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Rating and Reviews: Fender VI 6-String Bass

Years in the remaking, the six-string 2013 Fender Pawn Shop VI bass brings modern features to the original Fender Bass VI, a classic baritone guitar.

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"If you need a VI, this is THE bass to get!" submitted February 19, 2013

By Cody Y in West Sacramento, CA
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Musical Background: Hobbyist, casual; rhythm guitar and bass
Music Style: rock, blues, indie, alternative, funk
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Overall: I've been looking for a Fender Bass VI for years. Living in a not-so-populated city, music shops never had one. I eventually resigned myself to buying a Schecter VI guitar when I finally heard Fender was reissuing these gems. I was FLIPPING OUT. I got the only one in the store here in town, and online orders are backed up like crazy. I spent all the time leading up to the purchase reading others' reviews, and I'm going to address some of the main issues people have with the Pawn Shop rendition of the Fender VI. The 5 position switch: This is a replacement for the individual pickup on/off switches that are on the original Fender VI and Fender Jaguar. While I do like this classic feature, the loss of the individual switches isn't so bad. All you're missing is the neck/bridge combination, and all 3 pickups at once. Honestly, yeah, I'd prefer the individual switches, but it's no deal breaker. The humbucking bridge pickup: The JZHB humbucker in the bridge looks seriously out of place. It's ugly, to put it gently. Not a fan of that looks. As for the sound... I honestly love it. It's kinda "honky", but it handles overdrive and distortion like a pro. In that regard, I love it! Also, if you roll off the tone knob and play with your fingers, using just the bridge pickup, you can get some decent bass tones that you'd expect from typical 4-string basses. Not bad. Ugly as sin, but sounds good to me. I'm not saying it'd be bad to replace it with a single coil to match the rest of the pickups, but only go to this effort if you HATE the tone you get from this pickup. Smaller string gauges: I never played an original Fender VI, nor have I ever played any other copies of this 6 string, 30" scale bass. That said, I've read that the Fender VI originally had significantly thicker E and A strings, with moderately thicker D-e strings. After playing the 84-26 set on this guitar (the D'addario set), I can say that I don't mind the change at all. I still get good bass response for my ears, and if you're using this bass for Robert Smith styled techniques (ambient chord fingerpicking), you're not going to be disappointed in the slightest. If you're using it as a bass like me, yeah, the bigger strings wouldn't hurt at all. But again, unless this is really a deal breaker to you, it's not worth upgrading the strings to a thicker gauge. Jazzmaster Vibrato: Just going to point this out really quick. The vibrato on the pawn Shop Fender VI is a locking vibrato. As in, it holds tune MUCH better than the original vibrato units used on the Fender VI. Yes, Fender forgot to use the most effective bridge piece, but the Jazzmaster vibrato and bridge unit are nice, and I actually like mine quite a bit. Intonation: It's TOUGH to make this thing intonate properly if you're not willing to the extra mile. But I have no doubts that it's possible. Mine is pretty dang close... Just got it recently, so I'm gonna work more on it later on. But yeah, it's a pain. Other misc. notes I can think of: -As far as how it feels, guitar vs bass.... it feels like a guitar. It's hard to adjust to thinking bass while playing it because it feels so much like a guitar. -This thing is heavy. Heavier than my Jazz Bass for sure. However, it balances nicely with a strap, no dive at all. -The only hum-cancelling positions are 1 (bridge only) and 4 (neck/middle). -If you're going to get thicker string gauges, you're going to have to work on the nut, due to the significant difference between the D'addario and Fender/La Bella string sizes. All in all, I'd recommend this guitar/bass highly. If you get a chance, TRY IT. If you can afford it, GET IT. Yeah, Schecter makes some nice Fender VI style copies, but this is as close to a real Fender VI as you'll get without paying well over $1,000. It's tricky, but once you tame this beast, it'll become your new best friend. Guitarists, consider this is you want to play bass or lower end material. Bassists, consider this if you want to play with more treble, or want to add that ambient, mysterious low-end chording to your mix. All in all, very happy customer right here. Can't wait to get off the computer and play this thing even more.
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"Finally an affordable Bass VI" submitted February 14, 2013

By Troy N in Austin, TX
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Musical Background: Professional multi instrumentalist . 20+ years experience
Music Style: all kinds
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Overall: I am really loving this thing. The finish (CAR) is impeccable. Probably the best I've seen come out of Fender Mexico. Also probably the best fret work I've seen from there as well. It's very playable in both pick and finger style. The tone is spot on with the single coils. Now for the hiccups. First the setup was the worst I've seen from Fender. Not that that is a huge deal as I expect to do a setup when I get a new instrument but this was BAD. Once it was setup it's stayed solid since. Second the low E string it ships with is horrible. Way too low a gauge for a low E especially considering that it is a short scale. New strings fixed that. Third the bridge pickup is kinda one note. It really only works with distortion. The other pickups are excellent though with plenty of tonal possibilities. All and all I love it.
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"Worth it" submitted June 20, 2014

By Tony S in Westchester, NY
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Musical Background: 20 years experience
Music Style: Rock, Alternative, Jazz, Classical
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Overall: I'm glad I purchased this Pawn Shop Bass VI. Greatest impulse buy ever. I ordered the heavier La Bella flat wound strings which make the instrument just perfect. This instrument has a lot of potential for original compositions due to the higher B and E strings. Or you can just use it as a bass, which it is.
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"Cool bass, but intonation is bad." submitted January 29, 2013

By Eric B in Portland, OR
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Musical Background: 20+ years on bass professionally.
Music Style: Country, surf instrumental.
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Overall: I just got this a few days ago, and the intonation on the low E string is terrible, could not fix it myself with the bridge adjustment...so I either need to take it to a pro or return it. Otherwise it's a nice instrument, going to change out the string and hope it's just poorly wound.
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"Less Features" submitted November 15, 2013

By John Swift
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Musical Background: Been playing 51 yrs both professionally and semi pro and still playing.
Music Style: Soft Rock, Blues, Country, Jazz, Big Band (Glen Miller, Dorsey) owned a 1965 Fender Jazz Bass from new until recently. I actual
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Overall: I was disappointed to see how many of the features that were on the original Fender Bass VI have disappeared, I drooled over the original way back in the 60s when they first appeared resembling a stretched Fender Jaguar. Having said that the one I've tried didn't seem too bad just lacking in something that the original had.
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"Fender Pawn Shawp Bass VI" submitted May 26, 2014

By a customer from gmail.com
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Overall: This thing is pretty versatile. It's bass-y low end sounds a lot like a regular four-string bass. Keep in mind I'm a guitarist. It plays a lot more like a guitar than an actual bass. For instance, you can play clear-cut power chords with some crunch and get a nice rock sound. And the clean tones are so smooth. This thing is my new go-to bass guitar.
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