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A question about GHS Precision Flats and original fender flats.

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by therhodeo, May 2, 2020.

  1. therhodeo


    Feb 28, 2011
    Owasso OK
    So I've read 2 seemingly contradictory things on here. I've read that GHS was started by former employees of the company that made original fender flatwounds and that the Precision Flats are close to those strings. Tons of stuff was done using Fender Flats back then including Carol Kayes output since she used whatever came stock on p-basses.

    On the other hand I've seen several people describe Precision Flats as not sounding like old school flats. Fender Flats are as old school as it gets if they are indeed similar. Is this just people saying they don't sound like Labella DTF's or are they truly not the same as the old Fenders?
  2. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    A few years ago Fender changed the formula on their flats. Rumor is that D'Addario makes the current flats, but with grey stainless wrap instead of shiny chrome wrap, so they are completely different to Chromes. I know. I have played both, and dissected both, and I have used a lot of bandwidth over the years explaining the differences.

    The "golden era" flats were made by the V. C. Squier company, which at one point was purchased by Fender, and were the OEM strings for decades. They are the ones with what you describe: that wonderful woody, organic tone that defined bass tone for decades.

    Yes, GHS was started by two former employees of V. C. Squier.

    All formulations of all strings are different, even if they use similar materials, because of the differences in core wire, wrap wire, tension of the winders, the people running the machines, etc., ad infinitum ad nauseum.

    Nothing is the same as the old V. C. Squier flats, because the materials may not be available (although many companies get their raw wire from Mapes, which makes everything from guitar string wire to piano wire and more), and the winding machines definitely don't exist anymore, except possibly as a museum survivor that is not used, and there are definitely no more folks around who used them, anyway.

    GHS are indeed similar. La Bella can approach that tone, but it has some differences. And if you search the threads, you will find others and their comments about current different flats and tones.

    None are "better" than any other. All are different. We all have our favorites. I prefer the new version of the Fender flats with more mid grind than the old ones. No Chromes, please.
    friend33, FranF, Phaidrus and 5 others like this.
  3. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    GHS Flats are great, to me they have the quickest decay of any other string today. That’s their signature, a nice thunk with quick decay right out of the package.
  4. GHS Precision Flats = Old-school with warm, woody thump. In the same general category as La Bella Flats, which were also popular in the 60s and 70s.

    Fender 9050 (current version) = Brighter with "semi-modern" tone with a unique midrange character. In the same general category as D'Addario Chromes, Ernie Ball Stainless Steel Flats (not Cobalt) and Dunlop Flats.
    R&B, uwrossl and dagrev like this.
  5. therhodeo


    Feb 28, 2011
    Owasso OK
    Meh I have Chrome's on my ray 5 and they sound fine.
  6. therhodeo


    Feb 28, 2011
    Owasso OK
    Yeah I'm familiar with what fender flats are now. For this discussion they're not what I'm considering/looking for.
  7. FranF

    FranF Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeastern PA
    I'm in the same boat. I love the sound and feel of the late 60's through early 80s VC Squier flats. I'm always looking for sets. I'm left with no choice but to try the GHS Precisions.
    Steve Boisen and therhodeo like this.
  8. uwrossl


    Nov 13, 2009
    Huntington Beach
    My set of 9050's arrived today and strung em up right away on my P. Of course they are brand new but out of the gate they certainly do have a midrange character all their own. Very interesting strings. Really looking forward to them settling in and the grabbiness going away. I think I'm really going to dig them. They will be neck and neck with the Dunlops. Gotta say the green silks look super slick on a surf green P too!
  9. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    Which gauge set on your 9050 ?
    Been compare the 9050L , sound pretty different than 9050M in same pbass. The 9050M has more classic woody tone than 9050L vintage modern tone even fresh from pack. But, the 9050M has pretty uneven string stiffness on my plucking hand. I give up after 3 days.
  10. BLDavis

    BLDavis Master of Snarks. Supporting Member

    May 21, 2009
    Ellenboro, NC
    I've been on a flats quest over the last couple of years myself and so far the GHS Precision flats come the closest to the sound I hear on old recordings. After they break in a bit they settle into a nice thump with a well defined fundamental note and no overtones. They don't feel as tight as Labella DTF or Pyramids but they're not floppy like TI344's either. I tried the current Fender flats and was completely under-whelmed with both the tone and feel. Same with Labella Low Tension flats and Ernie Ball Cobalt.

    My totally un-scientific research is done using a '08 USA fender jazz with SD Vintage pups through a '63 B-15N.
    I compare that with tracks from my record collection including Stax, Decca and Motown. Some RCA and Warner Bros. too. Records are played on an old Dual 506 turntable through a Sony amp/receiver.

    But overall, I still like the Dunlop flats for my playing style and the music I'm currently doing. Chromes are a close second and would probably be #1 if they were lighter tension like the Dunlops.
    bassnat, therhodeo and R&B like this.
  11. Hammerfield


    Aug 1, 2016
    I've read in the forum that the DR Legends are close to the old Fender flats. Sadly I can't get them in my country, that statement makes me want to try them, I mean, DR makes some awesome strings after all.

    GHS are good flats, to me they have an old school vibe, I have the feeling that are very "polite" sounding, like really smooth. In the other hand, La Bella 1954 originals have that really old school sound to me
    Last edited: May 3, 2020
    stratovani, therhodeo and R&B like this.
  12. Kukulkan61

    Kukulkan61 Suspended Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2011
    Northern Arizona
    Flats are Flats Rounds are Rounds..
    Thump is Thump Zing is Zing...end of discussion!:woot::smug:
  13. nerkoids


    Jan 3, 2014
    Old school flats sound also depends on the instrument. I had put Chromes on my nephew's Ibanez el cheapo bass and they had that old school, zing free thump and punch straight away. So far, every bass I've put the GHS Precision sets on sound great right away too.

    My flatwound journey was shorter than most, but the GHS got me there right away. That said, I would have loved to have tried a set of those old Mastersound flats.
    therhodeo likes this.
  14. funkinbottom

    funkinbottom Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2006
    Northern CA.
    Yeah, I tend to agree. I know they all sound a little different fresh out of the box, with different break in time and feel etc. But to my ears, not so much. And after a month of playing, even less difference.
    Kukulkan61 likes this.
  15. funkinbottom

    funkinbottom Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2006
    Northern CA.
    Many times availability and/or price will dictate what strings I purchase. Right now, I have 4 basses with flats, all different. La Bella, GHS, Dunlop and Fender. All sound great to my ears, and not really much difference.
    Kukulkan61 likes this.
  16. tpaul

    tpaul Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2011
    I've tried the new Fender flats and Chromes, didn't like either of them, but I'm used to the sound and feel of GHS Precision Flats and as someone pointed out, they're all different - so if you're used to one sound, nothing else is going to reproduce that specific sound.
    nerkoids and therhodeo like this.
  17. The Fender flats in the 50s-late 60s were wrapped in pure nickel, like set No. 90 ( 53-115 gauge ). This will give them a warmer tone comparing apples to apples. Fender later offered Mastersound bass sets wrapped in a "special metal alloy" and I can only speculate what that is. Maybe stainless steel? They were set No. 80 and No. 850. The price of nickel sky-rocketed in the late 60s and manufacturers went searching for alternative wrap materials. It's why we have nickel-plated steel today.
    friend33, FranF, e-flat and 2 others like this.
  18. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    South Bend, Indiana
    Eastwood Lefty BV.jpg '78 P-Bass-1.JPG Eastwood Magnum (2).jpg I learned to play bass on a friend's '68 Rick 4001 (with the factory Maxima flats) - in 1968. And most of the basses I've played since, have had flats on them; as do most of the 23 basses I own now. And I've used most of the flats that you could - or still can - buy. I'm fairly familiar with GHS Precision Flats; the iterations of the "original" Fender factory flats; and the modern made-by-D'Addario Fender 9050 flats. So...
    - Are the GHS Precision Flats "Old School" flats? Yes; yes they are. I have them on my Eastwood Flying V (short scale), and on my '78 P-Bass. They have the deep, woody tone and the quick decay that people want from that kind of flat - in spades. My P-Bass is a specialized Thump Monster, and if the GHS strings couldn't give me that? They'd be gone like a cool breeze...
    - Do they sound "just like" the original Squier-made Fender flats? Sadly, no they don't. But, they are - IMO- Hell for close. As iiipopes pointed out; that was then - this is now. "Very close" is the best you can hope for; just like the Optima RB Flats are as close as you can hope for, to those original Maximas on my friend's 4001...
    - Do the Fender 9050 flats sound like the original Fender flats? No, they do not; not at all, IMO. But, to be fair, I doubt very much that they were intended to. What they are, are very well made, "modern" sounding, midrange-focused flats. What I like to call "Goldilocks" flats. Not too bright; not too thumpy; not too flexible; not too stiff; they're "juusst right". I had a set of them on the P-Bass for quite a while, but... "nice" just wasn't makin' it for a Thump Monster. So, I replaced them with the Precision Flats. But those 9050s were on my Eastwood Magnum before they got cold. "Nice" suits the Magnum very well...:cool:
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
  19. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    They are very similar but not identical to Fender 850 flats that were the stock strings on Fender basses from at least"73 when I started learning this stuff and '83 when Fender started shipping with Fe dwr Studio Bass rounds or flats depending on the series. 850s do not sound or feel like LaBella original flats (don't know what LaBella calls those now, in the '80s they were "Old Originals" then briefly "Jamerson") nor the Pyramid flats. All are "old school", but different. The GHS Precision Flats are not quite as taut as the old LaBellas, and while they have all the essential thump one expects from a traditional flat, they also have a definite note, which often is lost with LaBellas.

    There's a reason not all old school bassists used the same strings. Jamerson and Joe Osborn used LaBellas because they said they sounded better than the stock Fenders. Kaye used the factory strings because she liked the sound better than others presumably (she6pretty vocal about what she does and doesn't like, and would have used something different if she'd wanted.
    friend33, GIBrat51, FranF and 2 others like this.
  20. Paul New

    Paul New Supporting Member

    Jun 1, 2004
    deepest alabama
    I like the GHS precisions, have been using them for a long time. But the La Bella 1954 I like a little more and are what I would like to use, if only I could get them to intonate. So the GHS are a good compromise. Fender flats were terribly unbalanced on the basses I tried.
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