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Making the plunge to 6 strings

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by baste_artist, Dec 10, 2017.

  1. baste_artist


    Jun 9, 2013
    Greetings fellow bassters!

    I've been a strict 4 string player my whole life, always considering the low B to sound muddy, the high C to sound tinny. Not to mention Jaco didn't need any more than 4. I also played upright as my main focus for many years, and I liked to keep as much consistency as possible between instruments.

    Then it happened, I adding a high C to my breedlove acoustic (see this post for more details), and I absolutely fell in love. The chordal voicings, the ability to transcribe melodies in their original pitches, solo, etc. I realized I don't want to give that up, and also, I want to be able to have 1 bass that does it all. I realized that I should actually get a 6 string electric. All of a sudden something clicked, and it seems like 6 string basses just "make sense". You have all the low notes of a B3, and you have some nice chordal voicings like a guitar. When jamming with a band, I haven't found the desire or need for more notes, but when playing alone, the additional strings really inspire and motivate me to practice more and explore the possibilties.

    I'm going to be traveling abroad for nearly the entire year next year, and I thought to myself, I should get myself a nice 6 string bass, because I'll have lots of free time to study and practice. I better make it electric, that way if I score some gigs along the way, I can hang with a loud band. Obviously, it led me to the SR506. I like the idea of close string spacing, as that's what I have on my acoustic (since it was originally a 4 string), and I love it. I play a lot of different styles, from finger picking bossa/jazz chords, to fingerstyle funk, walking bass, reggae, latin, and I'm also getting more into thumb picking funk styles. No slap though, not a fan.

    Anyways, I went to guitar center and played a Mitchell fusion 6 string, and immediately enjoyed my first 6 string experience. I actually got offered a church gig within the first 2 minutes of noodling. I thought it was a sign, but I had to run. I did some research on the brand after my experience, and read nothing but bad reviews. I figured the SR506 was still probably a better way to go, yet there is no way for me to play one locally. I went ahead and ordered a used one from GC for around 350, that way I knew if I didn't like it, I could return it easily enough.

    Received it yesterday, immediately didn't like it. It wasn't in the best of condition, pretty gunky, scratched up, and the battery cover in the back seems like its about to pop out. The strings are old and flaking apart, and the frets buzz like a mofo.

    NOW, my debate is this; do I get new strings, set it up properly, and give some TLC to this bass to try and get to know it a bit, or do I just return it to GC, and either a; order a brand new/better condition sr506, or say f it and buy that mitchell fusion regardless of what other people say, or just stay in the market and try to get my hands on some before making the decision.

    FYI, my main bass for nearly 10 years has been a G&L 2000 (not tribute), for which I cannot part. I also loved a fretless warwick where I switched out the pickups to bartolini J-bass. I always play my gnl passive, and I cater towards a vintage warm funk/jazz type of sound. I realize the Mitchell has similar style pickups to the gnl, where the bartolinis on the ibanez might be warmer.

    Thanks for listening to my internal debates. Any opinions or suggestions would be great!
  2. dmt


    Apr 19, 2003
    Orbiting Sol
    Obviously if it’s not time critical, you should wait and try a few out.

    That said, no matter what, return the SR506 — you already don’t like it, and now it’s going to be your traveling companion around the world?

    You immediately hit it off with the Mitchell, so if time is a factor, just get the Mitchell. Worse comes to worse, you eventually find something you like better and move on

    My 2 cents, lol (what do I know!)
    TolerancEJ and tlc1976 like this.
  3. Flaked Beans

    Flaked Beans

    Sep 9, 2005
    Just played a new SR506 at guitar center and it was very good for the money. Return the used bass and get a new one.

    PS. I've never played a mitchell bass.
  4. baste_artist


    Jun 9, 2013
    I have about 1.5 months before I leave, so time is some what of a factor. I'm going to try and play as many 6 strings as I can, but they're fairly hard to come by, even in the SF bay area. I'd really love to try a good condition/new sr506...
  5. tlc1976


    Aug 2, 2016
    I've never played a Mitchell either. Granted there was a lot of work the Ibanez needed, but could you get an idea otherwise how each fit you? Body contour, weight, neck dive, position it hangs on you? Neck contour (Ibanez are known for thin necks) and string spacing, how did those compare to the Mitchell? Those are all things that aren't going to change regardless if the bass needs work, and things that you're going to live with every time you play it.

    If the Ibanez feels better than the Mitchell did, I'd go for a new Ibanez. If not then get the Mitchell. Go back and try the Mitchell some more if need be. Check out everything in detail, play with the pots and jack (which seems to be a common subject in reviews). In any case I'd say return the used Ibanez, it sounds like a project bass is something you don't have time for.

    I read some reviews of the Mitchell, it sounds like the quality is hit or miss. Sounds like the one you played was a good one, so if you prefer it to the Ibanez then I'd say get that exact one you played. And if you change your mind later, you can always order an Ibanez.

    BTW I think a 6 string is the best balance of playability as well. You get the low B, and for me the high C is good for octave jumps and higher runs without the extra shifting. And the width still feels normal.
    Garret Graves likes this.
  6. el_Bajo_Verde


    May 18, 2016
    You mention that the Ibanez SR506 was scratched up, I'll just warn you now...ALL Ibanez SR5xx series basses have an extremely soft finish and will be scratched up in no time. That's just the way they are. My SR505 was the same way. They scratch and dent so easily.
  7. AndreasR


    Oct 23, 2012
    Jaco and James Jameson both used only 4 strings. Now they're dead.

    That can't be a coincidence.
  8. baste_artist


    Jun 9, 2013

    I loosened the truss rod on the sr506 a bit this morning, and it pretty much eliminated the fret buzz. I can say that I do in fact like the dimensions and feel of the instrument! But I really don't like the tone from the instrument/strings.

    Now I'm debating if I should go ahead and order a decent set of strings, and give this thing a legitimate setup to try and achieve tone/action that I want. Or go ahead and order a new one. Will also try and play some other instruments when I get the chance..
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
  9. tlc1976


    Aug 2, 2016
    You're probably not going to like the tone no matter what you do, unless you put some new strings on it. If tone is a deciding factor, you might want to put on some new strings, take it to GC, and try both the Ibanez and Mitchell through the same amp. That way it's a fair comparison. That is if you're still considering the Mitchell.

    Considering loosening the truss rod pretty much took care of the problem (and the action is still good for you), and if you're planning on getting strings and a setup for it anyway, it might be a good idea to keep as a backup, in case anything unfortunate happens. While your main bass is a new Ibanez. That is if you're pretty much decided on the Ibanez, and if finances allow it.
  10. srayb


    Oct 27, 2010
    I was lucky to get an older SR506 (darker colour, pickups also shifted closer to bridge than the current ones). Not only great price used, but great condition and I have loved playing it for years now. It is true that Ibanez SR basses have a lot more high end tone than a lot of other basses, but nothing that can’t get changed with a good amp or DAW/software. And playability is great due to thin neck and light weight. Strings will make a difference so if they are old I’d suggest changing them.

    You might want to try the Ibanez BTB series 6-string basses. They are a bit bigger (35” scale vs. 34) but have a beefier tone.

    You are definitely right that the 6-string bass is like the Swiss Army knife. Many times I’ve been glad I had it when the urge comes to go higher or lower you can do both.

    Good luck in your search!
    el_Bajo_Verde likes this.
  11. Jaco's son Felix plays a 6-string Fodera.
    el_Bajo_Verde likes this.
  12. AndreasR


    Oct 23, 2012
    And look at how alive he is.

    I think I've proven my point.
    TolerancEJ likes this.

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