Scale vs Stability for BEAD

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by McSollis, Aug 19, 2017.

  1. McSollis


    Jan 1, 2011
    I'm looking to tune down a bass to BEAD (or lower). I've got a Squier VM Jazz that I love, but isn't quite cutting it tuned that low.

    Of all my options, right now I'm entertaining the idea of upgrading it to a wenge neck from Warmoth for increased stability and rigidity, or just buying a new bass with 35" scale (maybe a 4 string BTB since those are coming back?).

    I like the tone of several wenge neck basses I've heard, and I like jazz basses... but is upgrading to a sturdier neck going to make as much difference as going to a 35" scale bass? Does anyone make a 35" scale jazz bass that's under $1000?

    Look forward to hearing some thoughts. Thanks in advance!
  2. Well, in what way is the Squier not cutting it? What strings did you use for BEAD tuning? What gauge? Did you file the nut? Did you set up the bass after tuning to BEAD?
    TheSeagoats and scourgeofgod like this.
  3. McSollis


    Jan 1, 2011

    I did set up the Squier with appropriate strings for B tuning, filed the nut out, etc. The problem is that in order to get a set up with minimal buzz and notes that ring out well, I'm having to crank up the action a pretty high. I can and have been playing on it quite a bit, but would like to get a slightly more comfortable set up.

    The bigger reason it's not cutting it is that every note on the B string sounds muddy, especially when recording. I really want something with more clarity in the lower notes.
  4. AndreasR


    Oct 23, 2012
    Before you buy a new bass: did you adjust your technique? Play it a bit softer, closer to the bridge, make sure you don't get vibrations perpendicular to the fretboard.

    Also, back off a bit on the neck PU, go more towards the bridge.

    Would be a waste of money if the problem might not be the bass.
  5. Sid the Kid

    Sid the Kid Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2013
    35" 4 string jazz basses aren't terribly common. I only know of 1 off hand and it is in your price range. Slap a J-Retro preamp in it and it would still be under 1k.

    Bacchus Global Series - WL-435 - 35" Scale 4 String Bass - Candy Apple Red

    I believe the seller posts in the Bazaar section of the classifieds from time to time. Perhaps you could get a Talkbass family discount as well?
  6. Sounds like you need a truss rod adjustment. But most importantly, you need a bigger B-string! Most companies make a B that is way too thin.

    It's still hard to say much without knowing what strings you used, what gauges, and whether it was set up properly
    Nev375 likes this.
  7. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    As a guy that has spent a lot of time messing with BEAD tuning, I will tell you that a 35 scale really helps. However, it isn't the only factor. Sometimes if the pickups are a little scooped the lower tuning of a B gets too boomy. You need some good mids to be heard that low. Also, your bridge plays a factor in that the string may not be resting in the saddle well enough for good contact, or the string is coming in at a weird angle to manage the action height vs intonation.
    As others have pointed out, the strings are very important. That will take a lot of time to get right once you have the right instrument. Personally I prefer a .120 or .125 DR Lo Rider for a little extra stiffness. I'm still in the fence about nickle or steel.
    el_Bajo_Verde likes this.
  8. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    As said, a bigger string gauge on the B might help with this, as strings with more tension on them do not move as much as they vibrate.

    It sounds to me though as if your bass is in need of a fret leveling if you cannot get a reasonably low action on it. I tune to BEAD on my main axe (MIM P) and the action is too low for most other people to handle, so it's definitely possible - but it's also a matter of technique. The softer you play, the lower you can get.

    I recommend looking into fret leveling because I've encountered a problem like this on a guitar of mine - done the leveling myself, but I would only ever do it again on cheapos because of cosmetic issues (my neck looks like you gave a file to a left-handed monkey, but it plays really well now).
  9. Aloe


    Apr 10, 2016
    34" scale is generally ok for low B. there sometimes exist basses with nice low B that are even shorter.

    on the high action -- gauge matters (I was not able to set up an action that was not high on my 34" with a .125, but was with .130). but also true is that thinner strings generally tend to be brighter.

    more on "B string sounds muddy" -- it _will_ sound different then the E one. some will be trebly and high action, some more boomy and with lower action. there are a lot of things involved in getting a great low B, including your amplification stack. increased scale (and thus increased tension) may help. or not.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2017
    ajkula66 likes this.
  10. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Will not happen with any 34" or 35". You have to do something like this:




    Fanned fret or multiscale. Make sure the B of the EAD is at at least 36" or longer. Especially if you're going to go down lower than B.
  11. I think longer scale does help on sub $1000 basses. The 35" ESP with EMGs I had sounded better than any 34" bass I've had that cost less than a grand. So that might be the ticket for the OP. I play a Warwick thumb NT6 and have had a lot of warwicks and musicmans that were 34" and had great low B strings. That said they are considerably more expensive so you expect them to be great
  12. McSollis


    Jan 1, 2011
    I play almost exclusively over the bridge pup in this tuning; and this does help, but unfortunately with the music I am using this tuning for, aggressive pick style playing is what gets me the tone I want or (closest to it). Playing lighter clears the buzz up some, but is not the sound I'm going after... that's why I'm looking to upgrade options.
  13. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    If I could only own 36 basses what would they be?
    Most 5 string basses are 34" scale and do just fine ... So what is wrong here?

    I find that a flat neck and lighter strings make for a good low B string. A lot of people think a fatter string and a longer scale is the only way to get a good low B. My experience is that is not the best way to go. 35" scale is great if you have long fingers, if not then 34" can work fine.

    I use D'addario super light strings on all of my 5 string basses. 125-95-75-60-40 ... the lighter strings bring out the mid overtones. Mids are the best way to get good tone on a low B because the fundamental on the low B is near the bottom of the hearing range for a human.

    You might also try DGCF.

    I have 2 34" scale 5 string jazz basses both strung with a 125 B and both are great.
  14. McSollis


    Jan 1, 2011
    Thanks for the suggestion. This is one I've looked at myself because, again I'm a fan of Jazz basses. Do you have any experience with bacchus or this seller.. that's one of my concerns, since I won't likely be able to get my hands on one of these beforehand.

    This looks pretty good! Thanks for the suggestion. Do you have any experience with wolf basses?

    That's pretty awesome looking! I haven't seen this yet. Not a huge fan of a solo P pickup for this music, but I'd like to get my hands on one to try!

    Fanned fret would be ideal for me.. I've played the Ibanez, and while the scale is only 35.5, it played great... however I wasn't a fan of the pickups..

    The ESP is one I've looked at, but I don't know how I'm gonna feel about it. I like Nordstrands, but none of the clips I've seen online are promising to me.. it also seems a little pricey to me. Would have to get my hands on it first.

    A dingwall would be amazing, but definitely seems out of my price range..

    This is one of the reasons I've looked at the wenge neck. I really like the Warwick tone, and I have heard of lots of people having success with tuning them low. I believe Warwick has used wenge for necks and fingerboards.
  15. McSollis


    Jan 1, 2011

    I am currently using a .135 low string.... to be fair that is tuned down to A# so a little lower than B.. I know there are larger strings out there.. but it just seems like it shouldn't be necessary to go to a .145 for half a step below a 5 string as seen here and other places, lots of people have had success with 34" scale, 35" scale, stiff necks, light strings, heavy strings ,4s, and 5s... so I'm just trying to figure out what the best combination is gonna be for me..

    Fret leveling is a great suggestion. I've checked the level on my bass with a fret rocker, and honestly its not too bad only one or two very slight high spots.. it might help a little, but who knows how much, and I don't have the tools to recrown after leveling.

    This is an interesting perspective.. I haven't had much luck with .130 strings in the tuning I'm using (actually a half step down from BEAD), but maybe there's something to try.. thanks for the input!
  16. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    would hex core strings be a little stiffer ..?? versus round core ...

    lower pickups might help a bit ... bigger/thicker strings = more magnetic mass ... maybe the mags pulling on string - less sustain .?
  17. McSollis


    Jan 1, 2011
    Currently using hex core strings (typically Ernie ball or D'addario as they are most readily available in custom gauges. ). I did lower the pickups the other day and it helped, but still looking for more clarity.
  18. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Yeah that's still questionable since most standard 5 string sets come with inappropriately low tensioned B strings.

    I hope you find a working solution, but I would try a heavier B before you go buying a new bass. A 34" scale ought to work fine.
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