The Underappreciated Magic of the Fender Bass VI
The musical world has witnessed countless innovations, with instruments of all sorts making their mark. Yet, some remain overshadowed, unappreciated for their unique flair, one that comes to mind is the Fender Bass VI.
A Brief Glimpse Into History
The Fender Bass VI made its debut in 1961, but its not quite a bass and not quite a guitar. Rather, it hovers in a delightful space in-between. This unique instrument is one of the most underrated and underutilized instruments ever made, which is a tragedy because it is incredibly unique and a blast to play. It’s why those who've encountered it can't help but be mesmerized by its charm.
Fender Bass VI: More Than Meets the Eye
Despite its lack of mainstream popularity, this instrument is incredibly functional. You'd be mistaken to think it's a novelty. In reality, it has become one of my favorite instruments to play. Why? Its versatility.
I'll never forget my first experience with the Fender Bass VI. While working at a Nashville studio with artist Jesse Wilson, I noticed a Bass Six sitting on the guitar rack. It wasn't a guitar or a baritone, it was something different. It’s not a short scale bass because it’s only six strings, or a baritone, but it’s not tuned like baritone, it is tuned like a standard guitar.
The Fender Bass VI emerged as a competitor to the Danelectro UB2, the first six-string bass of its kind. Fender envisioned the Bass Six as a logical evolution post the success of the Precision bass and Jazz bass.
Little do many know, the Bass Six has graced us on some very iconic records. From The Beatles' Abbey Road to Cream's early albums, its presence is unmistakable if you know what to listen for. This Bass Six is strung like a standard guitar, but an octave below. Which puts you in a four string bass territory allowing for profound bass lines. Yet, it also ventures into baritone guitar territory, proving its multifaceted capabilities.
The Drawbacks and Advantages
While the Fender Bass VI is fascinating, it does come with a few hitches. Its "identity crisis" often throws musicians off. For bass players, playing the Bass VI may feel off because of the spacing of six strings versus the spacing of four strings. For a bass player who is used to playing rest-strokes or fingerstyle, you are left with very little room between strings. Which means you have to play with a pick. If you're a guitar player, you won't be soloing or bending strings, because it plays more like a bass. It’s design makes it neither a traditional bass nor a guitar, causing a bit of confusion for first-timers. Since the Bass VI is so different, it should not replace your bass or your guitar, but rather be an addition to your collection of tools.
The Bass VI is a great addition for producers or musicians who want to diversify their collection with multiple instruments. It doesn't aim to replace the standard bass or guitar, but rather complements them.
If you're an enthusiast keen to explore uncharted territories, or a producer looking to expand your arsenal, the Fender Bass Six is a great place to start. Though not for everyone, its unique blend between bass and guitar might just be the secret ingredient you've been missing.
If this piqued your interest, delve deeper into the world of Fender. Their new Vintera 2 line, which includes the Bass VI, is worth exploring. For those looking to support this exploration of underrated instruments, do check out the affiliate links in this blog; every click helps keep this content alive.