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B-string question (dumb question?)


EddiePlaysBass

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Here's the deal: I always thought the B string on my Ibanez sounded dead, dull and quite worthless but I never had money to replace it. Also, when I got that bass I was fresh out of a band and thus I was restricted to playing in my room.

 

But a couple of months ago I joined a band (we actually haven't rehearsed more than 4 times in that period - but that's a completely different thread) and we got this really large attic-like space to rehearse in. I fooled around a bit on the B string and was amazed at how not-quite-so-dead it sounded.

 

So could it have to do with the low frequency of the string and the really really small space (ie. my room) in which I practise, that makes it sound so dull?

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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Mixed answer here:

 

(1) string quality. I get better B string definition from Elixers and Ken Smith strings, and I use them almost daily. I'm trying to evaluate B-strings from Dean Markley (Blue Steel), Ernie Ball (flatwound) and D'Addario (Half Round IIs). So far I like the Ernie Balls (about $10 for the B-string if you buy them online) and the Dean Markleys. I've used D'Addarios, nice out of the pack but after a few months they tend to sound old and a little dead.

 

(2) pickups. I'm a big EMG fan, but I find if I don't get the B-string into the magnetic field it just doesn't punch out, and I have to boost bass on the active tone controls. The EMG and Bartolini soapbars put out better tone on the "sweet spot" (neck) position, but not much on the bridge end except for attack. The stock Ibanez pickups and the Mighty Might soapbars used on a lot of Korean basses will define the B-string enough to get a good tone, but then you need to work with the preamp to define it.

 

(3) amplification: if you have a graphic EQ, kick up the 30 Hz slider about +3 to +6 dBs. Too much boost there will raise the curve around 41.5 Hz (low E - open string) and negate the advantage. In addition, backing down the low-mid range (2-4 kHz) will make the lows and highs sound louder. This is more commonly known as the "smiley face" setting on the graphic EQ.

 

(4) effects: chorusing and compression tends to muddy the low-B, but you might like that. Distortion works sometimes in rock (grunge/metal) and doesn't work at other times (acoustic/classic). I go by the cookbook phrase "season to taste"; try something here, something there, and see what you like.

 

(5) bi-amping and crossover: if you can split your signal, you can tweak the low end (say 20-2,5000 Hz) one way and the high end (over 2,500 Hz) another way. Depends if you have the rack and the finances to do that. I prefer leaving that job to the soundman , so I'd buy the soundman a drink and talk about that with him before the sound check.

 

Hope that gets you started! :wave:

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I have an absolutely awful practice amp at home that I rarely use. There is one spot in the basement that when I put the amp "there" and stand "here", I sound like organ pedals (rich and full). On ballads it's like heaven (Tasmin Archer's "Sleeping Satellite" is one I kept going back to).

 

The room you are in and your own position can make a big difference. And as Fred said, your amp/EQ makes a huge difference.

 

I'm glad a bad thing turned good for you :thu:

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally posted by Tom Capasso:

The room you are in and your own position can make a big difference. And as Fred said, your amp/EQ makes a huge difference.

Yes, so I've noticed ... Fooled around with the amp settings (it's a Peavy TKO65) and the B string sounded better, but then the tone was crap :D Guess I can rest assured though that it's just a matter of finding the right settings.

 

And thanks, finally I know who performs "sleeping satellites" :D Love that song :thu:

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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While EQ-ing and all that obviously makes a big difference, room size definitely makes a big difference. Divide the speed of sound (about 340 meters per second) by the frequency of the note you're playing (about 30 Hz for a low B, 40 Hz for a low E) to get the wavelength. So for a low B, it's about 11 meters. When your room is about that size, it will tend to resonate. That's why stuff in my room (about 4 meters) starts to buzz on certain notes on my A string. It's more complicated than that (overtones, etc.), but it's definitely important.
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