Pros and Cons of the 6 string bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by boomerguitar, Dec 11, 2007.

  1. boomerguitar

    boomerguitar Guest

    Dec 11, 2007
    Im a guitar player and my friend is a bass player. Hes looking to upgrade from his Squier P bass to new bass.

    He wants to get a 6 string bass and I was wondering if you guys could help me out with the Pros and Cons of these bass guitars so I can help him make the best choice he wont regret in the long run.

    Thanks soooo much!

  2. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    The only downside I can think of is the high C string.
    I have heard a lot more weak ones than ones that were Real good sounding.
  3. Flintc

    Flintc Guest

    Aug 15, 2006
    The only conceivable drawback to a 6-string bass is, if you were raised on a 4-string and you're not used to it. This drawback is overcome with normal practice. But the long run is a long time, plenty long enough to try 5, 6, 7, and 8 strings (or more), fretted and fretless, active and passive, wood and graphite necks, double and single cutaway, and whatever else he might consider experimenting with. These decisions aren't any more permanent than you decide to make them.
  4. I've owned one 6 string over the years, and I never was able to adjust to it. The main issue I had was the sheer width of the neck - it never really felt natural to my left hand. Some sixes have tighter string spacing (I'm thinking Ibanez SR506), but this leads to other issues (slap/pop).

    I played fives exclusively for 10 years and recently went back to fours. The fours feel a lot faster and lighter to me now. Of course, I was one of those guys who mainly used the B string as a thumb rest - it just took me a while to notice.
  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    If you're not going to use the strings at some point it's pretty pointless. OTOH if you actually do "want" to use them, it's just a matter of spending time learning how and just becoming familiar with it. If you don't want to do that, it's a waste of time to own one.

    Then again the same is true for playing an instrument in general. Don't want to learn how to use it? Cool... the results are usually very predictable.
  6. Psychicpet

    Psychicpet Guest

    Mar 13, 2004
    Friend and Endorsee of Larry
    Pros: it's a 6 string Bass!!!

    Cons: it's a 6 string Bass!!!

    I'm just getting back into playing a 6 and absolutely love it but for as many as will say it's great you know there are going to be just as many saying that it sucks.... I'd vote for going with what's going to inspire him most as a player.

    Meaculpa likes this.
  7. Kobaia


    Oct 29, 2005
    San Diego, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amp Gruv Gear and Mono Cases
    I've owned a 4, 7, and 6, i settled on a 6, and i loved it since the day i bought it. i don't think I'd rather play anything else. let me do everything i want to do, and dosen't limit me
    Meaculpa likes this.
  8. Dbassboarder

    Dbassboarder Guest

    Nov 29, 2007
    After playing a 6 I can't go back to my 4, it just feels like I've somehow been cheated.
  9. ecufunk

    ecufunk Guest

    Nov 19, 2007
    they are really cool but this is the trick...a good 6 strings bass with the right scale and the right strings spacing is spenssive but worth it
  10. chucko58


    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    I've been playing a 6 as my primary instrument for a few years now. I'm a fingerstyle rock player. IME I just don't use the high C very often. I could be happy going back to a 5. If I was a modern jazz player the 6 would be more useful, but there's just not much call for chording in a rock cover band. :rolleyes:

    Challenges are finding a use for that extra string, finding a balanced set of strings, and reaching all the way across that big plank to get to the E or low B string.
  11. To me, the main benefit of a six is being able to play more notes out of one position. This can mean a lot if you're in a band that does intricate ensemble playing, or if you're a soloist. I can't see much use for the frets above 9 on the C string, though - unless you solo a lot.

    I think 5 is he perfect number, although I played 4 for more than 40 years. Today I have a WAV upright 4, a Lakland 5 and a Brice 6. The Lakland gets 90% of my time, with the Brice second and the WAV a rather distant third. If I had to chose one bass, it'd be the Lakland.
  12. A bass is a bass, the usefulness or a lack thereof is up to the user.

    Yup, you get 2 more strings. You can play more without having to shift all over the neck.

    Logistical cons: the additional neck width basically requires the bass to be balanced and have a comfortable neck profile, thus, ya often gotta spend more if you want it to work right. Since it's more bass, it might weigh more. If you listen to a luthier, he can help you make 'em very reasonable in the weight department.

    Annoying con: snobs who turn their noses up at the sight and notion of a sixer. That part gets old really quick.
  13. boomerguitar

    boomerguitar Guest

    Dec 11, 2007
    thanks everyone for your help :D:D

    It helped out the situation alot :p
  14. Does this help?

    Meaculpa likes this.
  15. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    A downside of a 6 not yet mentioned is that you get some funny looks on sessions and fill-ins when you pull one out... most people expect the bassist to have a 4-banger (specifically a Fender) and if you're trying to get fill-in work, you might have a harder time if you're not using the traditional tools.
  16. I have a short scale sixer and it enables me to take care of bass duties and explore baritone ranges simultaneously. It is a lot of fun... But I presume you are interested in the long scale instruments that dip into the contrabass range on the lowest string....
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    I've heard this is true. Fortunately it hasn't happened to me yet and I do alot of sub work. I guess I'm lucky in that people actually wait to hear me play before they pass judgement:smug:

    BTW Dave, I read your Berklee thread... it was funny how much of what they said jibed with what my experiences taught me.
  18. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I can only speak from my personal experience:

    (1) Extra low notes, same as a 5 string.
    (2) Easier access to high notes. This is most important for me when playing my fretless 6 string bass. I find it much easier to intonate below the 12th fret or so, the 6 string allows me to play higher notes in tune.
    (3) Chordal possibilities. Chords are easier to contruct and sound better on a six string with the high 'c' string.

    (1) Intimidation factor: Mostly mental, it affects the player and others. If you've been playing a 4 string then strapping on a 6 and looking down on it can be intimidating (especially if there are no frets or lines! That's a big wide slab of rosewood!). It definitely takes some getting used to. Also, when you pull it out other players may be intimidated by it. Sure it's not right, and people should judge by playing only, but submliminally people may be taken aback by such an imposing instrument.
    (2) Muting technique. String muting is more difficult. Going from a 4 to a 5 my muting technique was barely different. The six string is a different beast entirely, I find muting much more difficult.

    I like my 6 so much that I've decided to sell off my five string, there's nothing I can do on the 5 that I can't do on the 6, there's no reason for me to own both. Just because the high "C" is there doesn't mean I have to play it.
    Meaculpa likes this.
  19. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    I find the 6 more uncomfortable to play than a 4, due to the higher weight and the wider fretboard.

    Unfortunately the 6 is also the sound in my head. If i wanted an instrument that was absolutely comfortable, i'd be a vocalist.
  20. That's about the same experience I've had with my boutique 5ers (only had my 6 for about a month now). Then again, I also catch flack for not playing straight root 8th notes, too. In a narrow-minded area, boutique basses make people jealous, especially if the bass is something that normal guys can't play. Cuz everyone can play bass, right? :rolleyes:

    Then you get the guys who swear up and down that Fender is the ONLY sound that works in a studio and active basses are too sterile sounding. :rolleyes: IMHO, there isn't much out there that can compete with the warmth of a Rob Allen bass. Oddly enough, my new Conklin's piezo can get some pretty neat lo-fi sounds if you play with the EQ.