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Senior Member
Username: flaxattack

Post Number: 904
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Friday, January 20, 2006 - 9:27 am:   Edit Post

so i can kind of wondering- do i need a 6 string bass
what are the advantages?
the necks are wider than my wittle hands would perfer... i dont play high up on my g string to0 often.
i know there might be some advantages for chord playing...
does a bass "sound" better when its a 6 string...?
not trying to be a wiseguy
but i just dont get it... like most things in life i guess... lol
so talk to me.....
Username: gtrguy

Post Number: 36
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Friday, January 20, 2006 - 9:36 am:   Edit Post

Well, I play guitar and bass, so it's a no brainer for me. I can tune it both ways. But they are heavy. I play a Yamaha TRB-6P converted to fretless that sound great as a six string, and I have a Elan six that took a lot of getting used to because of the narrow string spacing. They are also more prone to banging into stuff on stage.

Do they sound better? I think they just have more strings that sound good. That low B rocks the house. I still play a four string for slap. I think takes a good player to keep the groove and play on all six strings.

Hunched over Dave
Senior Member
Username: keavin

Post Number: 612
Registered: 12-2002
Posted on Friday, January 20, 2006 - 9:50 am:   Edit Post

Staying in the pocket & in the low register is what bassplaying is all about,all these multi-string things are for the soloists.i can do on my 4 string what a six stringer can do allday
Senior Member
Username: palembic

Post Number: 2240
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, January 20, 2006 - 10:43 am:   Edit Post

Mmmmm ...I would like to go into six string and in a fretless.
I think that you don't really have to be in a solo playing when playing 6 string. For me it is about economically playing in a given position: being in the first position I can still reach the high F .
Some people playing Conklinps 7 string are talking more about a "Groove machine" than about a solo-chord-tidelitideli-tweng-bong machine. So ...it can make things more simple OR more complex ...it's each way to how to approach the instrument. I am a I-V, I-V, I-V, I-V, ...regular dude.
A guy in store said: six and seven stringers -beware; in a "plucking situation ,,,not that tapping thing Jean is doing or Trip- is for lazy and thinking bassplayers.
The guy -he played guitar- considered that as VERY DANGEROUS attitudes for a bassplayer.

Paul the bad one
Senior Member
Username: flaxattack

Post Number: 905
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Friday, January 20, 2006 - 10:49 am:   Edit Post

i understand about the positioning thing
thats why i love the 5 string as it opens me up on the low g on b
all things considered i think i will pass on the $175 6 string galveston on ebay...
i just think its not for moi
i can solo just as nicely on a 5
thanks guys
Senior Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 631
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, January 20, 2006 - 11:27 am:   Edit Post

I like what having all that extra string tension does for the lower notes on the neck. My Conklin 7-string had the best sounding B-string I've ever heard, and that with a 34' inch scale. Stiffness/tension aside, I didn't use the upper registers enough to justify the high C-string, let alone the high F. Now, a 6 or 7 with a low F# or really low C# would be awesome.
And my solos suck just as bad no matter how many strings I victimize...

Senior Member
Username: palembic

Post Number: 2241
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, January 20, 2006 - 12:23 pm:   Edit Post

YO ...John ...that''s my man!
Stay with me buddy: I-V, I-V, I-V, I-V, ...

And like our Brother Paul the Fake one (the artist formerly known as Dino) always says: 'There is no money above the fifth fret'!
(He plays always beneath the fifth fret but in the most odd meter patterns you can imagine -HA!)

Username: george_wright

Post Number: 55
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Friday, January 20, 2006 - 1:07 pm:   Edit Post

Wait a sec.... The quote on Dino's profile is "There's no money below the 5th fret." (Tried to post a link, but I got an error message.)

So where's the money, above or below? Oh, wait, one of my kids is actually a musician, so I know the answer: there's not a whole lot o' money either way :-)!
Senior Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 632
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, January 20, 2006 - 2:29 pm:   Edit Post

The money is wherever I'm NOT playing!!
Advanced Member
Username: pace

Post Number: 202
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Monday, January 23, 2006 - 1:37 pm:   Edit Post

Mine is tuned E-E, and Im using those extra two strings to add counterpoint, occasional double-stops / chords, and more convienent finger positions.... I never owned a piccolo or tenor bass, but I have more or less all that range on one instrument.... and I love it!!!!
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 584
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Monday, January 23, 2006 - 3:51 pm:   Edit Post

I think you should play whatever makes you happy. If 11 strings through a surround system floats your boat, GO for it, as life is too damn short not to enjoy yourself. When I started there were ONLY four strings and half-assed amps.

Make no mistake, giants walked the earth with that equipment. But some saw more possibilities; the ALEMBIC bass and preamp thru a MacIntosh amp were the earliest examples of a vision of something more, and a far cry from a Jazz thru a Bassman. The Wall of Sound landed in a world populated with Shure columns!

Twenty-five years later I have a five and a great amp, and any bass or amp I could possibly think of is only a mouse click and credit card number away.

I don't know what I would do with more strings, but it suits my vision of my playing. IF I did, they are out there. This is surely the best time yet to be in the bass playing world.

It's all about your vision of your expression and the tools required.

J o e y
Username: keurosix

Post Number: 23
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Monday, January 23, 2006 - 9:22 pm:   Edit Post

I agree with Paul about position, Jeff. When I went to the 5 string, I was sick and tired of detuning and retuning my E string between songs, and having to consciously remember what new fingering pattern I was forced to play. To jump to the 5 was easy for my left hand, but my right hand got real confused. I found the fingering was logical being all strings tuned in fourths, and now I could hit that low fundamental without having to detune. Once my right hand caught up with the left, my coordination was back on track. Now I cannot think of going back to the 4 string without the added lower support of the low B string. It would be like cutting off one of my nuts, no? When I decided to move up to the 6 string, I had no learning curve like with the 5 string. It just came to me. How many times have you been at the G string and longed for a High C string just past the edge of the fingerboard to hit that 4th or 5th interval? It's sitting right under your hand in position, but on a 5, you have to shift up the neck to get the note. Not on the 6, it's right there where your hand wants it to be. Also, chords and double stops can now become triple stops with little thought. It increases your range, your creativity, your speed. It also allows you to become more versatile and expands your ability too. I would definately try out some 6'ers before commiting. There can be a big difference between manufacturers, and string spacing and neck shape that can greatly affect the playability. Also, your fingers / hand / arm will adapt only so much without feeling strain. Only you can determine what is comfortable for you. If I play aggressively for a couple of hours on the 6, I can feel the workout in my wrist. Something to consider carefully.
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 589
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Monday, January 23, 2006 - 11:57 pm:   Edit Post


I couldn't agree more, I'd be lost going back to a four. I wasn't smart enough to keep flipping and returning a D-Tuner. My favorite 'reminder' is playing that stuff where they've tuned down to e-flat, and I just start playing it!

String spacing on sixes can be a real workout. I CONSTANTLY see John Patitucci Yamahas on eBay. After trying one (ABSOLUTELY the widest fingerboard I ever saw for only six strings) I'd bet a bundle they're selling them as their left hand is just beat up (of course, those BS pickups don't help . . .). The funny thing is the neck profile is flat and very comfortable considering what it's wrapped around.

I've often wished I could go to a six, but so far my mind can't grasp what I would do with an extended high register . . . oh well.

J o e y
Intermediate Member
Username: xlrogue6

Post Number: 107
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - 6:44 pm:   Edit Post

I went from 4 to 5 pretty much as soon as 5 strings became available to us common folk, because hey, what bass player wouldn't want more low notes? And yes, I overused them mightily for quite a bit. Still like having 'em, just generally try to save them for big moments and dramatic effect. Played 5 for a long time and felt no need for more high notes. Then, Michael Barclay, the guitarist/bandleader I've worked with for quite a stretch now, wrote a funk tune with an upper register fill that I had to get to quickly from 2 octaves below. After I missed it by *that* much (RIP Don Adams!) one too many times, the utility of a 6 became apparent. The tune that drove me to the 6 has long since left the repertoire, but along the way I came to like the ability to comp a bit while keeping a bass line (mostly) going, especially in 3 piece situations.

I'm playing a lot more 4 string these days on my new Knutson Messenger electric upright. Maybe it's just because my real upright is a 4, but 4 really works for me in this context. (Although, as soon as I become fabulously wealthy, I will be unable to resist a Classico 6, but by that time I may not be able to remember why!) The larger low end heft of the upright lets me play a lot of stuff an octave higher than I might on bass guitar. (For me, simply boosting the low end EQ on the BG just isn't the same...but it's probably just me....)

If you don't have an actual need for additional upper register, save yourself the "joy" of developing exciting new muting strategies(or perhaps more accurately, contortions!) for open strings you're not playing.
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 73
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - 5:57 pm:   Edit Post

Just a point I haven't seen anyone else make that would seem to merit mentioning...

One could choose to have a 29 fret fingerboard, which (assuming BEADG) would yield the exact same range as a 24 fret 6-string (B0 to C5).

It strikes me as interesting that, in THIS community, with all the innovation and customization, extended fingerboards seem rare. I've actually never seen another Alembic bass or guitar other than my own which has more than the standard (due to Alembic, largely) of 24 frets.

But it is a legitimate option that players wishing to extend their range should consider... consider the pros and cons of. Really, I frankly don't see any "con." Attempting to plays "devil's advocate", some might object to the necessary consequence that the neck pickup must be displaced if one has more than 25 or 26 frets... but all I can say it the neck pickup on my custom 8-string Europa bass sounds awesome, and second to nothing. It has a fabulous powerful sound which contrasts the sound of the bridge pickup perfectly and normally.

When they built it, they asked me if I wanted a little extra cutaway to access the higher frets, but I wanted the normal cutway; this gives me really good access for the 25th and 26the fret, then each one gets harder to use, and less practical for anything fast/repetitious.

But I think with just a little extra cutway, a 29-fret 5-string would be a worthwhile option/alternative to a 4-string or 5-string player who is apprehensive about getting a 6-string due to size/complicatedness.

As far as that goes, my .02 cents worth would be to get a 6 string AND an extended fingerboard. My 6-string Elan is EASY to play... EASY!!! Personally, I consider a 6-string to be the minimally desirable amount of strings. There is no reason at all why a 6-string should be viewed as significantly harder to learn or play. And if you have small hands, just get a shorter scale with a smaller/thinner neck and fingerboard. Sure, if you get something bigger than you can handle, that may give you a bad experience, but I think most people should be able to handle a 6-string provided it is built for them. A medium long (33) or short (32) scale Balance K made with light woods would be easy as pie for most people to play!

I think nearly everyone should be able to play a 6-string and love it... if, of course they want to. And of course, it is certainly one's perogative to NOT want to... but WHY wouldn't one want to? How many guitar players would consider buying a 5 or 4-string guitar... probably not many.
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 3073
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - 6:33 pm:   Edit Post

(Message edited by davehouck on January 25, 2006)
Advanced Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 335
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Sunday, January 29, 2006 - 2:45 am:   Edit Post

Hmm, i read that with interest. I have both a 4 string ( 30" short scale) and 5 string (34")long scale Alembic basses.

I haven't gigged with the 5 string yet but I have done many gigs with the 4 and before I had the 5 string I used to detune the E string down to "D" if I needed that extra low note.

Now....., dependent upon the gig, I would probably take both basses and use the 4 primarily and only the 5 if I was playing a song that needed that extra low note.

That said I personally find that the notes on the bottom end of the De-tuned E string down to D sounds much and more balanced than the same notes on the B string of my Europa 5.

Also the debate on whether you need a 6 string is obviously a practical one and in part, personal preference, hand size, type of music and don't forget the power of ego. :-)

I really went looking for a 6 string alembic but after a year of not finding one in the UK I settled on a 5 string alembic. Thus far I have not found the lack of a high C string to be a problem.

I couple of years ago I started teaching bass to a friend of mine, she wanted to learn bass and bought herself a 4 string bass because thats what she had been told she should start on.

After a few months she started asking about playing a 5 string but the guys in her band had told her that she should stay with the 4 until she got used to that.

I said "Rubbish" if you have never played a bass before or are very inexperienced, you are not gonna be any less experienced with a 4,5 or 6 string bass. You are just gonna learn it.

So when she saved up the money we went to the music shop, tried both 5 and 6 string basses. In the end the choice of 5 string was based on

a) The physics of playing it... They are significantly heavier and the neck was less comfortable for her finger span.

b) she is playing exclusively Reggae and the higher register is not really that much called for.

c) Financial reasons.

Less than a year later she was on tour in the UK with the "English Beat" ( Rankin Rogers band). Now she has joined a Bob Marley Tribute band as bass player and never touches her 4.

Horses for courses I think.
Somewhere I read an interview about the whole multi-string bass debate by Anthony Jackson and found it very interesting.

Ok found it: http://www.gregmorey.com/aj/articles/aj90.htm


(Message edited by jazzyvee on January 29, 2006)
Username: applejuice

Post Number: 9
Registered: 1-2006
Posted on Monday, January 30, 2006 - 11:40 am:   Edit Post

I like playing four string basses because that is what I own. The only five string that I have played was an Ibanez. I didn't like it because of the extra wide neck. I found it very uncomfortable. I am very intrigued by the possibilities of a six string, like chords. Does anyone know of a six string that goes E to e?
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 607
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Monday, January 30, 2006 - 7:03 pm:   Edit Post

Juice, you could 'frankenstein' any six that felt right to you, IF you're willing to shell out for a new nut, and do a little homework with GHS, D'Addario, etc., to find what the suggested guages would be. Or there's the 'baritone' guitars that double standard tuning an octave lower with a shorter-than-a-bass scale length. Fender Bass VI's are like this if memory serves correctly (is that right guys?). I've often thought of doing this the other way around: Have a six and then re-do a guitar and tune BEADGC to match the bass.

J o e y
Username: darkstar01

Post Number: 24
Registered: 6-2005
Posted on Monday, January 30, 2006 - 8:06 pm:   Edit Post

personally, i dont find much use for a low B string, so i tune all of my 5's with a high C. the whole playing notes too low to decipher thing never really attracted me. i definitely feel like the range of an acoustic bass is enough, although i do occaisionally play a six with a low B. a bass tuned E to E seems kind of pointless, though.. why not just play guitar? i mean.. at least E to F is still fourths...
Senior Member
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 736
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 3:05 am:   Edit Post

Joey, bog-standard guitar tuning, starting from a low B, would have Gb and B for the top two strings, otherwise barre chords turn into bizarre chords.

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