Alvarez AEB6AB Six String Bass

six-string bass

Last Update 01-24-2010

Like my Fender Jazz Basses, this six-shooter was a stroke of luck.  My big beef with five string basses is that the low B string is "flubby" and lacks decent tone and sustain.  They can be the worst for cherry-picking because you'd find one that would sound good but have poor playability, another would play really good but would sound like a dog.  I happened to be passing through a store when I spotted this Alvarez - not a brand known for bass guitars.  This was the first low B bass guitar that had a SOLID low B.  Plus it played like butter and the sound (unplugged) was really nice.  Despite being a six string, the string spacing was comfortable and I could slap-n-pop without much trouble. 

...and I didn't take it home with me.  I was going through a divorce and money was tight.  But I ran across some extra $$$ and went back to claim that bass.  Good thing I did, because the store owner told me later that some folks came back later to buy it.  This one ALMOST got away.

Resonance goes a long way to good tone on a guitar, which is why the first thing I do when I audition a guitar is to play it UNPLUGGED.  That way you can judge from the resonance how good the tone of the guitar will be.  This has as much of an impact as well as strings, pickups, or electronics.  The problem is it is either inherent in the wood or it isn't.  Changing pickups, strings, electronics, bridges, et al does no good if the wood in the guitar have poor resonance.  Yeah you can buy replacement bodies and necks, but you have to sort through THOSE to find the resonant ones.  There's a lot of dispute over resonance in a solid body guitar but it is the standard I have used and it hasn't failed me yet.  For the doubters, I remind them that when Gibson was developing the Les Paul guitar in the 50s, they experimented with a variety of tonewoods and found many differences in tone.

This was the first guitar I owned with a sunburst finish and it looked really nice.  After some googling I found this pic online and "damn that sunburst finish looks just like mine!"  Waitaminnit... a closer peek revealed an outline all the way around the body edge.  I was the proud owner of a "fotofinish" sunburst - a facsimile overlay of a sunburst finish that was simply applied to the unfinished wood top of the body.  The only thing I don't like is the spliced neck where there is a glue joint between the third and fourth frets.  I'm nervous that this will one day separate under the neck tension.  But you can't feel the joint when playing the neck, and the neck resonates when you play, which is a plus in my book.

After I got this specimen, I sold my Gibson RD Artist.  I was starting to learn slap-n-pop and the Gibson simply wasn't cutting it for that style.  Plus this Alvarez had that nice full tone of the Gibson so the RD was redundant.

Despite the wider neck, it didn't take much adjustment to learn to play this bass.  The high C string isn't that bad, you can play the same pattern as the others.  It also opens your playing to chords - I know jazz chords from learning piano so the theory is there, I just have to practice it more.  The action and fretwork is very nice and fast, I can play around the neck really easily.  The sound is really good, and the feedback from musicians is that they prefer the Alvarez to the Jazz Bass.  The only minus is that I'm stuck with the pickups as there are no third party replacements, luckily the stock pickups do sound good.  The controls are front/back volume with a single tone control.  I am changing the pot on the tone control because the change is very abrupt, which indicated they used a linear taper pot instead of an audio taper pot.  The bridge is solid and hasn't shown any rust, unlike the cheap bridges that come stock on the MIM Jazz Basses.


Contoured Double Cutaway
Solid Alder Body w/ Quilted Maple Top Amber finished
Maple Graphite reinforced jointed bolt-on neck
Rosewood fretboard, 25-1/2" scale 10" radius
2-Custom Alvarez HB humbucking pickups
Passive electronics: 2-Volume, 1-Tone
High Mass Die Cast bridge finished chrome
Tuners facsimile Schallers finished chrome
These basses have been out of production since 2000, but they are a good deal on the used market is you want a five/six string bass at a reasonable price.

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