Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

What are the high strings on an 8-string?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by BertBert, Nov 9, 2002.


  1. BertBert

    BertBert

    Nov 9, 2002
    Indianapolis
    I'm thinking about buying a Washburn 8-string bass that is insanely discounted at our local Mars. So it is the usual 8-string configuration: the standard E,A,D,G bass strings on it and each bass string is doubled with a smaller string one octave higher. My question is, what exactly are those high strings? Are they just electric guitar strings, or are they special strings made only for this kind of bass?

    Also, anybody play one of these? Any tips you'd care to share?
     
  2. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    those are special strings - i don't think most guitar strings are long enough. most string companies make 8 string sets - shouldn't be too hard to find some that you like.
     
  3. Slater

    Slater Bye Millen! Hello?

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    They are special strings made for 8-string bass. Guitar strings wouldn't be long enough.
     
  4. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
  5. Slater

    Slater Bye Millen! Hello?

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Why weren't you out gigging on a Saturday night instead of sitting at your PC beating me to replies?...:p
     
  6. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    yeah, it's pretty sad, isn't it? :rolleyes: :D.
     
  7. If you're talking about the 8 string bass I'm thinking of....it's along the same principles as a 12 string guitar. One octave string for each bass string. Doug Pinnick from Kings X uses Hamer 8 and 12 string basses.
     
  8. BertBert

    BertBert

    Nov 9, 2002
    Indianapolis
    I'm a big fan of King's X's first five albums (their newer stuff doesn't do much for me), so I know exactly what you're saying. The bass I am referring to is a Washburn, not a Hamer -- and doesn't Doug tune his 8-string differently so that the high string is a major fifth above the low one and not an octave?

    I've also noticed that Doug strings his 8- and 12-strings backwards so that the low string is closer to him than the high string -- this is because he plays with a pick and wants to hit the low string on the pick downstroke; seems like most 8-strings are strung with the low string further away so that it's the first one struck when playing with your fingers. (Doug's also left-handed which may have something to do with it.)

    Nice to hear another King's X fan out there.
     
  9. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I've never actually seen an 8-string bass before. I didn't realise they were in octave pairs like a 12-string guitar. The thought springs to mind.. why? Do you actually hold down 2 strings at once and play in octaves like a 12-string guitar? If you do, that must be hard work. If you don't, then isn't that really confusing, having strings alternating octaves like that?
     
  10. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    not all of them are - my 2 8 stringers are both individual strings (2 higher and 2 lower than a standard 4 string)

    because they have a sound that is very difficult to reproduce any other way

    yep, and it's not as hard as you might think, especially if you play with a pick.
     
  11. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I see, thanks john :)
     
  12. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    no sweat :)
     
  13. BertBert

    BertBert

    Nov 9, 2002
    Indianapolis
    The doubled strings are very close together, like on a mandolin. So holding the pair down is no more work than holding one down on a regular 4- or 5-string. Playing with fingers or a pick feels pretty much the same too -- you can even pop and slap on one (though bending a string is a little dicey, because the lower string will bend more than the higher string!). I had never played one until last week, and I was surprised at how similar the feel was to my 5-string.

    Since the pairs are one full octave apart, the tonal effect is a sound like an electric guitar (w/o distortion) AND a bass doubling the same part. That's why Doug Pinnick, for instance, prefers 8- and 12-strings -- King's X is a 3-piece band and so when guitarist Ty Tabor is soloing, Doug's parts sound like a full guitar/bass combo playing backup. (I also play in a 3-piece band and I'm interested in 8-string bass for the same reason.)

    Also, having the pair so close together actually creates more resonance and sustain, like a piano (where each note is created by a hammer striking three strings tuned to the same pitch) -- they call it the "chiming" effect. It's just a really unique sound that not even an effects pedal can re-create.
     
  14. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Wow, that's cool!
     
  15. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Doug used to prefer 8 and 12 strings. Now he plays mostly 4 string. At the last show I saw(this past summer) he only used the white 12 stringer on 3 songs. Everything else was on his new ESP 4 string.
     
  16. BertBert

    BertBert

    Nov 9, 2002
    Indianapolis
    I stand corrected -- I haven't seen them live since the Dogman tour, when they...um... opened for Motley Crue. (I swear I didn't stay for the Crue concert.) Those guys are pretty amazing live, eh? Talk about TIGHT.