Miscellaneous Rumbles

How To Arrange for a Bass VI

26

bass vi is completely different animal than modern 6 string bass...bass vi and danelectros use guitar tuning e-e, just down an octave...

modern 6 string basses are tuned like 4 string basses with an extra low and extra high string...beadgc

cheers

ps- also bass vi and dano are 30" short scale...most modern 6 string basses are fender 34" scale...and some even beyond that!

27

A little late to this, but if you want to hear a clear juxtaposition between an E- bass and a baritone guitar, check out "Magnet & Steel" by Walter Egan..

The music, hair, costumes and all are seriously dated, but the guitar solo while the bass underlays it shows how the two can work together, at least in a ballad-like format.

28

Of course that is helpful, Kevin. However, this discussion has slowly morphed into one about a baritone guitar. But, and definitely without directing this comment at you, specifically, the original question dealt with a Bass VI bass guitar where the potential for conflict with an electric bass is much greater since they cover the same sonic territory.

I will definitely check it out and make use of it. Thanks again.

29

I don't think I'd ever heard "Magnet & Steel."

What a curious piece of work!

Such a seemingly straightforward, careful and even sparse arrangement. The melody is insinuatingly slinky (at least till it gets old). The fade-in at the beginning is silly (since there's a clear introduction anyway). Then there just enough clichés to parse in the carefully groovy arrangement of the verse that I was into the second go-round before I realized it was just a 2-chord R&B/funk jam progression - played at slow-jam 6/8 tempo that was already a cliché when this was recorded, but somehow still works.

The harmonies in persistently descending cadences of 'ooohs' in the verses and the phrases of the chorus are gorgeous. The pure-popcraft lift (with engaging use of minors) in the transition from verse to chorus is effective every time. (And with the harmonies, sounds kinda classically Fleetwood Macky.) I don't know if I hear actual pitched bells/xylophone or just particularly focused bell-work on cymbals in the chorus, but it's a textural detail that emerges for me every time - and invites me to sink into more of the texture.

The bari solo in the middle is unexpected, but welcome - and it fits in perfectly. I wouldn't have minded straightforward tremolo instead of the warbly chorus on the guitar.

But then there's the presentation. Whoosh. The hair, the clothes, so of the disco era - and I get an almost Tim Curry-in-drag androgyne vibe from Walter, particularly in his shoulder work and coy faces, and the winky half-grin when he delivers the intended double-entendre in the song's title/hook. He all but bats his eyes a couple of times. And geez. Thousands of women in the 50s woulda killed for his hair. I'll guess those were all unfortunate decisions by a producer, and not the band's doing.

Then the cheesy 50s-sock-hop interlude in the middle...what were they thinking? It's too stagey to play as real tribute or nostalgia. It must be there just as a cue that the clean low-riffing solo (unexpected in 70s soft pop) is intended as a historical throwback - like they're putting quotes around the "twangy guitar solo."

And does the guy sound a little too much like Gerry Rafferty?


I'm not aware I'd ever heard the song, though the guy's name sounded familiar. I went to wiki after writing all of the above, and learn the song is from 1978 (maybe a year or two later than I would have guessed), that Egan played in surf bands coming up (thus the careful single-string riffage) - and Lindsey Buckingham produced the single.

Watched the durn video four times, enjoying all the musical and pop-cultural layers. I love finding new oldies. It's like stuff from the past of a parallel universe.

30

Bob, the bari has likely come up because there's a lot of functional overlap between what a guitarist is like to (or can, or should) do on both instruments.

A bass player can use a 6-string bass as a 100% bass guitar, playing his accustomed stuff - he can just get to higher notes better (at the risk of losing the bassiness he was presumably hired for).

So the assumption of most of us thinking how to arrange with a B6 is probably that there's already a bassist, and what Mr Guitar Man can do with the instrument that won't make the bassist threaten to quit.

With both instruments, that means taking advantage of the unique timbre offered by the fatter strings, but not always playing down in the bass guitar's register - nor playing bass-like parts.

While bari and B6 don't sound exactly the same, they can be deployed in similar ways for clear melodies that occasionally dip lower than a guitar's range; for chords that just sound different than regler ol' 6-string guitar voicings (try some from the middle of the neck up on both instruments, leaving out notes that sound muddy to you); and for parts that combine careful low-register statements with higher figures a guitar could play, but which get a different texture from the different scales and ranges of the instruments.

31

jack bruce used a sb fender bass vi as a bass in cream..also on a more obscure but equally good level..soft machines roy babbington...he used a white one!

it's a regular short scale bass..with 2 extra high strings..

to make it stand out in a mix with bass..use different strings from bass (ie rounds vs flats), and add some reverb....cut the bass tone if u want that tictac tone...no fundamental low tone, just getting the pick click..hence tictac...tictoc

cheers

ps- danelectro was one of, if not the first guitar company to issue guitars with roundwound strings...so a dano 6 with rounds is gonna fit nicely in a mix with 50's/early 60's era fender precision with heavy flats or an upright...and with the bass tone lowered..the click cuts thru

fender bass vi..was later..& came with flats...more useable for a classic bass tone..but also capable of delivering the tic due to the 3 pickups and circuit...leo was genius!!

32

Funnily enough, I am in cardiac rehab twice a week these days, and today "Magnet And Steel" showed up on the oldies mix in the hospital's fitness centre... I was in a position to listen to the solo closely (BP and SPOx2 testing), and it dawned on me that it may just be a tad helpful..

Wasn't even going to go this morning, what with the time change and losing sleep, etc. Now, maybe I'm a little glad I did.

33

I don't think I'd ever heard "Magnet & Steel."

What a curious piece of work!

Such a seemingly straightforward, careful and even sparse arrangement. The melody is insinuatingly slinky (at least till it gets old). The fade-in at the beginning is silly (since there's a clear introduction anyway). But there's enough going on in the verse rhythm section, groovily enough, that I was into the second verse before I realized it was just a 2-chord R&B/funk jam progression - played at slow-jam 6/8 tempo that was already a cliché when this was recorded, but still works.

The harmonies in persistently descending cadences of 'ooohs' in the verses and the phrases of the chorus are gorgeous. The pure-popcraft lift (with engaging use of minors) in the transition from verse to chorus is effective every time. (And with the harmonies, sounds kinda classically Fleetwood Macky.) I don't know if I hear actual pitched bells/xylophone or just particularly focused bell-work on cymbals in the chorus, but it's a textural detail that emerges for me every time - and invites me to sink into more of the texture.

The bari solo in the middle is unexpected, but welcome - and it fits in perfectly. I wouldn't have minded straightforward tremolo instead of the warbly chorus on the guitar.

But then there's the presentation. Whoosh. The hair, the clothes, so of the disco era - and I get an almost Tim Curry-in-drag androgyne vibe from Walter, particularly in his shoulder work and coy faces, and the winky half-grin when he delivers the intended double-entendre in the song's title/hook.

And the cheesy 50s-sock-hop interlude in the middle...what were they thinking? It's too stagey to play as real tribute or nostalgia. It must be there just as a cue that the clean low-riffing solo (unexpected in 70s lounge-pop) is intended as a historical throwback - like they're putting quotes around the "twangy guitar solo."

And does the guy sound a little too much like Gerry Rafferty? -- Proteus

The texture that draws me in during the verse is the muted strings on the guitar. I am not hearing bells during the chorus, but I am hearing the keyboard more distinctly during the chorus.

As for the baritone guitar part, is that really a baritone guitar? The scale length looks like a regular LP Custom. And, while I could be mistaken, I am not aware that Gibson was building LP Customs in a baritone form in the 1970s. I am more inclined to think that the signal was processed in such a manner that it was lowered for the solo part. And I agree with your assessment of the use of chorus on that part. Then again, that was at or near the beginning of the use of the chorus in pop music.

And, no, to my ear at least, he doesn't sound like Gerry Rafferty.

34

Funnily enough, I am in cardiac rehab twice a week these days, and today "Magnet And Steel" showed up on the oldies mix in the hospital's fitness centre... I was in a position to listen to the solo closely (BP and SPOx2 testing), and it dawned on me that it may just be a tad helpful..

Wasn't even going to go this morning, what with the time change and losing sleep, etc. Now, maybe I'm a little glad I did.

OK, well I'm sorry to hear you've been through whatever it was that sent you to rehab, but glad to hear you're going. I did my stint in 2012, and I hope never to go back. I felt pretty weak and unsteady for week going through all that, and nope it was no fun - but it did provide ongoing (heart-monitored) assurance that I could exercise safely and just might not go down again.

So, onward and upward. I'll trust you'll continue to improve.

35

Might be a particularly belly-sounding keyboard on the chorus...but it's almost FM/DX7 or Roland LA/D-50 digitally crisp-sounding, and those sounds weren't au courant yet in 1978. It also still sounds to me like it could be chorused or flanged glockenspiel. Call me crazy.

According to a bit on ütube, Egan wrote the song for Stevie Nicks when he "had a crush" on her in the mid-70s, and she sings harmony on the record.

36

"The fade-in at the beginning is silly (since there's a clear introduction anyway)."

It doesn't fade in and that's not a baritone. I'm not referring to the fact that he's playing a Les Paul (mimed), but the fact that the lowest note played is an F#. You must have been living under a rock in 1978, Tim, that song was everywhere!

37

Pay Dirt! A 12-minute documentary answering whatever-happened-to Walter Egan. Not to be missed.

38

Bluecap, I've since learned it's only in that video that it seems to fade in. As demonstrated with lovingly fetishized vinyl in the above documentary, it starts properly and strong.

It's at least a baritone-ish part, anyway.

And I can't explain not having heard it. Or maybe I did and it made nothing more than a subliminal impression. There have been years and years when I paid little attention to pop - but in fact in 1978 I was playing in a Top 40 cover band, and it's just the sort of song we did pretty well. We'd have had passable 3-part harmony (though without wimmenz), I would've played piano and synth/strings, and Gregg woulda nailed the guitar parts. It might have been a song they would have let me sing - it's in my range - but I can hear our bassist in my mind belting it out very well.

We did a lot of similar material. "Sara Smile," "I Just Want to Stop," seems like we did "Reminiscin'" and "Smoke from a Distant Fire," "I Just Wanna Be Yer Everthang," even the "Piña Colada" song. "Don't Do Me Like That," "Refugee." It wouldn't have taken half a rehearsal to get "Magnet and Steel" ready.

NO idea how we missed it. Gregg and I both loved soloing over mid-tempos, and we liked 6/8.

39

Bass VI as a lead instrument has been a signature of Robert Smith of the Cure since 1981. He generally plays a melody in the upper register while bassist Simon Gallupe plays a countermelody lower down.

Even if the Cure’s not your style, you can learn from how they arrange the two. Here’s an early track when they were a three piece:

40

Here’s a more lush arrangement when they were a six piece with guitar, piano and keyboards also in the mix. When the four string bass comes in after two minutes, it hits you right in the chest.


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