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Are flatwound strings effects friendly?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by de la mocha, Nov 28, 2006.

  1. de la mocha

    de la mocha

    Aug 20, 2005
    I didn't know whether to post this in the strings or effects forum (had a 50/50 shot)! Anyway, when it comes to distortion, chorus, flanger and delay, should I switch back to round wound strings (rotosound is my roundwound string of choice, I currently have chromes flats on now. It's a Fender Precision).

    Can I get good distortion tone out of flats? That's my favorite effect for bass. I can care less about the other effects pretty much.
  2. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    It all depends on what your definition of "good" is. Personally, I think flats and distortion sound fine together. Try it. If you like it, it's good.
  3. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Distortion is important to me too, and that's one of the reasons that I especially like my T.I. Jazz Flats: I get a great distortion tone - better than I did with rounds.

    Here's a quick demo I did recently that (sort-of, in a low-fi way) features one of my distortion tones.


    I honestly think that my flats provide a smoother, more powerful distortion tone, as compared to rounds.

  4. nad

    nad 60 Cycle Humdinger Commercial User

    Sep 22, 2005
    Not Mars
    The Overlord of Nordstrand Pickups
    I dig flats and distortion.

    Chorus, flangers, etc. with flats, not so much.
  5. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Remember the Muff and English Muff'n clips I posted for comparison? They were done with flatwounds. It'll work, you're just starting with a different tone.
  6. Thurisarz


    Aug 20, 2004
    Love your voice! You have a voice close to Glenn Danzig's.

    How do you get that distorted tone? Pedal/amp? Can't wait for my TI Jazz flats i have ordered! What bass is that also? Pickups? Sorry for the many questions :)
  7. de la mocha

    de la mocha

    Aug 20, 2005
    Yes!!!! That's the distortion tone I'm looking for!!! How did you get that tone?!!!!
  8. Wespe


    Feb 21, 2006
    That's a killer song, man. And nice singing. Very good accompanyment.
  9. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I have no problem with flats and effects. The only potential problem could be muddiness in a live mix where the high-freq content from rounds might cut through a bit more. Most distortions add that high-freq content anyway, though.
  10. The only issue I've had with flats and effects is that for some reason, on one of my basses, if I use any synth effect like a harmonizer, it doesn't track as well on high notes.
  11. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Thanks for the compliment on my voice; it used to be better, but cigarettes have been taking their toll after twenty-some years. I've been trying to quit lately - that sort of inspires me to keep it up!

    OK - the specs:
    MIA passive Peavey Foundation5 bass (bought used for US$160); T.I. Jazz Flats; controls maxed.

    Processing (This is all in the loop of an NS-2 noise supressor, with the bass plugged directly to the NS-2 input): Boss CS-3 compressor, GK Deisel Dawg distortion, Boss CEB-3 chorus, Aphex Bass Xciter, ODB-3 Distortion.

    GK 700RBII into a JBL JRX125 PA cab (2X15 + 1"-throat horn). An important part of the amp in this sound is that it has a built-in 5KHZ crossover that I'm using as a 5KHz lowpass. when I can, I'm going to experiment with a seperate lowpass filter (probably use half a X-over) in the head's loop; I think more-like 4KHz (three, even?!) would be better - there's a lot of real 'static-y' stuff way up there with the highcut turned off; it's pretty important to me that that's chopped-off like I do.

    The minimum to get this kind of distortion tone would be the NS-2, Dawg and ODB - these are all essential to the tone. The D.D. and ODB each contribute properties that the other can't. There is such outragous gain and distortion (especially with the compression!) that the NS-2 is neccesary - but for this application it works perfectly; I mean perfectly - there is NO noise at any time, inluding when I let a note die-out to complete silence. It does not work so magically and perfectly with low or no distortion, OR without the distortion IN THE LOOP.

    Besides these (as far as distortion-sounds go..) - the compressor is set radically squishy, so it really brings-up the fret clatter and string noise (which sounds especially-BAD with roundwounds, but I love it and use it with FLATS...); it also makes sustained notes more steady and synth-ish (also allows cool infinite-feedback and-such). The chorus - especially being between the distortions - adds a great, dense.. something in the high-end (the CEB lets you only chorus the highs, which is how I run it); I think of 'Robin Trower tone' with the chorus (speaking for distortion tones, remember). The Xciter can be left-out with the whole setup, but if I were to use only the ODB for distortion, then I'd consider the Xciter essential - Like I've said many times around here: "the Xciter TRANSFORMS the ODB!" (it MUST go BEFORE the ODB - like bass > Xciter > ODB).

    Also in the setup (but not on that recording) is a Boss OC-3. Very-nice in Poly mode. I use the 'guitar' input, keep the octave mix way-low, and the range knob (is that what it's called? ..third from the left) all the way up. The OC is my least used effect; it works well, but I don't use it as much as I thought I would.

    Next?.. I can't decide. Reverb? Flange? Phasor? (I love the 'unidirectional phasing' that the Boss phaser has - the sweeps cycle like from low-to-high (if you have it set for up-sweep), and then start over again from the bottom - but the filter notches and resonances jump-down and start over one-at-a-time, as they 'get to the top. it's cool, for-sure.

    I'll try to post some studio-quality samples, when I get a chance. I really think that I've achieved an extraordinary distoriton tone.

    -- Hey: y'know what really got me dialing this in (I just thought of it..)? A video link that was posted here like a year-back or-so, inwhich this black guy with blond hair was playing a bass - at the NAMM show, I think? - and he was playing the bass like.. 'upside-down', or kind of like a violin or something. I really dug that tone - and THEN I linked (from here again, I'm sure..) to a Larry Grahm vid, inwhich he was demonstrating his Roland Jet Phaser - this also had a similar tone.

    Many of the fuzzbass and distortion/overdrive examples I hear here on TB I don't care for; they're real muddy sounding to me. I really wonder if you round-wound guys are trying to dial-out some of that roundwound 'clang', and that if you went with flats, you'd dial the highs back up (?).

  12. opivy3056

    opivy3056 stardust in a light beam

    Oct 14, 2004
    San Diego
    I think they sound great. I use phase, delay, overdrive, chorus and fuzz

    Chorus is harder to notice. Might be selling it to get a trem.
  13. I first used flatwounds when I got my fretless, tried several and ended up with RotoSound Tru Bass Black Nylon Flatwounds (RTS_RS885LD) on it. So SMOOTH they're like a dream, PLUS black strings on an ebony fingerboard just look totally cool.

    Then I figured I'd switch to flatwounds on my fretted bass so it wouldn't feel so different from my fretless.

    That's when I discovered Joe's premise that using flatwounds gave me more tonal control because I no longer had to dial-out the "clang" from roundwounds. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a big "high" lover, and play Warwicks because I love that deep growl. Nevertheless, even the deepest lows have higher harmonics that enrich their sound. IMHO, I feel that flatwounds give me a fuller---yet still very low---sound that I cannot get with roundwounds. Just my experience.
  14. Thurisarz


    Aug 20, 2004
    Wow! Thanks for the gear instruction! Do you remember how you set the ODB in the video?
  15. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Banned

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    As I said in another thread:

    Flats + English Muff'n = :D :D :D

    After playing flats for a while I wouldn't go back to anything else!
  16. de la mocha

    de la mocha

    Aug 20, 2005
    Wow!! Excellent! I'm curious, can you post your pedal board? I don't want to look through the official pedal board thread to find it.....:)
  17. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Well - remembering that the ODB had only five of the twenty-five knobs that were in-play - that's just on the floor, mind you; not-including the ten or whatever's on the amp: the settings are Output=9:30; Bass=1:00; Treble=11:30; blend=9:30; Gain=cranked.

    One important thing that I've really been getting a handle on concerning distortion is well-illustrated in my use of the Dawg and the ODB. This has to do with 'symmetrical clipping', as compared to 'nonlinear distortion'.

    Nonlinear distortion is caused by an amp that changes its gain a little over the course of its 'voltage swing' - tubes and FETs running 'class-A' mode can provide an especially good example of this. Class-A mode is what's always run on the input-side of the famous, classic tube amps.

    Symetrical clipping (this is hard to explain; a 'symetrically-clipped' wave is technically 'nonlinear amplification' too, but but the nonlinear distortion that I'm talking about above doesn't need to clip, to 'distort'... Oy.) This is where the positive and negative parts of the wave (up-swings and down-swings) are like 'mirror-imaged'. A good example of this kind of distortion is in the 'push-pull' power-section of an instrument amp (called 'class-B' or 'class-AB') like Marshall, or the bigger Fenders (well, most of them; little champs and princetons and whatnot are class-A all the way through; any amp with only one power tube can't be 'push-pull').

    Now in the case of my setup, the Diesel Dawg is nonlinear, and the ODB is symetrical. I'm putting the Dawg first, and the ODB at the end - just like a classic tube amp.

    Heres the-thing: Nonlinear distortion - even when it's not clipping - does something that symetrical push-pull will not do, that is an action known as 'creating sum and difference frequencies'! ..Or 'frequency mixing' or 'intermodulation (IM) distortion' or 'beat frequencies' - these are all terms for the same thing, and mostly old terms from Radio engineering.

    Once you compare them (or maybe 'have someone point-out the differences'), it's fairly easy to identify the distinctive properties of nonlinear distortion.

    I've heard talk for years about a supposed "even vs. odd harmonics debate" ('class-B cancels-out distortion-generated even harmonics, and class-A doesn't'), but I think just-as-important of an issue is the pronounced IM distortion that's excited by class-A!

    I gotta get back to work! ..But I'll see if I can come-up with a whole paper on this subject, and/or come-up with some recorded examples, if y'all are interested.

  18. de la mocha

    de la mocha

    Aug 20, 2005
    Hey joe, post your pedal board!
  19. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    OK - I'll see if I can steal-off with the company camera tonight, and get a picture.

  20. de la mocha

    de la mocha

    Aug 20, 2005
    Cool, but don't get in trouble....

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