Poll: [update] If you're only playing high notes, are you still playing bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tb-player, Jun 24, 2022.

  1. Yep. It all counts.

  2. Nah. They should just buy a guitar.

  3. Who Cares? It's impressive.

  4. I hate it... but that's only because I can't do it

  5. Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower... they're all vegetables.

Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. tb-player


    Mar 6, 2019
    I'm not sure if it's an algorithm thing or an increasing popularity thing, but it sure seems like I'm seeing a lot more 6-string players on Instagram and Youtube. A sixer is a cool instrument. In fact, I've been toying with getting one myself. But as a prospective 6-string owner, I have an honest question.

    Most of these musicians don't really play bass-lines. The ones I'm seeing are mostly playing chords and melodies, all centered around the high C string, well above the 12th fret. It's beautiful, freaking impressive and I wish I was better at it myself. But in the end, when I want to do something chordal and melodic, I grab my electric guitar or maybe my nylon string.

    Granted, It's cool and vibe and all to hear it on bass. But in my mind (in MY mind), that's not really bass.

    Here's my thinking... If I told everyone I sang the bass part, they would scratch their heads if I opened my mouth and sounded like Sting. They'd say, "You're not a bass singer. You're a tenor." Isn't the same true for guitars?

    So what are your thoughts? Keep in mind, I'm not talking about players who can do the bass and the melody together. That's a serious flex!! I'm genuinely curious what other bassists think about guys who play bass guitars but rarely play bass notes.

    [I updated the title. It was not in line with the question... sorry!]
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2022
  2. Just because you see a guy play a Bach piece up the neck on his six string bass doesn’t mean that this is all he does. It just means you saw him do that.

    He may also play Motown or some other cover stuff, like everyone else.

    I try to remember that a bass is just a tool. And that this YouTube stuff is not necessarily a representation of the player. It’s just something for attention. Or to make money.
  3. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    You can play high pitched guitary stuff on a four string too.
  4. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    Or maybe you don’t understand?
    Or maybe I don’t understand the question of your thread title?

    …but maybe you have a point if you’re talking about the Fender Bass VI and others like them.

    An actual 6 string bass (referred to by Anthony Jackson as a ‘Contra’ bass) is generally tuned B, E, A, D, G, C and has string spacing generally the same as a 4 string bass depending on the manufacturer as well as 34” or 35” scale length.

    A Bass VI is tuned just like a 6 string guitar, but an octave lower E, A, D, G, B, E usually 30” scale and tight string spacing closer to string spacing on a guitar than a bass. These are really handy for guitarists who may be put in a position where they need to play bass on occasion, like John Lennon was on the Beatles White album.

    (this is in response to the original title question of the thread and not the new title of the thread)
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2022
    mikehalloran likes this.
  5. J_Bass

    J_Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    Good question.

    I responded "Yes", because it's still a bass. They are not playing the traditional role of bass, but it's a bass, anyway.

    Personally, I prefer the tone and sound of chordal bass playing, than if it was played on a guitar. But that is personal taste.

    I had a 5 string bass E-C, and I played it for a year or so. Learned some chords, did some simple solo versions of a couple of tunes.
    Sold the bass, because although I find it interesting, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It reminded me why I don't play guitar and never wanted to learn it. I just don't like it. I like the bass part.
    valaka, MonetBass, 2cooltoolz and 5 others like this.
  6. J_Bass

    J_Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    The title of the post is misleading, though.

    One thing is to play a 6 string bass. Another thing is to play solo, or chordal bass.
  7. This is an easy one. If someone is playing a bass, they're playing a bass. If someone is playing a bass part, they're playing a bass part. One could play a bass part on something other than a bass, just as one could play something other than a bass part on a bass.

    Now, many humans have a drive to explore and create. They may build something that's like a bass, but different. They may write and/or perform a piece of music that's like a bass part, but different. This is beautiful and should be encouraged.
  8. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    I can see your point (just a tad) if you’re comparing ‘Johnny one note’ to say someone like Jeff Berlin, but in the end they’re still playing bass.
    Artman likes this.
  9. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    Not to go into a Jaco rant, but he soloed in the upper register a lot on fretless 4 string and no one would deny he was playing bass.
  10. I have thought along these lines also. With all the high notes and chords I believe there should be the supporting part from a bass.
    mikehalloran likes this.
  11. J_Bass

    J_Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    An example of what I think the OP is referring to:

    Which is different from this:

  12. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    :thumbsup: Variety is the spice of L, er, uh, Bass;)
  13. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    I think I know what your saying , a lot of jazz guys are playing up in the guitar range doing all manner of pretty solo playing and quite frankly its sometimes hard to tell untill they come back into the "bass" range that it was in fact a bass playing the part. Thats all well and fine if thats what you want to do......your making music so how is that a bad thing, right? The fact is there are the same notes just more of them, you can be very creative on a four string just as well as a six or whatever, when you get into the 17 string "bass" thing....I'm not sure what thats about exactly but if you can play the thing more power to ya.
  14. Dincrest


    Sep 27, 2004
    New Jersey
    With popular music trending more towards solo artists than bands, having a do-it-all bass that can do bass stuff and chordal/melodic stuff in one is cool.

    And it's not uncommon to see modern metal players using 6-strings and they can do both the bone-rattling bass stuff and the cool melodic/chordal interludes that create a sonic texture that a guitar can't quite capture.

    Who says bass has to be limited to 4-strings, 20 frets, one pickup, and only playing the money notes?

    I've spent a couple of years playing 6-strings and while they're fantastic, they just weren't for me. 5-string is my jam.
    Cal03, Bass4Brkfast, Artman and 3 others like this.
  15. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Your poll has nothing to do with the title of the thread IMHO.

    Regarding the title of the thread? No!

    Regarding the poll? If you are playing a 4-string bass with a two+ octave neck, you have plenty of high range to wank around in. But even if you play in that high range "all the time," it's not really the same as playing guitar. So the answer to the poll question is no.

    However, I think most people will find a bass player who only plays high notes to be worthless in a normal band context, although it's entirely fine if they are a featured soloist.

    For the record, a 6-string bass has been my #1 since about 1995, and I play plenty of low notes. I find both the Low-B and High-C strings to be very useful. However, if you can get the job done with 4 or less strings, I am entirely okay with it.
  16. h00v3r


    Jun 10, 2014
    Philadelphia, PA
    I would totally buy a guitar if I could find one with the same scale and string spacing as a bass
  17. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    I’m kinda torn on this. On the one hand, I feel like my prime directive as a bassist is to be open-minded and supportive of all bass-related vision, whether it results in something I want to hear or not. To be exclusionary is what I would consider unbassmanlike conduct.

    On the other hand, I am a dyed-in-the-wool rock-and-roll simpleton with very little appreciation for all that sweepy, tappy, chordal stuff once it is actually coming out of my speakers. I don’t want to sound judgmental, but I almost feel like this style of bass needs it’s own category. I propose we refer to this as “playing treble” from now on.
  18. tb-player


    Mar 6, 2019
    Ahhh yes. Maybe the title is a bit click-baitish. Oops! Not my intention. I'll change it.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2022
  19. J_Bass

    J_Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    I responded yes, and now my answer is the opposite of my opinion, haha!
  20. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Suspended

    Feb 16, 2011

    What about seven strings?
    I first saw John Jordan playing a seven string for Chris Duarte when he was touring behind Texas Sugar/Strat Magic around 1994. I was blown away.
    He pretty much proves to me that in the right hands, a hurdy gurdy can sound not just good, but appropriate to the music being played, if that makes any sense.
    I think it comes down to a bass player will sound like a bassist if they have one string or thirty, and a guitar player will sound like a guitarist if they have one string or sixty.
    Occasionally you get a hybrid who can move between skins with ease, they can be either bassist or guitarist no matter the string count. Those true splits can not only move between roles, they can do it in such a way that it’s appropriate for the situation moment to moment.
    the most amazing display of this ability I’ve ever witnessed was Freebo on a fretless J backing Rory Block doing an acapella rendition of Summertime. I caught it on an educational TV channel and have never seen it again, but it was mind blowing. He backed her when needed then took a couple solo breaks and the mood of the song was fully supported by everything he played.
    MonetBass likes this.

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