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Six string technique help

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by theinfamous, Mar 21, 2017.

  1. theinfamous


    Dec 22, 2014
    I got a six string fretless a while back, and I must say it has been an uphill battle to use it properly. My biggest hurdle has been figuring out how to utilize the extended range and expand my knowledge and comfort on the fretboard. Bass is not the instrument I have the most expertise on (I'm a tuba player) but I have reasonable technical facility on it. I've played four string for quite a few years now, but knowledge and mastery of the fretboard has always been a struggle since the two worlds of bass and tuba don't overlap in that area.

    My question is what do you people use as exercises to familiarize yourself with the entirety of the fretboard? Are there any specific things I can do that will help me through this frustrating issue I have with the six string that I want to play well so desperately?

    Also, what can I work on specifically to play with more fluidity so i sound better on the thing?
  2. tlc1976


    Aug 2, 2016
    Learn as many songs as you can on it. Especially songs you already know on the fretted bass. You don't have to slide around, just play the songs, practice them until you can play them in tune. That will help you transition from one to the other faster. Then see if anything could be made easier with the extra strings. You probably won't have to jump around as much on the 6.

    I also practiced scales in all their shapes all over the fingerboard. To both learn fluidity and to be in tune. I would often practice this with the tuner on.

    I would also start by making sure the intonation is correct at the bridge saddles. You want to learn the finger memory on a properly intonated bass.

    When I play fretless I don't want to go back. Frets just feel clangy and in the way to me.
    etorgerson and Mushroo like this.
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Take a song that you already know. Play it until it sounds good.
    Then play it in a lower key that uses the B string. Until it sounds good.
    Then play it in a higher key that uses the C string. Until it sounds good.
    Then play it faster. Until it sounds good.
    Say the names of the notes in your head as you play them.
    Do that every day.
  4. ba55i5t


    May 24, 2006
    Well there's lots of things you can do for this.

    1. One thing is to download fretboard learn. It's a very useful app. This is for when you are away from the bass.

    2. Run two octave scales and arpeggios up and down the fretboard saying the name of each note as you go along.

    3. Drill the first 5 (0-5) frets into your brain. After this drill frets 6-11 into your brain. The way to do this is to force yourself to play in these positions. 0-5 should be pretty drilled in by this point but for 6-11 put a capo on fret 5. Then do the same for learning frets 12-17.

    4. Buy Gary Willis book fingerboard harmony. Read it learn it love it.

    5. Repeat 2-3 as necessary and play tunes and licks in unfamiliar places.
    ERIC31 likes this.
  5. theinfamous


    Dec 22, 2014
    Thanks for the suggestions. I do play a lot of scales, but it is really tough to force myself to just use the six enough to become comfortable on it. It is just so much easier to pick up the four string than to fumble around with the extra strings.
  6. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Do you need the extra strings for gigs or recording?
    Maybe 6 isn't the right number of strings for you.
  7. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    Here's how I got familiar with it as I made the transition from the 5. I was practicing for an hour a day. On the first day I played the 5 for 55 minutes and the 6 for 5 minutes. Then next it was the 5 for 50 minutes the 6 for 10 etc. In other words I eased myself into it. I also thought long and hard before I made the switch about how I would use it.

    In order to familiarize yourself with the fretboard just start reading. Find a piece of music and line the lowest note up on your B string and the highest on the C string and take it from there. It just requires diligent work. I refuse to use the word "Hard" in regards to work as it is only as hard as you make it. If need be make a game out of it.

    Rev J
    theinfamous likes this.
  8. theinfamous


    Dec 22, 2014
    No. I don't.

    Not even a little.

    But I do like the low b, and I want to explore some chords eventually. I like the flexibility of the six strings, so I'd like to play it well.
  9. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Trying to learn chords on fretless is taking the expressway to heartbreak. Good luck.
    lostreality likes this.
  10. Grumry


    Jul 6, 2016
    If you had like 3 extra guitars laying around, I'd say string a 4 BEAD and one ADGC, and learn the same songs on both but in different positions. Then the 6er is just all of it together. I did one BEAD and although I haven't moved to a 5 or 6 yet, I feel comfortable with the idea of it.
  11. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I just extrapolate from what I knew of the 4 and then the 5 ... I did that before I got my firt 6 strings so it was like I already had one for a long time.

    Then reading music with the instrument in hand.
  12. theinfamous


    Dec 22, 2014
    Hey man, Steve Bailey does it, so we know its possible. :)
  13. One of the things I love about my 6 string is I can hang around the 5th to 12th fret area and hit pretty well any runs. Economy of motion.
  14. ERIC31


    Jul 1, 2002
    Maricopa, AZ
    IMG_0384.JPG I just got an SX 6 string jazz recently so this thread is gold for me. I really like playing it even more than my 4 or 5 string basses. I want to be really good at it so these tips are very welcome.

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