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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:38 am 
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Walnut
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Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2018 2:03 pm
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First name: Michael
Last Name: Perkins
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I am extremely interested in making a Bass VI. If you don't know what that even is, don't feel bad, I didn't either until recently. Bass'icly (doh!) a Bass 6(VI) is a 6 string bass guitar that was made by Fender between 1961-1975. It has a short 30" scale, and is exactly one octave lover than a standard guitar, but still tuned: E-A-D-G-B-E, so you play it just like a really low-pitched guitar.

Here is a link to the page on Fender: https://shop.fender.com/en-US/squier-electric-basses/other/vintage-modified-bass-vi/0375600500.html

Does anyone on here have any experience with making anything like this? If so, are there any things one might need to know about before starting, or would one build it just like any other 30" scale-length 6 string guitar, except the nut will have to be filed out to accept the thicker strings?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:24 pm 
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Koa
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Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2005 4:02 am
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Location: The Woodlands, Texas
First name: Barry
Last Name: Daniels
I made a six string bass once. I constructed it as a neck through solid-body guitar and installed a lot of carbon fiber in the neck. This had a very wide fretboard. I had to make a special fret caul to press the frets in. I used the bass plans drawn up by Bill Moll that are sold over at the MIMF. It includes measurements for a 5 and 6 string versions.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:38 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Location: Magnolia DE
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Last Name: Howard
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Basically a Baritone in a non standard dropped tuning (-1 octave). As long as string gauges are chosen to present similar to standard tensions at desired tuning it's just another Baritone guitar from what I see.

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These users thanked the author B. Howard for the post: Dolmetscher007 (Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:51 am)
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:12 am 
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Walnut
Walnut

Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2018 2:03 pm
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First name: Michael
Last Name: Perkins
City: Charleston
State: SC
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Semi-pro
B. Howard wrote:
Basically a Baritone in a non standard dropped tuning (-1 octave). As long as string gauges are chosen to present similar to standard tensions at desired tuning it's just another Baritone guitar from what I see.


I think that one thing that you brought up, string-tension, is also what makes me wonder about how different a Bass VI might be from any other guitar. There are a lot of things about building guitars that must be, "down to the thousands of an inch," perfect. But then there are also a lot of things that I have just had to take on faith and tradition. I understand why, of course. When you're working with a material like wood, you simply can't right hard defined rules for a lot of things, as one piece of quarter sawn maple might be able to remain straight under XX lbs of string tension, whereas another piece of wood, even from the same tree, might bow under the same tension.

But it does bother me that I do not know how to and/or do not have the measurement tools to determine things like string tension. For example. If you buy two packs of standard electric guitar strings, doesn't matter what brand, as long as they are exactly the same company, brand, gauge, etc. If you string up a 25.5" scale length telecaster with them, and you string up a 24.75" scale length Les Paul with them... the Les Paul's shorter scale-length will get those string pulled into "pitch" using less force than the longer telecaster will require. But I do not know what that "force" is. I cannot think of a way to measure string-tension force.

Who cares? Well... with a Bass VI, I just have to take it on faith that the 30" scale length that Fender decided on back in the 60's is ideal for the Bass VI strings that are on the market. I have no bass'is (there's that pun again) for comparison.

My friend owns a Bass VI from Squire. He replaced the stock bridge with a Mastery bridge and had it professionally installed and set up by a well known guitar tech/luthier. He said that the string still buzz a good bit here and there. That says to me that the scale length is too short, so the string-tension isn't great enough "at pitch" to keep the strings from deforming so much under vibration that they are kissing the tops of frets somewhere. I guess one could buy a heavier gauge string to try to correct this, but I imagine that new tension would pull on the neck more, and you'd have to adjust the truss rod, and then I think you might be exactly back where you started with thicker strings that still buzz.

Am I making sense?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:47 am 
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Cocobolo
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Location: Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada
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String break angle at the bridge is a little sketchy with these offset guitars, and is probably at least part of the culprit in your friends case. I had posted a while back basically asking the question how much noise do I have to live with, with these fender offset guitars. I was thinking primarily about Jazzmasters. Putting a shim in the neck pocket helped.

I always thought a Bass VI was just a fancy name for a baritone guitar, so you got me thinking. I just took a quick look at D'addario's web page comparing Baritone to Bass VI strings. Interestingly, the baritone string gauges look pretty even straight across the board as far as the tension goes, the bass VI however carries a lot more tension then the baritone and is also even with the exception of the low E string, it measures under 20lbs while the A string is over 25lbs. and the rest are either 27 or 30lbs. So perhaps the flabby Low E on a bass VI is just something to live with? I suspect that the Bass VI is a good example of the contrast between Leo Fender's high level of aesthetic/manufacturing understanding and his lower level of guitar physics understanding.

Along similar lines, I did two jazzmasters a couple months ago, the first was a '64 set up in standard tuning (string guages 11 15 24 42 52 62), the second was set up with a set of baritone strings but tuned to open D minor. The reason I bring this up is that in both cases the strings the customer asked for were very out of the ordinary for the particular design. But there seems to be a lot of wiggle room, the guitars ended up playing great, with minimal buzz/noise. So maybe in the end you build a Bass VI and turn it into a baritone...


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:06 pm 
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Cocobolo
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Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 7:58 pm
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First name: Leo
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Dolmetscher007 wrote:
But it does bother me that I do not know how to and/or do not have the measurement tools to determine things like string tension.

Just learn to use any string tension calculator and you'll never have to wonder about string tension again.

Since string tension is determined by scale length, tuning, and string gauge, you can make a spreadsheet or use one of the many online string tension calculators to do the math for you. Just plug in the scale length and tuning, then try different gauges until you see the tension you want, or choose the tension and the calculator will show the gauge required.

R.M. Motolla explains the concepts here: https://www.liutaiomottola.com/formulae/tension.htm

Also the D'Addario website has an excellent calculator: http://stringtensionpro.com/


It's important to understand that you always have complete control over string tension by your choice of string gauges.
It's just as easy to by single strings as it is to buy string packs if you find that there is no pre-made string pack which matches the gauges you need for your target string tensions.


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