What makes a B string good? (excluding scale length)

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by MartinB200, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. MartinB200


    Oct 2, 2011
    Good Morning to you all!
    This has been a topic that's got me thinking for a while. and if it in the wrong area of the forum, I do apologize!

    One thing I've noticed in my years of playing various 5 or 6 string basses is that of the 34" scale ones - there's often a quite naff B string that comes with it.
    My Ibanez SR506 has a quite nice B string which doesn't sound dead, flat and sound like crap compared to the rest of the strings. It's tone is more or less even with the rest of the instrument and if you play the 5th fret on the B and open E; there isn't much difference.

    Yet my 5 strings, both of the fretted and the fretless sound like total crap on the B and it just ends up sounding like a really bad fart. I mean, really bad. haha.

    Some basses I've tried in stores (all 34" I'll count) have sounded great on the B, even at cheaper range. Yet even some boasting higher than £600 have sounded like crap

    So what makes them actually sound decent?
    Don't be a muppet and say "fresh strings" because on some of the basses I've had. That's not even done it. :p

    Is it due to the neck woods? Bridge? The whole body woods? Could it just be a case of how the bass is set up?
    Been getting me thinking haha.

    - Martin
  2. Swipter


    Sep 7, 2009
    I know my '95 Pedulla has a killer B string and I don't think it is 35. Maybe it has to do with bridge placement,string through, or not and nut. Maybe the neck has something to do with it. I believe you get what you pay for. I know many will disagree with that last statement based on the Squier VM lovers on TB.
  3. Hi,

    I think a good set up is a must to have a good responding B. Also a good breaking point at the saddle and nut. And, yes, a good B string itself.

    In order to have a better responding B I lean towards a lighter gouge. Next step is to try a .120 B gouge.
  4. jbrooks


    Sep 7, 2007
    I have two Fender MIA five string basses; one Standard, one Deluxe. Neither B string were very impressive. My all time favorite sounding five string is the Pedulla Rapture.

    A couple of years ago I got GAS really bad. Went to the Bass Place in Peoria AZ. Long story short I replaced the Pickups in the passive 5 string American Standard with Bartolini dark humbuckers.

    I also replaced the electronics with the John East Retro J preamp. Wow, what a difference! The B string sounds great and balanced with the other strings. If I had changed this set up years ago I would definitely have fewer basses now. This bass sounds similar to the Pedulla I wanted years ago.

    I have Dean Markley SR 2000 medium lights on all of my electric basses. They have a bright almost piano sounding brightness and clarity. The B and E strings are taperwound and seem to have more sustain than standard wrapped strings.

    I think the pick up and secondly the strings make the difference.
  5. MartinB200


    Oct 2, 2011
    Interesting mix of comments, thanks for the inputs!
  6. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    23 ft below sea level
    What makes a B string good, is the bassist. I have converted to BEAD some months ago. I prefer flatwounds over rounds, so I installed Ernie Balls. The B string measures 0.130 inch in diameter. Quite average I'd say. If I hit this B like I hit the other strings, it will rattle against the 22 nd fret. So I tend to play the B a little closer to the bridge. Problem solved!
  7. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    getting a good B string sound starts with having pups that have no mud at all, pups need to be very articulate. Qaulity of construction for the bass esp neck and neck joint also helps a lot. Selecting body woods for good lows thru highs rather then just dark tone will also contribute to better sounding low B. Very very few basses with a low B string sound good to me.
  8. iunno


    Dec 16, 2010
  9. JLS

    JLS Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    When it comes in your mailbox, in an envelope from Circle K Strings. Seriously, the best B I've ever heard.
  10. PluckyThump


    Jan 4, 2008
    The Hammer
    There are many factors but the most important imo is the string itself and the pickup location. For me the most consistently good B-string tone comes from a pickup in the Stingray sweet spot. A J-bass bridge pickup is also good. Pickup height is also critical; if it's too close to the strings you get dissonant harmonic overtones coming off the B which make it sound terrible.
  11. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always overcompensating Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    To me, a good B string lets you know its a freaking B string when you play it. when you pluck the B string, it lets you know that its not an E, not an A, psh not even a G string...its a mofaggin B string!
  12. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Nope- a good B string starts with how the bass and the strings interact. If the string sound floppy unamplified, nothing in the electronics nor their location is going to magically change that floppiness to a solid note. It's the neck, the body, and the bridge to start. The less the neck flexes, the more solid the B string will be. Then having clear electronics that translate the entire B string well. Not just the bottom six notes, but the whole string. And a lot of it is finding the right strings for YOUR bass and how YOU play.

    I want the B string to sound like its part of the same bass, not and afterthought or addition. I want it to sound like the the other strings. That means a tapered B doesn't work for me. I've found for ME on my Lakland Skyline 55-01 that DR Sunbeams with the 0.130 untapered B work great.

  13. emblymouse

    emblymouse exempt Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2006
    I am more mystified than ever.:meh:

    Recently bought a premium pricey bass direct from the makers.
    The B was...weird. Funny unharmonius harmonics all in all making for a blurry fundamental. 34" scale. Not floppy, felt good but that overtone bugged me. I changed the strings, but still had a slightly different version of the same problem. These guys replaced it with another identically equipped bass, this one was great.
    Right now I am loving a 34" scale 5'er with a B to die for and it is a mass produced model at half the price of exhibit A.:eyebrow:
  14. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    23 ft below sea level
    Things like this happen. My really cheap, BEAD tuned Ibby, it's a GSR200EX, has a great sound coming from the B string. In fact better than many expensive fivers I tried in the store. I guess I'm lucky. When the bass was still EADG tuned I had several problems with the G string. It had dead spots and strange resonances.
  15. This, a thousand times this. The neck. It's all in the neck. Your 6 string sounds better because of the fat, sturdy neck.

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