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Best Strings for Fretless 6 String?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by bigjames, Sep 25, 2005.

  1. bigjames

    bigjames Player of Smooth Lines

    Jan 25, 2005
    Burnaby, Canada
    Hey everyone, I am looking for some suggestions on what the best strings would be for my fretless 6 string. I have been playing D'addario XL's for years and I only use them out of ignorance of what my options are. The XL's are nickel round wound .130/.100/.080/.065/.045/.032 gauge. I am not particularly set on anything about this strings. I do like that they have a fairly soft feel, but my action is low enough that it does not matter. I guess I am looking for some suggested direction to take in my search for a new string.

    Any suggestions? And if you can explain why you recommend what you recommend I would appreciate it, i.e. punchy sound, playability, nice fretless sound, etc.


  2. I don't any experience with fretless, but I have heard that anything more abrasive than flatrounds or halfrounds/groundwounds will chew up your fingerboard.
  3. bigjames

    bigjames Player of Smooth Lines

    Jan 25, 2005
    Burnaby, Canada
    This is absolutely true...my ebony fingerboard is certainly getting marked up, but I do not play this bass often enough (maybe one hour per week) to get any real damage so far. It will happen eventually though. This is one of the reasons I want to make a change to another string type, like grounds or flats. Anyone with fretless experience out there today?

  4. bigjames

    bigjames Player of Smooth Lines

    Jan 25, 2005
    Burnaby, Canada
    bump for more suggestions on strings for my fretless...


  5. quatre03


    Aug 20, 2004
  6. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    T.I. Flats
    Ken Smith Compressors
    DR Low Riders
    DR Rocco Prestia Strings
  7. bigjames

    bigjames Player of Smooth Lines

    Jan 25, 2005
    Burnaby, Canada
    I like my strings on the looser side...I feel like it is more playable that way. I had not considered coated strings before...what does it mean when a string is coated? Is this a round wound string with a coating to soften the string? The thing I did not like about flatwounds when I played them before was that they felt really tight and did not have much sustain.

  8. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    coating is to prolong the new string sound.... not reduce fingerboard wear.

    reading through your posts... I'd say try either

    1.) D'addario Half-Rounds (groundwounds so they have roundwound tension and tone but are ground smooth. Some people complain they are "grabby")

    2.) SIT Silencers (pressurewound and the most like your XL... they are squished nickel rounds)

    3.) TI jazz flats (I never tried them, but only because they are said to be REAL loose)

    I'm using SIT Rock Bright Steels on my fretless 6 currently. I play with a light touch on my fretting hand so I don't concern myself with wear.
  9. RE:PEAT


    Jun 24, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Bigjames, you should try TI Jazz rounds. I'm using TI-JR344's on my fretless (4-string, ebony board) and absolutely love them. Very soft, plyable, supple strings and they hang rather loose. With the pure nickel windings, I'm experiencing no adverse wear on the fretboard. They do make a six string set: JR-346's. It's amazing how much strings make a difference in the playability of a guitar/bass. As an ardent flats fan, I tried many before settling on these. Good luck.
  10. bigjames

    bigjames Player of Smooth Lines

    Jan 25, 2005
    Burnaby, Canada
    I am going shopping today...we shall see what I end up with. From reading the above, I will likely try the TI Jazz Flats or KS Compressors. I have a pretty good local shop, hopefully they will have one of these in stock, oterhwise I will order and wait for them to show up...

    Thanks for everyone's suggestions...


  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    IME they won't sound like a good roundwound.

    I currently use SIT Nickel, Ken Smith Burners Nickel and DR Sunbeam Nickel rounds. They all sound great and I've experienced no wear issues on any of my fretlesses over the years.

    Light touch + low action + parallel vibrato = extremely minimal wear at the worst. I've had my main fretless for over three years now, it's been to maybe 3 or 4 NAMM shows, the board has never been dressed and it only has the slightest hint of wear. Whenever I see people bending the strings, I suggest they stop. IME it's the number one cause of wear on fretless and easily remedied. In addition, you have so much more control by not bending and instead going along the length of the string.

    Again IME anything less that a true roundwound is a compromise.

    I do like LaBella black tapewounds when I occassionally want that vibe.
  12. bigjames

    bigjames Player of Smooth Lines

    Jan 25, 2005
    Burnaby, Canada
    I agree and love round wounds, I have ordered Ken Smith Compressors to try them out. I currently play the D'Addario XL6, because 1) they can be acquired locally and 2) they sound pretty good and I like the soft feel. If I like the compressors I may try another set of Ken Smith rounds, like burners.

    I am also very much a parallel vibrato player, it sounds better that up and down IMO. My action is low right now, but I am noticing wear, at the 2, 3, 5 "frets" and especially under the 5 fret under the A string. I have been playing this bass regularly for almost 8 years. It is a Warmoth maple "Jazz Bass" body with a 5 piece maple / mahogany neck with ebony board. I guess the fingerboard probably could use a redressing...maybe in the new year. I actually had not thought about redressing the fingerboard...thanks for reminding me about that Brad.

  13. Asaf


    Jun 9, 2003
    i used couple of brands on my pedulla pentabuzz and i like the Dean Markley Nickel steel because they sound nice and they feel smooth...but they have only 5 string sets max., so try the SR2000 set...it's great as well.