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New bass day: first 6 string!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Mark Plays Bass, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. Mark Plays Bass

    Mark Plays Bass Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2008
    Bronx, NY
    I just got my first six string bass - a Roscoe Century Standard 6. I don't know anything about six string basses yet, but I think it's a wonderful instrument. It has a clear tone and is very comfortable in many aspects - weighing at only 8.8 lbs.

    I'm looking forward to learning how to play chords (triple stops) and more melody playing.

    Any tips or encouragement for getting started with a six string will be appreciated. Thanks!

    I know the rules, so here's a picture:
    Roscoe Century Standard 6 1d.
  2. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    Nice bass dude, congrats. I've used a 6er as my main bass for originals since 2007. For me the single coolest thing about it is the potential for chording. I've developed a vocabulary of chord voicings that involve playing the lowest note (usually the root of course) on one of the lowest strings, while playing two of the higher notes (usually either the third and fifth, or third and seventh) on the higher strings. I play in two bands with just guitar, bass, and drums, and this helps carry the harmony during guitar solos.

    As for tips, I have just one. When I started on 5-string, I made the mistake of thinking of it as simply a 4-string with just one extra string. That was a mistake. When I transitioned to a 6er, I made a commitment to myself to treat it as an instrument in its own right, with its own possibilities, and that has made all the difference.
  3. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Nice bass! Bassist4eris hit the nail on the head. It's a whole new instrument with whole new possibilities.

    Hints: It's not a 4 string with a few extra higher and lower notes. However it IS a 6 string with a 5 string hiding in there!

    Get your thumb on the back of that wide neck and keep it there. Get comfy with that diving board. Takes some woodshed time but does happen.

    Learn cross-neck scales and how you can move them to any string or key. Start here:


    Also another good book is called "powertools for the 4, 5, and 6 string bass" or something like that...

    And lastly, you'll discover that while string damping never gave you any problem on your 4 string suddenly it's a nightmare. What you need to do to deal with it is quit anchoring your thumb and lay it across the low strings to damp the ones you aren't playing . It's called the "floating thumb" method. There is a nice discussion of it in the ask the pros forum and the guy there has a youtube video showing how.

    And just dig in! Welcome to ERB and good luck!
  4. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    Yeah what the other guys said- learn your B string inside and out, and re- position your favorite tunes to optimize using the B and C As much as organically possible.
  5. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Buy Roy Vogt's ''Getting the most from 6 string bass'' DVD :p It's thé best way to learn playing the 6 string bass :) He will discuss neck familiarization, scale and modal shapes, slapping, tapping, chord progressions, harmonics, classical guitar techniques, finger style grooves, theory and more! :p
  6. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    I've been playing a 6 for about 8 years. Check out John Myung's Progressive Bass Concepts video. Unfortunately it isn't available on DVD but the whole thing is available on youtube in installments.

    A right hand technique tip I have is use your pick up, B, E, and A strings as thumb rests and mute the low strings you aren't playing with the side of your right thumb.

    One of the beautiful things about the six is that you have two octaves and a fourth in one position so you can play more without shifting.

    I also believe that every 6 string bassist should learn at least 10 Anthony Jackson bass lines since he is the father of the instrument. Here is one of my favorite clips:

    I also have a couple of exercises that I came up with that I'll share if you PM me.

    Stay Brown,
    Rev J
  7. Mark Plays Bass

    Mark Plays Bass Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2008
    Bronx, NY
    Thanks for the nice welcome to ERB everyone! I really appreciate all your good advice and recommendations.

    Actually, I've been playing a five string for a little over year. I've practiced my scales and arpeggios on it, taking advantage of all five strings, but I feel I haven't fully integrated the B string into my playing yet.

    This advice really resonated for me:
    Fortunately when I started playing my five string I started using the floating thumb technique, so I have a leg up on getting comfortable with the six string.

    Thanks again,
  8. Over-thinking it might frustrate you a bit. Try closing your eyes sometimes and just listen to yourself play. Wear your bass a little higher on the strap for wrist comfort. The "floating thumb" is not for everybody, I've noticed picking hand fatigue during fast galloping in heavy progressive music! Certain modern bass techniques require many other forms of muting...
  9. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Well you certainly started off putting the right foot forward! IMO it doesn't get any better than a Roscoe 6'er!

    When I went from the 5 to a 6 I just played it the first few weeks as a 5 string, primarily getting use to the high C being there. Then I slowly incorporated the C into my playing.

    It's a blast! Enjoy it!:)
  10. rjmsteel

    rjmsteel Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2009
    Lake County, IL
    Rev J:

    That link to AJ is the bomb!
    I went to the local music store today & ordered Tapewound D'addario long scale strings for my Six string Alembic today. Being an Élan model and constructed with an overdose of Maple, I'm going to try and mellow out the tone and see if that works. Of course I could only the the set for Five string & will use a nickel .025" for the C.

    Congrats to the OP on the Roscoe, and new frontiers with your six!
  11. Jaco Taco

    Jaco Taco

    Jul 30, 2012
    I've owned a 6-string for 15 years now, if you are into playing chords, and know how to to play guitar, you might think about tuning the 1st string down to B instead of having it at C. It makes very little harmonic sense to have an instrument where the 1st and 6th strings are off by a minor ninth, but if you tune it BEADGB, chording on the instrument becomes a lot easier and you can incorporate a lot of guitar chordings with it.
  12. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    If you know theory and you have practice scale, arpeggio, permutation and floating thumb. you will find the the transition very easy.

    You know ... it is still a bass, it works the same way. I never understood people saying it is a different instrument... to me a bass is a bass no matter the number of string as long as you have the same technic on all of them. I mean if you use floating thumb, do it on every bass etc.
  13. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    I respectfully disagree with this sentiment (I know I sound like Anthony Jackson). Keeping the high C string has a continuity of of tuning that requires less getting used to. B-E-A-D-G-C is straight fourths across the neck where as if you tune down that high string to a B it is then 4th, 4th, 4th, 4th, Major 3rd. It messes with technique already developed by playing instruments that have already had those stacked 4th tunings for years.

    If you ever get into jazz and jazz voicings they are usually quartal with no root. A perfect example is a 7-3-13 voicing for example a C Major 13 would be voiced B-E-A the root is leaft out because the bass would be playing it and the fifth is leaft out because it is not an essential chord tone. Leaving you with that set of stacked fourths. Tuning that C string down a major third actually makes that voicing more difficult to play. I think this is why Django Reinhardt loved those types of voicings since he only had 2 functioning fingers to work with.

    Stay Brown,
    Rev J
  14. Jaco Taco

    Jaco Taco

    Jul 30, 2012
    This is silly.
    1. Changing the tuning on the first string doesn't "mess with technique", no string tuning is going to mess with your technique! It's just a semi-tone difference on one string. Are you saying bass guitarists are too dumb to do what guitarists do all the time???

    2. Tell me how many jazz guitarists tune their guitars in all fourths? Pretty much nobody. If you can play jazz chords on a guitar tuned EADGBE than you can certainly play jazz chords on a bass tuned BEADGB.
  15. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    In response to 1) Why add shifts when you don't need to? It is easier to keep that continuity. You know how the original Fender Bass V was tuned? E-A-D-G-C. Maybe Leo Fender thought that bassists were too dumb. Traditionally 5 string uprights were tuned the same way.

    In response to question 2) I can name at least 3 guitarists off the top of my head that use straight fourths tuning. Stanley Jordan, Adrian Belew, and M. Ward. Don't quote me on Ward though. Maybe it's because most guitarists are too dumb to be able to break with tradition. Besides you and Tim Bogert how many bassists can you name that tune their C string down to B.

    If you want to think more like a guitarist why not just tune E-A-D-G-B-E and play with a pick.

    By the way I didn't say you couldn't play jazz chords with the Major 3rd on top I said it is easier if you have the stacked fouths.

    Stay Brown,
    Rev J