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using a left handed neck to extend the B tension?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Si-bob, Apr 24, 2002.

  1. Would it be feasable to use a left handed neck, for example a MM style 5er neck, and placing it on a right handed body (therefore putting the single tuner at the top) and so extending the scale length of the B string?????
    just a random thought i might try!


  2. bassplayajew


    Mar 14, 2002
    Bethesda, MD
    Scale length is measured from the inside of the nut to the bridge. From the nut to the top of the headstock (see below) the scale length doesn't change because the string doesn't vibrate there.

    Besides of which... Musicman Stingray and Sterling (right-handed) necks are set up 3-1 or 4-1 which means to aceive the "extra" length you're talking about...The B string would be in the D string tuning peg
  3. ok, so why did Fodera introduce their 'Extended B Peghead', ????? <see pic>


    and like u said, a 5 string MM setup would be 4-1, and so if u took the left handed model and flipped it (the headstock would be upside down), the '1' would be at the top, and so the B would be strung through the peg intended for the G string

  4. dmaki


    Apr 29, 2000
    If you put a left handed MM neck on a right handed body, you'd get pretty much the same tension on the B string. Instead of it being 4-1 it would be 1-4, and the one string on the left would have its tuner down between where the E and A tuners would be on a right handed neck. There are many factors into getting a good B-string tone; woods, pickups, strings, tension, etc. If you were to take a left handed 5 in-line neck, then the tension would be greater for the B string...


    PS. I think that Fodera idea is cool, it gives the B greater tension while retaining a good looking headstock.
  5. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Here is a thought experiment for you. We have a B string at a set tension. Now imagine fretting the B at any fret. The reason it sounds higher in pitch is that we have reduced the vibrating length of the string, so only certain frequencies can fit between the fret and the bridge. The tension of the string between the fret and the bridge is the same as the tension was between the nut and the bridge. Now imagine the tuning machine as being the nut. And the nut as being the fret where the string vibrates at a B note. The further back you move the tuning machine, the lower the frequency of the string must be tuned to so that at the nut position the string will produce a B. So even though the string is longer, it must be at a the same tension as a shorter string is order to produce a B note at a point 35" (or whatever distance) from the bridge.

    I hope you can understand what I've written, my brain is half fried from my exams.

    This is a debatable topic, as to whether having a longer distance to the tuning machine actually changes the sound of the B string. It doesn't affect the tension at all, it can't in fact. Some say it does affect it, and if so there must be something else at work. Ken Smith once said he tried reversing the headstock on a few 5 string basses, but it had no effect on the sound of the instrument, or at least no advantage.

    I would argue that it is in the head of the person playing the intrument that the Fodera Extended B headstock thinks the B sounds "tighter" or what ever. There is no reason that a B on a longer string should sound any different than a B on a shorter string, provided all other thngs are equal and the B is produced by the same length of the string in both cases.

  6. so what your suggesting is that a lefty fender style 5 in a line would provide me with a slightly better tension in the B...i ask cos i intend to build a jazz style bass from Allparts, and i didn't really wanna have to settle for a floppy B, now i gotta try and get hold of a 5-in-a-line left handed graphite neck :)

    cheers all

    sorry, wrote this before i saw geoffs reply
  7. Hamer used this idea on their Chaparral 5 string with a 5 in-line reversed headstock so the B string machinehead was furthest from the nut- Rick Savage of Def Leppard was a user.

    the actual string tension can't be any different as Geoff St. Germaine says- I think it's a similar thing to thru-body stringing at the bridge- perhaps the extra length changes the feel of the string somehow.

    another thing to note- headless basses- where there's virtually no distance from the end of the string to the nut- they're not noted as having floppier B strings than headed basses- which would be the case if the machinehead distance played a great part....
  8. fair point, i just don't want to get to the stage where i'v assembled a bass, at quite an expense, and the B is horrible and floppy!!
    any advice for allparts basses??

  9. dmaki


    Apr 29, 2000
    If it doesn't matter how far back the tuning machines are, why did Hendrix's guitar sound different? And why would companys bother with changing their headstocks?
  10. Hendrix's guitar sounded different first and foremost because he was an innovator of the electric guitar. The stuff he played sounded different from most anybody else at the time. As for how playing a right handed guitar vs. a left handed guitar would sound different, keep in mind that the pole pieces are reversed, and the Strat has two staggered poles that are supposed to even the output. These staggered poles would be on different strings. Also, the bridge pickup is angled, so flipping the guitar would change that as well. But I still say the main reason his guitar sounded different was that he was different.
  11. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Have you ever heard of a marketing gimmick. When one well respected luthier tries it, says there is no difference, and was willing to change it on his basses, I tend to agree with them. The physics of it does not support better tension. If there is a difference it cannot be related to tension.

    People will spend their money on may things because they hear it is better, which doesn't necessarily mean it is better.

    Maybe the extended headstock Fodera is a great improvement. I have always heard that Foderas have always had great B strings, so I doubt the difference is large.

  12. bassplayajew


    Mar 14, 2002
    Bethesda, MD
    Most unique sounds come from the person playing the instrument. In Hendix's case, besides his unreplicable style, the pole pieces, tension on the neck, and bridge were all reversed by stringing his guitar upside-down. I remember reading that he also did something, uhh, "interesting" to his amps.

    Those things made Hendrix's sound impossible to mimick. I've played on strats both strung backwards and with reversed necks and they don't sound a thing like Jimi's guitar.

    A lot of things that are said to improve bass tone are interchangable. For instance, you don't need a 35" scale bass to get a tight B string, you can add wood or more hardware weight, use a different gauge string, etc.

    Ibanez claims that the reversed tuning machines allow straight line stringing from nut to post for better tuning and more consistent string-to-string tension

    Anyone whos played that bass knows theres not an ounce of logic or truth to that. Its all about marketing, do yourself a favor and don't listen to anything anyone tells you. Find out and judge things for yourself
  13. I'd expect that the neck's strength (ie resistance to flexing) and the integrity of the neck/body connection have a lot more to do with a tight sounding B than where the tuning peg is on the headstock. That's why a lot of great basses have necks made of quarter sawn wood.
  14. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Yeah, but my Pedulla 5 has a flatsawn neck and so do Sadowskys, and they are both 34" scale with great B strings.

  15. Ok Ok Ok..... :D

    My Stingray 5 is the same. Quartersawn wood certainly isn't the be-all, end all of course... I'll bet that both Pedulla and Sadowsky necks don't flex much under tension though.... And I'm bloody well sure that the neck-body joints are solid, too:D:p
    Actually, Sadowsky is a good example of a bass with a devastating B, with the B tuner in its normal place... There's not anything special about the position of the B tuner on Pedullas either. And the thunderbass has one of the best B's I've ever experienced...:eek:
  16. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    *Ed McMahon voice ON*

    Ha ha ha! You are CORRECT, sir!


  17. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    There is a too common misconception that extra string length beyond the nut will increase the string's tension. This is simply not true. For the last time this was covered, including equations, references, and another thought experiment explanation, see this thread.

    If Fodera claims that the greater length affects the tonality- that is possible, for the open string notes only. If they claim it increases the string tension, it is simply untrue. Given the same bridge-to-nut distance and same string mass, raising the tension would raise the pitch- it wouldn't be a B note any more.

    And while I'm on the soapbox, I'd like to note something else. Some people have pointed out that in going from a 34" scale length to 35", the speaking length only increases by a little under 3% [ 35/34 = 1.029, or 103% of 34" scale length]. They then conclude that this is too little to have any real effect on tone. But, given the same unit weight string (same gauge), since the tension is a second-order relationship, the tension to produce the same note would go up by 6% [ (35/34)^2 = 1.060 or 106% of 34" tension ]. This 6% increase in tension may indeed be the reason longer scale length instruments are more likely to have a better sounding B string.
    Check the tension charts referenced in the above mentioned thread. You'll see that in your average set of strings, the B string tension is significantly lower than that of the others. That is why I'd like to try a Dingwall.
  18. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    What pilotjones said.

    The tension in a given string will be different for a given pitch only if the length of the vibrating part of the string is changed ... in other words, the scale length, or distance between the nut and bridge. This assumes using identical string gauges. You could put a three-foot extension on the headstock to lengthen the B string, but the tesion will still need to be the same between the nut and bridge to produce a B.
  19. Yeah it would make no tension difference. I bet it might be worse cuz if you tug on the string that is attached further up the neck it will be easier to bow the neck. Yeah I doubt what I just said is true, but it has about as much logic if not more than the string length past the nut idea.


  20. JimM


    Jan 13, 2000
    Northern California
    I had that "tension behind the nut" garbage pulled on me when I was shopping for an acoustic piano a few years ago.The salesman said that their pianos were more acurately tuneable due to the string length behind the bridge(same as the nut I think)being a precise distance,or something like that.They put felt in there so that part can't vibrate,so what was he talking about ?