playing doesn't call to mind any of the perceived negatives that certain types of bass owners and guitarists attach to the sixer. I'm sure that plenty of talented and well-known (among bassists, anyhow) players would say and have said similar things, but not all of them would be acceptable to those who see the sixer as frivolous because four is all they "need".
  17. DougD

    DougD Bassman7654

    Sep 19, 2002
    North Las Vegas NV
    You really shouldn't pay any attention to that type of person. They tend to find a negative in anything they don't like or understand. Just because four is enough for them, doesn't mean it's enough for everybody
  18. LowBSix


    Mar 25, 2008
    818 ~ 805 ~ L.A.
    Endorsing Artist: GHS Strings
    Yes my LEJ 6 is my main bass because it sounds and plays great; fits my style, I use the B string to drop bombs and the C string for melodic stuff and don't need to jump up to the 14th fret for an A that's on the 9th fret of the C string...

    It truly extends the range of my playing...
  19. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY

    ....I really love the way he thinks and speaks....well said.
  20. My 6 is tune F#BEADG so I don't run out of low notes :cool:
    That and Les Claypool plays one :D