Tuning: B0 E1 A1 D2 G2 C3 (factory tuned from E1 with .090 gauge strings)
Scale length: 30”
Strings: Kalium Hybrids – .024 .033 .047 .063 .086 .114 – ~20-22.5lbs
HSS Pickup configuration: JZHB Humbucker and Special Design Hot Jaguar single coils.
Candy Apple Red finish
The Bass VI and other guitar/bass hybrid instruments are an interesting beast. Designed as a shortscale E1 tuned bass with guitar string spacing, they are traditionally considered a bass. However, as an extended range guitarist in a modern market full of many baritone guitars and guitars with extra strings down into the bass range, I think of it as much more of a baritone guitar (that ships with pretty heavy strings, at least on the treble side).
This one however I have tuned significantly lower, from B0. Along with the perfect fourths tuning, this means it mirrors standard 6 string bass. I essentially view it, in terms of feel, tone, and playing style, like a 9 string guitar (C#F#BEADGBE) tuned a step down and missing its plain strings. It allows me to explore the lower ranges of the guitar with a classic feel and tone. However, pitch aside, it certainly is somewhere between bass and guitar in terms of sound. It delivers the fundamental with a huge punch, and with some gain, has a growl to the top end distinctly like that of an overdriven bass.
I am very glad Fender reissued this guitar with the humbucker in the bridge and the regular electronics setup. The very round 9.5” fretboard radius is not something I am used to but it is quite nice and less noticeable with the medium-jumbo frets. I can’t fault this instrument. It plays quite similarly to a guitar and the 30” scale is small enough (compared to a bass) to be quite transparent. It is a fantastically unique, delivering low tunings with an excellent characteristic twang and fatness. Essentially, this instrument is very much to me like an extreme baritone H-S-S Stratocaster.
High resolution photos are available below and from my Flickr.