Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Note from Reeves about his Fender VI Bass

From Reeves on Facebook:
"For people asking about the vintage Fender VI Bass guitar that I use with The Cure -- I wrote this description in 2012 when I started playing it. It still holds true.

Currently (2016), my amp combo for the Bass VI is a Hi-Watt amp with a Mesa Boogie cabinet. Actually, all three of my speaker cabinets on stage are Mesa Boogie -- a change made after the tour program was printed. The program is accurate for all else.
My two guitar amps are custom-made by AudioKitchen Amps
My guitar strings are NYXL by D'Addario Strings and Planet Waves…

Fender VI

On the guitar front, if there is a single instrument that makes The Cure sound like The Cure, in my opinion it's the Fender VI (six-string bass), with Robert Smith’s distinctive playing and use of it, not as a bass—totally  unnecessary when you have an incredible bass player like Simon Gallup—but as a unique guitar voice.

So, in rehearsals for this summer, when it was time to figure out what parts needed to be played in which songs, I was pleasantly surprised when Robert asked me to play the Fender on "Inbetween Days," "Push,” and “Primary.”

Since I do not own a Fender VI (though I did, for a time, own a Jerry Jones Danelectro-style six-string bass), Robert offered me one of his.

Thus the instrument I am playing on those three songs live is Robert Smith’s black 1962 Fender VI, which has a reddish tortoise-shell pick guard.  I’m sure it has a lot of stories to tell.  It has the three original Fender Jaguar-style single-coil pickups, plus three on/off pickup selector switches (one for each), as was standard for that era Fender VI.

The neck is a 30-inch scale, shorter than most other Fender bass guitars, and feels more like the neck of a Fender Stratocaster of like vintage. The strings I am using are lighter gauge than one would normally put on a regular bass.  All in all, perfect for a guitar player.

The electronics of this Fender VI have been modified with an additional tone control, so it has three knobs (volume, tone, tone) instead of the standard two (volume, tone).

Two small toggle switches were also added. One is a bass cut, which removes the lowest frequency tones from all six strings.  The other changes the phase of the middle pickup, resulting in a more nasal sound when used in combination with one or both of the other pickups.

My control settings on this instrument never change: Volume and tone controls all the way up (on 10); all three pickups on, in phase; with bass cut engaged (which keeps me out of the tonality occupied by Simon's bass).

The result: I have become a Fender VI fanatic, I look forward to playing it, and it’s one of my favorite things to do at every show.

Some notes about the sound and role of the Fender VI this summer:
Primary – The Fender VI plays in the same register (pitch range) as the bass, but has a brighter, thinner tone; Robert plays a six-string electric guitar.
Inbetween Days – I play the intro melody line on the Fender VI, in an upper register, yet the thicker strings give the line additional weight; for this song Robert is playing an acoustic guitar.
Push – Counterpoint (melodic interplay) among Robert, Simon and me.

Note #4 in a series by Reeves Gabrels on the guitars he's playing on tour with The Cure in 2012.


  1. Very cool to read about specific details. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Love it. I adore my VI (1975 vintage). I have it because of RS. thanks for sharing this'

  3. very choice add exclusive read true word life "Thank you RG☆~!" ...that space hawk though...:))