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An A/B/C comparison for Flats

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by DaveB, Jul 9, 2004.

  1. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    For years I have vacillated back and forth - flat/round/flat/round on every bass I have ever owned. I'm back to flats on my Modulus Q5 (strung EADGC by the way). My first choice was to get the tried and true TI Jazz Flats and I did (6 string set), but I wanted to A/B/C them with a couple of others in the same night so I also picked up Rotosound Jazz Bass 77s and D'Addario Chromes.

    Note: comparisons were with the TI "C" string with both the Roto 4 string set and the Chromes 4 string set (neither of them have a C string). I tried each set extensively over the evening (each set twice). I have experience with all of these strings (moreso the TI's and The Chromes) with BEADG and one of my observations is that the differences between sets with BEADG and EADGC were pretty much the same differences. As a point of refernce everything was done on my Q5 (again,EADGC) with my EA iamp800 and (2) EA CXL112s with all controls started at flat and then adjusted as I went along.

    Chromes - The least midrangy of the group. Very bright top and a very "thuddy" and almost "pillowy" bottom. Not the best cut -through- the- mix tone but satisfactory. Nice fundamental with lots of thump and little punch. Very good string to string balance with medium tension. I liked this tension the best of the three.Smooth feel and nice to play. If all I did was play Jazz this would be the string.

    Roto Jazz 77 - My first impression was "wow" I love this string but that feeling was not a lasting one. I loved it's midrange and seemed to be almost the perfect cross between a traditional flat and a roundround. Tension was very high but that's ok for me. I don't mind tugging at the strings. But the string to string balance was terrible with the D and G were far more prominent than the E and A. The overall output was VERY weak. It seemed like I lost 12db of gain when I put them on. Yes, I boosted the volume on the amp but that didn't do enough. Too bad, I liked the essential tone of this string - but only when I played one string at a time in isolation.

    TI Jazz Flats- I won't bore you with the review. This site is full of them. The clear winner. Great string balance, nice clear midrangy tone without losing the flat string character. The low tension is an acquired taste, and you do have to adjust if you're an aggressive player. The Q5 is a 35" scale and that helps raise the tension a bit. But the very versatile tone is worth the low tension. I like punch and this is the flat string punch champ. In fairness though, any string played through a Q5 and EA rig is going to get a big boost in the punch department.

  2. It would be interesting to see what you think of LaBella Deep Talkin' Flats
  3. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    bgavin- If they had them I would have bought a set of those for this experiment too. The only experience I have had with LaBella Flats was when I put a set on each of a Fender P and a J that I had a few years ago. But it was the Jamerson set and while I really liked the tone I found that they were just too much work. They were like bridge cables. I don't mind heavier tension (geez, I play upright too) but a whole night of Jamerson's was a lot of labor. I will try some of the other LaBellas though.

  4. Great review DaveB. I would be intrested in your findings regarding the Labella Deep Talkin' Flats too. I'm an avid TI flats player myself but, I do find the Labella's to have a more traditional flat wound sound! More Motown sounding, not as bright as TI's!

  5. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I always want to try a different set of flats because I find the TI's awfully grippy and they've scratched the fretboard on my fretless (rosewood) and I play with a light touch. Now that's confusing! I remember loving the feel of EB flats (it's been about year since I had 'em on the fretted), but I've never played any set of strings that have ever beaten the TI's sound, especially the flats. Hands down, best sounding strings I've ever used. I prefer the tension on the jazz rounds though (they're on my fretted).

    Does anyone else, however, find the E string is surprisingly larger than what would naturally fit? The balance between strings is great, but it seems like there's an abnormal jump in gauge between the A and the E.
  6. slugworth

    slugworth Banned

    Jun 12, 2003
    So. Calif.
    It's interesting you chose those brands for your comparison.
    IMHO, there's Rotosound, there's TI, and everything else
    in between. I'll play both of these depending on the gig
    and the bass.

  7. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    Slug- The selection was accidental. The Rotos and Chromes happened to be the only other Flats the store had when I walked in. Good thing they didn't have a half dozen different sets..it would have been a really expensive experiment.
  8. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I have some Labella Deep Talkin' Bass flats on my fretless 6 right now. I haven't played them extensively yet, but I immediately noticed the high tension. I don't mind it, but it is very noticeable that they have a much higher tension than the roundwounds that were on there. I also have a set of TI Flats to throw onto my Jazz too.

  9. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA
    Great review DaveB, just the info I was looking for. This pretty much makes up my mind. After 4 bad TI jazz flat E's in a row I've decided to replace them with D'addario Chromes. An extreme shame considering the other strings sound so great, especially the B and A. :scowl:
  10. superfly


    Aug 4, 2004
    I've tried LaBella flats, Rotosound flats, and TI flats.

    The Labella's have performed the best, and felt great.
    The TI flats have felt the best, but the performance of the E has stunk.
    The Rotosound flats were just total crap. Poor quality and too much tension and "zing" to them.
  11. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA
    I tried the LaBella Deep Talkin' Flats maybe a year ago. Decent flats except for the silk parts didn't get much thinner so they wouldn't fit in the holes in the tuner posts. I had to force them in horizontally with a flathead screwdriver. Why has noone else mentioned this?
  12. superfly


    Aug 4, 2004
    I've had no problems with em on my Jazz or G&L. Are you talking about a hole through the post? My basses have slotted posts.
  13. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA
    I'm talking about just standard posts like you'd find on any Fender. They wouldn't fit down into the hole in the slot.
  14. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    I'm limited on flats but here goes.
    I've got Lakland Joe's on my Lakland Joe and they sound very traditional with fingers or pick, nice.
    I just installed some Sadowsky Flats yesterday on my Sadowsky PJ and they are pretty impressive. Pretty good eveness, medium tension, great tone, vintage sounding, good bottom, mids, highs.
    I have the TI flats but have never tried them yet.
  15. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    Hey, Big;

    What was the tension like on the Lakland JO flats? Thanks.
  16. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    I have TIs on two basses and love the tone and feel. I tried Chromes on my Deluxe Jazz, and noticed that something sounds like it's missing, almost a loss in volume. Do you think this is because the TIs have so much more in the mid range? Shouldn't the active p'ups on the Deluxe get mids out of the chromes? BTW, one of the basses I have TIs on is a passive Warwick Corvette, and it sounds great.
  17. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA
    I would think it's the lack of mids. I"m starting to think the classic P-bass w/ flats Motown sound is a somewhat scooped sound. The TI's don't seem as mellow as I would like anymore. I need something that will sit a little lower in the mix and where the A and D strings don't come off as so harsh.
  18. bassvegas


    Jul 6, 2004
    Las Vegas, NV
    I like the GHS Brite Flats (long scale/light gauge) on my 65JBass. Nice feel, medium tension, with good sustain and a warm tone. They are also friendly on the frets. These SS ground rounds are bright, but not too bright. They are surprisingly good for old school slap - (e.g. Isaac Hayes "Don't Let Go", Grover Washington- "Just the Two of Us: etc.). But, they are not thick and aggressive enough for modern rock/funk/R&B.

    I picked up some LaBella Deep Talking Bass Flats (not the Jamerson set) for the J-Bass last year for an outdoor gig Motown review. I played through my Aggie big rig with a 2x15 cab. I also took an old sponge and cut it to fit under the strings back at the bridge for a little mute action.

    We did songs like "Rescue Me", "Reach Out", "You're All I Need to Get By", "Heaven Must Have Sent You From Above" some old Stevie, and others. Wow, it totally nailed the vibe! A nice thick, solid thud with great tonal body and balance. It cut through like lead pipe....yeah, I'm talking old school heaven baby! :bassist:

    I took them off after the gig - soaked them in alcohol, and they are hanging in my closet waiting to be called up for that Motown band I want to be in......... Like the GHS, these things don't work for me with the modern gospel/funk/R&B I normally play. I use my EB MM Stingray with Ken Smith steel rounds for that.

    I pick up some TI flats today. I'm going to get my '65 J refinished, so it will be awhile before I can string them up. I'm looking forward to it though.
  19. Another vote for the LaBella Deep Talkin' Flats.

    I have them on my Stingray, and while it doesn't have the thump of a P-bass, the LaBellas calm down the Stingray's natural aggressiveness a bit.

    My mini review is post # 12 www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=146167

  20. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    What's the tension like on the LaBella flats, compared to the TI's?