Let's talk about low B strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by guroove, Aug 3, 2016.

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  1. guroove

    guroove

    Oct 13, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    I've been a 4 string player for well over 20 years, and just got my first 5 string 2 years ago. I've had LaBella flats on it, now I have TI flats. I just got a second 5 string that's pretty much this bass's twin brother so I could put rounds on it. As I look for strings, I noticed that B strings range from .119 to .135 depending on brand, etc.

    I'm looking for any opinions, facts, feelings, etc. about B strings. What B strings intonate well? Do you like them light or heavy and why? I'm primarily a fingerstyle player, but have been known to throw down some slap every once in a while. I like compression and overdrive, which string choice can have an impact on on. I'm mostly looking for information on roundwounds, as I'm pretty happy with the flatwounds I'm using.
     
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  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I like thicker, looking for that certain tone. I uptune DR DDTs to normal BEADG (.145 on the B, if I recall).
     
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  3. ixlramp

    ixlramp Guest

    Jan 25, 2005
    Traditionally Bs are the loosest in a set. Equalising the tension with the E gives these pairs:
    120 90
    125 95
    135 100
    140 105
    145 110
     
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  4. kkaarrll

    kkaarrll

    Jun 1, 2014
    explain?
     
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  5. guroove

    guroove

    Oct 13, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    What about stepped windings on the B string? It seems a lot of people say this causes some intonation problems.
     
  6. Aidil

    Aidil

    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    you mean tapered B string? On the contrary, I find tapered B string helps the intonation settings, especially when stringed thru body.
     
  7. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    Are you using strings with an extra-long taper (like what Lakland uses) for this? Most of the tapered/exposed strings are designed only long enough to be top-load; stringing those thru-body usually negates any benefit of the taper.
     
  8. Here's what @ixlramp means...

    The .120 B string would have roughly the same tension as the .090 E string.
    The .125 B string would have roughly the same tension as the .095 E string.
    ...and so forth.
     
  9. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    B strings are still a bit of a black art despite having been around for a while. The average off the shelf set will have a .125 or .130 B, which under most circumstances is too light unless you have a 35" scale neck. The problem is that a .135, .140, or .145 is hard to get, and even if it sits in the nut slot or bridge, it will sound funny because of the total density of the string. That can be alleviated by tapers, but those don't fit every neck and every bridge.
    I love the sound of down tuned instruments, but I hate dealing with the alchemy of making it work.
     
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  10. Based on what I've read, the tapered string is most effective only when the tapered portion is just long enough to clear the saddle; the taper that extends too far beyond the saddle can cause intonation problems. Is this right?

    This would mean a tapered string designed for thru-body shouldn't be used for top-loading, correct?
     
  11. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    Exactly. A "standard" taper is about 1.5" or so long (give or take), which just clears the saddle on a top-load bridge. While you "can" use that thru-body, the full diameter of the string will be over the bridge saddle at that point, negating any real benefit.

    Lakland uses a 3" or so taper on their B string, which is long enough for thru-body bridges and still clear the saddle before the full diameter of the string comes into play. And while you "can" install this tapered string top-load, you're looking at almost 2" between the saddle and where the full diameter starts. That part is usually over a pickup, which is why there are reported intonation/sound issues.
     
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  12. Aidil

    Aidil

    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    I don't even know there is such extra-long taper... well, maybe except for that RotoSound Superwound PSD 99 which has adjustable ballends.

    I had used long scale D'Addario HalfRounds on my Cort Artisan A6 with tapered .130T single string for low B (now it's strung with GHS Pressurewound). This bass is equipped with Hipshot Trans Tone Bridge in which I opted to string the strings thru body. The taper of the .130T low B string started about 3~5 mm after the saddle.

    Before that, on my late ESP LTD D6, I used tapered low B 130TW and E 110TW strings from Fender 8250-5M set. This bass had bridge which strings could only be strung thru body (or else I would loose the string thru body ferules). The taper of the E string also started about 3~5 mm after the saddle, but the taper of the B string was barely passed the saddle, but at least the intonation could be set properly. With the factory SIT Strings .125 non-taper low B string, I couldn't intonate the low B as it was asking the saddle to be pushed further away towards the end of the bridge while the bridge itself had already run out of saddle adjustment space. When I swapped it with Fender's TW string, the intonation was easily set, and even I had to move the saddle slightly toward the neck from the last position when it was still using factory string (which intonation couldn't be set properly).
     
  13. ixlramp

    ixlramp Guest

    Jan 25, 2005
    > And while you "can" install this tapered string top-load, you're looking at almost 2" between the saddle and where the full diameter starts. That part is usually over a pickup, which is why there are reported intonation/sound issues.

    Taper point near a pickup is not the main problem (and may only affect volume) it's more because the string no longer has a constant 'mass per unit length' throughout it's length, and therefore vibrates less harmonically and intonates strangely, this is also why having the taper point as close to the saddle as possible (as Kalium Strings do) helps with harmonicity and intonation.
     
  14. RickyT

    RickyT

    May 29, 2015
    Dee Why
    I played 130's for about 17 years and only recently swapped to 135's.

    They feel and sound a lot better to me.
     
  15. Toptube

    Toptube

    Feb 9, 2009
    Kalium strings are some of the best B strings, as they construct them to help alleviate the dullness you often get, from a fat string. You can also get just about any gauge possible.

    I also really like GHS Progressives for a B. You can special order singles. GHS has a slightly thicker core wire than some other brands. And the core wire in Progressives seems a little stiffer, as well. In total, creates a more positive feel, for the same final guage size. The Alloy 52 outer wrap also helps keep the B string sounding good and loud.

    I think Kaliums are Alloy 52 or something similar, as well. (Allohy 52 is more magnetic, creates more volume).
     
  16. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    Interesting you say that, as the Progressives have a slightly smaller core wire than the GHS standard, which would put the Progressives closer to the feel of other companies out there.


    Can't vouch for Kalium, but that's exactly what Progressives are made out of. Alloy 52 is nickel-iron, so the magnetic properties definitely "play well" with pickups.
     
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  17. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member


    @Jon Moody are Progressives available in 30-95 with shorter winding than 38"?
     
  18. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    Yes and no.

    Meaning, the 95 (and up) is available in a 36.5" and 38" winding length as it's the one that is going to matter the most. Anything under 85 is only available in 38" winding length.
     
  19. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Very good. Yeah the E string would be the only concern. I'll look into ordering singles from BSO.
     
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Low action, .120 - .125 B strings on all of my fives and sixes. I find that the lighter gauges are easier to control, less work and sound phenomenal. YMMV
     
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