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Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by songwriter21, Dec 1, 2021.
My home-built (not by me) 36” scale 4-stringer.
Like most of you, I’ve gone through a TON of basses trying to find the right B for my. I’m strictly a 5 string player and gotta say the best for me is without a doubt the Stingray 5 Special HH. My Bongo 5 HH is very close second.
For me I’ve found the key is having 18V and a flexible preamp (also an amp/cab with tons of power on tap).
I’d have to say Spector is definitely up there as well. They have a really wide/full foundation, I guess you could say the tone has girth to it. The B strings are also great all the way up the neck.
I also owned a Modulus Genesis and Sweet Spot which were great but not as strong throughout the neck as the SR special or Bongo.
I absolutely hated the Low B on my Schecter Studio 6. I found it lacked clarity and wasn’t really usable above the 5th fret. A close runner up was my Jazz V. It sounded good in recordings but super loose and easy to bend the note out of tune (totally could be controlled by adjusting technique, but I wasn’t interested in working on that since it’s not an issue for me on other basses).
I think Ibanez 5rs always feel great and the B sting is usually great all the way up the neck but there preamps/pickups are usually mid/treble forward so you loose that thunder.
Best B strings I have played...
Roscoe Century 5
Warwick Dolphin Pro 5
I've only owned one 5 string, my Modulus Q5. Nuff said!
I do like the B on my Yamaha TRBX305.
Best B string I ever had was a MusicMan Stingray 5. I never got along with the tone of that bass but the B was crystal clear, authoritative, and not overbearing or muddy.
Right now I’ve got a Sire P7 fiver with a decent low B- it’s fine but it just sounds different than the rest of the strings. The ‘Ray B was totally uniform, and I didn’t realize how rare that was until I unloaded it.
I also have a home-built fiver with the neck from a G&L Tribute L2500. The B is frankly crap. I’ve actually been toying with the idea of tuning it E-C instead, just to get rid of that dreadful B. Funny enough, I played it in bands for years and never realized how flabby that B was, until I went out and got something nicer. If only I had stuck with it, I wouldn’t be so gas-stricken.
Brice Defiant 53437. A 37 inch B is a wonderful thing!
Lakland Skyline 55-64 with a .150 Kalium string (35-inch scale)
Dingwall AB-2 with a .135 Dingwall string (37-inch scale)
NS Design NXT-5 with stock strings (41.7-inch scale)
Short answer, it's a combination of scale length and string thickness/stiffness.
I have not had the pleasure of playing several of those basses on your list, but I have always loved a Spector 35", and the Peavey Cirrus! Other than those, I have a TBC MM/J fiver that has an amazing B string...I would swear it is 35" scale from the clarity of the B, but its 34"
The Yamaha TRBJP2 in my pic. KILLER B string.
My Kiesel has a very solid B. It’s through body, not sure if that matters. But it feels pretty close to the E in tension.
My 91 Warwick Steamer Stage 2 hands down best B I've ever played.
My 34" scale fretted 6 string I built has a killer low B and my 34.5" scale fretless 5 also has a rock solid low B. I find that strings can have an affect on how good a low B sounds.
My Physics education and my experience with building (and playing) my own basses agree. A good low B is more of a string issue than it is a bass issue. Either that, or I somehow have some magic, in that every 5'er I've built (with the right strings) sounds great on the low B. Sure, a thicker, better reinforced (and roasted) neck helps some, and going 34 inch scale also makes the neck more stiff and solid than a 35 inch scale, but the real trick is getting a B string that is the right construction and gauge. I play very light gauge strings - 40/55/70/95 for the top 4. A 130 is the right gauge for similar tension for that set (that means you have to buy singles to get the right gauge - there is literally no packaged set on the market that does that). If you play a 105 E string, a 140 is where you need to be for a similarly tensioned B string.
I've had B strings that were dead-ish, but never "floppy", so long as I got that gauge. I've had good luck with D'addario XL's, GHS Boomers, Kalium Hybrids, and SIT Powerwounds.
I've been through the mill and lost count of the number of times I've had an iffy low B and tried for months to get it to maybe work.
After all that time and effort, my standouts are:
Dingwall Afterburner I. Physics of a 37" scale + their attention to detail in design & construction = THE best low B obtainable.
Warwick Streamer Stage I. The sustain with the heavy woods & the growly response of the more bridge-bound pickup placement make for a low B response that consistently & profoundly satisfies my fussy self.
My Dingwall NG3 was the best B I've ever heard.
On my '00 Lakland 55-94, the sub-E1 notes are simply monstrous. Beats the B on the Smiths, Fbasses, Sadowskys, EBMMs, Warwicks, Muckelroys, and others that I've played (and those were all great instruments with solid Bs). And it sounds good with nickels like Sadowskys or stainless-steels like HiBeams (my favorite on the 55-94). (EDIT: I string through the bridge, and not through the body.)
My Shechter Stilletto and my Ibanez BTB both have 35" scale and have been the only B strings I've been happy with.
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