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Muted B string

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by ferrum, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. ferrum


    Jan 16, 2012
    I recently picked up a used five string fretless (G&L L-2500). Came essentially set up (but detuned) for low action, equipped with practically new D'Addario half rounds (extra long scale, through the body), 45-130.

    I had to do some tweaks to the string height on a couple strings to make sure I could get full sound at higher fret positions. The A string was particularly muted around the 9th fret position and up (it couldn't vibrate at all), and the B rattled a little against the fingerboard from the 5th on.... I raised the string height for both of those using the saddle adjustment, retuned, and all was well. Instrument sounds great.

    However, with more playing I've noticed the B string doesn't give a lot of "oomph" when pressed against the fingerboard. It gets worse the farther I go down the fingerboard (higher "frets"), starting becoming particularly noticeable between fifth and sixth fret position and getting worse all the way up. The note has poor sustain and minimal bass, just sounding a bit muted and tinny. When playing a fifth "fret" E on the B string, it sounds less full than the open E string. No other strings have that kind of problem. Open string, the B sounds fabulous. Full and deep.

    I feel like there's something simple I'm missing, but I can't figure it out. As noted above, the B is 130. Any ideas?
  2. ferrum


    Jan 16, 2012
    Bump. I'm new to both fretless and 5 string, so I'm working off of limited knowledge here...is this expected with half rounds and a fretless instrument?
  3. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    I don't have a fretless but I had a similar experience with my L-2500. Completely eliminated the problem with a set of Sadowsky Blue Labels with a tapered B.

    My B now has huge sustain all the way through the first 7 frets, great clarity, and good enough once you get into the higher frets.

    Other things you can do: Make sure your pickup's aren't too close to the strings. Make sure your neck bolts are just tight enough to hold the neck to the body.....no more. Also do the bridge mod per the G&L website, which amounts to plugging the thru-body holes and top loading........you'll do that anyway with a tapered B.

    Just my experience. I had some pretty bad dead spots, but made improvements.....but the tapered B completely transformed the B string.

    Maybe this doesn't apply to a fretless, if so.....disregard. But this might point you in a helpful direction.
  4. ferrum


    Jan 16, 2012
    Good info, thanks. What characteristics of those strings do you think eliminated the problem? Was it just the tapered B?

    I've already had pickup height on my list to investigate, but haven't checked it out in-depth. Are you aware of any guidelines for pickup height to avoid interference (how far they should be from the string)?
  5. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    I'm not a tech guy, I only do what I have to do.

    Check the G&L website for string height issue. I have mine about as low as they'll go, but my saddles are really low as well. The pickups are "hot" and don't need to be close at all. But again, I'm no expert, just messed around until it works. I have very little bow in my neck as well with the first and last fret pressed there is just the slightest gap in the middle.

    Lot's of things made little differences, but as far as I can tell it was just the tapered B with regard to the string. I tried various B strings from .130 to .119 and they were all pretty "thuddy" until I went to the tapered Sadowsky .130. I haven't tried any other tapered strings yet.

    I'm not usually a fan of "magic cures", and every bass is a bit different I suppose, but the tapered B completely transformed the B on my L-2500.
  6. ferrum


    Jan 16, 2012
    Do you have your tapered B string through the body, or bridge?
  7. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    Through body or not should make little difference - the difference in tone will be where the taper falls.

    If the taper lands on the saddle the string will be more detailed and articulate. If the full thickness rests on the saddle the fundamental will be more pronounced and harmonics will be a bit choked.
  8. ferrum


    Jan 16, 2012
    Well, I actually asked because I just received my replacement B string—D'Addario .130 half round tapered, super long scale (Sadowsky doesn't carry half rounds).

    I haven't had the chance to put it on yet, but the tapered portion seemed pretty short and like it might not make it to the saddle if through the body. I was just wondering if that's normal—might just be my eyes playing tricks on me.
  9. Dominic DeCosa

    Dominic DeCosa Habitual Line-Stepper Commercial User

    Mar 9, 2008
    Vero Beach, Florida
    DiCosimo Audio
  10. ferrum


    Jan 16, 2012
    Ok, so I installed the D'Addario .130 tapered half round replacement string and completely solved my remaining issues.

    I already had my bass set up by a tech, which helped some of my issues, but the string still wasn't as strong as I had hoped. The tapered string made it much strong, and much more balanced with the other strings. I still get a little muting around the 7th fret position, but it's still strong enough there to be playable.

    Thanks for the tips everyone!

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