Recipe for a great low-B string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by darwin-bass, Dec 20, 2014.

  1. darwin-bass

    darwin-bass Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2013
    Salem OR
    Yea, I know 35" scale. But I don't WANT to play 35" scale. I want great low-B performance from a 34" scale. What things have you found that contribute to a clear, sustained low-B tone?

    Here's my recipe.
    • Maple fingerboard.
    • Ash body.
    • Extra rigid neck (steel or graphite bars, thick profile, 1/4 sawn)
    BUT - it also tends to produce a bright sounding bass. Hmmm.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014
  2. BassDaddy77


    Feb 12, 2010
    NE Ohio
    I've recently read that using a tapered B along with an added string retainer will tighten things up for a 34" scale fiver. I haven't tried this myself, but it seems logical.
  3. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    Rigid neck indeed but a rigid assembly of the neck is the most important, the reason why so many older Fenders have a poor B string.
    People also tend to use strings too small. For a well defined B .130 or .135 are the least you should use.
  4. Gougedeye

    Gougedeye Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2008
    Central Washington
    Honestly not trying to be a smart-ass here, How about getting a 34" scale bass that is known for its great B string? Sadowsky has a great reputation, as does Xotic, Nordstrand, A-C and many more. Personally, I have a Fender American Deluxe Jazz V with a great sounding B string! Focused, articulate and balanced with the rest of the strings... I always string through the body and use .130 or .135 B strings. Currently and most often, my bass is strung with DR Sunbeams.
    carsonchilders and TMARK like this.
  5. darwin-bass

    darwin-bass Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2013
    Salem OR
    Yes - I wasn't really asking about building a bass but about knowing what things to look for when purchasing one. My Carvin SB5000 has a very good low-B string but the LB-75 I had years ago was terrible.

    Actually, I have 2 Carvins. One is ash/maple the other alder/rosewood. The latter might (not sure) be lacking the graphite bars. The ash/maple bass has an overall brighter / clearer tone and the low B rings more clearly. The alder/rosewood bass is warmer sounding and the low B is good but the warm sound of the instrument tends to make the note a tad less focused.
  6. Lonnybass


    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    How about starting with a stiffer string, like DR Lo-Riders (hex core) and a good setup?

    Zooberwerx likes this.
  7. Bobster


    Mar 27, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Balanced tension string set!!!

    This makes a real difference.

    All the best,

  8. Strings and a rigid neck. My Cliff Bordwell 34" scale 6 is quite nice, as is my 32" scale 7. My 35" scale Rob Allens and Conklin as still very impressive.
  9. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    My recipe : heavy strings. get a .140 or .145 low B :D
  10. bramhc

    bramhc Inactive

    Jan 31, 2014
    Don't forget to calibrate the pickups. The higher pickups distance from the strings, the tone is more clearer.
  11. Tapered B string and balanced set.
    Circle K works great , for me.
    Squier Affinity, .142 B string.
    jallenbass likes this.
  12. Ric5

    Ric5 Inactive

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses
    Recipe for a great low-B string?

    1 - First and foremost ... a good setup. Flatten out your neck and lower the action.
    2 - turn up the mids and not the bass.
    3 - A lighter and not a heavier B string. .125 works better than a .135. Fatter strings make it too boomy
    4 - 35" scale does very little to improve a low B

    I play 5 string Rickenbackers with 33.25" scale and lighter strings and they have great low B strings.

    I think the fatter string approach comes from 4 string players who want to get the modern sound without actually having a low B. They use fatter strings and turn up the bass to get the harmonic content and fatter tone when then play a B, C and D notes on their 4 string bass. When you add the low B and still use that approach the low notes become boomy and undefined and don't sit well in the mix.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014
    ii7-V7, carsbybigd and rafitoprtx like this.
  13. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    quality construction all around.

    every detail of materials and construction adds up to the whole. a maple fingerboard/ash body bass thats built poorly won't have a great B string.

    i've played several 33" basses with excellent B strings. none of them had any woods i can recall in common- one was a cherry body, maple/purpleheart neck.. the other was a 3 piece wenge neck with a mahogany body.. ext.. a good quality instrument will have a good quality sound throughout all registers.
  14. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    there are so many factors and they don't always work in practise as they do in theory.
    Reggie Hamilton likes this.
  15. shaft311


    Apr 13, 2010
    Mt. Juliet, TN
    I have not had a Warwick or Stingray that didn't do well with Low B. All my basses have Hipshot Xtenders as well, and Low A isn't a problem, either.

    Listen to some 311. P-Nut is always low-B'n it. The Urge - Karl Grable uses the low B on his Stingrays just as much.

    There are plenty of others. Those are the ones I have experience with.

    I like DR Hi Beam medium strings.
  16. Ric5

    Ric5 Inactive

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses
    Yes ... because different people have different concepts of what a "Good B String" is.

    Also are you playing Metal, Country, Gospel, Classic Rock, Modern Rock, Hip Hop.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014
  17. Ric5

    Ric5 Inactive

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses

    Those basses are well known for a good low B
  18. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    35" is less a factor than consistent solid construction throught. A stiff stable neck does no good if it slops around where it joins the body. Maple/rosewood/ebony varies enough to not be a consistently predictor. I hate tapered strings, too twangy. Others swear by them.

    My 5 is a Lakland Skyline 56-01. 35" scale, solidly built, DR Sunbeams 45/65/85/105/130 non-tapered carefully set up, including pickup adjustmnt. It's one of few 5-strings where the B sounds like it's the same instrument as the others. But most StingRay 5s and whatever G&L 5s I've played (don't recall the models) which are 34" are also balanced with solid B.

  19. CGremlin


    Nov 1, 2014
    Palm Bay, FL
    For me, having heavier strings helps because the increased tension keeps the low B from being quite so floppy as it is with lighter strings, and thus easier to control.
    MaxJJK likes this.
  20. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Different types of set-ups work well for different techniques, I don't believe there's one optimal solution for every player. Lots of players are happy with their B strings regardless of scale length, string size, etc.
    like-a-resh likes this.