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Here's a great way to get the sounds of Fender's famous Bass VI without dropping crazy amounts of cash.
Bass Player Magazine just pointed out that Reverb's numbers show that this is the best selling bass of 2022!
"The baritone-meets-bass has overtaken Precision and Jazz models after its appearances in Peter Jackson's The Beatles: Get Back documentary led to a surge in sales.
Online gear retailer Reverb has published its annual list of best-selling bass guitars, with 2022 being dubbed as the year Fender captured the nation's tone. Of course, the old Jazz-versus-Precision debate is timeless. They're both amazing basses, so what could possibly be more popular?
In a surprising turn of events, the Fender Bass VI has ended up the most sought-after bass of the year, taking the top spot over its Jazz and P-Bass rivals.
The sales upset is being attributed to the success of Peter Jackson's The Beatles: Get Back documentary series, which spurred interest in the band’s Fender Bass VI – during the documented Let It Be sessions, the model was picked up by either John Lennon or George Harrison whenever Paul McCartney was needed for piano duties.
The Bass VI was first produced by Fender in 1961 and is in effect a six-string baritone guitar. Its heavier strings are tuned like a bass guitar, an octave below a regular guitar, and the body shape is similar to a Fender Jaguar.
While these six-string basses had sold moderately well before, Squier's Classic Vibe Bass VI – the only Bass VI currently in production – benefitted from all the extra attention and displaced the Fender Player Precision Bass, which is down to second place in Reverb's list this year.
Justin Norvell, Fender's Product EVP, hinted at renewed interest in the hybrid instrument in an interview with Guitar World at the beginning of 2022.
“The phone started ringing off the hook for the Bass VI, because it was popping in and out of certain scenes,” he said.
“People were like, ‘You know, I haven’t thought about this in years, but do you have any of those in?’ And luckily we did, through Squier. People who record are always looking for new tools, and the Bass VI can be like this whole new universe of sound.”
The Bass VI, recently resurrected in hot-rodded form by Fender and in its classic form by Squier, is a six-string bass guitar. It was designed and offered as a special kind of bass guitar during its original run from 1961 to 1975, and it is designed and offered as such today. It is not a baritone guitar."
Fender's site has this to say about the Bass VI:
Then what’s the difference between the Bass VI and a baritone guitar? If it isn’t a semantic matter of two names for the same thing —as some suppose — what distinguishes one from the other?
Baritone guitars are considered just that—guitars. They’re strung with guitar strings, and they have a scale length usually somewhere around 27”, which is between the standard scale lengths for a guitar (around 25”) and a bass guitar (usually 34”; around 30” for short-scale and 32” for medium-scale models). Baritone guitars almost never use standard guitar tuning (EADGBE). Rather, they’re usually tuned a fourth lower than a guitar (BEADF#B), with the fifth-string E matching the sixth-string low E on a standard guitar. Baritone guitars are sometimes tuned a fifth (ADGCEA) or even a major third lower (CFBbEbGC) than standard guitar tuning.
The current Fender and Squier Bass VI models are considered bass guitars, as was the Fender original. They’re strung with bass strings, albeit a special set made specifically for the model. They have a 30” scale length, like most short-scale basses, and they use standard tuning (EADGBE) one octave lower than a guitar.
You could use alternate tunings on the Bass VI if you wanted to, but that wouldn’t make it a baritone guitar; it’d just be, well, a Bass VI with another tuning. And the converse would be pointlessly impractical — slapping a set of bass strings on a baritone guitar probably isn’t going to work because bass strings will likely be too floppy on a 27”-scale instrument to be of any use, and the tuners would likely be too small to be able to accommodate bass guitar strings anyway.
So it really isn’t just a matter of semantics. As Fender has always intended and characterized its Bass VI, the terms “six-string bass guitar” and “baritone guitar” are not interchangeable. Although the differences might seem subtle to some, they’re definitely two different kinds of instruments.
In the few instances when Fender has offered true baritone electric guitars, they’ve been billed as just that; i.e., the Sub-Sonic Baritone Stratocaster of 2000-2002, the Jaguar Baritone Special HH of 2005-2010 and the Blacktop Telecaster Baritone of 2012-present. All three instruments have a 27” scale.
To reiterate, however, Bass VI models old and new are considered bass guitars and have always been billed as such by Fender.
Incidentally, the new Bass VI models don’t say “Bass VI” on the headstock. They say “Fender VI” and “Squier VI” on their headstocks, respectively. This is in keeping with the style of the original instrument, which said “Fender VI” on its headstock even though it was first billed in the 1961 Fender catalog as simply a “New Fender bass guitar” and as the “Bass VI guitar” and “Bass VI” in subsequent catalogs throughout the rest of the 1960s and into the 1970s.
- Color: Tobacco Sunburst
- Weight: 9lb 1.4oz
- Body: Poplar
- Neck: Maple Bolt On
- Fretboard: Indian Laurel
- Inlays: White Pearloid Block
- Frets: Narrow Tall
- Fret count: 21
- Nut material: Bone
- Nut width: 1.687"
- Scale: 30"
- Radius: 9.5"
- Neck thickness at 1st fret: .850"
- Neck thickness at 12th fret: .930"
- Action 1st String at 12th Fret: 2.25mm
- Action 6th String at 12th Fret: 2.25mm
- String gauge: .024 - .100 "Super 250 Bass VI"
- Hardware: Original Nickel
- Bridge Pickup: 11.05k Fender Designed Alnico Single-Coil
- Middle Pickup: 6.09k Fender Designed Alnico Single-Coil
- Neck pickup: 5.81k Fender Designed Alnico Single-Coil
- Tuners: Vintage style Nickel
- Pots: Original
- Case: No