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Nashville bound - 6 string "not cool"?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by OmNomNom, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. OmNomNom


    Jul 10, 2011
    Wilmington, DE
    This one is for the guys active in the Nashville scene.

    I plan on relocating to Nashville very soon and have a few contacts I can use to cut my teeth and dive in, hopefully not getting too eaten up in the process. My main axe right now is a 6 string Ibanez, my other basses are cheaper toys and I am yet to invest in another really good axe due to financial constraints. I am mostly a fusion, funk, and jazz guy but I also love country, both the newer pop stuff and the traditional stuff.

    My main goal is a touring artist gig, small or large.

    I know there is a lot of politics involved, and with touring acts you tend to want to not stand out too much as the focus is on the star. I know 5 strings are popular with the current country format, a lot of low B sounds on those radio tunes can be heard. The question is - should I be worried about investing in a good 5 or a 4? Is extended range considered "not cool" or too flashy for the scene? This might seem silly but it is a legitimate concern of mine.
  2. You're WAY ahead of yourself. Realistically it will take about 5 years for you to work into the scene. Remember EVERYONE goes to Nashville to make it. You don't know what competition is yet. It a pressure cooker and most people wash out. I know several people that thought they could just walk in a be gigin' in less than a year. When it didn't happen they went home. I saw that A LOT. You gotta be in it for the long haul.

    You're going to have to pay the dues on Broadway, get to know the other players and prove yourself to be a good player and reliable. You're gonna do a lot of crap gigs.

    There's alot of 4 and 5 string basses, but there is one guy that plays a Conklin 7. Lighter is better. If you've got a heavy 6, stand in one place for 4 hours and see how it feels on back.

    Don't worry about road gigs. You're not there yet.

    Most new country you're gonna want that low B. So I'd go 5. If you do a lot of gigs with female singers that B is gonna come in real handy.
  3. OmNomNom


    Jul 10, 2011
    Wilmington, DE
    Thanks for the response.. and good point about the weight aspect, that makes sense.

    Just to take note of the aspects you outlined with the 5 years.. I totally get it, I know a few people who bailed way before that. One of them left after a year.. his friend stayed and several years later is touring with a major act. I am not disillusioned about showing up and working at all.. I expect years of disappointment before my networking builds enough for it to be worthwhile.

    Thanks again for the info, and especially the info with the reality check! Keeping my eyes on the prize..
  4. redwookie

    redwookie Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Saw (broadcast) a 6 string Bongo HH being played for the entire show on a Nashville live outdoor stage only 3 weeks ago.

    IMHO, oddly the color and body style may be more of an issue than the number of strings.

    Good luck.

    BTW, I agree that a fiver is really nice for Country. Great for that walk up to a G chord, alternating low bass, and resolving a D on a lower note.
  5. frisbieinstein


    Dec 29, 2007

    What color would get you fired?
  6. Ponsonby Britt

    Ponsonby Britt You don't rock a Thunderbird, it rocks you. Supporting Member

    Oct 8, 2013
    Don't be surprised if you are advised to buy a Precision once you're down there.
  7. moff40


    Oct 18, 2013
    Vancouver Island BC Canada
    Endorsing Artist: Warwick Basses
    ^^ +1

    I'm not a Nashvillian, so it might be different there, but for most sessions I've done, the "Fender sound" is what they want, and if you show up with anything other than a P or J, they'll send you home.
  8. claytitan


    Mar 12, 2008
    I would guess that something that is classic. White, black, sunburst, natural etc with a white, black or tort pickguard is blend in enough. Anything Fenderish would probably work. Jazz, precision, musician, G & L, Lakeland....

    Get a 5er. Get a decent rig that isn't overkill. A 2 x 12 or a 4 x 10. Learn to sing backup well and make the lead singers look good. Learn every frickin country song that made the top 40. Learn to read numbers. Smile and be a nice guy to everyone.
  9. Having worked in the "Nashville" scene back in the 90's...trust me when i say if you want ANY studio work at all buy a Fender P or J or Both...I once showed up to a recording session with an Alembic, the way the producer acted, you would have thought i shot his dog...
  10. superblues

    superblues Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    TB Member two fingers offers a lot of his unique opinions on Nashville and Fender instruments in this thread.
  11. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    Ask me about the time I showed up for a subbing gig in a Broadway pit orchestra with a Steinberger!
  12. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I lived in Nashville most of my life. A friend of mine once told me, "It's more important to be a 'good dude' in Nashville than to be a great player". Everyone in Nashville can play, and when it comes to bass, you aren't only competing with other bass players, you're also competing with all the guitar players who took gigs playing bass because the band didn't need another guitar player. It's kind of a running joke that every musician in Nashville has "and bass" at the end of their resume. "I play guitar, piano, synth, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, bassoon, tuba, sing lead, backgrounds....and bass". You get gigs by being fun to work with and a pleasure to hang around. Of course, you have to be able to play on a pro level, but you can't walk down the street without tripping over pro level players playing for the change people toss in their case.

    I'm not a great player...heck, I'm not even a good player, but I am a people person and I work my butt off to learn songs and play my part. I found myself on a gig once with perhaps the best steel guitar player in the world, Bruce Bouton, and Kid Rock's former drummer, Shakey Fowlkes (yeah...that's a strange combo). I was scared stiff, but managed to play a few more right notes than wrong ones. :D

    Best advice I can give you is to "hang out" with the players in town. Go to local venues and listen to the local bands. You won't believe the talent you'll hear for a $10 cover. Chat with them, get to know them, support their efforts, and be ready for that call when you're needed.

    Old Nashville joke:

    How do you find a great musician in Nashville?

    "Oh waiter!"

    LOL! :p

    All the bass players I know in Nashville are quality people first. Guys like Adam Nitti and Roy Vogt are fine examples. Great people and great musicians.
  13. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    +1.5 gagillion

    I play with some up and coming Nashville acts when they come my way. I recently bought a 5 string P bass (burst tort) so that I could avoid all the crap that went along with not having a P. But I still get some rolled eyes over the 5 string part.
  14. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN

    Yep....I have the same P5 for the same reason. Strung with flats too! :)
  15. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    A good P or J 4-string and a good (preferably Sadowsky) Jazz or P/J 5er would be my recomendation. The artist I am working with now (who spent quite a while gigging, living, and recording in Nashville) prefers my Fender CS Jazz and my Sadowsky over my '69 P, '55 P, Roadworn Jazz, and Lakland 55-01D. IMHO, looking traditional (and attractive) on stage are important, but sounding great and totally consistently correctly nailing the music is absolutely required.

    I take the liberty of regularly finding the right moment to ask the artist and/or BL how they like my work, including style, sound, volume, stage work, and "costume."
  16. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Minor hijack - are the notes below a "D" on the "B" string really needed in Country? I recently started up a Country cover band and play shortscale - so I'm trying to "make do" with DGCF tuning.
  17. adk teleman

    adk teleman

    Aug 28, 2011
    Alex Bay NY
    Back in the 90's I worked for Sony Nashville and was lucky enough to do sessions and some touring. There is some great advice from fellow Tbers here! I did see on sessions guys show up with anything but a P or J and they were shown the door quicker than you can say Fender. Be nice, know how to read music! All forms, TAB, Nashville numbers and normal sheet music. You have to be good at sight reading. As for your rig, Heck I used to use a simple Fender Bassman and a 1x 15 enclosure with a BBE 383 bass preamp. Be solid and remember, you are not the star! You are the rhythm section and need to be consistent! Also, be good to the soundmen and engineers!! Those guys can have a great deal of influence on who works with you! Good luck and remember...if the dream is worth it the toil is easy!!
  18. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    well C is a very country key and even a low B is a third of G-another country key
  19. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    I noticed a lot of these newer country slow songs seem to have the low C in them.
  20. Probably anything neon. :D