Low B or high C

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Porteroliver, Feb 25, 2014.

  1. Porteroliver


    Feb 9, 2014
    pheonix AZ
    So, I've recently acquired a 5 string bass. It already has a string set with a low B, but it rings alot, I don't use it, much, and it doesn't sound too good on my amp, and I more often want to go higher rather than lower. Would You recommend a string set with a high C, or should I just stay with the B string?
  2. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I would recommend a good set of strings that doesn't carry a floppy, undefined low B.
    The interest of a high C quickly vanished over time, while the low B becomes more and more interesting as you discover its uses.
    comatosedragon likes this.
  3. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Go with what you like.

    If you have use for a high C, and find that the B string isn't working for you, why ask other people for their opinion?
  4. radioface


    May 2, 2013
    Dump the 5 and get a 6.
  5. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Whichever way you decide to go, your choice of strings - number and type - should be determined by your musical needs, first and foremost. If you don't use the "B" string much because it doesn't figure into those needs, that's one thing. But if you don't use it much because you don't know how to use it, then that's a different consideration altogether - in which case you might be compromising your musical effectiveness long term, over something that is very temporary in nature. :eyebrow:

    The fact that you report your "B" string "rings a lot" tells me that you don't yet know how to use it (i.e. apply muting techniques, etc.). Therefore I suspect you may be judging the potential of the five-string bass in standard tuning rashly and superficially - without having first given it a chance.

  6. Are you sure it's your amp?
    B-strings are not all created equal.
    Try LaBella or Circle K Strings and just see if the B-string suddenly sounds awesome ;)

    I tune F# or lower (D0 18.35hz) on my 6-string.
  7. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Digital Brand Development and Product Development at GHS Strings

    I have two basses (a 5 and a 6) with a low B, and two fretlesses (both 6) are strung E-high F. Different applications require different voicings.
  8. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    I bought a 30" scale fretless bass & will be adding s 5th string & it will be a C for obvious reasons. If I had to choose it would be a C over a B. (Both of my 34" scale fretted basses are 6 stringers.)

    As others write, it depends on you'd preferences & need. If you do jazz & solo, or aspire to learn to solo, that C string comes in very handy-particularly for singing, melodic improvisations. (For me striving to solo melodically is, to a degree, compensation for having limited speed.)

    Two great jazz bassists that play 5 stringers with a high C are Dominique di Piazza & Steve Swallow, both making solo work a priority.

    If you are mostly in the accompanying role & play mostly rock/pop, then the B will come in handy. For my tastes I'd go for C over B, but that's just a subjective musical choice. Yeah, 6 strings give you the best of both worlds.
  9. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Try plugging it into a different amp/rig. Some rigs just don't reproduce what's needed for the low B.
    Could be a muting thing as mentioned above.
    Or, just may need a different type of B string to match your bass and rig.
    But, it mostly depends whether you need the Low B or prefer a C for chords, etc.
  10. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    Curious, what kind of cabinet do you use to resolve that low F#?

    To my knowledge the only company that can do justice to an 18hz fundamental is Bag End. I've never heard them, but they're supposed to get 8 cycles flat (how significantly far away at how many decibels?).

    Most pro audio speakers are built mainly to be efficient & won't even do justice to a low b at 30hz. (My SWR Goliath III gets 40hz at -3db, I'm ecstatic about that, as it's rare.)

    Of course, the bass guitar's fundamental isn't that prominent, actually pretty weak. It's the first harmonic an octave above the fundamental that's much stronger, though it's still better to hear what's there of the fundamental. Many popular cabinets are -3db at 63 to 70 plus cycles. Not good.
  11. esa372

    esa372 Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    High-C for me.

    When I got my 5-string (fretless), I used it with a low-B for about 18 months, but it never felt right... couldn't bond with it.

    Then I got the bright idea to switch to E-C tuning, and it fits like a glove; the bass is right for me, now, and does exactly what I want it to.

  12. Remus_Redbone


    Dec 27, 2010
    Western AR
    I tried a high C on my fretless 5. I found it to be just something to reach across when trying to play A & E strings. I went back to "B" and use it as much for a thumb rest as I do for playing. Not saying I don't use it, I just play music that doesn't require it much, but I do play it at least 3 times more than I played the high C.
  13. Marvingravey


    Feb 25, 2014
    I play a lot of new age stuff at shows. Low b all the way to get the extra low bass that's being used now a days.

    Warwick corvette standard five string
    Squire by fender five string (custom)
  14. So is your Goliath III unsuitable for D#1 (38.89hz) it seems silly to think a half step would make or break your tone.
    No matter what cabinet I use I'm cutting low-end out of my signal at 40hz to help with clarity, some cabinets simply do that for me :rolleyes:
  15. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003

    I struggled with this for years.
    If you don't know right off the bat, which you prefer. (B or C)
    Then you need a 6-string. :D
  16. I struggle between C#F#BEAD(sub) and EADGBE(bass VI) does that mean I need a 9-string?
  17. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    Actually, I boost my signal at 30 hz to enhance the deep gut level impact. I try to make the timbre the same with low b as low e, w/o low e sounding muddy with the low bass boost. I simply go by my own taste & perception of what seems close to flat down to b. The truth is, again, that most of what your hearing is that first harmonic partial an octave above the fundamental though.

    There is a registered TB user 'knucklehead", who brought Bag End cabs to my attention, and I am curious about them. He seems to feel people are missing out when they don't get to hear even what little of those low fundamentals exist.

    I have no personal knowledge of DDT going way down. I am very happy with my low b.

    Incidently, I do know that the 16hz to 32hz range on a pipe organs pedals is used in octave unison only to reinforce the 32hz to 64hz octave above it. The lowest C (by itself) isn't audibly identifiable as a C. It sounds like a vague, breathy sounding F. When that low C is used in conjunction with the C an octave above it, you certainly feel the difference. The whole church shakes. All musicians should have a church organist demonstrate this with a decent church organ if possible.
  18. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    Also, I have absolutely no idea why low C (about 16hz) sounds like F. Even on an old electronic Allen organ (simulating a pipe organ) has a low C that sounds like a breathy F if not played in unison octaves.

    My recollection is that the lowest D sounds like a G (by itself on a pipe organ) but the lowest E sounds like an E. I'm sure some TB user is award of this phenomenon & can explain it.
  19. beate_r


    Jan 25, 2012
    that has actually been my motivation to change the low B for a high C on my fretless.

    Despite of the need to deal with "technical limitations" - isn't it just the other way - speed is too often just a compensation for lack of melodic ideas? (Of course, ideally, technical virtuosity and melodic creativity would go hand in hand...)

    mmm, then every bass with more than 4 strings is actually overkill, isn't it? At least most of the "classic material" has been played on 4 strings basses.
  20. i have two 5 string basses, one with low B, Dingwall AB-I, one with high C, Bongo HS.