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Has anyone found a make of B string that will produce a very clear fundamental note? I play a Musicman Stingray 5 and have tried quite a lot of different B strings including the piano style ones but I find that there is always a muddiness to the notes played on the B string in comparison to the other strings. Not surprising given it's thickness but any suggestions welcome.

 

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I have used DR Lo-Riders and Hi-Beams and now D'Addario NYXL. I'm happy with the clarity and definition I get from these strings, but IMO any muddiness is probably down to the bass. My Sadowsky produces very clear notes on all strings. From the reviews I've read Dingwall's might be the best for clarity. 

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 I can recommend Newtone strings. They are a small, specialist British company, local to me. The MD, Neil Silverman is a bass player himself. I now don't buy any other strings. Contact them and talk about what you're looking for.

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IME the 3 main factors in getting a good sounding and feeling low B string are as follows:

1. Good neck construction
2. Good neck joint
3. The right string for the bass (construction and gauge)

There's not a lot you can do about factor 1, but you can improve the neck joint on a bolt-on neck bass, by slackening off the strings. Then undo all the neck screws by half a turn. Tune up the pitch and once the tuning has stabilised tighten up the neck screws again. Loosening the neck screws allows the tension of the strings to pull the neck as tightly as possible into the neck pocket to give the best possible joint.

If that doesn't produce an improvement then I would recommend trying a taper-wound low B string, where the taper basses over the bridge and the full thickness of the string starts as soon after the saddle as possible. Suggested strings would be LaBella Steels, Warwick Black Label or get Newtone to make you a custom set.

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56 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

Warwick Black Label

I have been using these for years and love them. Medium gauge, 45/65/85/105/135.

The 'B' seems like a very heavy gauge to some, but it works great on my Basses. Very tight, clear and well defined.

 

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2 hours ago, Len_derby said:

 I can recommend Newtone strings. They are a small, specialist British company, local to me. The MD, Neil Silverman is a bass player himself. I now don't buy any other strings. Contact them and talk about what you're looking for.

Len from Derby speaks the truth. A MM5 was my first 5 and I could not get the B to sit with the instrument. On reflection I only tried 2 types of strings and I could not have a chat with a string maker in 1990. Imagine the GAS I could have avoided. 

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I’ve used basses with a low B for over 30 years. In that time These have been my observations:

1. Good, defined angle at each end of the string (nut and bridge). Warwick basses always have a super tight B, even with different woods, neck construction etc, and I put it down to the angled headstock and separate bridge/tailpiece. Ensuring a proper bend in the string at both ends helps, too

2. Whilst a neck through bass can give a “big” sound, every bass I’ve played that has a really tight B had a bolt-on neck. I think This was Michael Tobias’ motivation in switching from neck-through to bolt-on at MTD

3. Strings make a huge difference, and a taper-wound B is essential for a tight (and easier to tune and intonate) string

4. A laminated (hardwood) neck seems to create a tighter sound. It’s not always the case, but I’ve never played a single piece maple neck/maple fingerboard bass with a great B.

5. The best B string tends to be on a bass designed with a B string in mind, rather than upscaled 4-string models.

Oh... and I use Warwick Black Label - .135 taperwound B sounds great, and they’re cheap!

 

 

Edited by FDC484950
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3 hours ago, lowdown said:

I have been using these for years and love them. Medium gauge, 45/65/85/105/135.

The 'B' seems like a very heavy gauge to some, but it works great on my Basses. Very tight, clear and well defined.

Not at all. When you look at the tensions of the strings a 135 low B is woefully under tension compared with the others. I'd be looking at that gauge B with a 40 - 100 G- E.

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I play a Stingray V and use the Ernie Ball Cobalts, which seem to work well for me.  The low B string is definitely a lower tension to the other strings, and I've always found you have to go easy with it as it can overpower on the Stingray.  I think you probably just need to get used to how you play the string as well, as they say tone is mainly in your fingers, so try altering hand position, where you play the string, attack, how hard you play the string - a bit of trial and error to see if you can eliminate the source of the muddiness before setting off on an endless quest for the perfect string .   

I have played a few 5 strings , and one of my favourite "Bs" is on the Dingwalls - now they really sound good.

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Buy a Leduc or an MTD you'll hear the fundamental of each and every note. LeFay, Aries, Capelli, F-Bass and some others are very good too, but not to the point of hearing the fundamental of your low B.

The type and gauge of string helps a bit, but if your bass has a dire low B unplugged, don't expect much when plugged. An electric bass is before all an acoustic instrument, so when it comes to acoustics, better listen to what a luthier has to say, and certainly not a manufacturer.

But, you can check everything that has been mentioned before, it will improve a tiny bit your low B as well as other strings.

Sometimes, you can get lucky and have a real good low B on a cheap Chinese bass, sometimes.

 

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Well that is all interesting stuff. I will try the loosening and tightening the bolts. That is a concept!

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8 hours ago, BigRedX said:

Not at all. When you look at the tensions of the strings a 135 low B is woefully under tension compared with the others. I'd be looking at that gauge B with a 40 - 100 

 

Might well work for you, BRX, but 45 -105 works for me, just fine. I tend to play with a high action, so maybe that contributes to a tighter feel? 

What I don't understand is, if the combined gauges are not a good tension together, or not compatible, with the B string being woefully under tension, why on earth have Warwick been selling them for years? (45-135).

:D

 

I suppose we all get different things out of different strings, with different Basses, depending on touch, technique etc... Thankfully there are plenty of gauges and tensions available these day to please most of us. 

Edited by lowdown

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13 hours ago, FDC484950 said:

I’ve used basses with a low B for over 30 years. In that time These have been my observations:

1. Good, defined angle at each end of the string (nut and bridge). Warwick basses always have a super tight B, even with different woods, neck construction etc, and I put it down to the angled headstock and separate bridge/tailpiece. Ensuring a proper bend in the string at both ends helps, too

2. Whilst a neck through bass can give a “big” sound, every bass I’ve played that has a really tight B had a bolt-on neck. I think This was Michael Tobias’ motivation in switching from neck-through to bolt-on at MTD

3. Strings make a huge difference, and a taper-wound B is essential for a tight (and easier to tune and intonate) string

4. A laminated (hardwood) neck seems to create a tighter sound. It’s not always the case, but I’ve never played a single piece maple neck/maple fingerboard bass with a great B.

5. The best B string tends to be on a bass designed with a B string in mind, rather than upscaled 4-string models.

3 hours ago, rsint said:

Since nobody has said it yet.......buy a Dingwall.

I’ve never heard such a true low B.

I have to agree with everything mentioned above.

The best B strings in my arsenal are on my (very recently acquired) Dingwall Super P and my MTD Kingston Super 5. Not entirely sure what string are on the Dingwall as I only got it 2 days ago but it’s taper-wound. The neck is a maple laminate (5 piece I believe) with bolt-on construction. The Hipshot ultralite tuners have been recessed into the headstock to provide an even greater break angle at the nut. The clarity of notes on the B string is pretty incredible! 

The MTD takes an honourable 2nd place. Bolt-on neck, one piece maple this time, Dunlop Superbright Nickels, angled headstock.

As @FDC484950 says, it’s crucial that the bass has been designed with a low B in mind!

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Funny, as I already wrote, it's like asking what kind of fuel you put in your Bugatti Veyron, because my Ford Fiesta has no power when I put the pedal to the metal. 😮

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Not a solution but sharing personal experience with the Musicman 5. 

I had the same bass many years ago and at the time had the same opinion that the B string was floppy and muddy. 

It could (the B string) sound good/okish if I played with a very light touch,  sounded great recorded  and maybe a low C had better focus than a low Eb.  But the whole thing for me (with the Musicman 5) was a constant compromise. It excelled in some areas but was weak in others.  But then most basses you could argue that point but a lot of the time it felt like with the MM5 the wind had to blowing in the right direction for me to be happy with it. I tried 130 and 125 gauge but same old compromise. One sounded better but wouldn't intonate as well as the other. I cant remember which way round it was but I do remember experimenting with gauges.

Having just said all that, my  experience gained since then regarding everything from Amps, using EQ to playing in general  has changed a lot since then so maybe I'd have a different opinion today on the same bass. 

But I do remember thinking if only it could sound as good as it played and was constantly frustrated getting it (the B string) to sound consistently good live. Lots of other players were using them at the time and lots of great players still use them today so maybe a lot of its down to the player (as in me) more than the bass? I don't know. This now makes me want to track down my old MM5 to really find out.

What I can say though is back then by chance in a music shop, I picked up an Overwater 36" scale Progress 3 and instantly B string problem solved. I was so happy with it that and convinced I had solved the problem that I announced to my then wife, so pretty serious stuff,  that we were not going on holiday that year and bought it.  125 or 130, steel or nickel round wound, different manufactures,  B string no problem either way. This then took me on an expensive 15 year journey from Overwater basses to 35" GB basses. All had killer B strings but now a new compromise (for me) playing with the longer scale length.

I've now solved the frustrating B string vrs scale length problem by going back to a 4 string as my primary choice of bass and will only use a 5 if I really really need to. This really works for me on many other levels apart from just the low B thing.  I don't expect its a solution for anyone but just sharing my experience. The Musicman 5 got me into the whole expensive mess in the first place but at least I now know what will and wont work for me.

So after all that rambling I'd say go out and try some of the other 5ers out there to see what you think and only then get into different gauges and string types for the MM5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another important part is the power of your amp. Don't expect to hear your low B if you don't have at least 500 Watts and a cabinet designed to reproduce these lower frequencies. In studio or on records, you'll hear it, for sure, but on your 30 Watts Ashup, I'm not even sure you'll hear anything...

Ask Anthony Jackson what he's using live and you'll understand. By the way, the scale length is not THE solution, ask Ken Smith as he sticked to 34 inches scale and his basses have a very good tight low B. 

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4 hours ago, rsint said:

Since nobody has said it yet.......buy a Dingwall.

I’ve never heard such a true low B.

The only problem with a Dingwall, is that the promise of a true B is widely an Internet spread myth... and the weight of note across the strings is not equal. If you think that that a Stingray has a weak G....

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in my experience, it's a lot to do with the pickups (with the caveat that i tend to have quite a noisy style, so I'm not necessarily looking for such a clear note).  My first five string was a Wal, and that really boomed, much louder and distorted than the rest (which Pete Stevens told me was normal and to be expected, it's a lot of string flapping about!) and it was similar but not as bad on my first Warwick 5er. Both bolt ons by the way.  Wasn't a huge issue as i wasn't using the B a lot, but it definitely shaped my playing, and I'd tread a little more carefully on the B string than on the rest.  I've found something similar with 7 string guitars, the sound can be unbalanced.

Then I got an ESP/LTD with EMGs, and while I don't like the sound of the pickups that much (they're OK, just a little characterless) they had the best balance of sound across the strings - and incidentally a thru neck.  Didn't get on with the bass, but it did make me realise that the set up and pickup height has a lot to do with the balance of the B string, and it's never been a particular problem since then (and all my current and recent 5's have been thru necks, so my experience is quite different to FDC's).  So I'd start with looking at the height of the p/u under the B-string and see if you can get better balance from there

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1 hour ago, EBS_freak said:

The only problem with a Dingwall, is that the promise of a true B is widely an Internet spread myth... and the weight of note across the strings is not equal. If you think that that a Stingray has a weak G....

I speak from my own experience, which apparently differs from yours, and not myth.

I have found the low B on the Dingwall to be an actual playable string opposed to the ones I've played on 2 different Fender Deluxe Jazzes. 

Buy yymv and all that.....I'm happy with it. 

 

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I'm not sure I know the difference between strings and their tensions. Maybe it's my technique, I skate along over the top of strings and never "dig in" but I can only see a string being "floppy" if you are really pulling it. If that's what is causing the problem. . . don't do it.

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IME if you have a light touch, you can be a lot less picky with your 5-string basses and their low B strings.

If you look at those string manufacturers that produce tension figures for their strings, the low B is by far the lowest tension string in a typical 5-string set, to the point where even if you pair a 135 low B with a standard 40-100 set it will still be the lowest tension string. For those of us who "dig in" as part of our normal technique this does mean that the typical low B will tend to flop about compared with the other strings and produce a more distorted and less defined note.

construction methods that make the string less compliant such as increasing the break angle over the big and nut do help but because they tend to apply to all the strings will still make the low B feel unbalanced. IME the more rigid the neck and neck joint construction the better defined the low B will be. Unfortunately this tends to rule out mass produced basses such as the one in the OP...

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A tapered B helps with intonation, clarity and feel - even the fat .135 in the black label set is easy enough to play. I don’t believe tension is the whole story - the mass for each string is different, and a big fat string made of (more of) the same material as a thinner string doesn’t necessarily “feel” like it has less tension, because the extra mass counteracts it - see what happens to the tension when you tune, say, and A string right down to low B - much,much floppier than a B at the same tuning, right?

 

I agree that if a cheap bass has a great B then it’s likely to be by accident rather than design as a better quality of construction (and better materials and design) seem to affect the quality of the B on all the basses I’ve played.

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Headless basses tend to have better low B's, better intonation and better string to string balance, just because of the construction as @BigRedX mentioned.

 

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