Looking to get a 6er in the next few months, and I've narrowed it down to two options

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sgroh87, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. Sgroh87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    I played the bass for a few years back in middle school and some high school, but I picked up the saxophone and the bass fell by the wayside. Recently I've decided to learn the guitar or relearn the bass. I've been borrowing a friend's starter guitar, and while I'm enjoying the heck out of it, I'm still yearning for my dream instrument - a six-string bass. I plan on playing solo a lot of the time, though I do like the idea of playing with a partner or group. I listen to pretty much everything as long as it's musical: blues, jazz, metal, funk, and hip hop. I also love chordal bass work. I don't plan on playing anything very heavy, though. I'm probably going to be buying my instrument in the next few months, and I've narrowed it down to two instruments; one of which is a pretty standard 6er, and the other is a bit more unusual.

    The first is an Ibanez SR506. I've had a chance to play this bass, and I liked it a lot. The neck is thin and very fast, and the action is low. The scale length is 34" which makes the low B a little muddier than I'd like (or so I've heard). Full chords using all six strings also sounded pretty ugly, though four and five string chords were pretty nice. Overall, though, it was really good.

    The second choice is a little different. It's called the Hellcat VI, and it's made by Schecter. This is a descendant of the Fender Bass VI. It's a 30" scale length guitar tuned one octave beneath a standard guitar. For me, this instrument seems to have a few advantages over a regular six string bass. First of all, it has an extended high range rather than high and low, making it more suitable for solo play (in my opinion). It is also tuned the same as a guitar, meaning that all of the chords I've learned on the guitar can be transferred directly to the Hellcat "bass," and they will likely sound as good as the five-string chords I played on the 506. The cool thing about this instrument is that it seems like one can play it like a bass or a guitar, depending on the situation.

    I'm leaning towards the Hellcat VI pretty heavily, but I have a few reservations because I haven't been able to find one to playtest yet. I worry about finding strings that will fit, because in my little bit of internet searching LaBella seems to be the only company that makes strings to fit this instrument. I guess I can contact Schecter and see what they use, but I'd rather find something I can get in a brick & mortar store. I wonder if the strings are as thick as regular bass strings or not. I also worry that since it's not a bass and it's not a guitar, it's not going to do a very good job at fulfilling either job. The string spacing is also a concern; it seems to be much tighter than a regular 6er bass, closer to a guitar. I've played a guitar fingerstyle before, so the Hellcat shouldn't be too difficult to pick up (though it's probably very different than a regular bass). I probably won't be able to do much slapping and popping, though.

    Anyway, I'm gonna try to find a Hellcat to test, but if anyone has some experience with it or an instrument like it, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

    EDIT: While I do appreciate people making recommendations on other brands, let's just say that I would prefer an Ibanez or a Schecter. If you must suggest something that is not one of those two brands, I would request that it be something that is sold at Guitar Center: Fender, Epiphone, B.C. Rich. Thank you!
  2. markkoelsch


    Sep 6, 2008
    If I were you I would take a look for a Carvin 6er. The resale on them is not good, but the quality is. I have two a fretted and fretless, and they are really good basses.
  3. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    Sgrog87, I started on an Ibanez 706, much like the 506, but in a different transparent black finish with a figured maple top. A beautiful bass with more of a lead kind of sound than the 506. I liked everything about the SR basses so I found a Prestige a couple weeks later and pretty much just play that now.

    If I were you, I would hold out for a used Prestige, even though as a beginner I really cannot tell any difference (build quality) in my 706 and my 3006E. Guitar Center has them pretty inexpensively sometimes.

    I think SRs have a great sound and playability...I don't know anything about a Hellcat. I really wasn't into getting anything I couldn't readily get help, advice, and accessories for...
  4. nutdog

    nutdog when I'm a good dog they sometimes throw me a bone Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    In the dog house.
    I can't help you but I will say I've never heard of the Hellcat VI but now I want one.
  5. Sgroh87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    I know, right? They're marketed as guitars, which is why (I think) most bassists don't know about them.
  6. I have no experience with Schecter but read positive comments. However, I have personally owned an Ibanez SR885 for 19 years. It still sounds great. You cannot go wrong with Ibanez. SR506 would be the best starting point I would recommend for you.
  7. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    I can't speak to the Hellfire VI, but when I went shopping for a 5-string years ago, I had no preconceptions, other than not much liking the P-bass form factor. After working my way through the "modern" 5-string rack at GC, the 35" scale Schecter Stiletto Elite played and sounded better than any of the Yamahas, Ibanezes, or other modern 5ers under $2000, despite being cheaper than most of them. There seems to be general agreement that Schecters are very good value for money, and I wouldn't worry too much about finding strings in this day and age of internet vendors.
  8. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    So you think the low B on the 506 is muddy because someone is telling you it is?
  9. Sgroh87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    No, I think that the B sounded muddy because the string felt floppy when it vibrated and it was more of a rumble than a musical tone. I read that the reason it was kind of muddy was because of the 34" scale rather than a 35" or 36" scale. Sorry if there was any confusion.
  10. I've owned the SR506, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I've also always been a huge fan of Schecter guitars, moreso than their basses. That being said, it's up to you to figure out what style of instrument you're more interested in. My interest is piqued regarding that Hellcat VI...

    Edit: Also, the B on that 506 is pretty nice.
  11. jellymax


    Nov 29, 2006
    SF CA
    if budget is an issue, i would pick a juicy 5 string that would fit in at any AUDITION.
    a 6er might be considered a bit fiddly at some auditions. just my opinon based on
    experience with people
  12. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    los angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    imho you're going about it wrong. A 6-string bass is not a 6-string guitar. Typically when you comp on a bass you'll do 3, maybe 4 note chords and not voiced the same as on a guitar. You also often won't use E and especially B string unless you're doing a separate bass line.

    The B-string usually needs to be played a bit differently than the other strings depending on the instrument (for that matter, so does the G and C-string). There are basses that have great B-strings that have 33", 34", 35" and 36" scale. The length is a factor but construction and execution is more important, as is player technique.
  13. Sgroh87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    Fair enough, but I don't ever see myself "auditioning" in the future. I like music, and I like playing with people, but I know that I'm not good enough to really make a living off of it. That's why it's important for me to find something that's fun to play in a group and solo. Budget isn't my concern, it's that I enjoy playing the bass and the guitar, and I don't have the time or money to learn and keep up with both. I'm trying to find a compromise. :)
  14. Sgroh87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    Good to know! Like I said, I haven't played bass in a long, long time, and I was never "good" at it. I never took lessons, nor did I seriously play with other people. I was just trying to emulate what I knew about guitar chords on the 6er by adjusting the tuning to BEADF#B and producing a D chord by fingering a guitarist's G chord (for example).

    And I knew that the scale wasn't the be all, end all of the B string quality, but I knew it was a significant factor. I guess I overstated its importance.
  15. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    I own a few basses.... quite a few.

    After gigging extended range for years... overall, I've come to the conclusion that it's 5 or 7... reason is just what you said... it goes high enough to clearly chord... and low enough to do a bass line.

    I can play a guitar lick and nobody could tell that it wasn't a guitar.

    For 6s... bass.. the ibanez stuff is doable (I don't own one of these so it's not a "I love my" reply)... my personal preference has been modulus and/or cirrus

    That being said... even my $$$$$$$$$ 6s aren't clear enough to clearly chord...

    To start, you can pick up a Conklin GT7 for 600-800 used... they are hefty
  16. Sgroh87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    This is an example of the kind of playing I'm interested in:


    I know that he's not the absolute best bassist in the world, but I like how he uses tapping, chords, and percussive effects to provide rhythm, melody, and harmony. That's kind of what I'm after, though a more guitar-like sound for blues or jams would be pretty awesome, too.
  17. stodgers


    Jul 10, 2005
    Columbus, MT
    You know what's awesome? Doing a search for one thing, and finding some ridiculously good bass player on youtube. Thanks for those links.