adding more tension to a low "B"

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by pasta4lnch, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. I have an american jazz V (strung through). I recently added a hipshot string tree to the "E" and "B" strings and it's like playing a whole new bass. SOO much better. I was wondering if anyone knows any other tricks to add a bit more tension to the "B"
  2. Marcury

    Marcury High and Low

    Aug 19, 2007
    Mid Hudson Valley, NY
    Higher gauge, stiffer string.
  3. I started one or two 5er string tree threads and no one gave a crap. Go figure.

    I think the B should be clamped down.
  4. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    It's my understanding that because of the laws of physics, the only way to get more tension is increase your string gauge (or tune up, haha).

    A string tree might improve intonation (proper break angle over the nut) but the tension must be the same between the nut and the saddle, if you are using the same string with the same tuning.

    You might try the Repairs or Strings sub-forums instead of Basses for more info.
  5. *smb


    Nov 26, 2006
    Yup. Everything else is, frankly, garbage.
  6. Then why have pressure at all on the nut and bridge?

    If you'll concede that some pressure is good, how much is best?

    Why do Sadowsky and Lakland [both "scoop headstocks"] use a string tree on the B? Valenti as well. Are you out there Nino?
  7. I went from Fender strings to Sadowsky strings, and the tone and feel of my B string changed for the better. The strings feel like they have more tension, and the tone of the string better matches the rest.

    A string tree will only change the open string, as soon as you press down on a fret any benefit of the string retainer is lost.
  8. Pressure over the nut and bridge are different animals. Pressure over the bridge is always present, no matter what note you play, so it is important to have solid contact.

    Pressure over the nut is important for the open strings. Once you press down on a fret, the pressure on the nut is no longer going to change things. Considering how much of the time most people spend playing the open strings, it is still very important, but not as important as a solid pressure over the bridge.
  9. I see what you are saying, but you may assume a bit more pressure on the fretting hand than exists.

    Loose nut pressure will translate to fretted notes I suspect.
  10. Well, let me say first of all that I am not a bass builder, nor have I personally experimented with this, but I have had quite a few discussions about it over the years with some instrument builders, as well as lively discussion online.

    With string tension at the nut, there are two forces: Tension pulling the string away from the bridge, and tension pulling the string against the nut.

    Tension pulling away from the bridge determines the pitch, so assuming that the string stays the same and the pitch stays the same, the tension pulling away from the bridge must stay the same.

    Tension pushing down on the nut is important for the open strings. Once you fret down on a note, the vibration of the string goes from the bridge to the fret you are pressing down. The string from the tuning key to the back of the fret is taken out of the equation.

    If tension against the nut behind the fretted note had an affect, than it also makes sense that pushing down on the string behind the fretted note, but still on the fretboard, would also have a similar effect, although maybe not to the same degree (for example, if you were playing the 4th fret, holding down the string on the first fret would also put more pressure on the nut). Unfortunately, that would also slightly change the intonation, so that may not be an option for real life playing.

    I guess an easy way to test this would just be to record the bass with the string through the retainer, then record it with the string outside of the retainer. I mean, for the heck of it, you could pull the string off of the nut altogether, put some foam down over the nut, and have the string pushing on the foam. It would obviously keep you from playing the open notes, but I would bet that the fretted notes sound exactly the same.

    If this is wrong, I would love to have someone explain why, although over the last few years I have yet to hear a real scientific explanation as to why the retainer may improve the sound.
  11. thanx guys! I'm relatively new to bass (been playing gtr for 20+ years) and I was wondering if there was a widely excepted "trick" that I didn;t know about.

    maybe I'm crazy (which is likely:eyebrow:) but I def feel a difference on fretted notes, as well as the open strings, since I installed the string retainer. it's subtle for sure, but it's a step in the right direction.

    both my fender basses I bought new and when they came from the factory they strings were so tight. I'm craving that feel. but w/ the strings not so far away from the fret (necks were like a bow and arrow when I got them)

    I use DR 45's maybe I'll try different strings, or a higher gauge. I probably would have never gone that road since, on guitar, higher gauge strings hurt my hands/wrists but it seems to be fine on bass. in fact, I had a hard time playing a bass w/ 40's. just felt so strange.
  12. bass_fish


    Oct 26, 2006
    the Netherlands
    why not try Fender strings again?

    I absolutely love them on my basses, in my opinion they have much more tension... and they come straight out of the factory with them...(or I misunderstood and you didn't like that feeling :p)
  13. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA

    Pitch, gauge and scale length are what ACTUALLY affects tension. Everything else is either a placebo or a change to another physical property that is NOT tension.

    As an example: Hex core strings are typically more rigid than round core strings. This has nothing to do with tension, but I've heard a lot of people refer to how much more tension there is with hex core strings versus round core strings.

    Moral of the story... Adding a string tree does not add tension as it affects the string beyond it's speaking length. You've increased the length of the string from the tuning machine to the bridge and as such you've had to tune down slightly to bring the string to the proper pitch. You could achieve the same tension increase by playing your bass tuned slightly sharp :p
  14. fullrangebass


    May 7, 2005
    higher gauge = higher tension as said before
  15. Actually, it's more about the linear density. Thicker core strings are more dense, thus can have more tension at the same gauge. My own LaBella tapewounds are much less dense than a conventional metal string, which is why the .060G feels about the same as a .045.
  16. basman82


    Jul 20, 2006
    Don't take this the wrong way, but i think you should change bass.
    Fender have never been able to build basses that can produce a good sound from the b-string (they shouldn't build 7string guitars either). If you want a really good sound from a b-string i recommend you purchasing for example a dingwall that has fanned frets in order to get extra tension on the low end. Or maybe custom order a bass from a builder, I did that and that's the smartest thing I've done. The tone from the b-string is amazing, it has the same tone as all the other strings. The builder:
    He's in Sweden though, but he makes extraordinary instruments.
    Good luck.
  17. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    I'm with the higher tension clan on this one.

    Some manufacturers put extra muscle on their low B strings in a standard set (if that makes any sense at all). For example, a set of warwick black label .45" strings are 45 65 85 105 135. So a considerably larger jump in size to the B string (it's also taper wound but that doesn't really affect tension).

    Elixer now offer custom 5th and 6th strings with their standard 4 string sets if you like coated strings. So you get to choose the perfect guage yourself.

    I've also found a similar 'problem' with my hipshot D-tuner on my 4 string. With a standard set of say 45 - 105, the low E is fine when tuned E, drop it to D and it feel just that bit too floppy.

    To this end I've started using Roto's again, specifically the Billy Sheehan custom guage set of 43 to 110. I do like the slightly lighter top G and the 110 on the E is a revelation, it feel just right when dropped to D, and has a nice meaty feel and tone when up to E. I just wished a set lasted longer :(
  18. actually this was the 1st thing I tried, and the worst of them all. I dig Fender gtr strings . . . I got the same set according to the catalog I had and they just didn;t blow my skirt up. the DR's are much better. But I will def be trying out different strings/gauges.

    some good stuff here - thanx for all the responses!
  19. fullrangebass


    May 7, 2005
    I did not want to get very technical (I am in the positive sciences if you know what I mean ;)), but you stand correct that a thicker core needs to be under higher tension to produce the same pitch (their core is just as dense [mass/volume] as any other core made of the same alloy ;) )
  20. Dragonlord

    Dragonlord Rocks Around The Glocks

    Aug 30, 2000
    Greece, Europe
    I can't recommend Dingwalls enough as far as low B tension goes. I thought my warwick was great, until I played a dingwall - now I'm never going back. Only problem I could see is having difficulties playing on the first position on a 37" string, or not having the money to afford it. Then there's the super j 5 which has a smaller scale than other dingwalls.

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