Thinking of switching to Bass.. 6 strings?

Discussion in 'Bass Guitar Discussion' started by 70Seven, Nov 28, 2017.

  1. 70Seven

    70Seven Ibanez Foerever!!!

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    Hello.

    So I've been a guitarist since I was 14, I'm now 37.. Always have been a Metal Rhythm guitar player. I'm pretty good, but not amazing.. I've been unable to play for the last year and a half due to carpel tunnel syndrome, doctor wants me away from guitar at all cost. Looks like I'll be having surgery sometime next year.

    Now I was thinking once the surgery is over and I get back into guitar I'd like to buy a new guitar to mark my "return" to playing. But now I'm thinking of maybe switching to Bass. I always loved the Bass and I'm thinking maybe it will be a new challenge. I feel like I've plateaued on guitar and was just playing riffs over and over, rarely learning new songs anymore. And Since I love playing Rhythm guitar, well bass is all about the Rhythm.

    Now, my question, Would a 6 String be too much for a guy that only played Bass a few times? I feel like my fretting hand is well developed, but I'll have to work on my "picking" hand..
     
  2. stevexc

    stevexc Laura Like Butter

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    I think going straight to 6 would be fine! Just keep in mind that the intervals between the strings are different than guitar - 6-string bass is BEADGC whereas guitar in B would be BEADF#B. Just be aware of that and you should be fine!
     
  3. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Bass playing is a different mindset than guitar playing, but either way, I don't think six strings would be much of a problem. My only sort of concern would be ergonomics. Personally, I find a six string bass neck comfortable, but many find it too wide. It's a lot wider than a six string guitar neck, even significantly wider than a seven string guitar neck. If width isn't an issue, though, go for it.
     
  4. Mwoit

    Mwoit Lifted By Skin

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    Not at all. You can start on any number of strings really.

    I'd maybe play around with a few bass guitars of varying string count (4 strings, 5 strings, 6 strings etc.) if you can and just choose something that you feel comfortable with. If you're dead set on the idea of the 6 string, fair enough.
     
  5. 70Seven

    70Seven Ibanez Foerever!!!

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    Ok, I figured 6 strings would allow me to cover most material.. If I need a 4 string for a song I have it, same for 5 string or something that was written on a 6...

    I'll try playing one some day before buying, my local guitar store does rentals so I'd try that.
     
  6. iamaom

    iamaom SS.org Regular

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    Make sure to factor in the cost, 6 strings only provide 5 more notes on the high end and can cost a lot more for both the bass itself and the strings. The neck will also be insanely wide and might not fit a normal case or guitar stand. String muting on bass is also more important than guitar, and that extra string can be a hassle depending on your technique. You won't be as fast and nimble as you'd think if you've never had much bass experience before, and 5 strings will cover 99% of what you want to play (even bands that use 7 and 8 string guitars will commonly have just 5 string bass players). Don't get me wrong if you have the money go get a nice BTB but if you're planning on a budget model I'd stick with a 5.
     
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  7. High Plains Drifter

    High Plains Drifter SS.org Regular

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    I sincerely hope that all goes well with the CTS surgery and subsequent recovery/ rehab. Obviously, nothing is more important than that.

    I too have been playing for decades. I enjoy playing rhythm and bass lines as well as lead stuff and was pretty stoked when I decided to add a bass to my collection a couple years ago. The decision was rather daunting because I wasn't at all sure which route I wanted to go... 4, 5, or 6 string. I ended up going with an Ibanez SRC6 after a lot of research. I'm very happy with the SRC6 but I think that a primary difference between you and I is that I only wanted something to occasionally lay down a bass line.

    That brings me to this... I sure don't think that a 6-string bass is ideal in a lot of respects. For me, I felt that it would be easier and more natural of a transition ( since being a 6-string guitar player for so many years prior) and it was. I was able to very quickly and effortlessly make it work for my particular needs. But again... my "requirements" were very different from someone that might want "more" from their bass guitar or for someone wanting this as their main instrument. It has some disadvantages that became quite apparent after the honeymoon phase had worn off. One of the most noticeable things is the tighter string-spacing which at least for me, compromised my technique. The SRC6 is also not the best sounding bass guitar out there although with the right equipment and settings, the tone is manageable. Also, I hardly ever go very far up the board which leaves the higher strings unused much of the time. Would I get one again if I needed to replace it? Well as much as I still enjoy playing it, I'd have to say... No. I don't think that I would. I would instead go with a 4-string or even more likely, a 5-string. Even as someone who doesn't play bass that often or that proficiently, I've actually been considering getting another 4 or 5 stringer lately... just to have that "correct" one. Idk... I guess ultimately I feel like the SRC6 is just too much like a standard guitar and not enough of a true bass. Fwiw, SSO member A-Branger tried to steer me in the direction of a 4 or 5-stringed bass when I was researching all of this and I really wish that I had understood more of what he was talking about with the whole "4 vs 5 vs 6 string" discussion.

    To wrap this up, there are certainly some specs about the SRC6 that might be worth mentioning to someone in your shoes... The fret-board width and profile are VERY comfortable and so is the body of the instrument. Especially for someone recovering from CTS surgery, this may be a big deal. Also in keeping with the comfort aspect, the 30" scale-length is also very comfortable and manageable for someone possibly having issues with stretching.

    So that's my take albeit long-winded and I hope that by the time you're ready, that you're able to make a confident and well-researched decision.
     
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  8. Strobe

    Strobe SS.org Regular

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    I own a 6 string bass. It's not bad on the width - easier to play than my 8 string.

    Things worth mentioning

    The 6th string that a 6 string has that a 5 string does not is actually a high string, a high C. A lot of bass players barely use the high G on a 4/5 string, so ask yourself if you will. If not, you can usually find a 5 string easier and more cheaply, and it probably does the job with a less wide neck.

    If you are playing metal and down-tuning at all, I recommend a 35" scale. The tension feels better to me with easier to obtain string gauges. It just feels better for galloping stuff. This applies whether you get a 6 string or a 5 string.

    With all that said, the 6 string is just kind of fun. I don't know why, I like picking it up more than a 4 string bass. I would not be afraid of it. Just make sure you would not be happier with a 5.
     
  9. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I jumped from a guitar to a 6 string bass a while back. I played it for years, and it was fine, but after getting 5er, the 6er never gets any use anymore. I play a Jazz V now. I don't miss the extra string. IMO I'd avoid the 6 unless you know for sure you'd need it.

    Consider:
    - They seem to be more expensive by virtue of being less common, bigger, probably harder to engineer, some have extra truss rods and things, etc.
    - There are fewer 6ers to pick from
    - They're heavier
    - The string spacing is usually very different. I find most 6ers I've tried are "guitarish" in design, whereas 5s are more often traditionally designed. It took me a long time, but I appreciate this difference now. I don't want a big heavy deep guitar- I want a bass.
    - You don't get that much extra range
    - The extra range you do get is in the high end, so "it's for metal" isn't a great reason
    - The extra range is good for chord shapes and "playing it like a guitar"
     
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  10. Ebony

    Ebony "The Sugarcoater"

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    To me, the purpose of a bass with more than 5 strings is soloing and advanced chordal playing. If neither is going to happen, get a 5-string.
     
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  11. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    If you have been a guitarist, a 6 will give you range to continue chords, soloing etc. You could tune it EADGCF or even EADGBE (both octave down) for plenty of high range.
    Health comes first, so whatever bass you get, do restring it with ultra-light tension strings, so called 'medium' or 'standard' bass sets are extremely tight, unnecessarily so, and you are used to a lower tension. I suggest sets with .030 to .090 for EADG as a maximum tension.
    Then play with good healthy technique, fairly straight wrist, high neck angle, bass shifted to the right, play sitting (without a strap) as much as possible. Buy a bass with a modern ergonomic balanced design, like the BTB, that can sit on your leg at a high angle without slipping off.
     
  12. LordIronSpatula

    LordIronSpatula Indeed.

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    Lots of great points in this thread about string counts, ergonomics, etc.

    I basically started bass on a 6, but much like TedEH, I've been playing a 5 more and more ever since I got one. At this point 90%+ of my gigs are on my five, even though it's cheap and my sixes are nice. Mainly, it's because it's smaller and lighter. The narrow neck makes it a easier to phrase cleanly and apply vibrato on the A and D strings in upper positions, whereas having to stretch my hand more to reach over the C string on the six makes it more difficult. It's not insurmountable, but why would I want to add any hindrance to my playing or stage presence if I don't actually NEED the C string?

    Regarding the BTB, they are good basses and the body does balance well. However they are big basses in both body and neck - most of the BTBs I've played have had pretty big, wide-ish neck profiles (in addition to being 35"). Is there a possibility that playing something with a large neck could be problematic for your hands after surgery? You might want to consider something with a smaller neck if that's the case. There are a couple 33" BTBs that might be worth a look, and there are also Soundgear basses, Peavey Cirrus, Pedulla etc. which are narrower and thinner at the nut. Carvin, err, Kiesel even makes their Vader bass in 30" scale with 4, 5, or 6 strings. Despite the scale length, it should feel and sound more like a typical "bass guitar" than a Bass VI/SRC6.
     
  13. marcwormjim

    marcwormjim SS.org Regular

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    I have two 30” Rondo 6 strings in addition to “normal” basses*. I find, in my capacity as a mediocre musician who dabbles in guitar more often than bass, that it’s less awkward transitioning. Plus the price is right. I imagine a Bass VI-style instrument (such as an Ibanez Crossover) would be more appealing to some.
     
  14. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

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    Ive been playing bass since I was 15 (34 now), and I would say dont get a 6 string.

    bass is way different to a guitar, you dont need the extra range.

    See waht you want to play, the kind of music and the tunning of such music. Maybe you could get away with a 4?, but for me I cant live without a 5 string. Until recently were Im cosidering getting a 4 for dropC. But the kind of music I play requires the low B for some metal/prog stuff, and love to play some funk and latin stuff too, which gives me the freedom to move around and trow a double octave note here and there for that extra womff. Also the 5 string gaves me the change to ccomodate myself to a higher position into the neck without having to move my hands up and down to reach a F or a G on the 4th string I jsut use the 5th string so I stay on the same place.

    I play msot of Dream Theater stuff, I used to have a cover band of it. I did it with a 5 string. As long as its a 24 fret one you are fine. For exxample

    reasons already told here by others and to add to the point against a 6:
    -Too big, both body and neck
    -Very very few of them at a "affordable" range, so your choices gets heavily reduced
    -In some cases its impossible to find strings on a store, and if you do its one brand. 5s already have a hard time with this too, usually theres like 2-3 brands. Lucky for me Elixirs always seems to be on the menu
    -Unless you are soloing, you dont need the high C string. And you can still solo on a 5s too
    - the High C string comes more as a comfort rather than extended range, same reason I love my lowB for access notes in other parts of the neck, the high C string does the same. Difference is on the amount of times you use those notes its pretty much none to barely
    -dont remember right now lol


    Now about the BTBs. I would say nope to them for you until you try one. They are 35" scale, they have a wider than normal nut 47mm instead of 45mm (if Im corectly), and the string spacing on the bridge is 19mm, which is pretty wide. In other words, its pretty big bass, specailly for you coming from hand surgery and never playing bass it might feel like a strech.

    Have a look at the SR line, they are awesome, the only thing is the 16.5mm string spacing that might feel too close on a 5, again up to you to try. but if you play with a pick this might be better for you.

    IF you really want the BTB, you can do like me and get the BTB33 which is a 33" scale with 45mm nut and 17mm striing spacing. This one comes with a hich C, but I changed it into a normal bass with a lowB. no problem, I jsut needed to get a .135 string for the B.


    also forgot to mention about the tunning you want to play, basses are not as flexible on tunnings like a guitar do. So if you want a dropC bass, then you need to buy a dedicated string set for it. The standard string gauge for a BEADG is not gonna cut it, either by tunning up from the B or tunning down from the E. I tried, end up awfull
     
  15. 70Seven

    70Seven Ibanez Foerever!!!

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    Thanks for all the advice guys, really helpful. So I'm starting to understand that a 6 String is most likely not what I'd need. 5 Would do better and even maybe a 4 string. For the last few years I've been playing Thrash metal mostly, Old Metallica, Old Megadeth mostly and some Maiden here and there, That's about 90% of what I play. But if I start playing bass I'd love to learn some of those song I knew on guitar on Bass but I'd also love to learn some Rush for example..

    Not even 100% I'll make the switch, I don't even have a surgery date yet for my CTS, I'll see what happens but this thread have been very helpfull so far.

    thanks.
     
  16. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

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    yeh most of those songs are 4 string bass songs. But having a 5 could help if you wanna jump into 7 string territory stuff.

    You dont have to wait till you get your operation, if you wanna play bass, just buy one and go for it. Being something new it might spark you to play more. At least it would give you a new territory to explore and a new fun side to play songs that otherwise you would be pretty over them. Like you prob are bored to death to play the same Master of Puppets, but now try it on bass and you would be itching to get home to play it.

    btw give a try to Orion for a good challenge ;)
     
  17. BenjaminW

    BenjaminW SS.org Regular

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    Am I allowed to call you John Myung since you're using a six string bass like Myung himself?
     
  18. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    I'm a guitarist, not as long as you yet, but I just got my first bass earlier this year, just four strings.

    Recently I've been thinking that I'd prefer a 5 string bass simply because I like to anchor my thumb on the string. I mean, I can play without anchoring my thumb at all, or I can put it on the pickups... but when I play the higher strings I enjoy the feeling of having my thumb anchored on the string before it. I think: Gee, wouldn't it be nice to have a string as an anchor even when I'm playing the E string.

    What do you guys think of that? Is anchoring your thumb even considered proper bass technique? Would you ever buy a 5 string just to play 4 string songs on?

    Either way, even though I'm not exactly a person to go to for bass advise, even if you think you only need four strings it might still be a good idea to get a 5 string!
     
  19. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

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    I anchor my thumb on the pickup for the owest string and then either on the low B or E depending on what I play.

    it depends on the pickups you ahve tho, my previous bass was really comfortable, the current one I ahve its not so much as the pickup starts further out from the string.

    But nop, dont buy a 5 string jsut for that reason only. Because then you would ahve to deal with mutting that string. Plus necks feels different. BUT, you might like the extra low range? or the comfort of playing the same notes in different part of the neck?

    just get used to use the pickup as anchring point if you have 0 plans on using the low B
     
  20. laxu

    laxu SS.org Regular

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    Inspired by A-Branger I ended up doing this on my BTB33 as well and let me tell you, that bass is perfect for a guitarist. I primarily play guitar and just dabble with bass and the shorter 33" scale and the narrower string spacing makes the BTB33 more comfortable to play for me. I don't get along with the normal 35", wide string spacing BTB lineup at all. To install the low B you do need to file the nut to fit the strings but once that is done it feels good to play even on the low B despite being a short scale length. Sounds fine too.

    I like the high C but feel that a low B is more useful. The wider fretboard of a 6-string can make playing more difficult as you don't really need the high C most of the time.
     

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