How good can a 6-string bass sound?

Continuing on with the theme of 6-string basses this week, below are a few examples of how good the 6-string bass can sound.

In this first example, we hear a classical piece by Bach. Generous use of the higher frets and treble strings are played.

In this second example is one of the 6-string’s main strengths, chording. When you want to break out from single notes and get the smooth, warm chords from a bass that really sing, the 6 really works well here.

In this third example we see a fretless 6 used for that fantastic extra-wide tonal range when playing jazz. 

Are the high notes of the 6 the best reason to use one?

You’ll notice in all 3 videos above that it’s the treble notes the players favor rather than the bass notes. It’s the extra range on the treble side that is of more use, generally speaking.

It is true that when you want high treble notes on the 4-string, you can simply use piccolo strings. The tradeoff however is that the entire tonal character of the 4-string changes by going up an entire octave.

It’s also true that instead of B-E-A-D-G tuning on a 5-string, you could use E-A-D-G-C. In fact, there are more than a few 5-string players who do this because it feels more natural to “have the E on top” and with the high C on the 1 string.

With the 6-string however, it’s not so much the high C that makes it great, but rather having the low B and the high C for an extended range of notes you can actually use.

Most 6-string players agree that 6 strings provides the “just right” amount of tonal range for all the lows and highs one would ever need.

Does that mean you should give up your 4 in favor of a 6? No. It just means that the 6 actually does make sense, musically speaking.

Which makes the most musical sense to you? The standard 4, the 5 or the 6?

Also know that we do carry a good selection of 6-string pickups and 6-string bridges (we sell bass gear so of course we have to mention that). 🙂

6 thoughts on “How good can a 6-string bass sound?

  1. Reconfirms my assertion that bass solos should be heard once a set – for a few minutes at most – as a novelty. I’m a bassist who plays and loves jazz, classical, and all good music.

  2. I personally prefer the six string. Not because I frequently use the C on any gigs, but because it just gives me more tonal options. I have battled people for years telling me, “real bass players only need 4!” I currently own three six string basses and one seven. I have only played in three bands where I actually used the C or F, two were metal bands and the other is jazz fusion. needless to say 5 was plenty for the dance cover bands and the R&B stuff.

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