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Black TAPEWOUNDS: I need a reality check

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by JacoNOT, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. JacoNOT


    Mar 7, 2012
    I need a reality check and maybe a sound check from anyone who uses black tapewound strings.

    A friend's P-Bass has been "resting quietly" in his basement for 20+ years. A couple of decades ago he mounted LONDON SOUND brand tapewound strings, and then didn't play it much, so the strings are in fine condition. They're encased in black plastic and appear to be comparable to modern-day tapewounds.

    I'm surprised at how well they play and sound. Everything I've seen/heard online makes current-production tapewounds sound very, very dark and even muddy. But these FEEL GREAT -easy slides and just the right amount of tightness/flexability. They also SOUND GREAT producing an "organic" or maybe a "woodie" tone, if that makes sense. And this is on a standard P-bass from the early 1970s (no fancy electronics).

    QUESTION: Do modern black Tapewound strings provide that organic, woody tone, or are they strictly DARK Thumpers?
  2. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    I have LaBella tape wounds & GHS tapewounds on 2 axes.
    IMHO they both sound organic & have the woody tone you mention.
    The GHS are more pliable vs the LaBella's are stiffer.
    They seem to last forever, one set has been on for 8 years.
  3. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    I have two of my 5 string Jazz basses set up with tapewounds. One bass has LaBella tapes the other Rotosound Tapes. The LaBella tapes have been on since 2005 and still sound, look and feel brand new. The Rotos have been on since 2010 and sound, look and feel brand new as well. I like the La Bella's more, they are less stiff than the Rotos and have a clearer and more articulate tone only a slight reduction in the top end and a good increase in the bottom end. More or less half way between Nickel rounds and Chrome flats in my experience. There are a couple of other tapewound brands out there which look, feel and sound different but I haven't owned those so can't give an in-depth first hand review. I've also heard the LaBella's are the same string as the Carvin tapewound and the Carvin brand is significantly cheaper to buy (but I haven't had to buy more than one set in the last 7 years so don't know if it's that big a deal).
  4. based on some recent research I have done on tapes

    The Labella seem to have a nice resonant tone - not too bright, but not dull sounding either.
    The Roto 88 is a little less resonant than the Labella but still quite articulate.

    The GHS is more boomy sounding - muted if you like.

    I've been searching for a good non tapered low B and tried these sets on the same bass. The labella stayed on except for the B. The 88 B is on now, but it isn't a great match for the Labella, though it is not tapered - which was the problem with the Labellas on a bridge mount and it still is lacking in resonance. The GHS was totally dead sounding, like an upright filled with expanding foam insulation and a fat bridge. More thump than anything.

    Just my recent experience.
  5. sigmafloyd


    May 1, 2011
  6. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    I have Fender Tapewounds on a piezo only bass tuned ADGC.
    It sounds bright and clear. using effects also sound pretty good to me.
    I use it for tapping and noodling.
  7. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD
    I liked the D'Addario Black Tapewounds quite a bit on my L-2500 fretless, and a Fender P. Nice thump. They sounded dark, but not brooding.
  8. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    LaBella tapes are like pearls; Roto 66 are diamonds.
    Great strings but you'll be committed to that sound & feel--until you switch them out.
  9. billgwx


    Apr 10, 2009
    Centereach NY
    D'Addario tapes give my P that woody sound you speak of--with plenty of the fundamental tone. Can adjust EQ to dial in other sounds as well, except maybe that mid-heavy, horn-like Jaco-ish tone or steely slap tone--that's what the J-bass is for. :)
  10. JacoNOT


    Mar 7, 2012
    Eight years? Yow.

    My 5-string bass has 34-inch scale. I want to avoid having an overly floppy B string. Can you recommend either the GHS, or the LaBella? I like GHS generally.

    Also, are you using tapewounds on fretless or fretted?
  11. JacoNOT


    Mar 7, 2012
    Thanks for the details. Very helpful. 2005 makes it 8 years, just like MrLenny1 in the post above yours.

    "Half way between Nickel rounds and Chrome flats" sounds like exactly where I want to be. I'm thinking about tapewounds mostly in terms of fretless (maybe fretted, too) and thought I'd try GHS pressurewounds. Their tone is supposed to be very versatile, between rounds and flats... But I don't think they'll last EIGHT YEARS! :eek: :D

    GHS has tapewounds, and MrLenny1 says they're a bit more pliable than the LaBella's, so you might want to look into that...IF you ever need to replace either set. :D Thanks.
  12. JacoNOT


    Mar 7, 2012
    Wow, Carl. You've been experimenting exactly as I would if I had more dough ;)
    THANK YOU for sharing the results of your R&D efforts.

    I'm disappointed to learn how poorly the GHS tapewounds did. Combining your comments with the others I've read so far, it looks like LaBella tapewounds are the right choice for me, or would be if not for the B string...

    I'm hoping to find something that'll give a solid low B tone on a 34" scale - but it sounds like you're UNimpressed with that LaBella B string. What's the problem that's causing you to try to replace just that string?
  13. JacoNOT


    Mar 7, 2012
  14. JacoNOT


    Mar 7, 2012
    Amazing. Prior to playing the P-bass I mentioned, I would never have believed you could get "bright and clear" out of tapewounds. Now I do :D Thanks for your comments.

    I hope to use these for recording, and I want to have as much tonal variety as possible within what I'm trying to do. I think of bass as part of the traditional rhythm section (not a solo instrument) so I don't need much high-frequency or slap & pop tone.

    I like the feel of those old tapewounds so much. I hope they're verstile enough for some basic recording.
  15. JacoNOT


    Mar 7, 2012
    Ahhhhh! You play an L-2500. And it's fretless! I think you could string that up with WeedWacker line and it'd still sound GREAT. :D

    Was that "thump" (dark but not brooding) on both instruments, or just the Fender P? Can you get anything other than dark tone from the P bass with tapewounds?

    For that matter, can you get anything other than dark tone from the G&L when using tapewounds?
  16. JacoNOT


    Mar 7, 2012
    I hear you, Chuck. Guys are talking about EIGHT YEARS, and their tapewounds still look and sound like NEW. :eek:
    That's a looooong time if I don't really love 'em...
  17. deeptubes


    Feb 21, 2011
    I also have Fender tapes on a piezo. Mine's fretless. I was suprised with how bright they are. I really like bright, but I wanted a different tone for the fretless.
  18. the Arsonaut

    the Arsonaut

    Aug 27, 2012
    back in 1995 or so, I picked up an old set of Gretsch black nylons...couldn't keep the package because the the paper was so brittle it would flake in your hands...I've used that one set on two different basses in that time-and I still have the set.
    I wouldn't call the sound, 'dark'. A lil muddy, but not as hollow sounding as some more recent sets...like, rotosound, fender, or ghs. Those are the other 3 types I've tried.

    I only found the set gretsch set in the bottom of an old music shop's string drawer...at first, I thought they were short scale...there was nothing on the package to denote scale, as I recall. But they do fit 34". I've used them with J & P basses over time.
  19. DavyR

    DavyR Supporting Member

    May 29, 2011
    Since the metal inside the tapewounds is covered by the tape does this protect it from corrosion AND does the tape eventually wear down and expose the metal? (Could you eventually wear all of the tape off and have yourself a new set of metal strings? HA! :))

    I have a set of tapes from 1977 with not much wear. If I get around to it I'll install them, compare them to the new tapes that I have installed now and let you know what goes down.
  20. jasper383


    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC

    I have had tapes on basses around here for years, and there doesn't seem to be any wear on them at all. No change in the way they sound, either.

    My guess is those 35 year old tapes will sound brand new, unless the core has degraded somehow over the years.

    Now, I imagine if you use a metal pick, you could eventually wear down that plastic. But, I've never seen that, or heard of it happening.

    As far as I can tell, tapes will last you as long as flats. Maybe longer.

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