Learning how to play six-string bass guitar can be a challenge, however, if you are already familiar with the standard four-string bass guitar, you should be able to catch on to play the six-string bass in no time. The the six-string bass offers a wider range of pitches and allows the player more freedom with playing techniques.
- Familiarize yourself with the range of your six-string bass and the way it feels. The addition of the low B string and high C offer more range and open doors to more advanced playing technique, but it can feel odd at first. Know that the strings in the middle are the same as the four strings on a standard bass, G, D, A and E. The thickest string on a six-string bass is a B. The highest string is a C. This now gives you a range in line with that of a guitar player.
- Take advantage of the extended range by playing patterns similar to the fills a guitar player plays. The advantage of having the higher string means you can play faster, with a clearer tone than a standard bass player, allowing you to play more lead-type lines.
- Play chords. While you can play some limited chords on the standard bass, the addition of the two strings on a six-string bass allows you to add extended notes on your basic chords. This is particularly useful for jazz bass players who want to play augmented, seventh or ninth chords. The higher-pitched C string opens the door to these extended chords and will allow you to fatten your bass sound without overpowering the rest of the band.