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B string note definition

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by daveriedstra, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. daveriedstra


    Mar 17, 2010
    Victoria, BC
    I play a five string Ibanez, and I love the idea of the extra range that the fifth string offers, but even a new B string has pretty poor note definition -- the attack is slower, upper harmonics ring out stronger, pitch isn't very clear, etc.

    I've looked it up online, and it seems the consensus is to switch to a four string. My instructor says to only use it if necessary or in thick textures where the definition won't matter that much anyways.

    Are there any general tips on getting better note definition out of your fifth string?
  2. Meatrus


    Apr 5, 2009
    Do you mean a four string tuned BEAD? If so, I cant see how that would offer any more note definition (in fact I would go so far as saying it wouldnt). Its the same as a 5 string minus the G.

    It may be worth experimenting with some different strings and gauges, I havent noticed any of the 5 and 6 strings I have owned sounding poorly. It could be you just dont like the sounds of notes that low.
  3. Try some taper wound strings like the Circle K balanced set on the 5.
  4. ZolkoW


    May 8, 2006
    Hungary, EU
    try a smaller (yes!) gauge. someone suggested me to do this, I was sceptical, as I like stiff strings better, but it worked. no I'm using 130 B instread of the usual 135.
  5. murphy


    May 5, 2004
    I use 125 B strings.....usually a set of DR High beams.
    The B will not sound like the other strings....usually a bit thicker and darker sounding up and down the neck
  6. billbern


    Sep 11, 2004
    Daytona Beach, Fl
    Endorsing: Inearz In-ear Monitors
    I've had very good luck with hex core stings improving B string issues. I don't know if it's the tension or what, I just know the B string sounds better.
    Dr Low Riders in my case.
  7. jacoby75

    jacoby75 Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2010
    Coldwater, MI
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Guitars, DR Strings
    5-string basses tend to be pretty hit or miss with the quality of a low B. I play exclusively 5 strings now, and it depends on a lot of factors:

    -the quality of the bass
    -the tightness of the neck pocket
    -quality of the tone woods
    -set up
    -string gauge
    -playing style
    -size and power of amp and the speaker's ability to reproduce the low B frequencies.

    There's no easy answer. I have only played a handful of basses with a really impressive B string. Having a bass that is 35" scale seems to help tighten up and focus the B string. I played a cheaper Schecter Stiletto Studio and a Yamaha TRB, both of which are "cheaper" in my opinion, 35" scale, and have very tight and focused B string. Lakland also makes basses that are known for having a tight B. However, I also just got a MIA Fender Jazz 5 with an awesome B, and that's 34" scale. I was impressed. Being able to string through the body helps too.
  8. daveriedstra


    Mar 17, 2010
    Victoria, BC
    Thanks everyone, you guys are awesome. I'll try out some of these suggestions, particularly the strings (saves me buying a new bass).

    what I meant by the sites suggesting to use a four string is that they say to give up on the b string, hahah.
  9. Bass-Adrenaline


    Jan 23, 2010
    Thats somethign you have to watch out for. There are die hard 4 banger fans who will do anything to get people away from 5ers for some reason. Ive met a few of these people and all i can do is lol. In most cases they just refuse to acknowledge the benefits of a 5 or just arent good with them/havnt really given a good 5er an honest try.
  10. Tandrew


    Jan 9, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    I currently have a Ibanez Sr505, the B string isn't flawless, but it works well. I typically tend to use it for notes between the 1st and 10th fret for both fingerstyle and slap.
    It's difficult for me to articulate the notes higher up on the B string of the fretboard that sound good to my ears.

    I'm using Ernie Ball Roundwounds (that have actually lasted a decent amount of time) and I feel there is pretty good articulation from the B string. On another note I also have D'Addario Chromes (flatwounds), I had a much tougher time producing a sound that I enjoyed from the B string (the string gauge is thicker).

    I would also suggest playing closer to the bridge to try and get more feeling out of the B string. Good luck.

  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Turn down the bass and turn up the mids. This will bring out the growl on the low B.
  12. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Ive only played a small handfull of fivers with very good sounding low B string. Most dont sound that good for low B to me.
  13. DavePlaysBass


    Mar 31, 2004
    I find the La Bella 128 tapered B to be the best. It may make your Ibanez sound a lot better. Hard Rockin' Steels, Slappers, Pedullas, and Carvin Rounds all use the La Bella 128 taper.
  14. wsmerwin@hotmai


    Jan 30, 2008
    Everything contributes to (or detracts from) the sound of the guitar, and the performance of the B string. A well made (rigid neck) instrument will have a better B than a poorly made one . Amplification can help, but I believe the guitar is the determining factor.
  15. wsmerwin@hotmai


    Jan 30, 2008
    Try a WATSON
  16. purpletornado


    Aug 5, 2009
    Interesting thread. I just recently picked up a '99 BTB 1005 and the strings that came with are OK but the B is slightly less stiff than I would like. I got a set of DR Black Beauties, .045"-.105" + .125", with the bass so I decided to give those a try. After a little while I didn't really like the brightness of them. they sounded a little twangy for my tastes so I've been trying to figure out what string would give me a deeper tone and a slightly stiffer B. Does higher gauge on a B string equal stiffer feel? Or is that dependent on other factors?

    Anyone have experience with the LaBella Deep Talkin' Stainless Rounds? How would flats fair in this situation?
  17. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Roger that. You'll go thru a gazillion strings looking for the right one but, all too frequently, the problem lies with the bass itself. There are a handful of nasty bumps in the lower freq's that can mask the true color of your B string. Boosting the low-end just accentuates the problem; you're better off cutting the offending freq's to bring the B to life. A single band para EQ works wonders in this arena. I've been playing around with my fivers and pretty much found a repeating problem in the 80-90 hz region....but that's with my bass rig. YMMV.

  18. songwriter21

    songwriter21 I have an obsession for wood. The musical kind. Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2005
    Beaver County, PA
    Sponsored by Hipshot
    You absolutely CANNOT go wrong with this B string. Every company says "piano-like clarity", but this B actually has that sound and it lasts forever.

    This is, hands-down, the BEST low B string on the market. I don't endorse La Bella or work for them-I'm just extremely picky and these are unreal.
  19. hstingrayh


    Sep 29, 2007
    I play Sting Rays 5 and use D'Addario nickel and ss,my B string on all of my basses are tight and solid.Setup is the answer!
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