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Balanced tension flatwounds?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Johnny Mac, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. Johnny Mac

    Johnny Mac Riff-finder General Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2005
    Springfield, MA
    I've been interested in trying out some flatwounds for a few months now, but I recently switched to balanced tension strings, and I refuse to switch back because they feel and play far better in my opinion.

    So, I'm wondering where I would be able to find some balanced-tension flatwound sets for a 5 string bass, preferably with a .136 B string. Right now all I can find is the progressive-tension 5 string ZOG set (which, according to the website, requires the nut to be widened and I'd like to avoid that if possible). Is there anything else out there?
  2. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

  3. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    The TI Jazz Flat 346 set has a 0.136 low B and guess what? It's floppy like the rest of them.
  4. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    TI is a totally different animal though :)
  5. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
    String construction has everything to do with the floppyness...

    I wouldn't exactly call the T-I Jazz Flat B-String floppy, I would more say it vibrates freely without restriction due to its construction. Great sounding B.

    There are many balanced feeling flatwound sets.

    There are a few I would look at.
  6. hoketus


    Nov 5, 2012
    Toronto, ON, CA
    I wouldn't, either.

    There are many factors that contribute to string tension. The string gauge alone should be used as an approximate guide only.
  7. chucko58


    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    I'm not able to find a tension chart for the GHS Precision Flats. GHS's site doesn't seem to have one.

    Are there any other manufacturers with a reasonably broad range of gauges?
  8. jasper383

    jasper383 Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    Use the D'Addario tension chart. I assume that the GHS flats and the Chromes will be at least close tension-wise.

  9. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    LOVE the TI flats, balanced IMHO, but they are not Old School THUD! strings if that's what you truly seek. Tone is far better.
  10. David A. Davis

    David A. Davis Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2008
    Summerville, SC
    I've been curious about flats for awhile now. I had the opportunity to play a 5 string that was strung with TI 's and found them to very balanced. The B string was not floppy at all. It was a 35" scale bass, not sure how much that played in. When I buy a set of flats, I'll go with the TI 's.
  11. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    When you're talking about "balanced tension strings," what level of consistency do they provide that "ordinary" strings do not? How much does the string tension vary from string-to-string for ordinary strings versus "balanced tension strings?"
  12. It can vary quite a lot:

    Your typical .100 gauge string, tuned to E has around 36 to 37 pounds of tension.

    Your typical .080 gauge string, tuned to A has around 42 pounds of tension.

    Your typical .065 gauge string, tuned to D has a whopping 51 pounds of tension.

    And your typical .045 gauge string, tuned to G, has about 43 pounds of tension.

    And of course, tuned to low B, any string under .135 has less than 36 pounds of tension.

    This is why I have made the switch to using balanced tension sets. You can make any set balanced by taking a standard set and getting an extra heavy E and a light D.

    Seriously, 50 pounds is too much tension for a string, imo. No idea why D strings are so heavy on most sets.
  13. MarkA

    MarkA *** Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    I'm also looking for a balanced-tension, flatwound 6 string set. My sixer, a neck-through Ibanez Prestige, is currently strung with a balanced-tension Circle K set -- gauges as follows, from B to C:
    .136 .102 .076 .057 .041 .029
    It was previously strung with a stainless steel R. Cocco set:
    .125 .105 .085 .065 .045 .028

    The R. Coccos were nice strings in many ways, but on this bass, the .125 B was was floppy compared to the rest of the strings. The balanced set is a little lighter in terms of overall tension (had to relax the truss rods a bit when I made the switch), but the B is much better feeling, and the bass really does feel more consistent from string to string. I'm considering trying a balanced set with a .142 B (254 pounds total on a 34" scale, or ~42 lbs/string average; individual strings ranging from 40-44 lbs), but I'm curious to hear this sixer with flats, and I'd like to hear a little more fundamental out of the B.

    I have a set of TI flats on a 4 string Brubaker Brute with Bart pups that, I've mentioned elsewhere, are magic on that bass. They really sing and allow for expressive playing. They're pretty flexible strings but don't feel floppy on that bass. I tried briefly swapping the TI G and D with the D'Addario half-rounds on my fretless Carvin -- on the Carvin they *were* floppy/noodly, and on the Brute the half-rounds felt and sounded like sandpapered chicken wire -- so a lot, I think, is bass dependent. For what it's worth, the TIs also slap pretty well on the Brute.

    I considered the TIs for the Ibanez. I like that they retain some high-end content and midrange complexity, but I think on that bass that they might feel a little loose. Also, $100+ for the set is an expensive experiment. I'm not looking for an old-school, thuddy sound on the six-string -- I still want to be able to chord cleanly, hit harmonics, and have nice sustain. I still want some midrange character, but I'd like to start with something other than the TIs, with a balanced feel and a little more tension.

    La Bella Teep Talkin' flats are advertised as balanced. Not sure which gauge I'd go with there. People have mentioned the Fender flats. A straight set would be simpler, but I'm fine mixing and matching if that's what it takes.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

    I might consider a set of flats for my fretless Carvin (Icon fiver) but the six is the priority at the moment.

  14. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    I use Ernie Ball flatwounds, which I buy as singles. 0.045, 0.060, 0.080, 0.105 and 0.135 come pretty close to balanced. The tension lies between 48 and 51 pounds for E,A,D and G. B does about 45 pounds.
  15. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
  16. gary m

    gary m

    Jan 17, 2011
    Mid -Atlantic
    I'd vote for GHS Precision Flats. I have a set on my Douglas WOB sixer (strings purchased through Carvin.com) and the tension has always felt pretty balanced to my hands. They're not heavy cables, but also not the "wet noodles" that the TI flats are often compared to. Plus, they're inexpensive.
  17. MarkA

    MarkA *** Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    That is helpful, thanks. The TI jazz flats sound and feel great on my Brute, but I'm worried that they might be a little loose on my Ibby sixer. Below, I've taken the table you kindly provided and added a C-string. I've also added the tensions of the rounds currently on there (.136"-.029", in parentheses).

    C....38.13 (36.6)....033"
    G....37.03 (38.5)....043"
    D....37.47 (40.4)....056"
    A....31.30 (40.2)....070"
    E....34.39 (40.4)....100"
    B....34.83 (39.3)....136"

    Who knows, the TIs might be fine on the Ibby -- more goes into the feeling and response of a string than overall tension -- but based on the strings I've tried on it so far, I'd like to stay around the tension I'm at for the low strings or maybe nudge a little higher.

    I suppose if the contact points at the bridge and nut are close enough between the Ibby and Brute (don't want to kink the strings and ruin 'em for the Brute), I could take the TIs off the Brute and try them in the EADG spots on the Ibby. If they're stellar there, maybe I'll pick up a TI sixer set. Otherwise, I'll try something a little tighter and cheaper with, I hope, some of the same midrange content.
  18. MarkA

    MarkA *** Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Thanks. While I think the TIs might be on the loose side, 50 pounds seems a little high! How do you find the feel and sound of these, otherwise? I like the sound of the TIs pretty well. I could go a little darker/deeper on the Ibby, but don't want to go all the way to P-bass land. (Not that there's anything wrong with P-basses -- that's my fretless P in my avatar!)
  19. MarkA

    MarkA *** Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    I'll look into those. Impressions feel/tone-wise vs. the Ernie Balls or the La Bellas? I've read that the heavier La Bellas are pretty thumpy but the medium and lighter ones less so. I want a little more fundamental/authority than I've got now, but want to retain the ability to chord cleanly and play melodically on my sixer.
  20. gary m

    gary m

    Jan 17, 2011
    Mid -Atlantic
    To my ears, more fundamental with less tension and plenty of thump...plus they're smoother to the touch than LaBellas.