Taking the Six String plunge

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Maurice ElDarko, Oct 27, 2001.

  1. Alright so I've taken the plunge and so far I'm doin pretty well.

    Wondering what I should touch up on when going from 4 to a 6.

    I started with takin all my scales and making them a couple of octaves longer and moving them around, so I've got that cover, learnt all the notes on my new strings (that was the easy part), learnt a fair few Dream Theater songs... Learning a classical one as we speak.

    Where to from here?
  2. This is just my opinion, please take what you like and leave the rest. I'm a little more more full of it sometimes than most people here ;)

    I think it's important to remember what a bassist <b>does</b>.

    I play a six myself - and the temptation to overplay is strong at times. The lure of the Dark Side is powerful. You mentioned Dream Theater - IMO John Myung fills a role that not many bassists do - and DT's music is written to accomodate his (and everyone else's) talents.

    If you're playing with people everyone's style needs to complement each other's or stuff gets ugly in a hurry - musically and emotionally. Hitting the occasional doublet or chording, tapping or playing in the g*itarist's register is impressive as hell at times - but a few multistring players I've heard forget about the groove - at least at first ;)

    One thing to remember is that unless you're soloing while you're off in the upper registers <b>someone</b> has to do your job or the song falls apart. It's a pretty good idea to get someone to volunteer to do that rather than inflicting something on the rest of the band.

    I have three-octave bass lines that I really like but most of the time I'm still holding up the bottom end with the middle four strings. It's nice to be able to branch out a little and do some stuff people don't normally hear bassists do and a bit of that mixed in with the normal stuff is just great.

    My backup bass has four strings. I bought it for a couple of reasons - first, if I break a string onstage I can hand the six off, get it fixed and still keep playing, plus although there are folks who can play pretty heavy funk on a six I'm not one of them - it's just more effective for me to save the slap for the Jazz Bass. I know people who can slap multistring basses - and all of them are mutants.

    Explore the upper registers and noodle around with chording, tapping and all kinds of other neat stuff - and show off a little. Learn lotsa music theory - then all this stuff will make sense. Solo when appropriate and take the skills you acquire and apply them to four or five-string instruments if you can. Write songs that showcase <b>your</b> style - that way you can be sure your groove fits the song. For me, playing a six opens up possibilities I wouldn't have thought of on a four-string instrument.

    But - above all, have a blast with it. Learn lotsa cool stuff, show off a little just to impress the crowd and piss off the g*itarist, but make sure your music <b>fits</b> the song.


  3. nanook


    Feb 9, 2000
    I just did it and regreted the hell out of it. Now I have a custom 5 string and have found my place.


    My advice is, don't do it.
  4. Thanks for the advice Nanook, but I've only had this thing (Cort A6) a couple of days, and it almost needs new strings I've been playing it that much
    I think I've found my calling:D
  5. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    Beware the call of the 7. ;)
  6. Yeah I was considering it until I found out how scabby it is getting a bass from overseas

    Check out the message I've got here of the Customs and Excise blokes:

    So let's see a $1000 dollar bass..convert that to Australian, add 5% to that, and 10% to the result, plus 52$, plus shipping, plus insurance, through in my soul and my first born child for good measure, and your still lookin at upwards 2 and a half G's...

    Now it took me long enough to save up the 1500 for my Cort, and I'm only 15, so a substantial "job" (as they seem to be called) is almost impossible to scrounge up. I think anything over that is just pushing it

    But not to worry, one day my parents wil be old and senile and I shall be able to milk them for all they are worth (just kidding :D)

    Stupid Aussie dollar,
  7. sideman1


    May 7, 2001
    Nashville, TN
    I recently took the plunge to a 7 ( F# on the bottom and C on top), and I don't regret it a bit. It has become my main axe for both studio and live gigs.
    One word of advice.... while playing....


    It's not an addiction, I can go back to a 4 anytime I want to. :p
  8. i love my 6 stringer, and it's not just because my only other options are a newly converted tenor 4 string gsr 190 or a dearmond ashbory.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The one big genuine difference and technique you need to work on is Muting! There is a lot more sympathetic resonance with a 6-string and you need to develop a technique for muting all the strings that you aren't playing or the sound will get very muddy.

    So if you're playing on the C or G strings, there are quite a few strings below, that you can potentially make sound in error and consequently more attention needs to be paid to muting them. The sympathetic notes are also potentially discordant and if they don't create actual dissonance can affect the overall "sound".
  10. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    Exactly. You need good muting technique with your fretting hand, as well as with your plucking hand - the floating thumb technique does help with this, as you utilise the thumb when it is not being used as a muting instrument. Click here for more info.

    Wait till you try slapping a 6 or 7 - that's when accuracy and muting becomes a huge issue.
  11. as i found out. i had a problem the first couple of days just plucking the right string. i would fret the right string and then pluck the wrong one. also just as an excersise i tried slapping the begining of classical thump the first day i had my 6 and it turned into an excerise in frustration.
  12. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    yeah, it takes a bit of time, but you'll get the hang of it. some advice - dump the 4 string for a while. you'll get the hang of the 6 faster without splitting your time on both of them.