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Components of a tight B string

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jmanyea, Oct 16, 2002.

  1. jmanyea


    Mar 20, 2002
    St. Louis
    Question: Other than scale length (34" vs 35" etc.), and type/brand of string, what factors figure into the tightness of a B string? I have been shopping for a 5 string and am amazed at how much they vary in this regard.
  2. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    #1) Type of Strings
    #2) Tapewound or not
    #3) Bridge saddles
    #4) setup
    #5) Scale Length
    #6) String-Through or not
    #7) Neck Thru or Bolt on
    #8) Tuners
    #9) Neck itself
    #10) IF neck thru, how many pieces of wood to make the neck
    #11) What woods used for the neck
    #12) Construction

    There are probably many more... but here are just some..
  3. neptoon

    neptoon Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2000
    Cape Canaveral, FL
    string guage ;) the thicker the string, the more tension you will have to have applied. i personally like .130's the best. neck construction has a lot to do with the quality of a low b. a well-built stiff neck lends a lot to a non floppy sounding b.
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    IME, the scale length is not always a major factor. A tiltback headstock, tapered tuners, a skillfully cut nut, and the break angle over the bridge (a la, string-through-body) can give a 34's scale a nice taut B.

    No, I don't own a 34" 5-string now, but I have.
  5. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    I think neck rigidity trumps everything else. I've got a 34" scale US Curbow 5 with TI Powerbass strings. It only has a .118 B string, and it is as tight as anything out there, and sounds better than most.

    The Rockwood neck has a lot to do with how great the low B sounds. I'd expect graphite necks to have the same result.
  6. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I personally think that technique has a lot more to do with how "tight" a "B" string feels than any other factor.

    I play Jeff Berlin style - really light and let the amp do the work. My "B" strings don't flop around and aren't "loose" even though I've read that others on this forum think my basses are famous for a "rubber band" B string. Maybe I'm just lucky and got good basses from the mass producers. (Fender USA and Dean Korea)

    I like 130 B strings, through-body stringing, graphite reinforcement, 35" scale, and angled headstocks, too.
  7. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    Couple of insights on my past and present basses with great B's and perhaps why, the best listed first:

    1. Lakland--35" scale, strings through body, graphite reinforcement
    2. Cirrus--graphite reinforcement, 35' scale, neck through
    3. GW1--B string peg is placed higher on the headstock
    4. Elrick NJS--35" scale, high quality neck construction
    5. SR5--massive bridge, general high quality construction

    Nothing to write home about: Yamaha TRB5F and both Carvin LB75s
  8. jmanyea


    Mar 20, 2002
    St. Louis
    So I really want a G&L 2500 but I just bought a house so funds are scarce. I am thinking of getting a OLP 5 string to put a hold on my gas(fivedollasworthagas). The ones I've played have been fairly decent to way floppy. I'm thinking of a new bridge and mod for string-thru and a graphite nut. Would these mods make a very noticeable improvement with the right strings? By the way, I don't care for the wide string spacing on the Kingston and 55-01.
  9. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    If you are getting an OLP 5... why not just get a Kingston 5? The Kingston 5s have alot better of a "B string" and the construction quality and the playability on those are much more superb than the OLP5s... I love OLP4s, but I can NOT stand the 5s.. the Bs on those are just horrendous..

  10. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I agree. The B on the Kingstons is up there with all those on my list. You will get used to the string spacing and will be overjoyed with the B's sound. Just a suggestion!:)
  11. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    The Kingston is IMO the budget sleeper... it's only a budget, but on that budget, you'll get twice the bass. Best under 1000 new, and kicks some 1000+ butt as well.
  12. I agree with Rick that the scale length makes little difference. The other factors are way more important. Case in point; Pedulla Rapture and Stingray have great B's and they're 34". TRB5II has mediocre B and it's 35".
    I believe it comes down to a combination of elements; first class timber, correct break angles across the nut and bridge saddle, amount of pickup magnet pull on the huge mass of the string, and the voicing of the preamp seem to me to be the crucial factors.
    As Philbiker said, the players touch has a role to play also.
  13. I think the color of the bass has a much better influence on the tightness of the B string.

    Case in point...THe black OLP 5 I played had a weak B. The red SR 5 had a GREAT B.
  14. In some cases, scale length CAN be a "trump card": Ask Geoff St. Germaine about his Dingwalls! (Best B I've ever heard was on a Dingwall...37" B string! :eek: ) But, the Dingwall is more than just a long B, it's also built correctly - which is a factor mentioned numerous times already.

    The best 35" B I've heard by far is the Roscoe LG and/or SKB 5+'s. Again, I think it's a matter of Keith's construction methods rather than just the fact of the 35" scale length. There are certainly some disappointing (but unnamed by me) 35"ers out there...

    I've heard - and own - excellent sounding 34" B string equipped basses. My Zon Sonus is nice and tight, and I don't use a huge B (.125). Both of my Guitar Factory 6's have very good B's as well, and are strung with the same string, so I don't really believe that string guage is all that major of a factor.

    I would say the overwhelming factor is construction, if it's properly made even a medium scale B can sound good: I have a student that plays an R Bass 5 with a 33" scale length, and the B on it is as good or better than some of the 35"'s I've played!
  15. I've been playing electric bass for a long time now. I started playing 5string about 7 years ago. In that 7 years, I've owned 8 5 string basses. I can tell you without a doubt that the most important component of a tight B string IS the B string. I have found I get the best B string sound on my SR5 when I use Ken Smith SS with a taper wound B string. However these same strings on a Fender Precision V was out of control. On my 5502 I like D'Adario extralong soft nickle wound. I think you have to try different strings until you find the one that works with your bass. Often the ones that come stock suck.
  16. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Backbone stiffness x string gauge + scale length = B-string tightness.


    (Backbone is the upper string retaining device, through neck and body, to lower string retaining device)
  17. Hmmmm

    Speaking in terms of just the 'feel' of pure mechanical "tightness" -

    - isn't the only real factor:

    "correct break angles across the nut and the bridge saddle" ????

    Assuming the bass has the correct neck relief and fret dressing... - and actual string tension is optimal for the given scale length (using the appropriate gauge of string for the desired pitch)
  18. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    My Lakland Skyline 55-01 has a great B string (the best I've ever played) without the graphite reinforcement.
  19. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    Than I guess a graphite composite neck is the ultimate 5 string?? :p

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