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DiMarco

Are six string basses addictive?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, DiMarco said:

Thanks for the remark on my TRB. It is a John Patituci signature (1 not 2, the 2 are 35" this one is 34" scale) and the amount of detail in its design is just jawdropping. Body is a 7 layer waffle of maple, ash, alder and what seems to be ebony. Quality is about as good as the Fodera 5 I have. Never really looked at Yamaha before but this bass seems to be reasonably epic. 🙂

High praise indeed to compare a Yamaha (albeit top end) favourably with a Fodera costing several times as much! That's a very helpful comparison coming from someone who knows his way around high-end bases.

It's made me feel a little more confident about my previous suggestion of putting my much loved Yamaha BB1025 into bat against your new Sadowsky and no live audience noticing a meaningful difference in the hands of the same player in a band mix.

Edited by Al Krow
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14 hours ago, TheLowDown said:

But then reality kicks in as you become more acquainted with the saying "with great power comes great responsibility". The extra weight hour after hour, the constant muting of the C string and the permanently rumbling B string, the (at least slight) neck dive, the extra price of strings, the extra mental calculations required to effectively circumvent the fretboard when going from chord to chord, to name but a few, all begin to take their toll.

Regarding the point in italics, even though it's only 2 strings more than a 4 string, that hugely expands how many patterns you need to keep in your head when looking for the right note to play, and when performing you really want to keep things as simple as possible. No need to complicate things.

 

And that's when you realise that you should only use the right bass for the job. Don't use a 6 string when a 4 or 5 will do. Don't use a 5 string when a 4 will do. It turns out that even though the 6 string is a whole lot of fun, it often doesn't need to be used that much except for niche work and practice.

My 6 is lighter than my main 5 strings, has less neck dive than my Fenders, and doesn't have a permanently ringing B string because it's muted by my right hand. 

I also don't think that it particularly complicates the navigation of the fingerboard. Once you've spent a bit of time learning the notes on the added strings there's not much extra thinking involved. In fact, there are times when it can be helpful because you can play over 2 octaves in position.

I'm all for using the right tool for the job, but there's nothing you can do on a 4 that you can't do on a 5 or 6. I generally use a 5 as standard now but I still like to take the 6 out occasionally, especially if I know I'm going to be soloing a lot. I only really take a 4 string if I'm specifically asked for one, and often it's as much for visual reasons than anything else (in a live context at least).

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2 hours ago, Al Krow said:

High praise indeed to compare a Yamaha (albeit top end) favourably with a Fodera costing several times as much! That's a very helpful comparison coming from someone who knows his way around high-end bases.

It's made me feel a little more confident about my previous suggestion of putting my much loved Yamaha BB1025 into bat against your new Sadowsky and no live audience noticing a meaningful difference in the hands of the same player in a band mix.

Indeed. I too did not expect this but the Yamaha is right up there with the Zon, Sadowsky, Fodera when it comes to build quality and playability. Tone wise, the Fodera (with its huuuge body) is a notch up from the rest in my mind, but then again tone is highly subjective. Also the Zon has a pretty unique snappy sound with its carbon neck. Diversity in tone is why I have so many basses in the first place and the Yamaha definitely holds its own in that department. Maybe not considered high-end but the EBMM Stingray 5 Neckthru is also seriously good quality. I am a lucky man.

 

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I've had a total of four five 6 strings over the years (my usual default is a 5), not until the last one did I really gel with any of them. Whilst I still play 4/5s and definitely feel more comfortable with those, the 6 feels like i'm wielding more 'potential' with what I play. None of that applies for the usual covers, but even when it's Dream Theater I play at home to give myself Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - 90% of it can be done on a 5.

However, my GAS has swung very much to 6 strings recently, they just look better in my eyes.

Edited by Machines
Forgot how many I had
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They can be addictive, I switched to 6ers full time in 2008 and have never looked back, though I still own a P bass for teaching and when I need a passive sound. John Patitucci, Anthony Jackson and John Myung opened the door onto another world of possibilities (and later Tony Grey, Damian Erskine, Oteil Burbridge and Bjorn Meyer) that I don't think I'll ever tired of exploring :) 

Ben

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While I use a BEAD tuned 4 string Spector for my main gig and record with my 5 string Spector NS-5XL so basically all my 'professional' work does not use sixers I have a special place in my heart for them as I love the extended range and actually also the aesthetics of them, too. But they have to be sleek and compact otherwise they won't stay. I liked my Yahama TRB6II and TRB6PII but the necks were too wide and so were the bodies. So anything over 17mm spacing is a no for me (but still I wanna have a Yammie Patitucci at some point even if I know it won't fit) 

So all things considered I currently have these three six string basses, I have them for quite a long time now so they are keepers. 

Spector US Forte

IMG_0755.thumb.JPG.3a010b2e0df29280b14a8d01af7bb104.JPG

Ibanez Prestige SR3006 and 5006 (with a heavily customized Spector in the middle)

IMG_5890.thumb.jpg.01ca868ec955285a2c9254b32ea9c7da.jpg

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Day 10:

- Still playing nothing but the Patitucci. My focus is entirely on getting to play that without thinking too much about string muting etc. trying to make that process become second nature.

@Paulhauser wow that Spector looks very tasty! About the JP: You get used to the 19mm string spacing pretty quick. I play five string basses with various string spacing and actually feel the 19mm works easier once you get used to it. I do not have big hands by the way so I think it is mainly a mentality thing.

 

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26 minutes ago, DiMarco said:

 

@Paulhauser wow that Spector looks very tasty! About the JP: You get used to the 19mm string spacing pretty quick. I play five string basses with various string spacing and actually feel the 19mm works easier once you get used to it. I do not have big hands by the way so I think it is mainly a mentality thing.

 

Thanks for the compliment about my Spector, all glory goes to Stuart and crew, I'm just the caretaker 🙂

As for spacing, I've been there, done that and enough time, basses and experiences passed that I understood my needs and preferences. Sure, I can adapt to almost anything (and my gigging Spector has 19mm but I play that with a pick so that's another story) but in this day and age where we bassists are blessed with an abundance of product to choose from or even have one made and tailored to our own needs one doesn't need to make compromises as long as finances and availability allow. I just feel at home a lot more with tighter spacing, that also goes to my 5'ers, too (17mm)

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As it's show off time 😎 , here are the sixers I'm playing these days.

The least used first as it's fretted, a Leduc Masterpiece MP 624 :

130224740_LeducHMP624(1).thumb.jpg.5578378f4e3d3f282ec3a2d543073e70.jpg

My long time companion, a Leduc Masterpiece MP 628 SF (130 years old Brazilian rosewood fingerboard) :

1461110753_LeducMP628SF01.thumb.jpg.72c2e0e7c7d670a398e52f81c988e67e.jpg

The new every day companion, a Le Fay Remington Steele 6 RHT CC CAP Big Block (stainless steel fingerboard) :

IMG_20210419_155104.thumb.jpg.e90845f4ad3bad1c017dda1ebeb52a47.jpg

And the unique, one and only EUB Leduc U-Contrebasse 6 Moaï :

IMG_20210419_160542.thumb.jpg.c34f09b316155c66d2a7788854349643.jpg

Edited by Hellzero
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On 03/05/2021 at 10:29, Doddy said:

I also don't think that it particularly complicates the navigation of the fingerboard. Once you've spent a bit of time learning the notes on the added strings there's not much extra thinking involved. In fact, there are times when it can be helpful because you can play over 2 octaves in position.

 

You don't think it complicates it at all going from a 4 string to a 6 string? Take any root note on the fretboard, compare the number of major 3rds between a 4 string and a 6 string.

If you just want to play within a box on the fretboard, then I would agree with you.

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A 6 can't be more complicated then a 4, your scale just extends further up and down from the same position.
On a 4 however you will need to move up or down the neck more to play that extended range. That said, with each way of playing the same stuff comes different inspiration.

And that is my main point. A 6 inspires in a different way then a 4 does and vice versa. I want both. And a bunch of 5 strings. 😁

The only problem with a six string I can think of is playing comfort - some people can't get to grips with such wide fingerboards and there's nothing wrong with that.
A 4 string bass is perfectly fine. But you know... 30 years of playing 4 and 5 strings. Adding a 6 is just a lot of fun.

 

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52 minutes ago, TheLowDown said:

You don't think it complicates it at all going from a 4 string to a 6 string? Take any root note on the fretboard, compare the number of major 3rds between a 4 string and a 6 string.

If you just want to play within a box on the fretboard, then I would agree with you.

Practice is the simple answer, The more you work on it the more second nature fingerboard navigation becomes. Personally I find it harder to go back to 4 strings because I'm used to having more options in each direction on the 6er. 

I would also second what Doddy already said, you can do everything on a 6 you can do on a 4 but not the other way round. The additional weight can be compensated for with a wide padded strap.

Ben

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20 minutes ago, DiMarco said:

And that is my main point. A 6 inspires in a different way then a 4 does and vice versa. I want both. And a bunch of 5 strings. 😁

I like that way of putting it 🙂 

Some have said "there's nothing you can do on a 4 string that you can't do on a 6 string" or words to that effect, and whilst I fully believe that's true for them, I don't find it so myself. I don't think I'll ever be able (or want) to conflate the way that I approach and feel about playing each, so the thing that I would contend I'll maybe always be able to do on a 4 that I can't do on a 6 is play-like-me-playing-a-4. It's not that I'm massively more used to playing a 4 either; I started there like I imagine most do, but then very quickly moved to 5 where I stayed exclusively for years before reincorporating 4 and now adding 6. Both are fun for different reasons, and 5 is 'home'.

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I've had my 6er about a year now. I haven't touched another bass since I've had it.

I prefer the tighter spacing. The neck is actually really slim. It's improved my playing a lot because the next note is always under my fingers without having to do fretboard gymnastics. It's improved my technique, because it really forces me to work on muting, while a 4 string is a lot more forgiving. I love the fatter sound and the feel of playing what would be the low notes on the E, higher up the neck on the B. So for me  it does everything a 4 or 5 does, and more. Plus to me it just looks much nicer. I've ever been a fan of traditional "Fender" shaped basses. They've always struck me as being just a little dull. And a 4 string just looks ridiculously skinny to me now. 

Of course this is all personal preference and extremely subjective. But in answer to the original question, yes for me playing a 6 was extremely addictive. I went from having never even played anything other than a basic 4 string, to not playing, or having any desire to play anything other than a 6. I can't see myself ever going back to playing a 4. 

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16 minutes ago, Newfoundfreedom said:

It's improved my playing a lot because the next note is always under my fingers

I'm longing to read someone saying they've tuned their six-string B-D#-G-B-D#-G so that is literally true: 4 fingers, 4 frets, 4 semitones, and then up to the next string. A seamless legato line effortless in every context, with the range of a five-string.

Relearning the fretboard would take more than a moment, I suppose, but at least the top 3 and bottom 3 are identical? I read that some mid century jazz guitarist tuned an 8 string guitar like this to facilitate playing atonal music. 

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1 hour ago, Ricky Rioli said:

I'm longing to read someone saying they've tuned their six-string B-D#-G-B-D#-G so that is literally true: 4 fingers, 4 frets, 4 semitones, and then up to the next string. A seamless legato line effortless in every context, with the range of a five-string.

Relearning the fretboard would take more than a moment, I suppose, but at least the top 3 and bottom 3 are identical? I read that some mid century jazz guitarist tuned an 8 string guitar like this to facilitate playing atonal music. 

Can't oblige with that innovative tuning, but I have retuned mine E,A,D,G,B,E i.e. the same as a six string guitar but an octave down, for a classical bass project and which this thread has inspired me to get cracking with again!

The Fender VI style basses have too narrow a string spacing for my liking for this and a normal 6 string bass too wide, but I managed to bag a Ibanez GVB 36 which has a lightly tapered 9mm (nut) to 14mm (bridge) spacing along the length of the fretboard, which seems close too ideal, although a similarly spaced short-scale would likely be even better - but that's maybe a separate little project in itself for another day!

GVB VIII.jpg

Edited by Al Krow
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I was looking to sell it this time last year but kept hold of my LTD RB-1006. I find it inspiring to play and for me, the low action offsets the wider neck. 

71DD48A4-EA7D-4316-A926-AFEDF41C03CB.jpeg

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14 hours ago, TheLowDown said:

You don't think it complicates it at all going from a 4 string to a 6 string? Take any root note on the fretboard, compare the number of major 3rds between a 4 string and a 6 string.

If you just want to play within a box on the fretboard, then I would agree with you.

No I don't. At least nothing that an hour or two in the practice room learning the notes won't sort out.

Going off your example, a 6 string doesn't give you a huge number of major 3rds over a 4 string. If you use C as your root, you're only getting 2 more places to play an E than on a 4 string (within the first 12 frets). What you are getting is the option to play over a full 2 octave range within a 4 fret area rather than a 9 fret shift, and a full 3 octaves within 12 frets.

 

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3 hours ago, binky_bass said:

You sir have the thinnest rig I've seen.

Haha possibly. I also have a set up with a 1x15 and a 2x10 but that doesn’t stop at my house.

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On 05/05/2021 at 13:39, Doddy said:

No I don't. At least nothing that an hour or two in the practice room learning the notes won't sort out.

Going off your example, a 6 string doesn't give you a huge number of major 3rds over a 4 string. If you use C as your root, you're only getting 2 more places to play an E than on a 4 string (within the first 12 frets). What you are getting is the option to play over a full 2 octave range within a 4 fret area rather than a 9 fret shift, and a full 3 octaves within 12 frets.

 

Major 3rds was an example to make the point. You should be at least aware of where all the major/minor 3rds, natural/flat 5ths, and minor/major 7ths are depending on what chord type you're playing. Playing scales across the entire neck teaches you more than just note positions so you don't have to rely on beginner shapes. 

A 4 string means that there is less to consider which makes playing much nippier when you need it.  If you know the fretboard well enough, going up or down the neck where necessary shouldn't be a problem, and even encourages a certain creativity. 

If you think a 6er doesn't add complication to navigation then maybe there is still a lot of work to be done on fretboard awareness. But if you just play in the box all night every night, a 5 or 6 string will definitely suit you much better. 

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Maybe I'm an idiot but that would make a two string bass the most ideal situation.

I work from anchor points whatever substitution I choose. the 3rds, 7ths etc. exist in different directions from those wether I choose to run on 1, 2, 3 or more strings from there. Having more strings does not make this any more complex, imho. You just have more choices, speaking of fretboard awareness.

 

Edited by DiMarco
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