Flat wound low B--how high up the fretboard can you go?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by JES, Oct 27, 2015.

  1. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    I'm starting a new thread with a different flat wound B question. How high up the fretboard can you get before it starts to sound too inharmonic?

    I have tried both TI Jazz Flats (.136) and D'Addario Chromes (.132) and am finding that on a Lull 35" with P pickup, around the 10th fret it's starting to get inharmonic. Even the 8th (G) doesn't sound great compared with the C on the E string above. With rounds I can get up to 13 (C) or 15 (D) usably and with Kalium strings, even a little higher.

    Is this a setup issue? Should I go to a thinner flat wound B? I do like to play with some attack so don't want to go too thin.

    Thanks for your thoughts.
  2. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    That is the inherent limitation of a flat wound B string.
  3. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    That's what I was afraid of.
  4. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    What kind of bass? That limitation is expected on all <37" basses in my experience, regardless of string choice. Mind you, I don't use flats so I don't know if it gets worse due to using flats. Every single B string under 37" does get wolftones as you fret up the neck, it's the nature of the beast and a matter of physics.
    iiipopes likes this.
  5. DuShauh


    Aug 29, 2011
    West Michigan
    This is an interesting observation. Also yet another "advantage" that I have found to D standard tuning. I play flats exclusively, and generally use an uptuned B for my D string. There are no wolf tones on my 34" or 35" basses even at the last fret.
    Camaro and RoadRanger like this.
  6. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Yes, the inharmonicity does get worse with flats compared to rounds and exposed-core rounds.

    Has anybody really looked at how the bass strings in the lowest octave or so of a piano attach to the bridge? Only the core. This was the inspiration for all those "piano-toned" and "brighter-than-bright" toned strings starting a generation ago.

    One reason is that the string, being stretched over a bridge saddle witness point instead of being clamped from both sides, like a Kahler tremolo, vibrates with the top part of the string being effectively longer than the point which touches the bridge witness point - a hinge effect. The thicker the string, the worse the hinge effect, and the greater the inharmonicity. That's why many B strings are exposed core or tapered core - to decrease the hinge effect and minimize inharmonicity.
    BrBss likes this.
  7. ixlramp

    ixlramp Guest

    Jan 25, 2005
    Yes, it's due to the inherent stiffness of a flatwound and the width of a B string. Taperwound also helps by making the pivot at the saddle more flexible.
    A thinner flatwound B will help with harmonicity.
  8. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    Thanks. I am thinking of giving it one last go with a taperwound B, like the Sadowsky. Should I go .125 or .130? Part of the allure of the 5-er is position playing.

    I've used D'Addario XL .130s and gotten good intonation (.145 was too stiff sounding), but the best tuning has been with Kaliums. Even a .158 low A intimates well way up the neck. But they are sonically the opposite of flats.
  9. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    I think my taperwound Sadowsky B sounds a little better up the neck than the untapered D'Addario Chrome B I had before that, although the Sadowskys are darker than the Chromes overall. The absolute worst B string I've tried was with D'Addario tapewounds - it sounded bad even at the 5th fret and I ended up putting together a mixed set with a DR Black Beauty roundwound for the B string!
  10. ixlramp

    ixlramp Guest

    Jan 25, 2005
    .125 is enough, it's over 30 pounds tension (low tension but enough), then you benefit from a thinner string as well as being taperwound.
    Tapered strings can cause their own type of inharmonicity if the tapered section is too long, but this is usually overpowered by the advantages of extra flexibility.
  11. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    I solve the matter by using a slightly lighter string and tuning my B string to C.

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