Having a six-string bass can open up new horizons in your playing, but they can be considerably pricier than their four and 5-string counterpart because of the raw materials, hardware, and construction required to support that sixth string.
6-string basses are also a bit more niche and less commonly used than the others, so many companies don’t manufacture as many of them, so it’s a lot harder to find a lot of them at an affordable price.
However, in this article, I’ve found some of the best six-string basses you can find for under $1000, in case you were looking for a more affordable way to experiment with the additional high-C string in your bass playing.
Ibanez makes instruments that accommodate virtually any budget, and their 6-string basses are no exception.
If you’re searching for a 6-string bass for under $500, the GSR206 is one of the few on the market that fulfills this and is actually reliable. The same can be said about any of their instruments in the Gio line, really.
Ordinarily, Ibanez Gio instruments are mainly aimed at beginners, but since most new players don’t usually start with 6-string basses, I think the GSR206 is excellent for bassists who have been playing for a bit and want a 6-string bass that’s relatively inexpensive and has alongside their main basses.
Here are some of the basic features the GSR206 has:
- Poplar body
- 21-fret jatoba fingerboard
- 34” scale length maple neck
- 2 Dynamix H passive pickups
- Phat II Active EQ
You might know this already, but Ibanezes are also known for having some of the thinnest necks around. So, if you’re trying to pick out a 6-string bass and are hesitant due to the increased neck width on 6-string basses, this is a good one to start with, as well as the next one in this guide.
- Fast, slim Maple neck
- Compact, light-weight Body
- Dynamic P & J pickups
- Active Phat II EQ adds additional low-end power
The bass guitars in the Ibanez SR line are true workhorse instruments you can depend on for virtually anything.
The SR506 is one that you can typically find for around $700 that is very well-made, extremely comfortable to play, and of course, sounds fantastic.
It’s definitely an incredibly versatile instrument that even veteran bassists will love to play, and it’s a considerable upgrade over the GSR206 if you happen to be a more experienced player and need a new bass that will serve you for many years and are willing to pay a bit more for a higher-end instrument.
Let’s take a look at some of the SR506’s specs:
- Okoume body with a natural finish
- 24-fret rosewood fretboard
- 34” scale length jatoba and walnut neck
- 2 Bartolini BH2 passive pickups
- Ibanez Custom Active EQ
Not only is the SR506 a very practical bass to play with, but I also think it looks quite attractive. The natural color of the wood on the body and fingerboard complement each other nicely, and the abalone inlays are a great touch. Overall, the Ibanez SR506 is a great all-around choice and easily one of the best 6-string basses on under 1000 bucks.
- Rosewood Fretboard: Rosewood provides a well-balanced solid tone with a focused mid-range
- Accu-Cast B500 Bridge: The Accu-cast B500 bridge has adjustable saddles for variable string spacing by +/- 1.5mm, answering every bassist’s specific string spacing needs
- Bartolini BH2 Pickups: The Bartolini BH2 pickups provide a tight bottom-end, punchy mid-range, and smooth response. The dualcoil style configuration maximizes articulation and a long blade pole piece widens the magnetic field, providing a balanced string-to-string pickup response
Another amazing-looking 6-string bass that you can usually pick up for around 700 dollars is the LTD B-206. LTD is a subsidiary of ESP and is known for providing many guitars and basses at affordable prices without compromising good quality standards.
This is evident with this 6-string bass which has a gorgeous satin finish that works nicely with the eye-catching grain patterns of the spalted maple top, which is usually a type of wood used on more expensive guitars and basses on the market.
Functionally, it has a lot of similarities to Ibanez’s SR506, and it has a thin neck that feels very comfortable to play on, which is something that a lot of people desire when handling a 6-string bass.
Aside from that, here are some of the specific features that the B-206SM is made of:
- Ash body with spalted maple top
- 24-fret jatoba fretboard
- 35” inch scale length jatoba and maple neck
- 2 ESP SB-6 passive pickups
- ESP ABQ 3-band active EQ
Compared to the 34-inch scale basses discussed in this guide, the 35-inch one here can make a noticeable difference. The extra inch can help tighten your string tension, which can be helpful if you like to play in lower tunings. Of course, the scale length isn’t as long as some multiscale basses, but many players will find this seemingly small feature beneficial.
- With unique coloration and grain pattern, spalted maple is a great look to stand out from the crowd
- An affordable yet high quality 6-string bass that offers an ash body with a spalted maple top in Natural Satin finish
- Designed with an extra thin U-shaped 5-piece maple/jatoba neck for excellent playing feel
- Includes passive ESP Designed SB-6 pickups, along with an active ABQ-3 3-band EQ, and good-looking black nickel hardware
Although there aren’t as many of them out there, I’ve selected a few of the best choices out there to help narrow your search down if you specifically want a 6-string bass for under $1000.
6-string basses are cool, and that high-C string is fun to play on, but because they aren’t as widely used as four and five-string basses, it can be tricky to find many 6-stringers from different brands at a price that rivals its peers.
That said, I hope that you find the price, features, and looks of these basses appealing and perfect for your needs. Chances are, though, if you’re looking for a 6-string bass, you’ve been playing for a while, and have an idea of what you intend to use it for, it’s just a matter of finding one that works within a stricter budget.