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Why not a 6 string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by remcult, Jun 18, 2014.

  1. remcult

    remcult Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 2012
    New Jersey
    So at the moment, like I'm sure a lot of you are, I'm working through what kind of instrument suits me best. This past winter, I bought an Xotic 5-string, and while I liked it a lot, I just found myself playing my 4-string more often. Whether that was out of habit or out of genuine preference, I'm not sure.

    I've been looking to sell the Xotic (tuned B-G) in order to afford an Overwater SDS, which is a 5-string tuned E-C. Yesterday, the Overwater arrived, and I spent some time going back and forth, and found I liked both the low B and the high C, which makes me think I should just go ahead and get a 6-string.

    I know it's all about personal preference, and that I won't really know till I try one, but any particular reasons why a 6er might not be great (besides the "not being a real bass" argument)?

    And can anyone recommend companies that sell good jazz-type 6-strings?
  2. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    The only two real drawbacks for some people are the extra weight and the width of the neck. You might want to try an SX 6 string, which are surprisingly nice, especially considering the price, to see if a 6 string works for you on a long term basis. I primarily use a 5 string because there is no 6 string Stingray. I have one of the SX 6 strings and only play it occasionally because I don't really need one for the music I play. If I had a 6 string Stingray, I'd probably find uses for it.
    dabbler and Plucky The Bassist like this.
  3. If you're a slapper a 6 might not work for you.
    metalhead398 likes this.
  4. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    For me, I don't need the extra high notes. Clearly, that's a personal preference.
    If you like 6, go with that.
    basspraiser likes this.
  5. Gougedeye

    Gougedeye Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2008
    Central Washington
    I say go for the 6 string! As far as where you can get one; LowEnd is pretty well regarded in the bass world. Valenti is as well. If you don't want to spend so much, the aforementioned SX and for a bit more, Bass Mods.
  6. rashbeep


    Jul 15, 2005
    Toronto, ON
    There are times when I find myself wanting a high C, but I don't know if I can get used to a 6 string. I think I might end up going for something similar to what you're toying with now with a B-G and E-C setup. Seems a little counterintuitive but it's what I'd prefer.
  7. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    There aren't nearly as many options for 6 string basses as 5's (obviously) but if you're looking for a thin quick neck, Ibby's and ESP/LTD's are legendary for fast necks, and my Yamaha RBXJM2 has the fastest neck of any 6 I've ever played. Carvin and Peavey Cirrus are other options (staying in the $1200 and under range), but I have no experience with them to speak of.
    Plucky The Bassist likes this.
  8. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    I can't stand 'em. Necks are too wide, they're too heavy, spacing is a problem, a chore to slap, and it's physically hard to get to the standard 4. Found myself always on the wrong string. I've also never said to myself "If I just had another string, I could get up to that high-high-high-high C".

    I know that all of these things can be addressed with expensive equipment and/or complicated technique, but I don't wanna. Speaking for myself, I have trouble finding places for the Low B much less anything in the stratosphere like that. I am, however, no kind of soloist.

    Also, I'm an (almost strict) adherent of the 10 commandments.

    #1 Thou shalt not f**k up the groove. F**k up the notes if thou must, but not the groove.
    #2 Thou shalt not lust after thy guitar player's part. He keepeth the fun, thou keepeth the groove.
    #3 Be thou not swayed by a drummer with crappy time, for thou art the keeper of the beat.
    #4 Be thou not led into temptation before the gig. After is cool.
    #5 Thou pusheth thy luck with five strings, six is a mortal sin, for thou hast no business in the upper register
    #6 Thou shalt not thump with thy thumb, nor honk with a pick when thy fingers are the way of truth.
    #7 Thou shalt not fear whole notes, for they can be the way and the light.
    #8 Thou shalt leave the fancy s**t to thy bandmates, so they might wrestle with their own bad taste.
    #9 Thou shalt change thy strings at least once per decade, whether they need it or not.
    #10 Thou shalt tune thy bass before each and every gig, even though it was in tune when last thou put it away

    Historically, I've had a bunch of trouble with #6, but my current group is making it much easier to lay off the slap. :smug:
    Double Agent, Jipley0 and noeinstein like this.
  9. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    I went straight from 4 to 6. 5 just seems like straddling the fence to me. ;)
    Jaco Taco, joseph_diaz and rtav like this.
  10. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    Yeah, I did the same thing after 35 years of 4 string only (blah blah blah) and have NEVER looked back. Love the range, love the ease of not having to make insane leaps up and down the fingerboard when I can now stay in the same fret range and move vertically, just WOW. Every bass I buy or play from now on will be a 6, I wish I had done it 35 years earlier (but there weren't any 6's to speak of).

    Now to find a fretless 6 with an incredible fast neck...
    joseph_diaz and Flat5Bass like this.
  11. raventepes


    Jan 7, 2012
    Reno, NV

    I feel ya. I really do. I write a lot of my own material, primarily (currently) on a 4-string ABG. The music in my head wants me to have that high C-string for chords with thundering low D's and B's ringing like ominous bells on the low end, at the same time...things that just aren't possible on a 4-string. I started saving up for what I thought I needed; A Schecter Stiletto Studio 6. Great instrument, passable (stock) tone,(except the fact that it comes with EB Slinkys. I dislike them and was going to change them out for some DR Lo Riders) And I was going to upgrade the pups to EMG CS'.

    But that concept was short lived. The greedy tone-monster in me declared that a 6-string just wasn't my style, and while I like EMG tone, I LOVE Bartolini pups. Originally, I considered an Ibanez SR506, but those MK1's have just never sat well with me, and they're an odd length, which would make replacing them problematic. Nixed that for the Schecter.

    I started out on a 5-string because I wanted more options than what a standard 4 could do. How I managed to end up with 3 4-string basses after I sold my first instrument (the 5-string) is beyond me. So I did what any sensible person would do. I decided to go overkill and switched to saving for a Conklin Groove Tools GT7, 7-string bass. Oddly enough, a guitar player friend of mine convinced me that I needed the Conklin, rather than the Schecter. Go figure.
  12. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead!

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Neck size is the big limiter for me. Open to the idea, but just can't wrap my hands around it :(
  13. 6 string for me. It works for my medium sized hands, and gives me tonal and melodic range within a relatively set position on the fretboard. I played a 6 string Spector, quite nice.
    Flat5Bass and rtav like this.
  14. DreamError


    May 30, 2014
    Play what you want. Nothing else matters, unless physical limitations of your body prevent it =/
  15. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    This is pretty much it. I'm a big 6 string fan and have lots of them of various kinds (including the SX super-buy jazz clone). But a 6 is needed only when you want the upper range. Not all music needs the upper range. And a 6er is heavier, neck is wider, strings cost more and are hard to find, etc. In addition some killer basses (Stingray, my G&L L2500 or Carvin AC50) do not come in 6 string. In that case you have to string them E-C if you need the solo range and I have done that.

    So that said and at the present time my main axes are the L2500, that wasn't always the case a while back it was 6ers because I needed them. So if you are playing a 5 string bass strung E-C then a 6 string will doubtless be better. The only problem is sometimes you can't get one in the bass that you want to play. But generally speaking I am a big fan of 6 string basses, even though sometimes I mostly play my 5ers.
  16. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Oddly enough I agree with your guitar player friend. I've got a GT7 and although I don't know 7 string chords for crap, I can see how when writing your own material, the Conklin would be the ONE! Will be some woodshed time to figure what to do with it though. And my hands are pretty much normal sized, but I find the neck of the 7 string Conklin to be right at the limit of what I can comfortably play. Any wider and it would be too much for me and I'd have to switch to tapping or the like.
    raventepes likes this.
  17. Flat5Bass

    Flat5Bass Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2013
    New Hampshire

    I Recently decided to switch from 5str to 6str and picked up a BTB306.
    One snag that I hit was having to modify my playing style to floating thumb to get the most out of the bass.
    Other than that, the transition was smoother than I thought.

    Good Luck!
  18. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I played four string exclusively for 25 years. In Y2K I finally mustered the courage to try a fiver and quickly realized it was perfect for me. Specifically, I prefer "wide" spaced fivers... that is, not narrow.

    I've played a bunch of six stringers. I can get around on them reasonably well, but here's why they aren't right for me:
    • I don't want to deal with either a wider neck or narrower string spacing
    • I don't have any use for the high C string
    • I've never heard a high C string that I liked, not even on top-dollar boutiques
    As you said this is merely personal preference, so what works (or doesn't) for me isn't necessarily relevant to you. Maybe sixer will be perfect for you. Good luck!
  19. raventepes


    Jan 7, 2012
    Reno, NV
    That's an issue I wonder about, myself. I have no idea what I'm going to do with that F, just yet. Having never played a 7-string, a lot of it will be pretty experimental to me, though I'm sure I'll manage.

    Just wish I could find a decent one on the used market.

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