Jumping from 4 to 6?

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Alex, Nov 27, 2005.

  1. I have been playing bass for 5 years. I've always played a 4-string, but lately I've felt confined on my 4 when improvising and/or composing. I often find myself climbing very high up on the neck where the notes don't sound very good (and still really wanting more past that 4th octave E). I also would like to be able to octave pop, for example, a second octave F, and still stay in first position. On the low end, I often have to jump down the neck quickly for passing notes in jazz, and also run out of low notes on descending fills.

    So here is my question: For a player like me, who plays pretty much all styles of music (Jazz, Rock, Funk, Metal, Fusion) Would it be a good idea to move up to the 6 string? I know a lot of people on TB play 6+ string basses, and I was wondering why you guys moved up from the 4, how hard it was to adjust, if you think it is really worth it, etc...

    Any input is appreciated! :bassist:

    (dear mods: if this is in the wrong forum feel free to move it. I didn't know where this would really fit)
  2. Unchain

    Unchain I've seen footage.

    Jun 20, 2005
    Tucson, AZ
    I moved from 4 to 6 quickly, and had no trouble. It only took me a week to really get to know the bass. I'd recommend it.
  3. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    I found 4-6 slightly easier than 4 to 5, maybe it's a symmetry thing. It still took me years to get as familiar with 6 as I am with 4, to the point where I know where every note is instantly. I'm STILL more comfortable on 4 than on 6 for some things, though I do often run out of notes in a certain direction on the 4 :)

    From what you describe, 6 sounds like a really good jump for you, but shop around as the neck dimensions on a 6 are even more critical than on a 4 for getting something that's playable and pain-free - it's a big ole beast, and the ergonomics are really tight...

  4. glivanos

    glivanos Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2005
    Philadelphia Area
    Ditto with above.

    I went from 4 string to 6 string. I actually tried a few 5 strings and couldn't get used to them.
  5. One of my biggest concerns is string spacing. I slap a lot, and my right hand gets cramped with the smaller necks on 5's and 6's. Also, in general, I find the fingerboards cramped. How common are 6's with normal 3/4" (19 mm-ish) string spacing? Are these necks too unwieldy? ( I have very big hands)
  6. also, I heard that 6's have a short lifespan because the 6 strings put a lot of tension on the neck and it's shot after a couple years. Is this true?
  7. Left Shoe

    Left Shoe

    May 9, 2004
    i made the jump in about 3 days, its deifnitley hard at first
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Not true at all. Maybe 30 years ago it was but not anymore. The vast majority of 6's made now are well-reinforced and the extra tension is compensated for.
  9. Ztoo-et Jhonez

    Ztoo-et Jhonez

    May 19, 2005
    It's a little hard at first, although there are great benefits. It shouldn't take too long for you to play competently on a six string bass if you've been playing a four string for a while. One of the main cons though, I don't know whether this concerns you though, is that it is a lot harder to slap and pop on a six string due to the string spacing. But the extended range makes up for that, and I'm sure your composing will benefit greatly from that. I think that if you're considering getting a new bass, then you should get a six string fretless because they're much more natural, I don't know if i worded that correctly... They can emulate the effects of the voice.
  10. well, I am actually debating between building my own 4 or 6, so are warmoth 6 necks reinforced?

    Also, has anyone ever had a bad experience converting to the 6?
  11. glivanos

    glivanos Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2005
    Philadelphia Area
    If the neck is designed and constructed properly, it should not be a problem.

    I have a early 90's six-string locally made (the late Dale Bluebond - Phila, PA) bass, neck is as straight as the day it was made.

    It is a 7 piece neck thru with dual steel rod stiffeners and a single two way adjustable truss rod.
  12. It's seems unlikely that no person has regretted moving to the 6. :eyebrow:
  13. Well, I went to GC today and tried out the only 6 they had (Warwick corvette standard 6) and it was "Freakin Sweet". I had a little trouble recognizing what string I was on immediately (is that D or A? oh, ok...) but I got used to it in like 20 minutes. One of the only concerns I had was that when I slapped I often hit another string in the process of slapping, so there were random open strings ringing periodically. I assume these problems would disappear on a wideneck with normal spacing, though. Therefore, my biggest worry is that I will not be able to memorize the fingerboard with all the new notes (honestly, I have not really memorized any notes past the 9th fret on the 4) Although maybe it isn't that important because scales and what not always have the same fingerings no matter where you play them, so I may not know what I'm playing, but I'll know that it FITS! :D

    Any thoughts on this?
  14. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Well, the process of memorizing the fingerboard is an ongoing on anyway, so I wouldn't worry about that. But as you say, because the patterns all extrapolate in the same way across the extra strings as they do on the middle four, once you find your key, it's quite easy to play by shape without really knowing what's going on. :)

    and after all, if it sounds good, it is good!

  15. True dat. I'm adding that to my sig. :bassist: