Tough decision (4str or 6str)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bobbykokinos, Feb 2, 2006.

  1. Guys, I have a dilemma here.

    I've been playing close to 16 years and have never ordered a custom bass. I think its about time to treat myself to something. I've spent several years buying basses which is like "well, this bass has something great i like. But I own another bass for this feature". I think its time to build something that has everything I want.

    The problem is, I dont know if I want to go with a 6 string or a 4 string. Ive been playing a 6 since 1996 and feel comfortable with it. But, as of lately (the past year), the more I play double bass, the more I play 4 string. But, the thing is I feel equally comfortable with both basses. This is the biggest hold up from getting a custom bass right now.

    I feel if I get a 6 string, I might think to myself eventually think that "well, maybe I should've got the 4 because I'm playing 4 more now lately".. But, I'm also afraid if I get a 4, I might eventually think " hey, its a custom bass. I should go all out on it and get a 6 string since I'm capable of playing one".

    Any suggestions? I know, ultimately, it is up to me but I'm just curious what you all would do in this situation. I currently own both great 4 strings and 6 strings that I'm happy with. But I find myself playing my 4 jazz for its slap sound and my 6 string for its great finger style sound. I'd like to have one bass that sound superb in both situations.

    Edit: also, in the back of my head there is the idea of a 5 string with a high C. But, for some reason, 5 string necks have never felt right in my hands. I feel more comfortable with 4 & 6 instead of a 5
  2. GSRLessard14

    GSRLessard14 All-Things-Claypool Enthusiast

    Jun 23, 2005
    Newington, CT
    That's a tough one. The only real solution is to go with a double neck!
  3. ha, yeah right. I feel like keeping my back is phsyical working order for the next few years :)
  4. adept_inept


    Jan 9, 2006
    i'd say 4. because, yea its custom and you shuld go all out, but you can go all out on a four. wut ur lacking in strings make up for in inlays, or pickups, or, who knows, get a built in effetcs pedal!

    i'm just a big fan of the 4 string bass. so yea, im biased too.

    or, hey. u got a 6 string, u got a 4 string upright. why not 5 string? thats one way to do it. jus take an average!
  5. I see where you are coming from. I just wish I knew what direction my playing is headed so I know what I would need most. But, to me, lacking strings can't be made up with custom inlays and stuff. In my opinions, its almost putting asthetics and musicality in the same catagory.

    I dunno.. I have to figure out if this 4 string kick I'm on it just a phase or something I'm sticking with. Maybe I should hold out a year or so and see which bass I go back to.
  6. adept_inept


    Jan 9, 2006
    that probably works best. cos it'll take 5 months to a year for a custom. and you don't want ur custom to be completely un wanted when it is finally ready. for me, 4 strings is my thing. the low b doesnt do it for me, and the high c, neither. 4 is perfect, with a drop d.
  7. Do you use the 4 and 6 for the same music(s) or are you just using the 4 for covers/blues/jazz type thing and the 6 for melodic stuff? Can you slap on your 6 or do you go exclusively with the 4 for that?

    I have fought with the same decision because a 4 seems so much more "uncomplicated" and is still easier for me to play when I get rattled or am forced into sightreading or playing unfamiliar music. I personnaly am headed toward the 6 for the majority of what I do, and feel it's relatively easy to find a decent 4 as a second bass.
  8. I use the 4 and 6 for the same music.. I play in a jazz quartet and in a big band. I can slap on my 6 but I go to my 4 for that.. One big reason is because of the pickup configuration on my 6.. I have a Modulus Q6 and, as you can see below, there are two pickups back to back in the bridge position. This makes for a GREAT finger style sound. But you dont get any of that neck pickup "thump". Actually, my Q6 would be my ideal bass if there was a pickup in the neck position.


    Now, when I switch to my 4, I feel absolutely comfortable with it. Since its a jazzer, I like the "jaco" sound I can get out of it. But, that can be had with a 6 string with the right pickups..

    When I sight read, I do notice myself using the C string for anything above the D on the G string. But, then again, I'm comfortable going that high on the 4 string because of my double bass experience.
  9. bassfreak_85


    Jan 31, 2006
    :bassist: dude get both why not?:bassist:
  10. $$$
  11. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    I was debating between a 6 or 7 for an order I'm placing right now for those exact same reasons. But I ended up going with the 7 for two prime reasons:

    #1 - I have two 6 strings, an excellent 6 and a decent 6, right now. I can't imagine that any other 6 will be better than my excellent one (I use the decent 6 for rehearsals and other less important stuff).

    #2 - I know, in my case, that the 7 string is where I ultimately want to be. I tried a production 7 string (GT7) for a year and found that the bass itself is very limited and can not grab the sound I'm looking for. I'm confident that the maker of my excellent 6 (FBB) can build me an excellent 7 as well.

    The market is totally saturated with excellent 4 string basses right now, and many can be bought for great prices in the used market. That isn't the case with 6 strings .... the low end stuff is in good supply, but really nice 6's are hard to find.

    Good luck with your decision ...... :cool:
  12. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    I went with a 6 on my custom, and have so far only played my 5'er. I played a few of Pete's 6's though to be sure I could cover it physically. I was in the same boat as you and decided, might as well go all out.
  13. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Don't get a 6 just because you are "capable of playing it". Get the bass that covers the range where you hear your music. If the music inside you requires the lower or higher range, then get the 6. Sounds like you're hearing the traditional range these days, so a 4 would be the call.
  14. I shouldve clarified this.. When I say "capable of playing" a 6 string. I mean, I'm capable of utilizing it.. Its not like I just play the EADG and the B and C collect dust.

    Sorry for the confusion.
  15. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Actually, I assumed that is what you meant. What I'm saying is that you sound as though you "hear" the sound of a 4 string more right now. When you play a 4 you end up playing various things in different octaves than you would on a 6, and that changes your sound. Changes your approach to a tune. Just because you can play a 6 and make use of all of the strings, doesn't mean that you neccesarliy should. Gotta use your ears.

    I've got nothing against 6'ers at all, just going off what you said in your orignal post. I play mostly 5, but also really enjoy 4 strings since I feel like you sometimes actually have to think a little more when putting together a part on a 4 string, especially in a key between B and E ;) And it will coax you into playing some sweet midbass when you might have been tempted to just bump on a low root.
  16. Scissor Man

    Scissor Man

    May 7, 2005
    Have the best of both worlds and get a 5 string.
  17. I say go for the 6. Think, there are no limitations to what you play on the 6. You still have the 4 strings that you would have on a 4, EADG and now have the added B and C strings. I also agree with a 5 string, probably with a wider spacing for easier slapping capability, maybe a 6er neck with five stings?. That way you can still slap properly, you have the low B string, and you say your comfortable going up the neck to play, so the high C limitation wont be that bad, and you have a six string neck on which you are comfortable.
  18. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Your Modulus is basically a custom already. Get a four since that seems to be what you like he most.
  19. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    Tough call. For me, I love a 4 string bass. I only use extended range basses if I have to. Ive owned many 5's and a couple 6's but the more and more I gig, the less I use them. Thats my opinion. Your opinion is all that matters. That being said, most of the custom makers are known for the extended range basses. You might have more fun ordering a 6er

  20. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Get a 5 string? :p

    I'd almost say Get a 6 for the versitility of the many strings...