help me please with my B!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by raised_fist, Dec 16, 2002.

  1. raised_fist

    raised_fist Guest

    Dec 16, 2002
    Okay, I am playing on a ibanez 5-string at the moment and I HATE the B string. It is so dead, lifeless, and generally floppy. What can I do to fix this, other than throw away the bass? I have been told I can install a new bridge which will fix it dramatically, as well as new strings.... I just feel like there is not enough tension in me please!
  2. yea, throw it away and get a Spector :)
  3. DougD

    DougD Bassman7654

    Sep 19, 2002
    North Las Vegas NV
    Try a bigger string. a 130 or 135 gague string should tightin up things quite a bit. If that doesnt work, It may be time to upgrade. I have the SR406 and the B string is fine IMHO with a 125.
  4. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer, Builder
    You could actually install a string tree on the headstock to put more pressure on the B as it came over the nut. This tension will help as well!
    A bridge might help as well, but then your adding so much, you would be better off to get something better.
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I don't know what model Ibanez you are playing, but I think it reasonably safe to say that the bridge is only one of a number of issues with the bass.

    IMO, most of the problems of bad fivers are from deflection.

    Here are a few comments that I had from a previous post:

    The one factor that most impacts "floppiness" is deflection.

    Try this: Grab any of the strings on your bass and pull straight up REALLY hard. Notice that the neck of your bass will bend.

    Well, even when you pull the string to pluck it, the same thing happens. The neck bends. In addition, as a string oscilates, it further forces the neck to blend or "deflect."

    The deflection is most obvious in the neck, but is really a property of the whole structure of the instrument. For example, a thin-plated, bent bridge (cheap Fender style copy) is more likely to deflect than an ABM that has a 3/8" think, solid brass base plate. Basses that string throughbody helps this in that it relieves the bridge of this stress, not because it changes string tension.

    The less susceptible an instrument is to deflection, the less "floppy" a string is going to feel. It will also sustain longer and ring more clearly.

    Ever notice that a string feels less floppy as you play it higher up the neck? The tension hasn't changed, but the bass deflects less. Why? Ever noticed it is easier to bend a 6-foot pipe than a 6-inch one?

    This is why you most often see the least floppy B strings in 5-piece necks, neckthroughs and composites.

    This effects the feel of a string MUCH more than tension. In fact, the difference in tension between a 34" and 35" scale (assuming a linear operation. I am not a physicist) is only 2.9 percent.

    A heavier guage string will help with the feel, but if the instrument isn't stiff enough prevent the B string from deflecting the structure, you are still going to have many of the other problems that you are now having. In fact, it is possible that it sould be worse because the string will have more tension and more mass to create stress against the structure.

    Lastly, play the instrument unplugged. I suggest even with your ear against the bass. I often see in less-expensive instruments that the poor B string is as much from the electronics as it is the structure. For example, cheap passive five string basses are notorious for having pickups that can't handle the B.

  6. redneck2wild


    Nov 27, 2002
    Memphis, TN
  7. Funny, I get a better B sound out of my TI Powerbass', and its a .119
  8. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    Just curious: how many "B" strings are you basing your opinion on?

    Maybe the bass itself is at fault, but strings are relatively cheap, so don't overlook that factor! I worried for awhile about the quality of the B-string on my Fender Roscoe Beck 5. It was shipped to me (used) with dead strings, and the B was still floppy after I installed a brand new set of strings. But I probably got a bad B out of the box... when I restrung the bass with a different brand, the B was fantastic.

    The new B was tapered at the saddle... if you haven't tried a tapered B-string, that's another idea for you.
  9. Remember also, that the CORE of a string can make a difference in tension. A Hexoganal core will be stiffer in most cases than a round wire cored string.

    If you can get just a low B string from Fodera, their stainless B is pretty stiff. I've heard here that some DR brand strings are also stiffer than average.
  10. You beat me to it.:D
  11. Fist,

    The most obvious things is to replace the strings first up, especially if it's been a while since you threw on the last set. <Hamish blushes lightly as he remembers his 5-string is long overdue for new strings.> Certainly this, with a proper set-up of course, is the cheapest way of trying to improve things. If your strings are relatively new on you could consider just replacing the B-string with something chunkier, but be careful as if you get uneven tension across your string set you can get into trouble with neck warping (nasty and expensive to fix). Have a look at some manufacturers' bottom-heavy 5-string sets to get an idea of what guage B-string you can safely use with the guages you have up higher. Of course the other issue will be that heavier string(s) are a bit "slower" and less easily playable than fast light strings. I think most would consider this to be a small sacrifice in comparison to bad B-string tone.

    Replacing bridges and stuff may be useful, but it's more expensive and you don't know if it'll work (or at least work enough) until you've shelled out the dosh. A new bass may be the only way to go and you'll have to decide this for yourself based on the relative costs, but I'd suggest the new heavier string(s) and proper set-up as a good cheap start point.

    As an aside, this thread is a good example for anyone out there looking at going from 4- to 5- string. Make sure you give the bass a thorough testing before you part with any cash. Particularly make sure it is correctly tuned to concert pitch (tuning up a semi-tone can make the B string sound and feel a lot better dur to the additional tension, except that you're now playing a C) and that the B-string isn't too floppy. This is arguably the biggest problem with a lot of cheaper and some not-so-cheap 5 strings.

    Good luck