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Floppy 5th String

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BHuntsalot, Dec 31, 2004.

  1. BHuntsalot


    Nov 3, 2004
    I am going to get a 5 string. My question is this: Do most 5 strings have a floppy 5th string? I hate the couple I have played so far because the 5th string is so floppy. Thanks for your help.
  2. what 5 string bass are you getting?
  3. You are going to get all kinds of conflicting advice here. Physics says you get better intonation and feel on the low B with a longer than 34" scale length.

    But the guys with the standard 34" scale are going to scream "build-quality über alles" And their bass just happens to be an example of an extremely well-built 34" 5 or 6 string bass.

    Good luck finding a helpful answer. Don't overlook technique too. Whenever you play a B string, you can't beat it up like the E string. It needs to be plucked, picked or slapped with accuracy and focus. Generally, I play mine closer to the bridge.
  4. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    You'll have to try a lot of different basses. I personally prefer the 35" scale, but I'm not unhappy with my StingRay-5. It's a 34" scale and IMO it's B-string is pretty decent. There's too many factors involved with the feel of a B-string to list. As Angelopb posted, getting the 'right' touch on the B-string takes practice.

    I like the B-string feel of the Lakland, Modulus Quantum, and Roscoe. But I haven't had a chance to try out a lot of the other basses available, my area is really limited.

    I finally got a chance to try a Peavey Cirrus-5; I really liked it's B-string.

  5. 5stringFanatic


    Mar 3, 2004
    NY, USA
    Between my Dean and my Warwick, the B on the warwick is tighter, however, i noticed that if i string my Dean properly, and cut off the extra end of the string that i dont need then the B string becomes that much tighter.

  6. You could always tune the bass to

    EADGC thats the way to go imho
  7. If the budget is high enough, Get the Fodera Emperor 5 with the extend 5th tuner. It is an awesome design which you would love that.
    Good luck and happy new-year
  8. A lot depends on your playing touch. I know there have been people who tried my basses and said that my B felt a bit floppy, but they agree it sounds great when I am playing it. I have a fairly light playing style, which may help. You might find that changing the B for a thicker string may give you better feel, possibly with the consequence of messing with your string balance.

  9. Apparently, John Taylor of Duran Duran, agrees. In the most recent BP, he says the Peavey is the first 5 he likes. I say him play in 98 or so and he was using the Fender 5 string J bass.

    I must check these out.
  10. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    Another thing to consider is the gauge of the strings. I have a Fender Roscoe Beck 5 which has a 34" scale. The B-string, while not quite as tight as the 35" scale Lakland I used to own, is pretty tight and sounds great. Some of this might be build quality (it is a very nice bass - I'm blessed to have it) but the B-string is also a .130 gauge. I'm pretty sure that as far as that particular string set it's a medium. If you get a 34" scale bass you should use strings that have a B-string of at least .130 gauge.
  11. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    nice dig :p

    I can "beat up" my B just like my E ....

    build-quality über alles

    strings and electronics are also important... but yes IMO/E the build-quality is important to tightness over everything else.

    and if you are going to call "Physics" you should back it with the proper evidence. Physics cannot define a "feels better" statement, ever! "Feels better" is subjective opinion.

    but whatever ;)

    to answer the question...

    No. In my experiences most the low B strings have not been floppy once strung and set up to my preferences.
  12. Well if your looking for engineering debate over it from me, you won't get it. ;)

    All I can say is that there is a reason a contrabass is bigger than a cello. There is a reason that a longer scale requires stronger tension. There is a reason that this stronger tension permits better inotnation of the lowest notes. There is a reason that those who are building the 5 + string basses are making them longer.

    As for feel, there are reasons people on TB constantly complain their B strings are floppy and these tend to be people with standard scale basses. Thus, a longer scale that can be strung low and fast, yet still permits room to dig, "feels" better than a string that is floppy, loses intonation and so forth. Just because there are 35" basses with crappy Bs or bad set -ups, it does not rebut the maxim that bigger-is-better bass. There are cleaver ways of mitigating this, just like a good 10" speaker can fire out lows like a 15". But the maxim still holds, IMO.

    Like I say, good look finding an answer on this thread. . .
  13. I own a Cort Curbow 5 string. I LOVE IT. It is not a common bass and it can be hard to find one in the flesh, but if you get a chance, do yourself a favor and try one out. It's really great, and at an excellent price (their 5 strings generally go for $450 - that's what I bought mine for and it was the price most people were asking).

    It's one of the best you'll find in that price range, in my opinion.
  14. Oh and uhh back to your question which I completely forgot about, no the B on my Curbow is not floppy at all.

  15. Tritone

    Tritone Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2002
    Santee, America
    IME, most B strings have a looser feel than a typical E string. Unless you start getting into a 36" or 37" scale, then you will have to live with the feel, and adjust your technique accordingly. The key to this is the set-up of the instrument. I've played both 34" and 35" scale instruments that have sounded great, because they have been set up properly. Most basses displayed in a store haven't had the benefit of a good set-up job. IMHO, you could have a $40 bass or a $4000 bass, and the B strings on both will sound like garbage until they are set up right. My advice would be to settle on a bass that sounds good and has a workable neck, and go from there.

    Hope this helped....
  16. Tritone

    Tritone Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2002
    Santee, America
    That's because he didn't have an endorsement deal with Peavey in 1998! ;)

    But seriously, the Cirrus is actually a pretty darn good bass.
  17. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    You called "Science" over a subjective property and as a reference to your personal opinion, I'm just pointing that out. Since *you* quoted what Physics says, I'm asking for proof as it's all just speculation and opinion until Scientific proof is recorded and duplicated.

    Yes, the reason is the Bigger body is needed to make the notes audible acousticly when performing with other instruments.

    There are as many builders building 5 + string basses in 34" as there are 35"

    A 2 to 3% difference in total length has minimal effect on anything. Especially considering the fact a bass string can have more then a 50% difference in tension depending on type / style / material / brand.

    If you're talking about turning a standard scaled Strat into a bass yes, IMO there is a limitation to what is a usable scale length.... but then again, that little Guild with the rubber strings had a cool tone and feel and it was shorter then a guitar.

    So you speak for the masses at TB with floppy B strings???

    Just because you prefer a 36" scale, doesn't rebut the fact that you have based your theory on personal preference.

    His question was simply "Do most 5 strings have a floppy 5th string?"
    :confused: I'm not sure what question you were answering...
  18. O.K. I agree. 34" yields a tighter B. You win.
  19. _Unregistered_


    Nov 3, 2004
    Physics does indeed state that a longer string length will increase the string tension. Since changing the scale length of your instrument isn't something you can do easily [!], I'd like to suggest the ALTERNATE, and perhaps more obvious physics-inspired solution:


    Most people play wimpy little 125-135 low Bs on their contrabasses.

    I have played a 145 D'Addario low B since the mid 80s on most of my instruments.

    No floppy low B strings can be found on any of my basses.

    Change one string. This solution costs under 5 bucks. You can order the 145 nickel D'Addarios as singles. I usually restring using a regular XL170 set, and add the single low B.

    This is not rocket science. A thicker string increases tension.

    Many instruments inherently have one string that appears looser or tighter. This is either real or imagined, due to inherent resonances in the instrument. Juggling string gauges is an easy way to correct these anomolies.
  20. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I think proper setup is the key, too. If the B string's closer to the pickup than the E string it will sound "boomy" and weak and if it's too far away from the pickup, it'll sound "tinny" and weak. When setup properly, the B string of my wood-necked Status feels just like the E string.