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Jazz Bass Lessons: 4 String vs. 6 String Bass

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So we live in a world now where
multi-stringed instruments are,
in terms of basses, has become common.
When I started it was four stringing only,
for many years.
And I remember in the late 70's
when I heard about Anthony Jackson
experimenting with a six string bass.
Five string basses
started to come into more
prominent too later, but
I remember I jumped in there early on.
In fact,
after Anthony convinced Carl Thompson,
and some other makers like Kent Smith, and
then Federa to start making six string
instruments on the bass, I heard the lower
register because the six string,
the way it's tuned is a low B added
to the regular bass which is E, A,
D, G, and then a high C.
So basically,
we're staying in the fourths tuning.
But we are adding a lower and a higher
string, so it adds a lot of range.
The reason why I jumped on it because I
thought in the eighties the synthesizers
were playing all these low notes,
lower than us, on the four string basses.
I thought wait a minute, they are taking
away our bass role, I didn't like that.
So when I saw Anthony playing
the six string I said wow.
Not only do we have some extended
low notes so we can reclaim our bass
territory, but we have some high register
stuff to play some more melodies and
reach out over the top of the band
when it was our solo, and
also play some chord voicings
that we couldn't play before.
So the added range in
both directions really,
really was appealing to me and
also especially
since I was playing a lot of jazz music,
it has a, it can, it sounds very
liberating to be able to [SOUND]
So you have all this
It's easy to do a three octave scale.
In other words, say we wanna do,
say we do a three octave scale,
and we do from G.
It's pretty easy to do that
with a six string bass and
it's very open and ringy.
This is a brand new one,
I just esdigned it from,
really with the express purpose
of doing my new record with it.
And this is semi-hollow.
So it's really got an additional range and
it's beautiful, but
it's got a big bottom sound too,
which I love.
And that's the thing, we don't want
to forget that our ultimate role is
really foundational, and
then as we add things,
we can enhance hopefully with taste our
ability to color the music different ways.
I've been very blessed to be in situations
where I was asked to improvise and
play solos and stuff, and
this six sting bass actually was the way I
sort of found an identity in bass playing.
I sort of found a voice in the six
string that helped me when I
went to play with Chik Coria and play
all the incredible music that he wrote.
The six string became a style for
me, you know.
So, nowadays it became so
prevalent in the mid eighties,
after a while that you
see guys in all kinds of music
playing six string basses,
even guys in country bands, playing root
and fifth on an old big six string bass.
It's really not how many strings
that are on your instrument,
it's the concept of the base
player holding the bass.
It's the heartbeat and the soul of
the bass player holding the bass.
It's what their musical heart and
mind are about.
Doesn't matter how many strings,
it can sound either very good or very bad,
whether it's one string, two,
three, four, five, six, whatever.
Nowadays people are running around
with seven string basses and
even nine, ten string basses,
it's just getting out of control.
So, the thing about it is,
to remain open minded and
use what works for you.
It's very common to have at least
a five string bass cause that,
that low B String really is helpful in
a lot of kind of music, even if you're not
playing any solos on a band, you can
benefit from having that low B string.
So that's some of the, and
I played you a scale like that.
You can do arpeggios.
And it sounds really nice.
Also, chord voicings.
you can be
You can play an unaccompanied solo and
you have all this musical development,
and you can fully realize harmony,
and do some different things and
that's kind of amazing to me.
What I found in this experience of being
able to expand and so, it's not for
everybody, I think you know,
I've had a ball filming this curriculum,
I did most of it on the four-string base.
Had a blast, I love it.
It was the instrument I started on,
my whole musical life.
But, I do have to confess I
love the six string bass.
And it became something very special for
I would say investigate, see what makes
sense for the music you're playing and
the music you want to make, and the music
you want to write, if you're writing.
So, let's talk about these things.
Send me an exchange.
If you're exploring this,
we can talk about a lot of things.
It's a wide open topic and there's a lot
of music that this sounds very good in so,