The "Improve your low B" thread

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Groovecenter, Apr 22, 2004.

  1. A couple of things have made me want to start this thread; one of those is the sudden explosion of the number of B string threads, the other is the struggles I have encountered with my own bass.

    My goal for this thread is pretty much just to have those of you who have found things that have helped your instrument that has a low B (whether it's a four, five, six, etc.) post what you have done and give tips to players who could use the advice.

    In another recent thread, someone stated (I'll just paraphrase) that there is no such thing as a bad B, it's just a combination of factors including but not limited to scale length, string gauge, string type, pickup type, perceived tension, and perceived sound.

    Ok, so I'll get the ball rolling with this much: (no particular order)
    1. Tension is fixed; the only way to increase the tension on the string is by raising pitch, increasing scale legnth, and/or increasing string gauge.

    2. Set up is especially important with the B string. I've found personally that on my 34" scale warmoth jazz that having the B a little higher than the fingerboard radius would want and having a little more relief than usual (I usually play with as flat a neck as possible) gets rid of any buzzing and really helps make that B feel nice and blend better feel wise with the rest of the strings.

    3. Pickup height is especially important with B strings. Wierd sounding notes past a certain fret and a weak sounding B are usually a sure sign of this. B strings are really fat and as such are drawn to the magnets of your pickups. If your B isn't sounding up to par, experiment with pickup heigh (especially neck pup).

    4. Experiment with different strings; by this I mean gauges, brands, material, taperwound, and so on. This goes for any bass, not just one you would like to find a good low B for; strings are an extremely important yet overlooked part of a bass. You may find that the 40 dollar strings you bought that everyone raves about sound like garbage on your bass, but the 5 dollar set you just picked up works wonders for your particular bass. It's expensive, but once you find the right string you are set for life with that bass.

    Feel free to add, comment, discuss... but try to keep this thread dedicated to things that will help people new to the five string or those seeking to improve the performance of their bass. Im sure I'll add/change some things as I'm in somewhat of rush typing this out, but I feel this thread needs to be started.

    *Disclaimer- these are suggestions and ideas that worked for ME; these suggestions might not work for you, nor are they set in stone.
  2. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    All very good advice. I am definitely an advocate for the strings. Taperwound strings always gave me a tight B. I also raised the B up more than the other stirngs, because I know that I won't be playing 12th fret on the B. This is very good advice given here, and this is a great thread idea.
  3. dTune


    Feb 28, 2004
    I had the "vibrato" problem with the B string above the 10th fret or so. I rarely use the 14 last frets on the B, but it was really annoying the few times i play there.

    So, i lowered the neck pup's upper edge and got the (stupid?) idea to try raising the bridge pup from the same side, leaving the pups in cross-like position.

    I was afraid this might cause the sound to change similarly to when using the blend pot, but for my amazement, it only added a bit of those all-important low mids into the lower strings, making not only the vibrating on the upper frets gone, but also the sound a lot tighter.

    Now, the B is no more the "hollow" sounding thick stick of metal lying by the neck, but actually gives a sound that matches for example the A string pretty well.

    Then again, it might be my imagination doing tricks. But still, I like it.
  4. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    getting warmer
    When I owned a Fender Jazz V I found that the low B was improved significantly with the addition of downward pressure behind the nut. I think that the design of the bass doesn't allow for adequate pressure against the nut on the B without additional help. IOW, make sure the string is on the tuning peg properly for you particular bass.

    In that vein, another wierdness I've run into on my Stingray 5 with Labella flats was the low B warbling at any fret. It turned out that I had too much winding on the tuning peg... I'm still not sure what the physics implication is but when I clipped an additional inch off the string and rewound it the string was fine.

    Groovecenter, great post. :bassist:
  5. The greater overtone content is what constitutes that beautiful "yawning lion" sound.


    find a large container. Soak them in alcohol. I find It works better than boiling and is less wasteful.

  6. this is from gary willis' book 101 bass tips, i found it really helpful and made my old 5er (a vantage) tolerable :p