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Seeking 8-string (doubled octave) bass info...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mikeboth, Feb 7, 2005.


  1. mikeboth

    mikeboth The last thing you'll ever see

    Jun 14, 2002
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Operator: prophecysound systems
    Hey all

    clarification - 8 string as in 4 string with octaves...

    I've been eyeing the 8-string HXB-408 at Rondo for some time:
    http://www.rondomusic.net/hxb408.html

    I'm assuming the extra string is an octave up, but having no experience with an 8-string I was wondering:
    - how hard is it to get used to fretting both strings? Is it so much harder to do (in terms of required finger strength and / or accuracy) that it'll take a lot of work to be able to play well on this beastie?
    - from the photos I can't tell, but is it possible to play fingerstyle moderately easily (i.e. be able to pluck both strings), or are these basses more suited to using a pick? Is it possible / easy to just pluck the bass / lower string from each pair?
    - are the upper-octave strings just guitar strings (i.e. are they readily available)?

    Does anyone have one of the Brice models? I'd be interested in seeing if the engineering / implementation of the 8-stringer was at least on par with their other models. My guess is that the special bridge (and nut?), along with the higher tension, might push the manufacturing / quality capabilities much more than a standard 4-banger.

    One thing that caught my eye about this model was the active MM/single pickup config. If Rondo came out with the same pickup config on a 4, I'd be all over it!

    TIA for any info...

    Mike
     
  2. Fealach

    Fealach Guest

    Apr 23, 2003
    Gone to a better place
    I'm not familiar with Brice, but I used to have a Dean, they are a pretty cheap bass.

    It wasn't hard for me to get used to fretting both strings. Easier with thinner strings and low action. Pretty easy to play fingerstyle, some practice helpful to get used to playing anything fancy on it. Pretty tough but not impossible to play just the fundamental or octave string fingerstyle, easier with a pick, and lots of practice. 8 string bass sets are available, but I don't like any of them, I find them much too thick. I bought (and still do, for my 12 string) a set of the thinnest roundwounds I can find ( I think I have .85 or .90 E at the moment) and a set (2 now for the 12) of the thinnest piccolo bass strings I can find. Don't know what's available in Australia for strings. The 34" scale makes it tough to use anything but an 8 string set or piccolo bass strings for the octaves. Lighter strings are easier on the neck too. My 12 came with hugely thick cables for strings, and an impressive bow in the neck that made it virtually unplayable. Changed the strings and now it's got a nice straight neck with super low action.
     
  3. xush

    xush

    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    I've got a Dean and a custom FBB.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    your average 8, like the Dean, is pretty easy to fret both strings, a little tricky to play them independently, as previous poster noted. I find you can slap and pluck on it; most techniques really aren't that tough on it. Great sound! I use Rotosound strings.​
     
  4. mikeboth

    mikeboth The last thing you'll ever see

    Jun 14, 2002
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Operator: prophecysound systems
    Thanks for the replies ... I'm thinking the 8 would make a good choice to fill out the sound of our band a little without it being as 'obvious' as using double-stops / chords etc. The feedback is slowly tipping my hand... :bassist:

    Finally - any suggested examples of an 8-string on records I can listen to. I seem to recall JPJ using one with Led Zep, but I could be wrong??!! :confused:

    Mike
     
  5. KPJ

    KPJ

    Oct 2, 2001
    Methuen, MA USA
    I have a Dean Rhapsody 8, also. I play both fingerstyle and with a pick. I am able to play the fundamental by it self easily. I fret the fundamental with the pad of my finger and then mute the octave with the fingertip. Since the fundamental is below the octave, fretting this way and playing fingerstyle makes it easy to play just the fundamental. For some songs, I will detune the octave string to a fifth, either on just the D and G pairs (Da,Gd) or on all four (Eb,Ae,Da,Gd) for some heavy powerchord style riffing. (the capital letters are the fundamental). If you can bi-amp with an 8 string, the sound is HUGE! It's huge even w/o bi-amping.

    For some good 8 string songs check out John Paul Jones on "Nobody's Fault But Mine" and "Achilles Last Stand" and John Entwhistle on the Who's "Success Story" and "You". Those will give you an idea what this great instrument can do.

    :bassist: :bassist: :bassist: :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:
     
  6. mikeboth

    mikeboth The last thing you'll ever see

    Jun 14, 2002
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Operator: prophecysound systems
    Cool ... thanks very much for the info. Yeah, I was thinking about the detuning to fifths also. I'd listen to those Zep songs hundreds of time digging the bass, without realising exactly what it was I was hearing.

    Mike
     
  7. dnburgess

    dnburgess

    Jul 20, 2003
    Sydney, Australia
    Proprietor: Bass People, Green Square Music
    1. On a good, well set-up 8-string you won't notice any more fatigue on your fingers than normal. If your left hand technique is already ok you'll adapt to fretting two strings fairly readily - but it will be more obvious of your technique is a bit sloppy.

    2. Initially I expected to have to use a pick - but found that I much prefer finger style. It allows a lot of variation. Also you can set up the instrument with the octave above or below the bass string - which will also have an impact.

    3. The octave strings are not guitar strings - not long enough. You can either get dedicated 8 string sets (e.g. GHS) or you can combine four string and piccolo sets (e.g. d'adario).

    JPJ can be seen playing Alembic triple omega body 4 and 8-string basses in the Knebworth concert on the Led Zep DVD.

    Alembic make 8, 10 and 12 string basses on order. You can check out the Spyder 8 string (designed in conjunction with John Entwistle) at http://www.alembic.com/info/fc_spyders.html

    We have a Spyder 8-string here in Sydney.
     
  8. Dude

    Dude Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2000
    AZ
    Owner: The Dude Pit Forum (closed) Producer: School of Bass
  9. mikeboth

    mikeboth The last thing you'll ever see

    Jun 14, 2002
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Operator: prophecysound systems
    (slaps forehead over not doing google search) Thanks Steve....

    David, thanks also for the info.... I'd been definitely wondering if the octave up string was lower or higher than the fundamental as someone previously mentioned the fundamental being lower, whilst the picture on the Rondo site clearly shows the octave up as being lower (ie closer to the fretboard). And I didn't realise I would need special string sets ... hmmmm .... I can't ever imagine having the $$$ for an Alembic, but if I was closer I'd definitely want to check out the Spyder!

    Mike
     
  10. jammadave

    jammadave Rudderless ship Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    Well, neither string set is really closer to the fretboard, it's just that both the thick strings and the thin strings are resting on about the same plane in space - the thin ones just aren't as tall off that plane as the thick ones are, so it looks like this... o O o O o O o O - I think you're seeing an optical illusion.

    For the ultimate in octaved 8s, check out my "see what looking at NAMM photos wil get you?" thread =0)
     
  11. Dude

    Dude Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2000
    AZ
    Owner: The Dude Pit Forum (closed) Producer: School of Bass
  12. mikeboth

    mikeboth The last thing you'll ever see

    Jun 14, 2002
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Operator: prophecysound systems
    Ahhh, those pics make it a lot clearer - I am (or was!) pretty clueless about 8-strings and didn't know how the bridge(s) were setup. :rolleyes: :cool:

    Mike
     
  13. dnburgess

    dnburgess

    Jul 20, 2003
    Sydney, Australia
    Proprietor: Bass People, Green Square Music
    Oops - what I really meant to say was you can set up an 8 string eE aA dD gG or Ee Ae Dd Gg. Having the bass strings being lower (further away from the player) in the pairs will make it easier for a finger style player to strike just the bass strings if desired.
     
  14. Dude

    Dude Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2000
    AZ
    Owner: The Dude Pit Forum (closed) Producer: School of Bass
  15. JPJ

    JPJ

    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    A company is getting ready to introduce an 8-string under the Hagstrom name (not sure if if will be a repro, new model, etc.). Also...for the life of me, I can't remember which company it is. I talked to one of their reps a few months ago but will do some research to see if I can get more info. I belive that they will be reasonably priced, so that might be something to consider too. If you're not famiar with the Hagstrom, you could do a search and should find quite a few photos.
     
  16. KayCee

    KayCee

    Oct 4, 2004
    Shawnee, KS
    I've owned a pair of 8-string basses, fretted and fretless, that were 34" scale.

    The tension on the upper-octave strings is considerable, IMO. If the action is high it feels like a cheese slicer digging into your fingers. During the time I owned those basses I became convinced that a 30" scale would be preferable for comfort, making the high strings less taught. A 35" scale would just make the problem worse, and you'd better have a rock-solid neck to take that kind of tension.


    Hope this helps.

    Andy