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I am playing bass in a humorous metal band. The idea is to make parody out of metal using as many cliches as possible (at the same time respecting the scene and having fun, of course). We have some bass solos in our songs and I am feeling that my 4 strings just aren't enough for playing the high pitched notes in solos and the low metal riffs with D tuning. I am considering getting a 6 string bass guitar for this purpose. I would like to achieve the Cannibal Corpse sound while playing bass lines and something specific (I am undecided) for the solo parts. Since it's a metal parody, the bass guitar should look as evil as possible. My questions are:

  1. Does 6 string bass make sense in the described type of use?
  2. What type of bass is good for achieving a sound like Cannibal Corpse?
  3. Do I need some pedals etc. to flexibly change my sound within songs? If yes, what?
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Shopping recommendations are off-topic (see the FAQ); I've edited the question to remove that aspect, hopefully you will be able to make an informed buying if the question in its current form is answered well. –  Matthew Read Apr 23 '12 at 18:55
    
Something like Gene Simmon's bass? Looks pretty evil. notreble.com/buzz/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/… –  ONOZ Apr 24 '12 at 11:25
    
Heh, yeah. That seems like a seriously evil piece of instrument. Kind of like that, but 6 strings perhaps. –  Mikko Apr 25 '12 at 8:23
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

When you think "evil" and "bass guitar" the brand that immediately comes to mind is BC Rich:

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These guys practically invented the ultra-spiky death metal instrument look. If you want to look the part, get a BC Rich. If you don't go this route, look at some of the more out-there Ibanezes; their basses are usually the more conservative Gibson- or Fender-esque styles, but they do a lot of finish colors, textures and wood choices that don't look out of place on the metal stage.

As far as number of strings, strings on a bass aren't quite as big a deal as far as conforming to a "metal" stereotype. The guys with ERBs are typically found in the jazz, fusion and solo-bass genres. The stereotypical hair metal player generally has a DADG-tuned four-string bass, while the typical nu-metal player has a fiver, sometimes a sixer. AAFs bassist used a six-string custom Fender. Korn's Fieldy is usually seen with his signature Ibanez 5-string, and Fuzz from Disturbed alternated between a Traben fiver and a Music Man fiver.

It's less about number of strings as it is how you look playing them; sling the bass somewhere between "rock" (neckplate about at your groin) and "punk" (neckplate at your knees) and either play it fast and tight with a pick, or rape it with big strokes, slaps and string-stretches. Either way the normal posture is leaning forward, head down slinging your long hair in a circle.

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Thanks! What about 6-stringers in Metal? Almost no-one uses them. I guess the only reason would be the ability to play high notes in solos, right? This is typically guitar-players job? It would be so wrong to up-tune a 5-stringer...Almost tempting =) –  Mikko Apr 24 '12 at 8:21
    
Typically, metal players downtune. Fieldy's strings are so slack that the percussive "clacking" sound you hear in Korn's tracks isn't anything on the drumkit; it's Fieldy's strings hitting the fretboard and pickups as he plays. A six-stringer in metal is almost as likely to have a low F# string as it is a high C string. Now, metal bassists sometimes play at being guitarists (Cliff Burton - Anaesthesia), but more often than not you're mirroring the guitarists' lowest fretting finger, or pumping the root. –  KeithS Apr 25 '12 at 14:49
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A1: it is not about how many strings the bass has. if you need them all, buy it. you won't lose!

A2: I know more about guitar, but I would recommend Ibanez and yamaha basses.

A3: yes! there are bass distortions, and you'll need some compression, too!

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