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Simple B string question that I should be able to answer myself....

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Sep 2, 2005.


  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I'm still new to that 5th string. I have a bunch packs of 4 strings laying around, and I'm going to go purchase single Bs. Would a thinner B string be more defined than a thicker? Me thinks so. But I'm not 100% sure.
     
  2. phxlbrmpf

    phxlbrmpf

    Dec 27, 2002
    Germany
    I think it'd be the other way around as thicker strings have higher tension, which is crucial for clean-sounding low notes. I think Billy Sheehan likes to detune his E string to D and uses a 110 E string so the low D has enough definition.
     
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    Then why is the E string more definable than the B. Hmmm... maybe cuz it's a higher note? Jeeez..... I need a difinitive answer!!!!
     
  4. ladros2

    ladros2

    Jun 2, 2005
    Ireland
    Thicker string= More tension= More focused sound+tighter string. :)
     
  5. phxlbrmpf

    phxlbrmpf

    Dec 27, 2002
    Germany
    Okay then. Personally, I find that the thicker the B string, the better and more defined the sond. Personally, I'd go no lower than 125. Better? :p
     
  6. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    No. Not quite there yet. Get rid of the "personally"s amd the "I find"s. Ladros kinda has the idea.
     
  7. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    Not true. A thicker string does not equal more tension. The string has a stiffer feel, but not necessarily more tension.

    In fact, the pitch created by a plucked string is a factor of the length, the mass and the tension. Unless the maker has taken measures to offset the science (like using a completely different material in the winding or core), a thicker string will have more mass, and thus vibrate at the same pitch with LESS tension.
     
  8. phxlbrmpf

    phxlbrmpf

    Dec 27, 2002
    Germany
    How about this: the law of physics dictates that strings that don't have enough tension cannot vibrate properly and therefore can't produce enough overtones when you pluck them? Try detuning your low E string three steps and you'll notice that the way it vibrates looks strange and different to the other strings that are tuned to their optimal pitch.
     
  9. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    Now you sound like you know what you're talking about. If only I understood it.

    WHAT WILL SOUND BETTER ON MY BASS, DAMMIT!???!!!!!!!!!??!
     
  10. phxlbrmpf

    phxlbrmpf

    Dec 27, 2002
    Germany
    Personally, I think the only person who will be able to decide what sounds best to you on your bass is


























    you. Try a bunch of B strings and see what YOU like. Personally, I like thicker strings and find they sound better and more defined but ... oops, I forgot I'm not allowed to tell you that. My bad.

    P.S.: you misunderstood my first post. Of course I wasn't trying to tell you to use a 110 gauge B string. I just meant that many people including Mr. Sheehan share the opinion that for really low notes, thicker is better.
     
  11. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    IME, the best sounding B string out there is the exposed core (tapered core, whatever you want to call it) string. They intonate better and ring more clearly. My personal all-time great B is the SR2000s.

    As for the size, go with whatever you want. You should approach the B the same way you would any other string. If you like to dig in hard, you may prefer the stiffer string. If you play with the strings really low and a light touch, I you may prefer a lighter one.

    Given the same design of string of the same material from the same maker, any differences in tone are subtle at best. Go with the one that has the feel that is right for your style.

    The SR2000s come in .125 and .127. I can't tell the difference tonally at all.
     
  12. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Heavier strings (of like design) have more tension, but lighter strings will ring truer and have less overtones. Light .40-.100 sets usually sound "sweeter" and "truer" than .45-.105 sets, but the .45s feel more solid under your fingers and have more snap. The same is true if you're talking about B strings.

    Likewise, more flexible string designs (like DR high beam or La Bella HRS) in the same guages feel more spongy and "lighter", but can have a much sweeter tone, where a stiffer string may have more low end and more of a ringy, biting tone.

    Taper cores do typically work better in my experience, IMO mostly due to the fact that they don't have to make an extreme bend at the bridge with all that thickness. If you string up a heavy nontapered string, notice that at the bridge, the string is arcing past the saddle where it should be laying flat for proper vibration. THIS IS KEY: once you tune the string up you need to press down on the string at the saddle to get the core to bend and the string lay flat. This will help get better tone from your E and A strings as well.

    There are lots of B strings from .125 - .130 that have worked well for me, but a different string seems to be best for each different bass I have. I've never had a .135 that worked, and anything under .125 would be too low tension for my taste.

    What kind of bass are you playing?
     
  13. 7flat5

    7flat5

    Nov 28, 2003
    Upstate NY
    Just for the record, this is exactly backwards. A lower-mass (thinner) string will be very loose if tuned to the same pitch as a heavier (thicker) string. Tune your A string to the same E as your E string, and this will be immediately obvious. The thicker string is higher tension at the same pitch.

    That having been said, there was also a comment linking "more overtones" to tension. This is an entirely different issue, and is somewhat related, but has a lot more to do with construction and materials than string mass per se.
     
  14. +1, tried several gauges...thicker is better
     
  15. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    While it is common for me to be a pretentious a$$, I am usually right, so it doesn't bother people so much. In this case, I was absolutely wrong, so I guess I should at least admit as much.

    In my defense (as if anyone cares), I am not a complete idiot, but I was thinking backwards.

    I think I have spent too much time on the TBDB side. Those string makers often make strings stiffer without changing the tension with the use of different materials in each size.

    I think I should shut up now.
     
  16. strummer

    strummer

    Jul 27, 2005
    Sweden
    Joe, your Bongos will always sound fantastic :)
    I use DR hibeams 130 for the B, and the rest of the set is 40-100. And mine's a good sounding Bongo! :cool:
     
  17. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    It happens to the best of us........:smug:
    You were right on about the materials/mass having an effect though.
    It is possible for a (slightly) thicker (measured diameter) string to have (slightly) less tension depending on differences in mass, core, and winding style.
    But in general it is the other way around (all things being equal).

    That said, a higher tension (thicker) string should generally be more defined.
    I, however, actually like a .125 or even a .120 B on a 35" or greater scale bass as I feel a larger string is too stiff. I have no problem with definition or buzz, as I play with action that is not ridiculously low (it's about med/low) and I'm a stickler about proper attack (It's funny how many others play my bass and get fret buzz all over the place, but can't figure out why my notes are so clean....and I don't play super light either).
     
  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I believe there's a point of diminishing returns on thickness. Otherwise people would use .130 for the E and .090 for the G. I've found that thicker strings do usually sound better, but if you get it too thick, you have problems with playability and lack of vibration. So the thicker = better tone has a point where it stops being an improvement and starts to suck.

    Joe Nerve, I second the suggestion someone else made where you should buy a couple different gauges and make up your own mind. You are Joe Nerve, not JimmyM or Chasarms or Ladros. I prefer .125 for a B. Others prefer .130. Others even prefer .110. You need to find your own favorite.
     
  19. For a simple question. There sure is a lot of complicated issues. :rolleyes:
     
  20. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    That's because, when it comes to basses and strings, there are a lot of variables.
    Thanks for your input. :rolleyes: