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Not Happy With Quality of Fretted E on Low B-String

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Misterwogan, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. I'm a day into my new Yamaha BB425 and very happy with it I am too - my first fiver.

    But - I've been playing stuff that requires a low E and what I'm finding is that the sound and quality of the fretted E is not doing it for me.

    It's much the same as with a C on the 8th fret of the E string on a 4 string bass. It has it's place, but is not suitable for say 8th notes picked where I would use the C on fret 3 of the A string.

    Now I'm thinking, why have a 5-string at all if I'm not going to use the fretted E.

    Question: why do you prefer to use the fretted E over the open E?
  2. bassie12


    Aug 23, 2008
    In me experience, no note on the B string that is available on any other string sounds better on the B string. 30+ years as a recording engineer and MANY basses with B strings have taught me this. The reasons this is true involve string physics, magnetic interference/fields, scale length and common sense. The great players know this and don't hang on the B string except for the notes only available on the B string or to facilitate wide and technically inconvenient intervals.

    I remember a session over 20 years ago when the bassist brought in an amazing Fodera 6 string. He insisted on playing an 8th note groove on the "F" on the B string. Sounded like A$$. When he tried playing it on the E string at my suggestion, the band, the producer, arranger, and artist(singer) liked the E string better, but as the session wore on he went back to the A$$ sounding note on the B string. When the producer questioned this he shrugged and mumbled something about how expensive the bass was.The issue was with the player not knowing what do with the bass. The bass was more than fine. That bass has since changed hands and I've recorded it at least a hundred times: Sounds great because the guy playing it knows what to do with it.

    That said, there ARE instruments that have better sounding B strings. You have to sift through many to find the great ones.

    As always, YMMV.
  3. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always puts some stank on it Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    The notes on the B string are often boomy, and suitable for certain situations. However, even I tend to chose the other strings over a note higher on the B string. Its just another tool to be used when needed, really.

    If you want sustain, stay away from the B string. If you want a large sounding, boomy note or two, then play on the B string.
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Every note on every string will sound different than that same note on a different string. It is an artistic decision which to choose in which situation. Since you are new to 5-string I highly recommend some private lessons with an experienced 5-string expert. :)
  5. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Get a better B string, go get a Dingwall.
  6. I've noticed the same thing and tend to steer clear of anything above an Eb on the B string. I love my bass, and the tone of notes lower than E on it, but the boominess that someone else described has changed my technique. Just like where I pluck the strings. I used to hang out closer to the bridge, but realizing that I get a clearer tone and more sustain by plucking over the bridge pickup I made myself re-learn where to play. You gottan do what sounds best to you. You don't have to play any notes on the B string above Eb if they don't sound good, unless it's required by the line you're playing.
  7. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    I actually prefer playing E, F, and G on the B string. I find it easier to play lines from this position as opposed to the same line from the E string. I see your points regarding boominess but I think if you are careful with your technique, you can minimize this problem.

    When I was in the studio, the B string from my Alembic was never a problem and I didn't think twice using it.

  8. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    For B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb.
  9. I understand the problem. One aspect is the bass. I just switched to a Lakland for 5-string because the B string sounds much better than it did on my previous 5'er. The other aspect is your choices. I still use the E and A strings when they are available in most cases, but not all. Last practice we did a Chuck Berry type shuffle that's in Bb and you have to play a lot of notes fast. The easist place to play it is the Bb on the B string, right below the octave, because the smaller fret spacing up there facilitates it. It makes it easy to play and sounds fine for that song, kind of like an upright actually. But that's the exception rather than the rule for me.
  10. I've never played anything in D in my life. Guitar or Bass.
  11. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Bragging, or a cry for help? :D
  12. A miserable attempt at sounding superior actually.

    Correction: 1976, John Denver's "Annie's Song" on an acoustic guitar. I rest my case.
  13. Then you don't need the five. You've talked yourself out of it. Some people are pretty happy with limitations placed on them by themselves or others. Take it from an avid Mac user.:p
  14. You're right of course. I've spent the day playing Foo Fighters, Thin Lizzy, Journey...

    In every case I've reverted to the open E.

    Yamaha back in box, return authorised.

    Right, next challenge...
  15. datsaxguy


    Oct 28, 2008
    I prefer to use it becuase its an easier choice within the line I'm playing or it just fits the song.

    Basses with a tight B string allow me to use the fretted E more than ones that are floppy.
  16. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always puts some stank on it Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    Well this thread served no real purpose.
  17. It's been my experience with B's that, the larger they are, the more the sound different when fretted above the 5th Fret. I went to Fender 9050 5 string flats, which have a 128 B, and it still sounds different there, but no as much as my 132 D'ad did.
  18. I've spent time looming in the DB forums and it's considered bad technique (and manners) to play any string open other than the E. Translate that etiquette to a five string and it applies to the B.
  19. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    ^ zing! ;)

    (loved your comment about mac users too)
  20. I feel this comes down to tension more than anything. While the notes on my Spector B strings sound different than fretting on the E or A, they're still quite usable and not garbage. With the right set of strings, you can make them VERY usable.

    Every note in every position has a use. I use open notes a fair bit, and you honestly can't tell without looking at me while I play. It's not bad technique, it's just different.