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Uses of 6 strings?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Wxp4759cb, Mar 26, 2001.


  1. Wxp4759cb

    Wxp4759cb

    Nov 23, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    Can someone name some songs (ones that you can link to are best) that make good use of a six string. I'm trying to decide if I want a 4 or 6, but I want to hear some good examples of things you can do on a six and not on a four first, to see if it justifies the change in playability. I would get a six for sure, except stu hamm, plays a four, and rocks with it. Since I aspire to play like him (already can play some of his stuff) I might be better off with a four.
     
  2. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Anything by Alain Caron (or UZEB, his old band). Also, the Braxton Brothers use a 6-string exclusively as the rhythm "guitar" track (with the same instrument on another track playing "bass") -- one of the "Brothers" is a bass player.

    Very few pop songs on the radio use the highest range of a 6 that can't be reached on a 4, so I have to go to fusion and jazz.

    To me, the strength of a 6 (other than the obvious high solo thing) is that you can play almost EVERYTHING a tune can throw at you without moving your fretting hand much. Low C to high E -- that pretty well covers most of pop, soul, rock 'n' roll, and blues -- and you haven't even left first position yet!

    Also, no matter where you are, there's almost always a string or two above AND below you so you can throw in whatever lick FEELS right, not have to be scrounging for something that fits. To me, 6 is EASIER because you can always find something that'll work.
     
  3. trainyourhuman

    trainyourhuman Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2000
    MI
    I agree with Eli. The six is appealing for those two crucial reasons, and then a few more. Another reason is that notes sound different when played on different strings in different positions on the neck. This facilitates the playing of less open strings, or more open strings, whatever is to your liking. Another is that anything you can play on a four, you can play on a six; but everything that you can play on a six, you cannot play on a four. I found this out all too quickly. Regardless pick what feels best to you, etc.
     
  4. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    the link in my sig is to a song that can't be played on anything smaller than a 6 string (actually uses a substantial portion of the range of my 7, but a reasonable facsimile could be had with 6)

    it's a pretty aggressive song in the bass department, with a few different styles of playing in it.

    i tend to play my 7's and 8's more laterally than sticking to one position. the reason for this is that the tonality of a string that is ~.030" is going to be much thinner than the tonality of a .135" b string. i generally don't want passages that i am playing to change tones, so i often play up the neck, like i would on a 4 string, to keep it even. on the other hand, the availability of the "skinny strings" makes possible tonality that is totally absent on a 4 string - there's no way to make a fat string sound convincingly like a skinny one.

    sometimes i play high chords on the top strings and comp out low bass lines on the low strings with my thumb.

    and sometimes i play in one position and take advantage of the thinning tone on the higher strings. just not always.

    another thing is playing higher passages on the lower strings gets a really "dub", mellow sound, which is pretty cool for reggae songs, for instance.

    it's all about possibilities and options. :)
     
  5. Tuomas

    Tuomas

    Mar 14, 2000
    Helsinki, Finland
    To me, six strings mean mostly chords and strumming. Also tapping victor wooten style with chords and bassline can geat really wicked and it's alot easier to manage with a six than a four, because those two handed position switches can get really hectic sometimes. Six strings usually let's you play without changing positions too much. And I also think that doublethumbing g-string is way easier when it has that high c to stop your thumb.

    Cons? Six strings are uglier that jazz basses :)

    And I'd also give a vote for alain caron. Les Claypool can really beat those six strings too, although les claypool is always les claypool so you you be the judge. Personally, i like his work a lot.
     
  6. Cornbread

    Cornbread

    Jun 20, 2000
    Lawrence, Ma
    I can think of an example of a tune that is playable on a 4 but much easier on a six: "Sir Duke". That unison line would have you flying all the way up to the 14th fret on the G string and moving way down to first position on the E. With a six, all the notes are reachable without too much moving. Of course, since I started playing the six, I think my ability to think outside of a 4 fret range has lessened.
     
  7. Wxp4759cb

    Wxp4759cb

    Nov 23, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    John Turner I perfectly understand if you don't want to, but is there anyway you could tab out the first few measures of that song "Lord only" so i could see how you utilze the extra strings? Again if you do not want to that is ok. Is it possible to play that song on a four string?
     
  8. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    parts of it could be played on a 4 string, but the whole song could not - the range is from G, an octave below the G on the E string, to F, an octave higher than the 22nd fret of the G string of a 4 string.

    oh, and the song is "versitile residue" :D (my band is called lord only).

    i don't know about tab :rolleyes: :D, but i could transcribe some notation for the last bass solo, at the end of the song, that would illustrate some of the extra range in the song.
     
  9. personally, i think 6 strings are a waste of wood. The extra high string is so pointless it's hilarious. whenever i see a bass with more than 5 strings it makes me want to cringe in disgust. Of course thats just MY opinion.
     
  10. I used to think that too, until I changed to a 6. Now I feel totally nekkid on a 4, and slightly undressed on a 5.
     
  11. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    I no longer enjoy even looking at anything with fewer than 6. They just seem... incomplete.
     
  12. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Thank you for your opinion. Your narrow-mindedness is refreshing. I'd love to hear you play, by the way.
     
  13. Lovebown

    Lovebown

    Jan 6, 2001
    Sweden
    That's coming from the cool guy who's got a section on his website where he's quoting people about how good he is.

    OK EVERYONE 6-strings rule and if you don't agree you are narrow-minded and suck!!!

    /lovebown
     
  14. You've talked about 6's being easier to play - what about the harder aspects? And i don't really mean learning what the intervals are (ie mental part of it). The neck's wider, and there's no chance of hooking the thumb over to play / mute the E. Other things? Are there options which disappear? And I'm sure it's harder to borrow a bass or find new strings ... (I'm sure you haven't had to borrow a bass to gig for years, John!)

    I don't really think I could get away with a 6 unless i was playing a lot more complex 'lines - ie, overplaying for my band. I think it would look pretentious for me - no offence JT or others :) - but a 5 is starting to interest me ... I'm sure many of the same principles apply.
     
  15. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    the single biggest aspect about 6 being harder is keeping the strings you're not playing quiet. you need to pay much more attention to muting techniques.
     
  16. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I never said anything about 6 strings being for everyone. What I did say was that to disparage someone's choice of instruments because you don't agree with them is narrow minded. My comments section of my website is simply unsolicited comments from some of my clients. Thanks for visiting my site.
     
  17. Lovebrown - Pacman didn't say those words, and i think it's unfair to put them in his mouth. If his site serves as a resume, why not put quotes like that up? If i had people saying stuff that complementary about my playing, I'd make a web shrine to myself :) Don't dis the moderators, they put in awork to make this forum possible for all of us.

    Slipknot - while that is as valid an opinion as any, i don't think you're adding anything by voicing it here, especially in that tone. You're just going to piss people off. I'm getting pretty sick of the aggressive and unsubstantiated opinions (read: junk posts without any information content) on these forums.

    They seem to stem from overinflated egos which assume the world cares what they think (notice i didn't say know), more than they care about what someone else has discovered and can pass on to me through their diligence and good natured desire to learn from each other. Every post like these is one more piece of **** i have to disregard when i am looking for an interesting point.

    I don't give a **** what your standpoint is on 6-strings any more than what you're cats name is, or what your favourite ****ing colour might be - unless you have either something new or interesting to add, or you want to learn from the others here.

    I know my taste in music is quite different from John Turner's or Pacman's, but they are both very capable and knowledgeable players i can learn a lot from. If you don't see it that way, go take up toilet wall graffiti.

    This isn't just aimed at either of you - i know I may have came across a little strong, and if you think I'm outo of line i apologise in advance. But as a general phenomenon it ****s me. It's all about the signal to noise ratio ...
     
  18. Are there different kinds of 6 string? i.e. built for being tuned differently, or with, say, two high or two low strings?
     
  19. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    not that I've seen, although I know Gerald Veasley tunes one of his EADGCF, instead of the usual BEADGC.

    I would imagine you could try just about any tuning you thought was worth giving a shot.
     
  20. is there any danger in this? Especially if the intervals between the strings are radically different? And how does it affect intonation?