What music genre benefit from additional lower-B string?

Hi peeps. This might be a broad and generic question. So please bear with me as I am very new in the realm of bass.
From what I have learnt that most people who have a 5-string bass added a lower-B string. If I have a 5-string bass, I personally would like to have a higher-C string instead so that I have more strings to pop. I tried slapping a lower-B string at a local music store here and it doesn’t feel as good as slapping an E-string. I am curious tho, what music genre or in general in what case will benefit you having that lower B string? Thanks for your insights folks.


The two genres that use it the most are really quite different. Metal and modern country.

You may prefer more melodic, and the original Fender V, the first 5 string bass, was EADGC.

A B string can be quite floppy. My 6 string has a 35" scale length to get better tension on the B string, but multi fret basses like the Dingwall have a separate scale length for each string. The B scale length on a Dingwall is 37", and the G around 34".

Also you can try smaller gauge strings, instead of 130 or 135 on a B string, you can get the B as low as 120 gauge, which will have more tension and more likely to slap. But EADGC is a perfectly good tuning for a bass.


Actually tension goes up with diameter. So, .135 is a lot less floppy than .120.


Thanks @Wombat-metal . Lots of insights there. I searched on the net that Ibanez also has a fan fret bass where the the lowest string is a 35" scale. It’s hard to try out Dingwall here as there aren’t many music store who has it in stock.
Thanks for the tip on looking at the string gauge. And good to hear that EADGC is not a weird tuning for a 5-string bass.


Thanks, I stand corrected


Another nice thing about the low B string is when you are fretting notes on it other than the open string, it gives them a nice deep timbre.

Remmeber, while the B string only gives you five more semitones you didn’t have, you can use it all the way up the neck :slight_smile:

Most bass players tend to focus on the lower range of the instrument so being able to go even lower is a boon. Mainstream rock often uses notes below the low E as well, though usually you can get by with drop-tuning to D as that is the most common.

Two examples of rock using Drop D, off the top of my head:

5 strings in standard (BEADG) tuning are convenient for this.


Wow. I didn’t know that Rock music use a lot of low notes. The bassist on most rock music that I have watched use pick and tend to pluck the higher string. I need to expand my music taste :smiley:


If you want a great artist slap example using a BEADG 5, I recommend Kiyoshi :slight_smile:

all her stuff loves that low B.


@howard is correct, you get a nice timber on a B string, and I prefer to fret on the fifth fret of the next lower string than play the open string as a general rule. You have more control, but it’s not always the right move for a given song. But it often sounds better.


Thanks @howard . Interesting indeed. Another bassist that use a down-thumb style slapping :smiley:


Rock, especially metal, explores boundaries musically and melodically. Here is one of the best slappers on his six string, Les Claypool


I played a 5 string for years, and rarely (if ever) played the open B string. I did however often use if for low D, Eb, E, F, & G. It’s quite convenient to be able to drop down to the B string from the C on the 8th fret, for example to hit the G.
Lots of songs are written in the key of Eb, so that’s the main advantage of the B string.


When practicing scales I noticed the same thing and always pick a pattern with as few open strings, if any, as possible. It definitely colors the notes. Not sure why this is.

A side benefit to doing this is that playing scales up the neck a bit seems to require less finger pressure to fret a note.

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Praise/Worship/Christian Contemporary bands seem to really dig the low B.

Not common place but certainly not weird. You seem to be on a mission to find what is in your head. Life is short. Go for it.


I loved the open B.

One thing I regret not trying was ADAD tuning - Drop-A, Drop-D on a BEAD.

There’s some cool aspects of that tuning (in addition to the octaves). The pairs of strings are both still an ascending fourth apart, while the middle D and A are a perfect fifth. This might be fun, especially if you like power chords :slight_smile:

Plus, low A there is A0 - about 27.5Hz. It’s the lowest note on a piano.


The genres that come to mind are:

Lots of theatre work.

Metal and some rock.
The usual reason why is that many rock guitarists down tune their guitars, so bassists have to go even lower to the B string. You’ll find that because of the lack of sonic space, the bass overlays the melody played by the guitars because there is really no point in making that bass felt above that wall of guitars. You’ll find a lot of 4 strings tuned BEAD because there often isn’t any need to play anything other than the B and E string.

Some funk.

Modern country.

Church/Christian bands in the USA.
The only reason I know of this is through bass forums.

I think the best part of the B string is the extra 5 notes because I tend to avoid playing above the E on the B string. It sounds so dull and lifeless above that.


The highest I typically go on the B is the G on the 8th fret. I like to use that occasionally as the “lower 5th” when playing the C on the 8th fret of the E string.


Yes it’s definitely useful for a lot of players depending on how they play.


Another song in Drop D that you can’t really play with anything except Drop D:
Tool - Sober


Yeah, The Small Print (above) is actually more difficult to play on a 5-string than in drop D. The fingering is way nicer in Drop D. Which makes sense.

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