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Newfoundfreedom

Jumping straight from 4 to 6 strings?

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Has anybody done this. Basically skipped 5ers altogether and just gone straight in the deep end with a 6?

I've only ever played 4 string basses, but lately I've been fancying delving into 5's. Then I thought, sod it! Why not go the full hog and try a 6er? I play a bit of guitar (badly) so it's not like having 6 strings is totally alien, even though the tuning is different. 

Here's my thinking. 

1) I like my 4 string. I like the way it looks, the way it sounds, and the way it plays. If I buy a 5, I will either like it, and therefore it will make my 4 string redundant, which would be a shame. Or I won't like it as much as my 4, therefore it would be a wasted purchase. There's not "that" much difference between a 5 and a 4, whereas (in my mind at least) a 6 is a different beast entirely, and would be an addition rather than a replacement. 

2) My old band was a 6 piece, where I was playing alongside 3 guitarists, and therefore sonically "full" sounding. My new band is a 4 piece, with just me and 1 guitarist, and while I much prefer the creative side of the new band (all original material) I sometimes feel that the overall sound is a little hollow. Maybe I could add to it with some of those sweet top end bass chords. 

So. Would I likely be biting off more than I can chew. Does it make sense to go straight for the 6, or am I just trying to justify my GAS? 

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I found five string basses awkward, there’s a symmetry to a six. You still have the four string there in the centre.

A six is wonderful for chordal playing. 

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A 5 string bass is not a stepping stone to playing a 6.

Play the bass that gets you the sound you want in a way that you feel is comfortable to play.

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Yep. Went from 4 to 6 in one go but then went back to try 5's for a Prog project i was doing and finally back to 4's.

I bought a cheaper ESP Ltd 6 string to see how i got on with them. Loved it and when i turned 50 my wife treated me to an Overwater 6er custom and i went the whole hog and bought the fretless version. I love the 6er but its quite heavy and i'm not sure i could play it a full gig. I'm more comfortable with my 4 strings these days.

  I had no real trouble adjusting to the 6er altho the ESP had 16.5mm spacing where my other basses have 18-19mm I occasionally missed a string with my plucking hand but when i changed to the Overwater with 18mm spacing it was never an issue.

The wider neck width was easily accepted and had no real issues there. 

Using the higher end chords will drop out the lower end in a guitar / bass set up. I preferred the lower B string for depth in bands hence getting the Dingwall 5er but i moved that on.

Hope that helps a bit. Best go to a decent bass shop and try one tho.

Dave

Edited by dmccombe7
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I played four string basses for well over 40 years before deciding to try an extended range bass. Five is an odd number so I skipped it and went straight to six. Played all my rehearsals and gigs this year up until October with the sixes, including festivals in the UK and Germany, but have now returned to four as I found them more natural under my fingers. Just force of habit. No problem adapting to six after the fours, and only a few switching back (I miss the top C more than the low B).

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Guitarists don’t for instance start of on a guitar with only four strings, then buy one with five, before making the leap to six. I’ve had students who’s first instrument has been a six. These are influenced by guys like John Myung etc.

It’s best to get along to a few different shops, or maybe the bass show, and try a few models out. Getting the string spacing, and neck width and shape right are really important.

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44 minutes ago, dmccombe7 said:

Yep. Went from 4 to 6 in one go but then went back to try 5's for a Prog project i was doing and finally back to 4's.

I bought a cheaper ESP Ltd 6 string to see how i got on with them. Loved it and when i turned 50 my wife treated me to an Overwater 6er custom and i went the whole hog and bought the fretless version. I love the 6er but its quite heavy and i'm not sure i could play it a full gig. I'm more comfortable with my 4 strings these days.

  I had no real trouble adjusting to the 6er altho the ESP had 16.5mm spacing where my other basses have 18-19mm I occasionally missed a string with my plucking hand but when i changed to the Overwater with 18mm spacing it was never an issue.

The wider neck width was easily accepted and had no real issues there. 

Using the higher end chords will drop out the lower end in a guitar / bass set up. I preferred the lower B string for depth in bands hence getting the Dingwall 5er but i moved that on.

Hope that helps a bit. Best go to a decent bass shop and try one tho.

Dave

Ah if only that were a option. My nearest decent music shop is over 200 miles away, and even then, they're highly unlikely to have much of a selection. It's more a case of mail order, suck it and see. 

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17 minutes ago, ambient said:

Guitarists don’t for instance start of on a guitar with only four strings, then buy one with five, before making the leap to six. I’ve had students who’s first instrument has been a six. These are influenced by guys like John Myung etc.

It’s best to get along to a few different shops, or maybe the bass show, and try a few models out. Getting the string spacing, and neck width and shape right are really important.

Yeah, definitely good advice. Sadly though as stated above, simply not an option. 

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1 minute ago, Newfoundfreedom said:

Yeah, definitely good advice. Sadly though as stated above, simply not an option. 

Phone Bass direct and speak to Mark. He’s very knowledgeable and helpful.

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I did. I played 4s for almost 15 years before I decided to try more strings. I was thinking about trying a 5 and was looking at the SR3005 and saw the 6 was the same price so thought "Why not?" and went with the SR3006. It was quite a leap. I had to stop playing 4s for a while to really make progress with the 6. I still find moving from 4 to 6 and back again awkward. String spacing is a big, big consideration. The SR3006 had 16m string spacing which was great for the left hand, very hard for the right (I don't play with a plec). I kept with it as it suited the band I was in at the time. When that band folded, I went back to mostly playing 4s. They're just more natural in hand for me. The 6 is more difficult to play, harder for your hands to get around. Eventually I sold the SR as I wasn't playing it enough to keep to a standard I felt comfortable with.

This year I fancied trying 6 again and got a nice deal on a TRB6. It has 19mm spacing, possibly 20mm and the neck is incredibly wide. I'm enjoying trying to get to grips with it but it's a really different beast from the SR. I find it harder on the left hand and more comfortable on the right than the SR. I don't think a 6 would ever be my primary bass, I'm too long playing 4s to really feel home on them. If I were starting off, I think a 6 would be a great thing to dedicate yourself to. There's so much you can do with them. For me, though, my hands and muscle memory are used to 4s so the 6 is a novelty item rather my number 1.

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1 hour ago, Newfoundfreedom said:

Has anybody done this. Basically skipped 5ers altogether and just gone straight in the deep end with a 6?

I've only ever played 4 string basses, but lately I've been fancying delving into 5's. Then I thought, sod it! Why not go the full hog and try a 6er? I play a bit of guitar (badly) so it's not like having 6 strings is totally alien, even though the tuning is different. 

Here's my thinking. 

1) I like my 4 string. I like the way it looks, the way it sounds, and the way it plays. If I buy a 5, I will either like it, and therefore it will make my 4 string redundant, which would be a shame. Or I won't like it as much as my 4, therefore it would be a wasted purchase. There's not "that" much difference between a 5 and a 4, whereas (in my mind at least) a 6 is a different beast entirely, and would be an addition rather than a replacement. 

2) My old band was a 6 piece, where I was playing alongside 3 guitarists, and therefore sonically "full" sounding. My new band is a 4 piece, with just me and 1 guitarist, and while I much prefer the creative side of the new band (all original material) I sometimes feel that the overall sound is a little hollow. Maybe I could add to it with some of those sweet top end bass chords. 

So. Would I likely be biting off more than I can chew. Does it make sense to go straight for the 6, or am I just trying to justify my GAS? 

I did it. Physically it wasn’t an issue other than getting used to damping the B, it was more a mental readjustment. I then went from 6 to 5 then back to 4 again. In the end I found I just preferred playing 4s; I preferred the sound of mine to any of the 5s and 6s I had/tried. 

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After 40 years of 6 string guitar I've switched to 4 string bass.  Not that I've any plans to do so, bit I wouldnt think I'd have any difficulties with 6 string bass.

Edited by Bassfinger
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10 minutes ago, Crawford13 said:

Where do you live? I’m sure there is probably a local basschatter with a 6 string that you could try?

I doubt it.

I live in Bulgaria. 😂 

Which is why I also have to rely on shipping / mail order. 

Edited by Newfoundfreedom
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1 hour ago, Newfoundfreedom said:

Ah if only that were a option. My nearest decent music shop is over 200 miles away, and even then, they're highly unlikely to have much of a selection. It's more a case of mail order, suck it and see. 

Pick up a cheapo 6er. It won't be the best bass you've ever played but it should give you an idea of what 6ers are like. If it works for you sell it on again and buy the 6er you really want.

I drove 250miles each way down to Bass Direct to try out 5 string basses and returned with my Dingwall. 

This might be a stupid idea but what about a cheap flight to a decent Bass shop. An extra £50-£100 flight added to a decent 6 string bass shouldn't be hard to justify. Might be more difficult to justify it for just a try out tho.

I've played in many bands with just bass, guitar and drums and it wasn't an issue using 4 string basses. The challenge for me was filling the songs out best i could. Seems like a lot of expense for a maybe with the 6 string. ?

Dave

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28 minutes ago, dmccombe7 said:

Pick up a cheapo 6er. It won't be the best bass you've ever played but it should give you an idea of what 6ers are like. If it works for you sell it on again and buy the 6er you really want.

This might be a stupid idea but what about a cheap flight to a decent Bass shop. An extra £50-£100 flight added to a decent 6 string bass shouldn't be hard to justify. Might be more difficult to justify it for just a try out tho.

Dave

Yeah picking up a cheapy is pretty much the plan. My budget for the whole bass is around £250, so no chance flying anywhere to get one. I can get an Ibanez 6er delivered from Thomann for about that money. Should be good enough for me as a learner. 

To be honest I wouldn't pay much more than that for a bass anyway. 1, because I can't afford to. 2, I couldn't justify the cost for what is essentially just a hobby. If I was gigging and making money from it then maybe. And 3, The quality of "budget" instruments these days is ridiculous! Once you get above £400 - £500 the returns diminish massively. Yeah admittedly a £2500 bass is always going to be better than a £250 bass, but is it 10X better? 

The guitarist in my old band had a £3500 acoustic guitar that he wouldn't take to gigs. What's the bloody point? He used to borrow my £50 Freshman and it sounded "almost" as good, and £3450 cheaper. 

Edited by Newfoundfreedom

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This Bulgaria place ... midway between Derby and Grantham isn't it?

:facepalm:

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Jumping from 4-5 string isn’t that big a deal. Once your right hand has allowed for the extra string in the way. 
6 string has caused me issues the last few times I’ve forgotten I can’t get on with them and bought one again. I think it’s that whether you play 4 or 5 the original 4 strings are where your fretting hand expects them and so in order to play the bottom b you have to stretch up to it. Add in the 6the string underneath and my whole hand has shifted downwards by a couple of cm and this throws me off. Hopefully that makes sense. 
so I find I can jump between 4 and 5 easily but not so much with a 6.

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1 hour ago, Newfoundfreedom said:

And 3, The quality of "budget" instruments these days is ridiculous! Once you get above £400 - £500 the returns diminish massively. Yeah admittedly a £2500 bass is always going to be better than a £250 bass, but is it 10X better? 

The guitarist in my old band had a £3500 acoustic guitar that he wouldn't take to gigs. What's the bloody point? He used to borrow my £50 Freshman and it sounded "almost" as good, and £3450 cheaper. 

Think the build quality and finish is or should be better but playability not so much. Agree i've played some cheap basses that are far superior to more expensive ones i've tried.

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Just do it 😀

Life's too short to think "what if", give it a whirl and see how you get on.

Until relatively recently I was of the mindset that if I bought a new bass that made the old one redundant and I'd have to sell it. Now I take two basses to a gig and play whatever one I fancy playing on the night. 

Plus I still get my Harley Benton out on occasion.

ooh-matron-kenneth-williams-carry-on-bouvier-des-flandres-puppies-for-sale-uk.jpg

Edited by Delberthot
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I’ve had plenty of 6-strings over the years. Due to hand issues I stick to 5’s nowadays (less to reach over). My take is that cheaper instruments have improved massively but it’s still a real challenge to find a decent 6 below luthier prices. The bass needs to be designed as a 6 rather than a 4 with two strings added, as so many are. Weight, neck dive and the appropriate construction and electronics to handle what is quite a wide range instrument. Dingwall are a prime example - light, well-balanced, very stiff neck and the scale length to make the B string even. Too many cheaper 6-strings just don’t cut it (honourable mention for the Warwick Corvette6 (ash) and Streamer LX, and the budget/mid range Ibanez SR’s, which have terrible headstock dive). Problem is, trying a poorly designed and executed 6 is likely to put you right off...

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2 hours ago, Newfoundfreedom said:

Yeah picking up a cheapy is pretty much the plan. My budget for the whole bass is around £250, so no chance flying anywhere to get one. I can get an Ibanez 6er delivered from Thomann for about that money. Should be good enough for me as a learner. 

To be honest I wouldn't pay much more than that for a bass anyway. 1, because I can't afford to. 2, I couldn't justify the cost for what is essentially just a hobby. If I was gigging and making money from it then maybe. And 3, The quality of "budget" instruments these days is ridiculous! Once you get above £400 - £500 the returns diminish massively. Yeah admittedly a £2500 bass is always going to be better than a £250 bass, but is it 10X better? 

The guitarist in my old band had a £3500 acoustic guitar that he wouldn't take to gigs. What's the bloody point? He used to borrow my £50 Freshman and it sounded "almost" as good, and £3450 cheaper. 

Ibanez do some nice instruments.

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Well I've taken the plunge and ordered the cheapest 6 string available on the planet. 😂

I'd previously dismissed it as being "too cheap" and assumed it would be just a useless plank, but then I read the reviews on Thomann, and watched a few videos on YouTube, and this thing just seems too good to be true. (Seriously! Check out the reviews for yourselves) So I ended up ordering it as much out of curiosity as anything else. 

A brand new 6 string bass, which (if the dozens of reviews are to be believed) is not only useable, but actually quite good. Light weight (for a 6 anyway), with a fast neck, good build quality, decent tones, and extremely playable. For.......

 

Are you ready for this?.........

 

Are you sitting down?..........

 

 

 

 

£135!!!!!! 😱

How is that even possible? 

I mean, granted it's ugly, but if this thing even gives me an idea about playing a six string at that price I'll be happy. 

I look forward to reviewing this one when it arrives. 

 

https://m.thomann.de/intl/harley_benton_b_650_black_progressive_series.htm?i11l=en_GB%3ABG.EUR%3ABGN

 

Edited by Newfoundfreedom
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Fast neck usually means string spacing is gonna be 16-16.5mm but for that money you'll get use to it. Its exactly how i did it. The narrow string spacing is great for learning those top end chords tho.

You can't argue with that price. I've heard pretty good things about Harley Benton gear. Well done and let us know how you get on.

At that rice i might even order myself one.

Dave

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