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Transitioning from 5 to 6 String

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JOME77, Sep 20, 2004.


  1. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Georgia
    Any tips out there from players that have transitioned from 5 to 6 string basses? I've been playing 5's exclusively since 1989 but just sold my Roscoe LG 3005 and have a Roscoe SKB-3006 headed my way. I've found myself playing more and more gigs where I have to read charts/music and thought that it might be easier to play in positon on a 6 string. Hopefully I haven't bit off more than I can chew! :eek:
     
  2. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Man, you'll be fine. Just go back to square one and practice scales and arpeggios using the high C string. Take it real slow and say the note names out loud while you do it. I give it a week.

    When I do a reading gig, I actually rarely use the high C. It just sounds out of place. The string is just too thin. I prefer to move up the neck. That C string is oh so beautiful for chording and soloing though.
     
  3. Stevious G

    Stevious G

    May 5, 2003
    I found going from a 4 to a 5 to be a real hastle. I was forever stumbling over that low B. Any 6'er, however, that I've ever pick'd up, I've been able to play with very little trouble. The C just isn't much of a stumbling block. I can't wait for my 6ers to arrive!
     
  4. Blademaster Dez

    Blademaster Dez

    May 12, 2004
    I too think you'll be fine. I made the recent jump from 5 to 6 as well. Give it a week, and you'll be used to it. I do agree that some things are just easier for me to play on a 6-string (i.e. some Disney stuff I'd play for the kids when I used to teach kindergarten) with regards to fingering, positioning, speed, etc.

    Best of luck, man. I have my old 5-string too and on the rare occasion I pick it up to play it, I always seem to feel something's missing...guess that means I'm very used to my sixer and it's been ingrained into my hands.
     
  5. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Georgia
    That sounds encouraging! Do you find it difficult to switch back and forth between the 5 and 6? I really love my 5's and plan on using them on most rock style gigs and I use my Roscoe fretless at every gig.
    What about hand fatigue? Do you notice a big difference when playing the 5 vrs 6?
     
  6. Blademaster Dez

    Blademaster Dez

    May 12, 2004
    I don't find switching back and forth between the 5 and the 6 difficult at all. While my 5-string is at home (I'm at school now), my housemate has a Yamaha BB fiver and I sometimes jam on that and found transition nearly seamless.

    As for hand fatigue and all that, sure the wider fretboard of a 6 does require some stretching, but nothing regular practice can't overcome. And believe it or not, I actually find playing my 6-string easier on my hand than my 5, but that's probably because the neck on my Ibanez 5 has a rounder profile while my 6 is flatter. Plus my 6 has narrower-than-usual string spacing. My hands are relatively small for a guy my size, so this is all good. (aside: I prefer the neck profile of my housemate's Yamaha over that of my Ibanez.)
     
  7. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    JOME77, you'll be fine. I could never get into playing my StingRay-5, I've been mostly a 4-stringer for over 28 years. I've had very little problems getting used to the SKB-3006, it's been much easier than I anticipated. To stay accustomed to my 4's, I'll play one everyday, usually my P-Bass (of course), so switching back and forth (hopefully) won't become a problem.

    I'm still doing what Emjazz recommended, I'll play scales and arpeggios slowly saying each note name as I go.

    Going to a 6 has opened up a lot of new possibilites for me. I now consider myself a 6-stringer first, with heavy ties to the 4-string :D .

    Congrats on the 3006, I hope it shows up on your doorstep soon :cool: .

    -Art
     
  8. What about the transitition from 4 to 5? :help:

    Sorry for hijacking the thread.
     
  9. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I had a lot of trouble with that. I went through three different 5's, blaming string spacing, etc. (I know, a craftsman doesn't blame his tools :p) . I'd play my B string thinking it was my E. It was a bit frustrating at first.

    If either of my daughters take up the bass, I'll probably suggest a 5 right off the bat.
     
  10. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Georgia
    No problem! :)
    I played 4's for 16 years when I switched to the 5. I really had to visualize the bass as a 4 string and add the low B gradually. IMO nothing sounds worse than a player thinking that they've got to use the low B on every song! Of course there were a few intense moments on stage during the transition! I remember a few times everyone looking around trying to figure out what was sounding so strange only to realize that I had jumped on the low B thinking it was the E! :bag:
    Back on the 5 to 6 topic, sounds like good advise from Andrew and Art on playing scales, arpeggios and speaking the note. I'm looking forward to the challange! Thanks for the advise!
     
  11. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    You're gonna have a great time with the 6! And, it's a Roscoe! :bassist:
     
  12. yeah,what better bass to switch to than a lovely Roscoe...I smell an excuse for more gear;)

    Thanks for the help.
     
  13. Funky Doctor

    Funky Doctor

    Aug 28, 2003
    Australia
    Hey Jo, I wouldn't worry a great deal about the transistion. I went all the way from 4 to 6 with only about 3 weeks of fretting or plucking the wrong string(s). I am still having a little trouble but if I were to practice more than I can I the transition would be a whole lot smoother. I seem to have more trouble with 5 strings, and I think it has soemthign to do with me being used to the symetry of 4's and 6's. I know it sounds wierd, but that's what I have found. A 5 string bass feels a little wierd to me, but I"m certain once I got used to it it would be fine, but for now, it feels odd because of the symetry thing. :)
     
  14. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Georgia
    It's hard to hide GAS! :D
    A friend wanted me to help him find a Roscoe 3005 and during the search I really got GAS for a SKB version of my fretted Roscoe. Next thing I know I'm selling him my LG and purchasing the 3006! :help:
     
  15. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Personal experience: I found the transition from a 5 to a 6 to be more difficult than the one from a 4 to a 5.
     
  16. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    That is interesting. When I've picked up sixers, I've thought "now that I'm used to 5, I don't think 6 would be a big deal". But I don't own a six (and have no desire for one at this time).

    What's the difficulty, Phil? String muting? Neck width? Scale patterns? All of the above?
     
  17. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    All of the above. Though I should also add that the 6 string was a 34" fretless to replace my 35" 5 string fretless and it took me a while to get my intonation muscle memory adjusted. That could hafve been a factor for me.

    I just ended up plucking the wrong string a few times! There are so many that I found it challening to always reliably be where I wanted with my right hand. Again, the caveat should be that when I went from a 4 to a 5 I was primarily a pick player and now I'm a finger guy. I still can play pick well but my primary method is fingers.
     
  18. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Georgia
    Well the SKB-3006 arrived this evening. The neck feels a little strange after playing 5's for so many years but it's actually amazingly easy to play. I actually seem to be able to play it easier when I don't look at the neck! Seeing the "C" string blows my little mind! Well let the transition begin! :D
    Oh yeah, here's a picture. The picture doesn't really do the burl justice. It's got a beautiful top.
     
  19. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    Joe, stunning!!! :hyper:

    Congrats, Art
     
  20. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Georgia
    Thanks Art!

    We'll I've had the 3006 for a week now and played 2 gigs. The first one was a little scary! It's actually going better than I anticipated but I'll have to be honest and say that I've stayed away from the "C" thus far while playing gigs. During my practice time I'm doing what EMJAZZ suggested concerning playing the notes on the "C" string and speaking the note but I thought it might be better to just play it like a 5 string first and then gradually add the "C" string. It's been a blast and I'll have to say that the bass sounds great! I'm really digging the Demeter pre with the mid switch. I am a little concerned that getting comfortable on the 6 may affect my 5 string playing but I guess time will tell! :eek: