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Bass Length and Low B String

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by doclabyrinth, Mar 12, 2005.

  1. doclabyrinth


    Feb 20, 2003
    I currently play a Carvin LB76F (34" fretless six-string). I love the instrument, but the low B just doesn't have as much oomp as the other strings; there's a bit of floppiness to it. I'm realy looking for a tight and smooth sound across the whole range.

    I've been considering getting a Carvin XB76FP (35 1/4" with P-series electronics).

    Is my assumption that the longer scale will address my issue with the B string valid? Are there downsides to the longer scale? (Also, if anyone has thoughts about the P-series that would be helpful too.)

  2. RunngDog


    Jan 22, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    By definition, at any given string gauge, a 35" scale will give you a tighter B string than a 34" scale -- this is simply a matter of the physics of string tension. You'll soon get posts from Zon, Sadowsky, etc. enthusiasts telling you that the 34" B-strings on their basses are just as tight as a 35", but they're using the word "tight" loosely to cover issues of feel, tone, etc. But everything else equal, a 35" Sadowsky would have a tighter B than a 34" Sadowsky, a 35" Zon would be tighter than a 35" Zon, etc.

    That said:
    • It's never seemed to me that the extra inch of scale per se produced that big a difference in tightness, so that it's definitely possible to find 34" basses with B-strings that compare favorably to most 35" ones.
    • The downside of the 35" scale is longer stretches (especially in the 1st position) and a somewhat thinner sound on your higher strings (which should be more relevant to a 6-string player).

    • I've personally never been knocked out by the B-string on any 34" or 35" bass -- they all feel and sound markedly floppier and less defined than the other strings. The upshot is that I pretty much stick to 4-strings these days, the sole exception being a Dingwall whose 37" B is the only one I find tolerable.
  3. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    this has been discussed often.

    Tightness of the Tone of the B string is more a product of, construction, electronics, strings, pickups, etc then an inch of length.

    all things exactly equal in a pair of basses... yes the extra length will make the B a touch tighter
  4. gruuv


    Jan 23, 2004
    Unhelpful as it might be, I own a Sadowsky (34 in scale) and the low B is great. I agree with Dog that it will not physically be as tight as a 35 or 36 in scale B, but I've played 35 in scale basses that had B's that did not feel or speak nearly as well as my NYC's does. I've also owned a 36 in scale Elrick 6 that had a mammoth low B. But, for me, the basses serve different purposes. The B on my NYC is congruent with the other strings tone/function-wise as I'm looking for a punchy, tight tone that sits in a mix like nobody's business. I wanted the Elrick's B to be more open and to have more breadth to it, if that makes any sense. And for what it's worth, the G on the Elrick never sounded thin. I think all these factors depend on the luthier, woods, etc... the physics will never lie, but the feel and the way the string speaks can be markedly better or worse depending on how the bass is made.

    I definitely prefer long scale basses (36 :bassist: ) but I love this Sadowsky. I've never tried a Dingwall for two reasons: one is that I'm lazy and don't want to mess with the fanned fret system. And more importantly, I'm afraid I've love it (37 in scale B!!! :bassist: :bassist: ) and I definitely don't need the GAS! :rollno:
  5. doclabyrinth


    Feb 20, 2003
    Anyone know about the Carvins specifically?
  6. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    my 91 Carvin LB75 had a fine B string. I was picky about strings and usually used at the time Ken Smith Rock Master Medium Lights and played through a AMP BH-260 and pair of Bag End cabinets
  7. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    I also have a Carvin LB75, 34" scale, and the b string is great. I do use a .139 gague for my b.
  8. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Tension is governed by physics. As noted, the longer the scale, the higher the tension.

    "Tightness" is another matter. Some people use it to describe tone: "tight" B string being the opposite of "floppy" B string. Others use it to describe feel, and in that case it's probably proportional to tension, but that depends on the string. Some strings brands feel more flexible than others even when tension is the same.

    Anyway: I've been happy with 34" and 35" B strings. If you have an instrument with a "floppy" B string, the problem lies with the instrument itself, not the scale length.

    P.S. The clearest B string I've encountered is on the Modulus Quantum 5. I attribute this primarily to the graphite composite neck (extremely stiff), not to the 35" scale length.
  9. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Would string choice make a difference in string tension? If so, what strings would you recommend to get a little extra tension on a 34" sixer?
  10. gruuv


    Jan 23, 2004
    A friend has let me borrow his Carvin 5 (not sure of the model #) neck-through and the B is ok. To me it is a bit muddy and warbly :confused: ; I don't even know what that means but it seems to describe the tone.
  11. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    I tend to agree. After all, we're talking about an increase of what...2.94%? Not a big increase. Try tuning up your low B to a C (a much bigger increase...I guess around 8.25%-?) and see if that makes a huge difference. :eyebrow:

    Or better yet, tune up 1/4 step; percentage-wise more in the ballpark.

    I have 2 basses with necks made of Douglas Fir. The idea being that in a bass neck you want stiffness...hence the popularity of graphite. To my ears the fir (about as stiff as spruce and super light), gives me plenty of tightness across the neck., but it still has that "wood" sound. The downside is that the wood is too soft to hold a wood screw, but there are workarounds.

    IMO, maple is merely an OK wood for a bass neck. Leo used it and it'll do the job, but that doesn't mean it's the best way to go. It's become the standard tho, so most folks assume it is the way to go.
  12. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    The tightness of the string has nothing to do with the construction of the bass (except for scale length), and it has absolutely nothing to do with electronics or pickups. Scale length is the most important part of the equation, and type of string runs a close second.

    If you want a less floppy B on your 34-inch bass, buy a set of stiffer strings. You'd go nuts with a set of TI Power Bass strings ... they're very soft. I have a set of them on one of my RB5s, and they definitely require a softer touch than the Fender strings on my other one.

    Strings are a lot cheaper than another bass. Of course, if you're like me, it's any port in a storm when looking for an excuse to get a new bass.
  13. Actually construction of the bass is the most important part.
    Scale length only mildly changes the tension of the string.
    The stiffness of the neck and solidness of construction are what make a tight B.

    Think about it this way.. if you attached a B to a thin rod of wood and plucked it the rod would vibrate too which would cause the B to loosen and tighten rapidly.. that is a flabby B string. It is the same with necks but the wobbling is too small to see... as you add thickness to that same rod above the B would quite obviously have more and more focussed vibration without the wood moving with it.
    Necks have a lot of this, neck joints likely add a lot to the equation..

    The other thing is electronics. Of course these won't change the feel, but they will change the sound and good electronics will keep it tight and punchy sounding.

    One more thing. The guage of the string matters a fair bit, but on a bass with a worse B string this helps less because the tighter you make the string, the more the neck will wobble when you play the string, so it will help, but the increment will be smaller than on a solidly built neck with a good power transfer to the body.

    Of course this is just my physics view on things. There are lots and lots of factors and they all have to line up for a good B string you can tell this because there are countless 34" scale B string basses out there and the quality of the B ranges from floppy to awesome. If scale length were the biggest factor you wouldn't see this.

    That said, all else being the same, a longer scale will aid taughtness.

    The quality of the B starts with the quality of the build, not the scale length.
  14. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile

    I stand by my statement... I was incorrect in saying "tightness of a string".... I edited to read "Tightness of the Tone of the B string" which is a clarification of what I meant. Your TI statement falls right into what I tried to say.
  15. Limo


    Sep 22, 2002
    Reykjavik Iceland
    IMO the piezo doesn't work well by itself but is an ok feature when blended with the other pickups. I've had only 34" Carvins and the B string sucked on one and was ok on the other. If you get another Carvin just be sure to get as few options as you can cause the tone is the same if you have it just solid colored with chrome hardware or if you get all the pretty options you can get;)
  16. I had a BB75 with the 5 piece wider asymetrical neck. The B was good, and better than the B on my Carvin 5 string bolt kit (which is still pretty good). It may be due to the fact that the BB75 neck has more wood.

    Neither is any match for my Dingwall Afterburner though.

    Wenge would make a nice stiff neck but unfortunately Carvin doesn't offer it.

    For a 34" scale instrument, the Kinals are supposed to have an amazing B (I think this was according to Bass Northwest or Bassalone).
  17. Kinals can be ordered with 34'', 34.5'' or 35'' scale.
  18. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    Try SIT strings - they build/wrap around a thicker core and wind under higher tension than most.
  19. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Yeah, try some heavier gauge strings. I am using a .145 on my fretless 7 string and it really makes a big difference.
  20. mjw


    Jun 12, 2001
    Spring, TX USA
    Hi Geoff,

    Who's producing a .145 string? I'd love to try that. I personally for the first time went to lighter strings recently as an experiment. I really like them, but would love to compare. Thanks.