Re: b string

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Posted by Robbie on January 21, 2000 at 01:47:51:

In Reply to: Re: b string posted by DBAdude on December 29, 1999 at 23:20:41:

As a semi-pro builder, I feel the need to comment on these notions (not to be pretentious or arogant but to shed some light on the common misconceptions of the ever-elusive "perfect B-string.)
First, I agree that a 35" scale improves that clarity of the b string. This is due, rather than to the "full vibration" factor, to the tension factor. A b string which is relatively comparable to the size of its other four counterparts, when placed on a bass with a 34" scale, will be "floppy" and unclear. To counteract this, bass string makers would have to increase the gauge of the string to a size far too large in comparison to the other strings. The only solution to this problem is to increase the length. This way, the b string is under the same relative tension as the other 4 strings on a 34" scale length bass and thus sounds as clearly as the others would on the 34" bass. This means, of course that the other strings will either be 1)slightly thicker than normal or 2) under slightly more relative tension than usual. Either way, this is far more desirable than a "floppy, muddy" b string.

Secondly, a neck-through bass is not necessarily more suitable than a bolt-on neck bass. Although a neck-through bass does have marginally improved sustain, this no more affects the b string than it does any other string on the instrument. As a matter of fact, the trend in recent years has been toward bolt-on basses as a result of their recognized increased "bite" and edgy attack. So, with regard to the effect of the bolt-on or neck-through construction methods, neither is technically more conducive to a good sounding b string than the other. It's personal taste.

Lastly, in reference to the notion of the distance of the tuners from the nut, it is a common myth that the farther the string travels past the points of contact at the bridge saddles and the nut, the more the tension, and thus, the more focused the sound. Unfortunately this is not so. The length of the string past the nut and bridge saddles has absolutely no effect on the tension and subsequent focus of the string--as the length of the string between these two points is always the same. The only way to increase the tension on a given thickness of string, while maintaining the same pitch, is to increase its length between the points of contact--or technically speaking, its scale length.

One other aspect of construction which can produce a strong sounding b string(besides the innumerable factors of woods, finishes, and electronics) is the use of a string-through-the body bridge type. This provides more contact between the string and the wood of the bass, allowing more of the acoustic nature of the string to ring through. This provides for a more focussed string center and thus, a tighter sounding b string--not to mention a noticably louder one than the alternative method of using a top-mount bridge.

Anyway, I hope this clears up the misinformation.


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