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Looking for 6-String Bass recommendations

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by moosik, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. moosik


    Feb 8, 2009
    My 9 year old son is doing really great on bass and is ready to move to full-size. He's been playing 3/4 so far.
    His teacher suggested we move to 6-string right away, without spending a few more years on 4 or 5 strings. So we need to find a suitable bass.

    We would like it to be light and sound is of course important. Short neck would probably help, but we tried Ibanez BTB and the kid could play it.

    I'd appreciate some recommendations on basses we should try out. The kid plays everything from rock to funk to jazz. So the bass needs to be versatile.

    Thanks for your help.
  2. Antares

    Antares Supporting Member

    Jul 18, 2009
    Austin, TX
    Ibanez SR506/706

    34" scale should be a little easier on him than the BTB 35" scale. And the SR is a thin fast neck and IMO is one of the most versatile basses out there in terms of tone. Ive seen them used everywhere from Jazz to Death Metal.
  3. Kipaste


    Jun 27, 2006
    Helsinki, Finland
    I really am not an ibanez fan, but I think the sr506 would be a good option. Sounds decent, price won't kill you and has normal scale. Also, they pretty common so definately look for a used one so you won't lose money if it turns out six string isn't really your sons thing.
  4. I'm a 6 string player, but I would raise an eyebrow if a teacher said that he needed to get a 6 string ASAP. Granted, there are indeed teachers that religiously tell students to stay away from a 6er, too, so that's definitely not any better.

    Depending on his size, playing a 6er could be fairly challenging, but I'm a pretty short guy. I guess the big challenge is finding something that balances nice without being terribly expensive. I'm no snob, but 6ers add a lot of challenges that require more than widening the neck and adding 2 strings.

    Never mind what agenda the teacher wants to push (especially if there's just THE 6er in his shop ;) ) but what would your son want? LOL, we must always keep in mind that our tastes may change when we get older. My choice of bass or guitar from age 15 to age 30 is radically different.
  5. Rich Treat

    Rich Treat

    Mar 29, 2010
    I play six string bass, and I am not sure I would say that your son should move to 6 string right away. There is a lot that you can learn about when you are playing a 4 string that you might not concentrate on when you are playing a 6 string. For example, having a good feel and learning how to play within a group is far more important for a bass player than learning how to play with an extended range. I am curious why the teacher wants him to pick up a 6 string?

    That being said, I agree with the others that an Ibanez would be a good place to start. They are among the best for the price range that you'd probably want to start off in. If he likes it and gets good at it then you could look at a better bass later on.
  6. moosik


    Feb 8, 2009
    Thanks spade2you and Rich Treat for raising the concern about 6-strings for young players.

    I know that common wisdom suggests 4-string initially and then a move to 5 or 6 if you want to expand your range. But we can also look at it differently. The 6-string instrument offers a world of possibilities that are simply not there with smaller instruments. For example, I already witnessed my son play the same song (Stevie Wonder's Sir Duke) on a 4-string and a 6-string. The 6-string allows for the fast passage to be played in one position. The 4-string has him jumping around. Which is better for a young learner? It's hard to tell.

    In some ways, the 6-string is a totally different instrument from a 4-string. So, if my son is spending hours doing scales, and intervals, and spider exercises, perhaps it's best for him to do it with the end instrument in mind. Instead of a 2, or 3 octave scales, he can practice 4-octave scales, and become very comfortable with the wider range and multiple posit.

    So, if we view a 6-string as just adding range, then it's not so important for a young player. But if we view it as a different instrument, then it's a good idea to master its capabilities early on. I am aware that, going this way, he may find it may be a challenge for him to play 4-string later on. Maybe it's good to have both on hand.

    Of course, the size and weight are an issue for young players. This is why I posted the question about lighter/shorter-neck instruments. So far, it appears that everyone thinks we should stick with Ibanez. Any other suggestions?
  7. Rich Treat

    Rich Treat

    Mar 29, 2010
    Moosik - All good points. 6 string is definitely a different instrument than 4. There are many arguments for either approach and it sounds like you have a strong understanding of both sides of the discussion.

    I like you're example of Sir Duke. I think that I would argue that learning how to play that line with multiple positions, and having to shift around the neck is a very beneficial skill. For example, if he ever wanted to study upright bass, knowing how to shift positions smoothly would be a good crossover skill. Where as 6-string techniques would not help him cross over to upright as much. If he isn't interested in upright then my point is moot. But you mentioned that he plays jazz so that may be an option in the future.

    Ultimately music is something that should be fun, especially for a young player. So if he is excited about 6 string that is really the most important factor.... I can't think of any other brands under $1000 that would be a better start than the Ibanez.
  8. Beginner Bass

    Beginner Bass

    Jul 8, 2009
    Round Rock, TX
    A&R, Soulless Corporation Records
  9. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    There is no SX 6-string. Rondo sells Brice and Douglas 6-strings, but no SX.
  10. My only non ibanez suggestion would be a schecter, but they arent in the same lower price possibilities as ibanez, but i liked their Stilleto six string i played a lot more than the ibbys
  11. Bipslapper

    Bipslapper Well Ahoy, Paloi Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2009
    Cape Cod, MA
    Just found this threat and only read some posts, but also curious as to why a teacher would suggest a 9 year old find a 6 string bass in the near future! I am a recent 6 string player (Roscoe LG 3006) and love the extended range; I find it very odd someone would encourage someone so young to go there. I played 4 strings for many (at least 10 years) before adding a five string bass and now the 6er. If he/she is someone you trust and like then go with it.

    I echo the Ibanez 6 string recommendations- thin neck, lightweight and cheap. Be sure to get him a good strap for the extra weight- like Comfort Strapp. Good Luck
  12. Jonny Mah

    Jonny Mah

    Nov 9, 2009
    The whole thing sounds a little suspicious. I played 4 for about 10 years, moved on to a 5, and now I'm gravitating back towards the 4. I don't really get why a teacher would push a 9 year old kid to start playing 6 string bass - to be honest I've never really heard of such a thing. Also, you're not likely to find a 6 string worth owning for under $1000.
    I don't know - this is all sort of fishy.
    I tell my students to play whatever they want, and I can't imagine a circumstance where I'd tell the parents of a young child to invest in an extended range bass. It just doesn't add up.
  13. Bipslapper

    Bipslapper Well Ahoy, Paloi Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2009
    Cape Cod, MA

    Even $600-800 ain't chump change these days...

    Why learn to drive on a Cadillac when you start on a Corolla?

    ...Just sayin'
  14. sedgwick1489


    Dec 29, 2009
    Check out a Carvin, either an LB76 or an Icon 6. I've got x8 Carvin basses (x1 Icon 6), you won't be disappointed. Either will smoke any 6 string in it's price range ($1,000 - 1,300).
  15. Another vote for Ibanez. For the $$$$ I dont think they can be beat!! Rondo 's Brice & Douglas 6'ers get good reviews also
  16. Ziltoid

    Ziltoid I don't play bass

    Apr 10, 2009
    I'll just say what came to my mind:
    That's BS.
  17. OP says that the teacher suggested... but I'm sure he isn't having to twist the kid's arm. It isn't hard to imagine that the young player was already interested, maybe down right obsessive, about playing a six.

    When I started playing I owned a six within the first year. How did it affect my long term bass career? I don't know... I would have gained more fretboard knowledge by sticking to a four, but I may not have stuck with the instrument at all if when I told my four-string-playing father that I wanted a six he had told me to wait a few years.

    BTW, it was an Ibanez 506 and it is ideal for young hands. You won't find a thinner neck or tighter string spacing anywhere else. If he can handle the BTB (35" scale) the Sound Gear (SR) series (34") should be copacetic.
  18. KingCrimson


    Oct 6, 2008
    get a 4 string.

    6 strings aren't "needed" at all actually. They are very versatile, and allow for different techniques (tapping is nice on them) but there are SO many more important things to be focused on then those when your learning.

    look at all the studio bassists who use 4 or 5. The impression i'm getting from the teacher is that 6 is 4 is for beginners, 5 is the next step and 6 is the real deal........thats BS. There are crappy bassists who use 6.

    IMO get a new teacher who doesn't tap and sweep all the time, get a real bassist who grooves and knows how how to play in time. Your son will have a lot more fun playing in groups and being a solid base then learning how to shred and not being able to keep up with a metronome.
  19. SpamBot


    Dec 25, 2008
    St. Paul, MN
    Starting on a six could be a crutch. I enjoy ERBs for the convenience of not having to jump around the neck, but at some point in his musical career he may need that skill. For that reason, I would recommend he become comfortable with position changes.
  20. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    If your son wants to end up playing a 6-string, then by all means get him a 6-string now. There's nothing to be gained by getting him accustomed to one instrument now only to have to go through the hassle of converting later. Don't worry about the teacher- ask your son what he'd like to use as he gets older, and get that now. If a kid wants to learn to play guitar, you don't start him on a mandolin.

    Agreed. There are PLENTY of six-strings that will do just fine in that range- as mentioned, the Ibanez Soundgear series will likely be ideal with the tight spacing and thin neck.

    There are all sorts of terribly false ideas in this post. The idea that 6-string players and teachers spend most of their time learning/playing/teaching tapping, shredding, and sweeping is pure BS. The idea that adding range will take away from learning to keep time and groove is also a total fallacy. The number of strings your son chooses to learn on will have no bearing on the topics he chooses to focus on. Anyone who lived through the 80s can tell you that 99% of all the bad overplaying on bass has been done on a 4-string. The idea that the primary function of a 6-string is for fancy techniques rather than a direct extension of the fundamentals of bass playing is simply wrong.

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