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No reason why a 34" bass cannot have a good B string

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by DonaldR, Nov 11, 2012.

  1. DonaldR


    Mar 26, 2012
    I'm looking to buy a new 5-6 string bass because a lot of new songs I'm learning have lower notes than E. I have a Hipshot Xtender on one of my bass and it's working well for songs in drop D (a bit sloppy although).

    So before spending some cash I decided to try BEAD tuning on another bass, a 78" BC Rich Mockingbird USA. So I bought a new 5-string set of DR Hi-Beam with 130 B string. Surprise the B string is rock solid, same as other strings. It's also easier to play (mentally) than I would have thought.

    My conclusion: 34" scale bass can have as good a B string as a 35" scale bass.
  2. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    i do not prefer the extra tension on a 35 inch scale bass.
    i like a little give in my strings but most players like the added tension it seems.
  3. Huge

    Huge Hell is full of musical amateurs. Like me.

    Dec 2, 2005
  4. El-Bob

    El-Bob Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    Hamilton, ON
    No question about it. My 34" Warwick has a B that sounds and feels just like all the other strings through a decent amp. Running through a 2x10 combo, or my 4x10 cab, it's excellent and I'm not even using a particularly heavy gauge (.136 circle K balanced set). Some people just have terrible luck with B strings, I think.
  5. DonaldR


    Mar 26, 2012
    It was good to experiment because the only parameter that changed was the B string itself. And since I was not sure I would adapt to a 5 string, this was a fairly inexpensive test also ($10).
  6. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    The 34" B is can be tight and responsive but there is a certain point where they all get "wolfy" notes or whatever you want to call them as you go up the register, that is the benefit of the add length.

    I have yet to see a 34" bass that didn't have overtones as you went up the neck, including Warwick, Roscoe, Carvin, Fender, and many others. Some just went further than others, some go to the second octave before they get overtones, some go to the 5th fret and start to get them.
  7. El-Bob

    El-Bob Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    Hamilton, ON
    I will admit that this is true of my 'wick after about the 9th or 10th fret on the B. I tend to find that it's actually less noticeable in live settings as well. Far from a deal breaker for me, but I can see how it would bother some.
  8. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Oh most definitely not a deal breaker, you get a B string for the first 5 frets really. My Carvin does it from the 12th fret on, the 15th is really bad. It does get buried in the mix, and the likelihood I am actually playing there is so slim it doesn't affect me. A tight open B is the most important thing for me, I love my Carvin even with its one flaw.

    I am just saying there is a reason for 35" scale, and the reason 37" scale is optimum, that is why Dingwall has a B that cannot be beat.
  9. musicman666


    Sep 11, 2011
    Its just an inch!
  10. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    i agree-i am a fellow dingwallian...
    the DW`s are interesting because they do not feel overly long; has to do with the inch and a half of scale length eaten up at the bridge where it really goes unnoticed.
    doesn`t feel any larger than a 34 incher to me.
    yes the B rules.
  11. lowfreqgeek


    Mar 15, 2010
    Albuquerque, NM
    Endorsing Artist: Regenerate Guitar Works, Honey Badger Pickups, Westone Audio
    This is a matter of pickup height and overall setup, not scale length. If the magnetic pull of the pickups is too much, it causes the overtones. It's most noticeable on the B-string because the mass of the string is more affected by the magnetic field of the pickups. As you fret higher up the neck, the strings get closer to the pickups, causing more overtones.

    I've dealt with that issue on both 35" and 34" scale basses (the 35" being the absolute worst) getting everything set up right eliminated the problems, regardless of scale length.
  12. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    i spoke with my longtime luthier about this; he is a legend in these parts.
    he mentioned that a lot of 34 inch basses with B strings seem to be flawed for all sorts of reasons that i do not fully comprehend.
    i did recently take my 35 inch six string in there recently to have him do some work and he said that this bass had an exceptional B and E string.
    the physics behind stringed instruments are very interesting indeed.
  13. A thinner gauge B string helps a lot with wolfy sound above the 5th fret. I have a .125 one and also is more focused.

    I wonder how a .120 would sound / feel.
  14. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    Likewise. My Ibanez SRA305 is great, playing way above its price level.

    Wolfy B: turn down the neck pickup B side one turn. It really won't affect the rest of the strings, and if it does, then raise the G side 1/2 turn.

    For the best balance of fundamental and overtones, I have found that a pickup in relatively the same position as the D-G segment of a P pickup works the best.
  15. klegdixal


    Sep 19, 2012
    Poznan, Poland

    the paper is prolly TL;DR but in short
    inharmonicity is an inherent property of any real string.
    detuning of string's partials can be described as related to diameter^4/(length^2*tension) formula
    in other words increasing length helps and also allows using strings with the same tension but lower diameter or same diameter and higher tension. which also helps.

    as a side note inharmonicity is also related to Young's modulus of the string. ie. it is possible to build a decently sounding bass with a very short scale given very elastic, eg. rubber strings. U-bass anyone? ;)
  16. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    There are plenty of builders out there that have proven that they can build a quality 34" scale bass with a strong B string. If yours can't....ask him why not...... ;)
  17. Cool! I have a '76 M-bird strung B E A D as well. I think it plays better strung with a B than E A D G. PLus, with the 24 frets Ive got all the high notes Ill ever need.
  18. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    It may seem counterintuitive at first...but I think you're right: a lighter-gauge "B" string remains more playable, and sounds better than a heavier-gauge "B", as one moves up the neck. :meh:

    Being relatively new to the five-string world, most of my fivers are still string with medium-gauge strings - with a .125" "B" string - at least until I decide to experiment a bit more. But two of my instruments - my Carvin Bromberg signature models - are strung with light-gauge strings, including a .120" "B".

    While I haven't conducted any serious listening tests, and I'm quite pleased with the performance of the "B" string on all my five-string instruments, it does seem that my Bromberg basses remain especially articulate - even on the "B" strings - way up above the 12th fret. :meh:

  19. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    If its a very well made 34 scale bass with very articulate pups that have zero mud then yes. The 78 mock would be such a bass btw. Otherwise no. Fender fivers are good example of consistently weak floppy sounding low B imo. Theres very few basses with low b that impress me btw and good 90% of them have been 35 scale.
  20. The SR505 I played at GC the other day had a great low b and it was 34" and had a super skinny neck.