Switching from 5 to 7 strings

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lefty007, Jul 7, 2005.

  1. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    To all you "extended range" bassist out there:

    I'm thinking about getting into the 7-string world, but I have small hands and I'm quite concern about getting fatigue (or carpal tunnel for that matter). I do not have a bass to try before buying.

    I play 5-string, but I favor 34" scale and narrow spacing at the nut (1.75") because bigger necks (say, with full 3/4" spacing at the bridge) is definitely uncomfortable. I currently play a 5-string Smith and it is pure joy ergonomics-wise.

    I hear the flat and thin profile of Conklins 7s is pretty easy to manage, but even for small hands?

    Any thoughts?

    (I did an extensive search but did not find a specific answer).

  2. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Lefty, I can only speak from GT-7 experience ... don't know too much about the custom shop stuff, so you're probably better off talking to either JT or Mark Beem if Conklin CS is the route you're going.

    I assume you know that the GT-7's are now out of production, you can maybe still find some new ones here and there but you're basically gonna be looking in the used market. There's a couple on the 'bay right now and they show up here in the TB classifieds pretty regularly

    The Bill Dickens GT-7 is a little narrower at the nut than the stock GT-7 ... I personally like it a little wider. I have big hands, so hand size isn't an issue for me. I know that John Turner has somewhat smaller hands and he's perfectly capable of playing 7's & 8's (to understate the point!) ....
  3. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    One other thing .... you can't be slinging the bass down around your knees, the width of the neck makes it nearly impossible to play when worn really low. In general, if you look at the photo's here on TB with guys playing 6+ strings the basses are usually strapped pretty high up .... gives you much better access to the higher registers. You'll probably notice some reach issues on the B & E strings past the 12th fret .........
  4. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    MTD makes one sweet looking 7. Norm Stockton has one that just sings. I prefer the looks of the MTD over the Conklin. The Conklin looks just a bit huge to me.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I can't comment about anything other than looks, though. Just my .02.

  5. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    That MTD is probably more than 5 or 6 times more expensive than the Conklin too.. Budget plays a -big- part..

  6. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    The Conklin GT-BD7 has narrower spacing at the nut than the standard GT-7 but has the same 16.5mm spacing at the bridge. I have small hands and getting around on my GT-BD7 when I had one was very easy. The neck is very thin. A little too thin for me, actually- a lot of people's hands cramp on thicker necks; mine do on thinner necks, so I'd occasionally get hand cramps on that bass. This varies from person to person though.
  7. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Thanks for the comments. Yes, those MTDs 7s are really nice-looking, although I just sold a 535 because that neck was a bit to bulky in general (MTDs are known for their excellent necks, but again, I have small hands).

    There is a lefty Conklin GT7 available to me right now, that is why I asked the question.

    I just don't have a way to try it before buying and there is no return other than taking a loss at eBay in the case I don't like it. So . . .

  8. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    I have the same hand issues you do, and don't play 35" basses for that reason. I have played a few GT-7s and they always feel really nice to me. Very easy to get around on. I recommend grabbing one.
  9. elros


    Apr 24, 2004
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    I'd say that the dimensions of the neck, string spacing etc. matters much less than using proper technique. As pointbass said, you can't wear the instrument far down.
    Last year I switched from 4-string to 7-string, and found that I needed to raise the bass even more to allow for proper technique across the entire neck. I had the 4-string in the same position it would be in if I was sitting, but the 7 is too low when I'm just sitting with it on my thigh. It simply needs to be higher up for the left hand to reach the farthest strings without entering potentially dangerous positions.
    But with the instrument in the position I have it now, I find that my left wrist is bent less than 45 degrees anywhere, and less than 30 degrees below the 12th fret. With that position (and my long fingers) I have plenty of room. In fact, I can easily reach two more strings (below 7th fret) - and now I wish for a 9-string.... :help:

    Bottom line: I believe that with proper technique, anyone can handle a 7-string without fatigue or other problems.
  10. You need to employ a slightly different technique with your fretting hand on a 7 compared to a 5. I found that abandoning traditional "thumb down the centre of the neck" fretting position for a more floating / whatever-is-comfortable position works for me.

    I've found the GT7 neck to be really comfortable and not at all daunting despite how it looks. It's a really well made and well designed bass for the cash. Worth checking out.
  11. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Points taken, thanks. I guess also part of the ease of the Conklin is that the action is setup really low so the pressing force is minimal.

    I've seen Bill Dickens' videos on his web site, and man, yes, the upper horn touches his chin.

    Thanks all for the advice. I'm very close to closing the deal with the seller.

    7 strings: Oh my God!

    Like the Snickers Candy Bar slogan: Not going anywhere for awhile? . . . Grab a 7-string!
  12. fender_mod


    Jun 23, 2005
    lol 7 strings, too much for me to handle. how is that tuned? im guessing its BEADGCE.
  13. Usualy its BEADGCF, but F#BEADGC and BEADGBE are used as well
  14. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Alright, I got a lefty Conklin GT-7 coming my way in a week or so.

    Thanks for the comments.

    You only live once, so I had to try a 7-string before I die (perfect excuse for serious G.A.S.)