Under sixth – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The under sixth It is a plucked string musical instrument of Mexican origin. It differs from the fifth bass by possessing 6 orders of double strings for a total of 12 strings, while the under fifth it has 5 orders of double strings, which makes it have 10 strings in total.

Origin and use[editar]

The low sixth has its origin, like the low fifth, in southern Mexico.[1]The manufacture of the fifth and sixth bass boomed in the nineteenth century, in the states of Guerrero, Michoacán, Morelos, Puebla, Oaxaca, Tlaxcala, Zacatecas, among others.[2]

The also designated spike basses (sixth and fifth bass), descend from the Spanish bandurrias and lutes that used double strings and were also tuned in fifths, perhaps to complete the harmonies in ensembles that required an instrument capable of giving the bass notes. of the harmonization of a melody.

The sixth bass and fifth bass are commonly used in the popular music of northern Mexico, known as norteña music. The introduction of the sixth bass into Northeastern popular music is a 20th century phenomenon. Accordion and sixth bass ensembles replaced military bands, which were the ones that provided dance music before the advent of phonographs and radio. To a lesser extent they are used in the traditional music of Oaxaca and Puebla.

Constitution and tuning[editar]

The sixth bass has 12 metallic strings, grouped in 6 pairs or orders. The last (bass) pairs of fourth, fifth and sixth strings E, A, D, with octave tuning on their two strings (one bass and one treble), and The first three orders of strings are tuned in sol, do and fa, being the tuning of each string of a pair in unison. It is shaped similar to that of a large guitar, with its soundboard being approximately 30% larger than that of an acoustic guitar. Its sound is metallic and full. It is played with a spike or pick, although it can also be pressed with the fingers.

The modern instrument has a distinctive snare right on the lower arm that is suitable for playing many ornaments in the highest notes. Examples of old bass sixths can be seen on album covers from the 50s and 60s, as with The Alamo Highlanders; in them you can see a characteristic low sixth type that still did not carry the hangover. The use of under fifth, now used in northern music (although it comes from southern music), in which the sixth pair of strings has been eliminated since most of the players hardly use them and this always carries the hangover, even sometimes also in the top (double hangover).

It is used mainly to carry the chords, -the harmony- of the northern ensembles originating in Nuevo León and Tamaulipas (composed of accordion, sixth bass, contrabass or tololoche, or electric bass, drums or snares) and to play harmony and bass. , in the traditional duets « fara fara » (composed of the sixth bass and accordion). The main musical forms that are performed are: corrido, ranchera, polka, schotís, huapango, bolero, cumbia and redova. Although it has the full chromatic range of sounds, few players have ventured beyond these styles.


  1. [1]
  2. Herringbone bottoms. Dictionary of Spanish and Spanish-American music. General Society of Authors and Editors. Madrid (2002). ISBN 978-84-8048-303-2

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