The Bass VI. It Can’t Be Played.

Spinal Tap.  The one that can’t be touched, pointed at, or even looked at is an original 1966 Seafoam Green Fender Bass VI, listed last year on eBay for 40 grand.  Who knows what it actually sold for!  Unlike Nigel, I don’t buy what I can’t play.  Unfortunately, I also can’t buy what I’d like to play!

Oh, and you knew this was coming.

Since getting a USA Fender Bass VI for less than thousands of dollars wasn’t an option a few years ago, or even now, I opted to build out a partscaster:

bs1

First, the important USA specs (bullets from Wikipedia) to maintain in a Bass VI build, especially the scale length:

  • Solid body (alder) fretted electric bass guitar, 6 strings in 6 courses tuned E-A-D-G-B-E an octave below the normal guitar tuning.
  • Scale length 30” / 762 mm (as opposed to 34” / 864 mm for the Jazz and Precision basses) for the US versions, 30,3″ for the Japanese versions.
  • Curved fingerboard (rosewood), radius 7.25” / 184 mm, 21 frets
  • Standard strings .095 .075 .055 .045 .035 .025 inches, Fender stainless steel, P/N 073-5350-000.
  • Fender floating tremolo arm.

From the Offset Forum, I got the Bass VI neck with Coronado headstock, and the Bass VI body, both from USACG:

http://www.offsetguitars.com/forums/

http://www.usacustomguitars.com/

And it’s a nice Lake Placid Blue, I believe the nitro was shot by Mark Jenny:

http://mjtagedfinishes.com/

The bridge is a Mastery Bridge – basically if you have any offset Fender guitar, be it Jaguar or Jazzmaster or yes even a Bass VI, this is the bridge to have:

http://www.masterybridge.com/home.html

And the list keeps going.  Partscasters are like this.  The pickups are Dimarzio, Areas ’58, ’67 and ’61 in the neck, middle and bridge positions.  The tremolo came from a USA Jazzmaster reissue, and the knurled knobs came from a Fender Precision Bass.  The mint guard also came from the Offset Forum, but the switchplate was custom made by Rick Kelly of Carmine St. Guitars, holding a Strat 5-way switch to catch all the conventional Strat sounds, pretty cool:

http://www.kellyguitars.com/

Vintage reissue tuners from Kluson, and I think that covers it.  I love The Cure, so I did a bit of doodling here that gives that Hanging Garden feel, flipping through all the different Strat switching positions.  Doesn’t quite get there until you kick in all those old effects, like the delay and flange:

Well this one was a fun build, but I had so much cash sunk into it that I decided I had to “downgrade” and get something similar plus green back in the wallet.  End result?  The Schecter Hellcat VI:

HC2

Made in Korea, I had low expectations but it did have the specs I needed and it cost 400 bucks used.  Also from the Offset Forum, man I better add them to my Links of Interest page.  Anyhow, dead stock and it’s actually pretty darn nice, my wife thinks it’s the coolest looking guitar I own too – kudos to your design, Schecter!  Also, I guess it doesn’t hurt that Robert Smith of The Cure also plays a Bass VI type Schecter:

So here’s a review of the guitar that is more eloquent than I could make, and a little demo I did of it, a snippet that sounds a bit like Pictures of You:

http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/2011/Apr/Tone_Tips_from_the_Road_Specialty_Guitar_Stew.aspx

Last but not least, what kind of pick can withstand full chord strums on a Bass VI with those heavy gauges?  My thin plectrums were like cardboard paper against this thing, especially when doing open chords or individual runs.  Well last night a pick came in the mail that was Colossal:

http://v-picks.com/productdetails.php?q=38&page=pick

I won it in a contest – yeah, a $35 pick! But this thing is THICK, definitely doesn’t crap out on you when you’re in full blown bass windmill mode.  And somehow it sticks to your fingers, I haven’t slipped or dropped it yet.  Brings zing to the attack too, which is important for upper range playing, a la Peter Hook of Joy Division/New Order fame:

So there you go, my experience with the lower range even though I’m not usually reaching down that deep into the ether.

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