Although referred to as The Fender Six String Bass, Fender actually named this guitar, The Fender VI.
In the late 1950’s, the Danelectro Company developed the first six string bass guitar called the model UB2.
Some players strung these basses with extra heavy guitar strings and tuned down a fifth to get a baritone guitar sound. Duane Eddy specialized in this sound and he used a Danelectro instrument.
a bass guitar tuned an octave below regular guitar pitch. The wound first string in the set had a .025” diameter. Because the strings were wound, the tone was quite different from that of a guitar. The tuning was much different from modern five or six string basses, which extend beyond low E.
he Fender VI was not at all popular. From its inception to its demise, less than 800 units were manufactured.
a change in the instruments design when a “strangle” switch was added to the lower horn. This condenser boosted or cut the bass frequency to help provide that Tic-Tac sound or a deeper bass sound.
A foam rubber muffler became part of the guitars equipment and was located right above the bridge. A flick of a spring-loaded switch pressed the rubber mute against the strings. A modification to the pickups also came about. The metal rings were gone and the pickups resembled those found on a Fender Jaguar, although the VI still came with three pickups. The capacitor/condenser switch carried over from the Jaguar design.
Although Mr. Fender meant for this instrument to be an actual bass, many guitarists set it up as a baritone guitar and tuned it from A to A or B to B, using extra heavy guitar strings.
During Fender’s transition years, all manufacturing moved to Japan. In 1996, a ’62 reissue of the Fender VI was offered.
Though the Fender instrument was far superior to the Danelectro six-string bass, the Danelectro model, priced at less than $150 in 1961, was more popular. Guitarists saw this as a side instrument and were not willing to spend the extra cash.
Jaguar Bass VI Custom,
There were several differences in this guitar. The body had a Jaguar shape. It came with only two pickups with Jaguar switching options and the neck scale was 28.5”. The bridge was fixed instead of having a tremolo.
In 2006, the Fender Custom Shop offered a reproduction of the original 1961 Bass VI featuring three single-coil pickups and identical electronics.
At present, Fender no longer offers the Fender VI. One offshoot of the Fender VI was the Fender Jaguar guitar which was introduced in 1962.