Is the B string the most important part of a 5 string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Michael Jewels, Jan 10, 2002.

  1. We've had tons of discussions on which 5 string has the tightest or best sounding B string, but, when you buy a 5er, is this the most important feature you look for, or is there something else?

    Me first. Although the reason most of us buy a 5 string is for the low B string (even if used sparingly) I think the overall sound of a bass is more important than just a "killer B." In June, I was moments away from buying an Ibanez BTB405QM when I picked up a less expensive Yamaha BBN5 II, and bought it because its overall sound was more of what I wanted. Understand, the BTB has a tighter and cleaner sounding low B string, and, IMHO is a more versatile instrument, but, the Yamaha just hit my sonic bull's eye, and that's why I bought it, with no regrets.

    What's your opinion?

    If I may, let me ask a closely related second question: Do you think a looser B string adds to growl? I do.

    Mike J.
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    The most important thing isn't the B alone, but how well it balances with the other strings. (And of course, the overall tone.) As for tone v. feel, I much prefer a B that sounds good and clean than one that feels particularly tight. You can always learn to lighten your touch to accomodate some flop, but if the string isn't speaking clearly, it's useless no matter what you do.

    String spacing is another thing for which I comparison-shop. Too close together is bad for me, but good if you play primarily with a pick.
  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The overall sound of the instrument is ALWAYS most important, regardless of number of strings.
  4. Yes I would say that the B is definitely not the most important thing on a 5+ string bass. Though sometimes it can boil down to it on similar, quality instruments, as there seem to be some factors that greatly affect the B string, but do not effect the EADG etc to the same extent (things like tension, choking, stability of neck, bridge, headstock etc.).

  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Christopher nailed it. I'd rather have a B that sounded like it was on the same with the rest of the strings vs. "HELLO, I AM BERTRAM, KING OF THE B STRINGS... BASK IN MY MAGNIFICENCE!!!"

    Overall tone is key.

    *I know... I need to get out more*
  6. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I agree that tone is paramount... But sometimes a compromise is not needed. If I am going to buy a 5, the B must be functional. Some 5s are looser than others, and at some point you might decide that the tone is nice, but the B stinks... may as well stick with the 4.
  7. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    It's not the only feature, but it IS the one that makes it or breaks it.
  8. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i'd say the jack is the most important part of any 5 string.
  9. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    But it's my G string that keeps breaking!!!
  10. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    As in all things, the nut is the most important.

    edit: In all seriousness, I agree with those that said no matter what tuning you choose, tone and balance are key.
  11. For me.. if I really liked a 5 string but the B is weak (compared to the other strings).. I'd probably get the 4 string version.
  12. If you want a bass just for the B, go have that Japanese manufacturer build you a 1 string bass.

    It's all about the over-all effect. Course, my EDC has a great B and over all, but I'm just bragging.:D

    Rock on
  13. Of course the reason for buying a 5-string bass in the first place is what that 5th string will do for you. If the "B" string is wonderful and the rest of the bass isn't, it's a bust. If the other strings are wonderful and the "B" string isn't, it's still a bust.

    The bass has to be an integrated, well balanced instrument (sound as well as feel and weight). So yes, it's the most important thing from the standpoint of why you're buying one in the first place. But once you're past the decision to buy and are actually making the buy, it's no more important than the others. Same thing as when you're buying a 4-string or whatever. The overall package becomes what is important.
  14. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I agree with all the above but there is one more factor that I look at. Playbility! If you have to reach forever to get to the B then that ain't good.

    My first fiver was a really nice bass but it seemed that I had some difficulty getting up to the B string when I was higher up the neck. I don't think that it was because the strings were so far apart but more that the profile of the neck made it more of a stretch. Of course we have to consider that this was my first 5 string. But I do find the Sadowsky and the Lakland 5's pretty easy to get to the B.
  15. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    IMO theres more to a 5 string than just the B. What good is a bass when the B string sounds really good and the rest of the strings sound sub par, or the quality of the bass isnt good? And like you when I purchase extended range basses, I prefer a better overall sound *well balanced*
  16. the feel and the tone, plus the 5th string is what did it for me. but the feel was awesome on my SR405. the singer for my band picked up my bass today and started playin it and he could only talk about how awesome it was to play, how the action was set perfectly, the string spacing was great, it was a bass he actually had FUN playing. the guitarist piped in and agreed. i'd say i made agood choice :)
  17. I look at a 5-string bass as one that has an extra string: the high G


    For me, a bass without the low B is a bass with a string missing. My B is played every bit as much as the others, and even my high G is played occasionally.

    As for tone, I think Fender got it dead right with the Roscoe Beck V. The B string is neither an odd-ball nor an add-on. It has the same response and performance as the other strings. The taper wound B and E saddles contributes to superior intonation, and the Lawrence pickups are expressly designed to work correctly with the B string.
  18. Bob Clayton

    Bob Clayton Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Deptford, NJ
    well, u can't really have a 5-string, without a B-string

  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
  20. elwood

    elwood there is no spoo

    Jul 25, 2001
    Mid-Hudson Valley, NY
    I don't know about a correlation, I haven't played many different instruments. But I have had two 35" Bs that were very tight and had superlative growl, tons of it. Floppy Bs have a tendency toward rattle, not growl, and are more difficult to play. This is from my limited experience. YMMV.