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B string tightness?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Stinsok, Apr 21, 2004.

  1. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    Everyone asks (including me) how tight is the B string? What factors determine string tightness? The only 2 I can think of are scale length and the strings themselves. When people are asking about B string tightness on an average 34'' scale bass shouldn't we already have a good idea of how tight it is? Can it vary from bass to bass with the same scale length?
  2. I think that there are two types of tension: real tension and percieved tension. We percieve some basses to have tighter Bs than others with the same scale length, but they're most likely very similar. However, there are things that do make a real difference in tension. Besides the scale length and string gauge, the stiffness of the neck can also affect the string tension. Bridge break angle and string-through-body construction can change percieved tension. The overall tone of a bass with have some impact on the perception of the B string. If the bass sounds muddy and unclear, the B will sound bad, and will be percieved asd being floppy. Ont he other hand, a clear sounding bass with a lot of definition will havew a better sounding B string.
  3. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    The variables are in the string gauge, scale, string material and manufacturing method of the string. There will be a small effect on the feel of the string due to what happens beyond the nut and saddle. However, I suspect that when people think one bass has a different feel to the B string than another, they're really comparing different strings. Were the basses set up with identical strings they'd probably feel more similar.
  4. For me the word "tight" does not only refer to the feel and the movement of the B-string, but mainly to the sound. Most 5-string basses have floppy B-strings, meaning the sound is not focussed, and is moving away from the exact B all the time. Most of the time this is due to the neck construction and the wood. In some cases the higher string tension of larger scales like 35" and up helps, but not always. And sometimes 34" is all it takes, because the neck is well built, like on a Sadowsky for example. But most good B-strings are found on 35" and higher scale basses, like Lakland, F-Bass, Dingwall etc.
    You will have a hard time finding a good tight focussed B string on a cheap 34" scale bass. The problem with 35" on the other hand is that it will change the feel and the sound of the other strings also. D and G strings on 35" scale basses have too much string tension for me, and I don't find them to play very comfortably. And besides that, they sound "thinner" than on a 34" scale bass.
    And than there is the type of string you use: Taper-core and exposed-core B-strings produce a tighter B than regular strings. And btw: the myth of a thicker B-string producing a better B is pure nonsense. Most of the time a heavier gauge B string will flap around even more than a lighter gauge B-string.

    Ok, my 2 eurocents.

  5. egb41


    Mar 26, 2003
    U.S.A OHIO Columbus
    I have the same questions on my mind. Like how can Sadowsky and not Fender make great low b strings on 34" scale basses even though Fender has so many years of experience making mass production basses? I have experienced first hand the difference between stringing through the body or not.
  6. Ah..there you have your answer already: "Fender has so many years of experience making mass production basses"

    Mass production means cheap materials, and cheap production process.
    A good Luthier will pick the wood himself, and spends more time and effort in neck construction.

  7. Ok, I have a question. I have heard so many different things in relation to B-string tension and exposed or taper-core strings. The main reason for the taper or exposed core is having a bridge that won't accept the fully wound string, but does perceived tension change? Which string (assuming the same brand) will be clearer sounding?

    Also, I know I should go out and play one, but it makes it easier on me personally if the consensus is that taper core strings are different in more ways than just how they go over the bridge.
  8. This is not correct. The main reason for exposed or taper-core strings is that they sound different. They sound clearer and more focussed. Good for slapping also.
    And indeed the feel of the string changes: the string will feel less stiff. This will not affect the "tightness" of the B however, if you mean by tightness the "focussed" sound of the B. Most of the times it will improve with a tapercore or exposed core.
  9. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I disagree with some of what's been said above. I think almost any decently-made fiver (including production Fenders) can have a great B string with proper setup and a fresh set of strings. Lately my favorite has been Labella Hard Rockin' Steels which have tapered B and E strings so maybe that's a factor as well.

    As for Fender: my Roscoe Beck fivers (yeah, I own two) are passive, have alder bodies, and 34" scale. Even so, the B strings are great. I've been using my RB5 with a band that tunes down to Eb and the B string *still* sounds great. And no, I don't string thru the body either.

    I'm not going to say the RB5 B string is as "tight" in tone or feel as the one on my Modulus Quantum 5, but we're comparing apples and oranges here. The Modulus is an active bass with graphite composite neck and 35" scale. The Modulus sounds very modern across all 5 strings. Likewise, the Fender sounds Fendery across all 5 strings... and I mean that in a very good way. The Fender isn't as crisp or piano-like, but is phatter and warmer (and I don't mean floppy or muddy).
  10. Ok, thanks Ray R. So Fuzzbass, you have taper wound strings on your Roscoe Beck and you like the feel/sound? Looks like Taper's are next up to try in my search for my strings.
  11. I just want to say that the size of the B string does make a difference. I recently got a set of DR Hi-Beams for my Kingston 5. The B string was only a .125. It flopped, and I wasn't happy with the way it sounded. I ditched it for a Ken Smith .145 B string. Much better, it sounds like a grand piano now. I was able to drop the B string's action way down as well. The string is more taut and sounds better.
  12. Completely different strings. And the .145 Ken Smith is a taper-core string, while the DR is regular core.
    See below.
  13. When you guys use strings of such large diameter don't you lose functionality after a certain fret? Won't a string that large have problems with most pickup magnets? .145 sounds awfully large, is it balanced sounding with the rest of the set?
  14. What works on one bass will not work on another. There is no definitive anwer to these questions. Personally, I never needed a big tow-cable like that on any bass.
  15. I don't quite think so. The bass makes a difference too. I play a Musicman Stingray 5, and I recently got turned on to DR hi-beams - the really light gauge set (I prefer lighter gauge for slapping and easier fretwork). The B was only .120 and it was the tightest and most solid B I've ever played. Man I LOVE DRs.